Music From The Vortex: Fantastic Twins

ForeverMinute Read
Written by Wil Troup

Existential questions as we dig into the world of Julienne Dessagne’s split personality.

Julienne Dessagne aka Fantastic Twins (yup I still haven’t quite worked out how one person can be twins) is one of the most singularly unique musicians orbiting the etheral musical world we inhabit and our little corner of the internet. Crafted by Julienne Dessagne, her sonic journeys explore dual characters…but we’ll get into that more later.

Producer, songwriter, and live performer, Dessagne has spent the last decade and more sculpting a distinctive world all to her own.


On her ambitious ‘debut’ album, ‘Two Is Not a Number,’ Dessagne delves deeper into the concept that inspired the name, unraveling the lives of imaginary twins—metaphors for our psyche, conflicts, and relationships. Expressing musings on psychological, emotional, biological, and metaphysical twin qualities, Dessagne uses techno, dark-wave soundtracks and synth pop-noir.

Come on then, introduce yourself…
Who are you
Where are you
And what are you

Wait I need a cigarette


"Existential questions make me nervous."


You don’t NEED a cigarette, You think you need one.

Existential questions make me nervous.

My name’s Julienne and I’m currently at home in Berlin with my brainchildren, Fantastic Twins. We are a lovely, slightly dysfunctional family.

Who are the Fantastic Twins?

They are everything and everywhere. They are in the dreams of children at night.

WhatsApp Image 2023-11-13 at 18.59.53

Who are the Fantastic Twins? "They are everything and everywhere. They are in the dreams of children at night."

“…once you get lost in the creative moment that social media noise fades, sometimes you may recycle it into your work, that can be interesting too.”


What does your and the Fantastic Twins music sound like…in both the daytime and the night in the dreams of children

Evanescent waves on the deep blue sea. A stream of voices in our heads. Somewhere between chaos and tragedy.

Tell us about the chaos and tragedy in the twin’s lives

Imagine being trapped by your twin. Talking in unison all the time. Fighting with your other half over the breadcrumbs of your existence. Thinking alike but longing for different things. Striving to live separate lives yet not being able to love anyone else. And that’s on a good day.

Sounds intense

True fiction.


"’s fair to say finishing my album was a miracle."


How does your brain work when making music? Or should we be talking directly to the twins?

In the same sort of chaotic way as I just described. In that sense it’s fair to say finishing my album was a miracle.

Tell us about your album, why are you releasing it yourself this time and why should we be listening to it?

Two Is Not A Number is a sort of dialogue between two halves of my brain. I use the twins as a metaphor for our psyche, a medium to explore our inner conflicts, our fears, our contradictions, the sinuous paths of our relationship to others and otherness. It’s a self-exploration through the imaginary lives of my twins. The decision to self-release this work resulted from various factors, the main one being that I was awarded government funding to finance the project, and also because it felt right to give this album its very own home. It’s an extremely personal work, but I dare to hope there is something universal to it and that it will take the listener through a wide spectrum of human emotions.

Interesting, I know you’re one to spurn this new age self help. With that in mind do you use music to explore and medicate these inner conflicts?

What I cringe and laugh at in the new age self-help world and 2.0 well-being industry is the obsession of ‘happiness’ and ‘positivity’ and the fact that the connection with your ‘inner self’ transits via your wallet first and foremost. That’s the topic I explored previously with my label series Microdosing. Two Is Not A Number is extremely far from that world. Mainly because it comes from the rather dark depths of my own mind, it’s music written from the vortex. There’s no embellishment and no incentive for the listener to feel good. For me, it was mainly about facing some of my primitive fears and giving them their own sonic dimension. Of course, it was also somehow therapeutic but I would never make that a selling point or marketing narrative. It is just an invitation to feel without knowing what’s at the end of the tunnel. At your own risk, basically.


"where the monkey says ‘this thing is bigger than the both of us'."


Hah! You’re very right about this endless pursuit of happiness. Leading on from that I guess, how does your brain work when making music? how does it work when you aren’t?

It’s hard to say because I have a pretty chaotic creative process. I get lost a lot along the way but sometimes it’s precisely after I got lost for a while that I manage to circle back to the essential. My life in the studio is a story of long detours, searching in the dark and playing jigsaw with all the pieces of material I record through my experiments with sound and then those brief moments of light, you know, when the light bulb suddenly goes on and I have to be very quick to seize the idea I was looking for all that time and turn it into a track or at least the foundation for a track. So it also means accepting to search more than you actually find. When I don’t make music, well, I either sleep or think about making music… so it’s more or less the same.

You quote Sun Ra around this album with “the sight of boundless space reaching ever outward as if in search of itself” Is this the space you try to create with your music and in turn your mind?

That Sun Ra quote comes from one of his poetry books, Extensions Out: Immeasurable Equation Vol. II, that was lying around in Superpitcher’s studio in Paris while we were working together on the mixdown of the album. I bought a copy as soon as I got back home and read it back and forth. I found that quote resonated deeply with what I had just tried to achieve with the album. It’s also pointing out to that universal dimension of music, when something so personal becomes bigger than yourself. And in my head it somehow echoed the David Lynch “What Did Jack Do” quote that inspired the album title, where the monkey says ‘this thing is bigger than the both of us’.

