THE BEAUTIFUL LIFE OF
Petite Noir’s appearance at the Cape Town Electronic Music Festival next weekend marks his debut performance on home soil. The rest of the world, though, is no stranger to his raw, dreamy sounds. In fact, Solange Knowles has called him the next big thing
is the sheer melange of sounds and influences poured into the mix. Growing up, he “listened to everything from hip-hop to metal and R&B”. Of his singing style, he says: “I’m just trying to be as natural as possible and, also, I’m just singing like I know how to – in my brain.”
For Petite Noir, The Weeknd represents the perfect career arc: a few early experimental albums to find his feet and then building up to a big pop release.
“I like to do stuff straight from the head. It’s quite instantaneous. I just sort of freestyle.” And then deal with meaning later? “Yeah exactly ... If I really need to correct stuff, I’ll correct it later. I try to keep it as natural and fluid as possible.
“That’s the concept of the whole Noirwave thing,” he continues, “It’s about letting that go, you know. You don’t have to play guitar the way they tell you to play guitar. It’s all up to your own ear.”
For a term coined in the very beginning, Noirwave has served him well, not only describing his sound, but taking on a life of its own. It has, in short, become a thing.
Ilunga agrees. “I see stuff all the time ... Sometimes they’ll have a Noirwave style guide [in a magazine].” He laughs.
So, on the brink of his European tour, I wonder if he’s started to think about the next album. “That’s what I’m doing in there.” He points to the studio from where the jazzy xylophone sound emanated earlier. “I am thinking about another album right now ... But I feel I need to slow down because I think I’m trying to rush everything. Since I’m going to album number two, it’s not about finding the right singles and songs; it’s about finding a new sound.” Again Ilunga cracks a smile. “I can’t do the same thing again now, you know.” Petite NoirNo performs at the festival on February 6 at
9pm in The Auditorium at the Cape Town