Stromae: KCRW Live from HQ
Intimate performances, fresh sounds, and candid conversations with a view.
Belgian-Rwandan electro producer Stromae commands attention when he enters a room, though less for his broad 6’3” frame than his effortlessly cool ‘70s attire, quiet confidence, and the sly smile that introduces his performance. With velvety vocals, a high-octane band, and disarming on-stage candor, the electro-hip-hop artist makes a specialty of entrancing crowds with heavy-hitting bass, sharp synths, and carefully textured horns — be it for tens of thousands at Coachella, as he did this spring, or for the lucky dozens in attendance for his KCRW: Live from HQ session.
Stromae — whose stage name is an anagram of “maestro,” or Spanish for “teacher” — first shot to notoriety in 2010 with his explosive number one single-turned-World-Cup-anthem “Alors on Danse,” which earned spots on 17 charts for 541 weeks. Since then, Stromae has proven himself an artist’s artist, offering a layered depth that goes beyond his pop appeal. On his aptly-named third album “Multitude,” released in March, Stromae explores connections to others and oneself through an experimental pop lens. Melodies made for dancing are paired with vulnerable truths about joy, family, and solitude, resulting in an easily accessible insight into his personal emotional evolution.
“Music is just feelings,” the artist born Paul Van Haver says of his songs’ international appeal, despite primarily singing and rapping in French. “You don't need to understand the lyrics to feel the groove.”
He also peels back the layers in conversation with Morning Becomes Eclectic co-host Anthony Valadez, exploring the importance of supportive family structures, gathering inspiration from his eclectic musical upbringing, and the possibilities of work life balance.
“We think we have to suffer to be creative, but it isn’t true. You can still be creative from 9 to 5,” he says.
Stromae also gets into the “special and intense” of performing in Rwanda, and reflects on the grief that came with losing his father to the Rwandan genocide. Family, he says, is a top priority, and professing love and gratitude for his wife and child is common across his discography.
In his artistic practice, Stromae offers a path forward for how we reckon with and transform such experiences, conveying the vast human emotional experience through song. His poetic lyrics atop a visceral electro-dance production style create music that not only honors his own culture and language, but transcends it to be innately understood and adored.
KCRW Music Director: Anne Litt
Video Director/Editor: Angie Scarpa
Camera Ops: Dalton Blanco, Vice Cooler, Angie Scarpa
Event Producer: Liv Surnow
Art Director: Evan Solano
Lighting Design: Jason Groman
Recording/Mix Engineer: Paul Smith
Audio Editor / Producer: Anna Chang
Digital Producer: Andrea Domanick