I didn’t get that quote originally from David Lynch, now I do! I mean this is the intrinsic nature of music isn’t it that “this thing is bigger than the both of us” It’s sort of what’s being lost along the way via the dumbed down social rigmarole of endless posting and scrolling.

There’s an ambivalent beauty in that quote, it’s equally deep and absurd. Both are intrinsically linked and that’s a red thread of my album too. Pushing ideas to their absurd dimension until they start unveiling their beauty in a kind of heartbreaking way. While researching for the album, I was watching a lot of dumb YouTube documentaries about twins and how they function etc. Most of these documentaries were pure dramatic overkill and somehow weren’t far from the twins’ freak shows of the early 20th century. I recorded a lot of material from these sources, pieces of dialogues, etc which I then re-injected in my own work for the album. I processed and transformed them via a long chain of effects or often re-recorded bits with my own voice, and that’s what provided most of the lyrics of the album. While doing that I realised that those words which sounded so dumb and banal in their original context started to sound so touching and mysterious once isolated and integrated in my own sonic environment. That’s what I mean when I say that looking at something in its most grotesque and absurd dimension can reveal great beauty for those willing to see.


"Looking at something in its most grotesque and absurd dimension can reveal great beauty for those willing to see."


Interesting take…  I’m interested in your education. I was having dinner with a friend last night and came out with an endless overblown statement like “degrees don’t mean shit and there’s no point in them”, certainly not in any employment sense or that it would improve your ‘income’. My argument that training or a vocational approach might have benefitted me more than racking up a massive debt and taking drugs for three years. He countered that without any humanities degrees we wouldn’t have creative imaginations and critical thought. So maybe my massive debt was worth it. Why did you study political sciences and European Cultural Policies and how do you think it relates or applies to what you do now?

Lol, yeah, 100% pointless, look at us. Nah. I tend to agree with your friend but it took me some time to realise it. For too long I used to think that my years of studying went to waste as soon as I chose the artistic path and I inherited a fair amount of guilt (100% self-inflicted) from choosing passion over the ‘serious stuff’. But it’s pointless to oppose the two and I prefer to look at our experiences as layers that progressively add up and build the soil we’re made of. Like compost you know? See the waste analogy here?!

Of course if you only look at the subject in a pragmatic and linear way you won’t always be able to connect the dots between those multiple experiences. But in the grand scheme of things, I guess education provides us with a sort of grid that is useful throughout our entire life and most aspects of it. My studies were almost a sort of detour because up until that point I was actually committed to pursue a career as a professional contemporary dancer. But back then, I was torn between my heart and my brain. Choosing music a few years later allowed me somehow to reconcile both. The way you look at things and analyse them, how you interrogate what surrounds you is the starting point of any creative work.

Wow, a contemporary dancer. Is that something you continue with these days?

No, I gave up in my 20s and it was too painful for me to ever go back to it. Still to this day. I signed up for a ballet class recently and cancelled at the last minute cause I felt it would just open old wounds. But I found some peace in composing soundtracks for pieces of contemporary dance over the past few years. Full circle somehow.

I didn’t know that.

I hope you wept a little.


"Imagine being trapped by your twin. Talking in unison all the time. Fighting with your other half over the breadcrumbs of your existence."



In your experience how do you feel social media contributes to an innate narcissism that most ‘artists’ have?! Many learn to use it well, others get consumed by it.

Are artists really more narcissistic than other people though? or is it that a lot of today’s narcissists pretend to be artists? Our main communication channels are marketing platforms designed for selling commercial products. As artists, the things we’d like to share about our work have to compete against luxury handbags, cute cats videos and Deliveroo ads, so it makes it pretty much impossible to even reach our community. So, some people turn their pages into a selfie museum or spam people with reels showing them djing in front of big crowds. However we choose to deal with these platforms, these are the tools we have, at least for now. We have to keep sailing I guess.

What is the future for this tho? It’s all become so binary when life is full of nuance. Do you feel there is enough apathy towards these platforms that there must be a new way or do you feel as you say that we have to use the tools we have?

I wish there were alternatives and I’m sure there are some or at least embryos of alternatives, I’m just not aware of them and I don’t have the time to dig into the subject. I for sure wish artists wouldn’t have to spend half of their working time self-promoting and acting like human billboards in order to survive. These platforms repeatedly prove to be highly problematic both for individuals and on a large scale so definitely not a sustainable path.

How does this mess with the creative process and does it affect the way you make music?

It does mess with it for sure, as much as I think it messes with almost everyone’s head. But once you get lost in the creative moment that social noise fades. Or sometimes you may recycle it into your work, that can be interesting too. On Two Is Not A Number and more specifically with the treatment and placement of vocals in the mix, I tried sometimes to recreate that “social background noise” in the form of voices or sounds running in loop, invading your mind and making you feel slightly uncomfortable. So there’s that tiny bit of relief in the thought that everything, including the worst, is matter we can use for creating.

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Tell us about your time in Glasgow and your relationship with Optimo, as well as your move to London and your work with fabric.

