Dark pop goes global
If you haven’t heard of Petite Noir yet, you will soon – but don’t expect to bump into frontman Yannick Ilunga in South Africa any more.
The Cape Town-based singer, songwriter and producer this week packed his bags and moved to London days after signing a debut album deal with highly respected UK-based independent record company Domino.
Ilunga’s dark and tarty electronic pop sounds will be winning international audiences – the way he did on a recent tour of London.
Everyone from Pitchfork to The Guardian raved about the impressive new talent with the dark and catchy retrofuture sounds.
In London, Ilunga was invited to perform on the hip livestreaming performance site Boiler Room.
“The next day Domino contacted me and said, ‘We really like you’. I think one of them had watched it online,” said Ilunga this week.
With a deep voice and broody lyrics set to fresh electro compositions, Ilunga is reminiscent of Eighties pop greats like Human League and Joy Division.
The comparison amuses him. “When people first started saying things like that, I had to go and look up some of the bands online.”
That’s not surprising, considering Ilunga has only just turned 22 and grew up listening to kwaito, ‘N Sync and Outkast.
He calls his curiously over-the-top yet understated sound “noir wave”, an African reading of “post-punk and new wave”.
As the child of a Congolese father and Angolan mother he is at the vanguard of a new Afropolitan sound attracting global attention. “(My sound) is for the whole world.”
His first outfit, Popskarr, attracted praise from the electronic underground, but it was his debut Petite Noir EP Till We Ghosts and its accompanying videos that saw him spread across the internet like a bushfire.
After another London tour he will settle down to record his debut full-length album for Domino early next year.