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

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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

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