Petite Noir : Life is Beautiful

Born in Brussels to a Congolese father and an Angolan mother, and raised in South Africa, Yannick Ilunga, aka Petite Noir, has a cultural mix that literally pervades his music.

You released your debut album towards the end of 2015, which was unanimously acclaimed by the critics. How would you define your style and what has influenced you musically?

Given my family background and lifestyle, I see the whole world as my home. I grew up listening to metal, heavy metal and hardcore. I was into punk too. And I have obviously been around African music all my life. It was a really interesting mix
and all this has played a part in the genesis of Petite Noir. While some define my style as a blend of new wave, electronic and Kizomba, I prefer not to pigeonhole it to a specific country or genre, it’s from everywhere.


You champion the concept “Noir wave”, which you describe as daring and innovative. Could you tell us a bit more?

Noir wave is about exploring and reinterpreting African cultural heritage, with a modern twist. It goes beyond music; Noir wave is a state of mind and a significant movement, expressed through music, design, photography, art and social consciousness. It has now reached beyond the frontiers of underground African music to permeate the collective imagination of artists worldwide. Noir wave tries to be at the cutting edge of creative thinking in all its forms.


Faced with the sheer volume of musical output in evidence today, would you say artists have to be increasingly daring to stand out?

Certainly in my case this was essential. By mixing 80s new wave and Afrobeat, I wanted to transform the unexpected into something tangible. For me, this is the essence of Noir wave: being constantly where you wouldn’t expect it.


You have spent your whole life travelling and even more so since you launched the Petite Noir project. Where in the world have you seen the most compelling examples of daring at work?

Africa, without a doubt. I firmly believe that the daring trait that defines Africans is a true reflection of the beauty and diversity of the continent.



Life is Beautiful, Domino records

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