Yannick Ilunga aka Petite Noir, the inventor of ‘noir wave’ and member of the Capital of Cool creative crew just brought out his new single Pressure and a trippy music video to accompany the tune. Freshly back from London town, he spoke to us about what inspired him, unique music and bad grammar.
How do you create music? Is there a particular process?
I just create what I feel. I just go to the studio and make music. It doesn’t really have to be a particular way or a process.
Do you expect to reach a certain type of individual with your music or do you expect anyone to like your sound?
Anyone could like my music. I don’t really try to target a market while creating it.
How important is it to you that you sound unique?
Everyone has to have their own sound. I feel like a lot of people have been trying to copy a song without referencing properly, but it’s very important because it defines who you are.
Do you think, music-wise and generally, it has become harder to invent stuff today because it seems like so many things have been invented already?
It just takes creativity. Everything is borrowed from something else – nothing is a hundred per cent.
On that note, what kinda music do you borrow from? What genre\artists inspire you?
80s, new wave, that’s why I created the word ‘noir wave’. That’s my genre – and African music.
As an artist are you scared of the word ‘pop’?
No, not at all.
In an interview with “The Guardian.co.uk” you said “you can appreciate a Britney song as much as you can appreciate a Radiohead one.” Why do you say that? How do you measure taste? Is there some sort of standard?
No, hmmm, it has nothing to do with measuring standards or whatever, if the song is good the song is good. You can’t just hate on artists because they make pop music or because you think it’s uncool. It’s just about having an open mind. Britney spears could have a song that could be as good as a Radiohead song.
What did you grow up listening to? What kinda music did your parents make you listen to?
I grew up listening to a lot of pop music and Congolese music.
Would you say your music is South African? Are cultural ties important to you?
No, my music is not South African. My music is worldwide, from everywhere, from all over. I don’t wanna classify my music as from a specific country. I wanna classify it as everything I have done in my life. All the places I have been and everything I have listened to has influenced my music.
So how would you position your sound? If you ever had to be nominated for a Grammy, which category you think they would put you on?
Best album of the year (laughs) – but seriously it would probably be like alternative pop or something close to the genre.
What African artists would you like to work with?
I would like to work with Amadou Mariam from Mali – they have a really good sound.
You have been to Europe, would you say it’s harder for African artists to make it than European ones?
I think if you make music that whoever likes it will buy into it. I don’t classify myself as a Cape Town artist. I’m just based in Cape Town.
How was South African music perceived when you got there?
Not many people knew about a lot of South African music in England or Europe. South Africa is definitely bringing out a new wave of unique artists I think!
Why did you decide to go London?
For me London is a better place to work. I’m not really in my comfort zone here.
Pressure has a toned-down drama to it, would you say your music is sad music?
No, it’s just emotional.
What inspired the track? What were you going through at the moment you wrote the song?
Social pressure…just everything in general…anything that pressurizes your life…issues such as not fitting in really!
Did you misspell ‘Petite Noir’ on purpose?
Yes I did misspell it on purpose.
Because I wanted to.
Where you bad at grammar?
I was actually really good in grammar, I just didn’t feel like it.
So the mistake should be approved because of your grammar skills?
When can we expect an album from Petite Noir?
Next year sometime…so unsure exactly when right now.
What’s next for Petite Noir?
A European tour next month in November and a few festivals and dates on my own.
Click here to watch Petite Noir’s music video for Pressure on onesmallseed.tv
Interview by John Norman