I first spent 6 months in Glasgow as part of my degree at Sciences Po (in Lyon) and got so attached to the city and its people that I went back there to do an additional masters degree at Glasgow Uni. While living there I made many friendships that are still very dear to me now and went out clubbing extensively. Optimo had their weekly Espacio night at Sub Club at that time and I became a regular. Couple years after I moved to London and worked for two years at fabric, assisting Judy Griffith (the programmer for Saturdays club nights) and was in charge of artist liaison, logistics, coordinated the technical and sound requirements for the live shows, etc. These years in the UK were madly intense and very beautiful and it’s fair to say they have made me who I am (for better and for worse).

You’re French at the core but do you feel you are made up of Glasgow, London and Berlin just as much these days?

Absolutely. I’ve lived almost half of my life abroad anyway so mathematically at least, it’s getting even. I became a lot more German than I wished to. I’ve grown to appreciate and love Berlin. I consider it my home and I doubt it will change. From Glasgow and London I kept a lot of my dearest friendships. As for my bad temper, it’s probably French.


A rainbow in Berlin (not an official quote from Dessagne for clarity)


Why are the French so bad tempered?

Cause y’all like it?

Why do we all still generalise so much?

Cause we’re idiots.

Musically, who influenced you? I find it difficult to pick out reference points in your music given how unique it sounds.

Various and multiple influences, but the way I see influences is the same way I see a tea bag. You can let it infuse for a short time and it’s nice but past that, you must take the bag out of the cup otherwise it starts tasting bad. Influences are important but when I start making music, I try to leave them at my studio door. Otherwise they can consume me or be too overpowering, or make me lazy and I never get to ask myself the essential questions “What do I want to say? What are the sounds that make me feel an emotion?” etc. But of course, hot water tastes dull. Some of my all-time favourite tea bags range from video games’ soundtracks to Philip Glass, Pan Sonic, Basic Channel, Coil, Nina Simone, and so many more.

What’s your favourite tea?

Sencha from Japan. My brother and his family live in Tokyo and used to send me the finest green teas but I’ve had to cut off green tea from my diet as it triggers my anxiety (fun fact).


I’ve had to cut off green tea from my diet as it triggers my anxiety (fun fact).


Does caffeine affect your anxiety? It fks me right up but I can’t let it go.

Yeah it does affect it big time, sadly. Now I have to opt for decaf like a sad, sad little person. That’s as ‘new age self aware’ as I get = drinking decaf. (With oat milk).

I bet you hate yourself for it.

Utterly despise myself for it, yes. Even my inner child despises me for it.

Which Twin chose the oat milk?

The self-aware one. The other one exclusively drinks alcoholic beverages.

First record bought? How did it make you feel?

The answer sounds pretentious but is the truth… I must have been 6 years old and asked my parents to buy me Philip Glass’s Glassworks and Songs From Liquid Days. Because these were the main soundtracks of my ballet classes as a child and I wanted to listen and dance to them back at home. I know these records by heart, they are printed in my body’s memory. Dancers have their very own way to experience the music and it’s often a very fusional relationship.


Spectacularly pretentious…. But amazing! Were your parents into all that pretentious shit?

Yes kind of, although my parents’ pretentious kingdom is philosophy. They aren’t massively clued up in music but my dad listened to a lot of blues, jazz, African music and here and there some obscure church choirs from equally obscure communities.

Is that their “field”?

Yes, they both studied philosophy and my mother was a professor.

How do they feel about you being a pretentious artist?!

They feel quite pretentious about it. They even have a bandcamp account now. They exclusively buy my pretentious music with it so that they can be pretentious with their friends.

Cute. If you could travel back in time what would you say to your younger self?

Selves you mean?

Sorry yes, selves…

I’d tell them to stay away from drinking oat milk and answering interviews.

What advice would you give to them with the beauty of hindsight?

I would tell them to be patient and that all good things take time. So they should chill the fuck up.

Have you stopped smoking? And are you even angrier?

It crosses my mind once or twice a day. Less angry at stupid, petty and insignificant things. But angrier every day when I read the world’s news, for sure.



What are all these photos that I’ve posted throughout this interview? Is it some scrapbook Edition of One that world will never see?

I have a scrapbook in which I collect things – pictures, images, random thoughts, reports of dreams I had the night before, quotes from all kinds of sources and so forth – that I feel somehow connect with my twins’ own metaverse. I sadly don’t have the time to update the scrapbook as often as I’d like to. So a lot of the newest additions are scattered across bookmarks, loose pieces of paper, voice memos and notes on my phone in the meantime. But when I do archive these things in my book, I try to connect some of these unrelated pieces together (associating a quote with an image for instance) and that helps me create fragments of ideas which I then use for inspiration when I start a working on new music. What’s in the book probably makes little sense to anyone else than me but having that visual and physical tool helps me to create.

What’s your answer to everything?

Twins, of course.


"I have a scrapbook in which I collect things that I feel somehow connect with my twins’ own metaverse."


Fantastic Twins – Two Is Not A Number is out now. Order stream, buy vinyl etc etc here