Stromae: Live from KCRW.
Photo by Larry Hirshowitz

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.”

Photo by Larry Hirshowitz.

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.

Photo by Larry Hirshowitz.

Photo by Larry Hirshowitz.

Photo by Larry Hirshowitz.

Photo by Larry Hirshowitz.


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

More from KCRW

In a town like LA that takes its food scene seriously, local chefs say coming together and breaking bread has taken on new meaning as the war in Gaza continues.

from Greater LA

KCRW’s Digital head Andrea Domanick brings you a selection of artists handpicked from M For Montreal, like punks w/ a certain je ne sais quoi, La Sécurité.

from Music News

Musician and cartoonist Dave Chisholm documents Miles Davis’ turbulent life in the new graphic novel, “Miles Davis and the Search for the Sound.”

from Press Play with Madeleine Brand

Musician and photographer Henry Diltz captured rock history magic while hanging out with CSN&Y in the 1960s, and he’s sharing it all in his new photography book.

from Greater LA

Writer-director Greta Gerwig describes wanting to ‘catch a ride on’ David Bowie’s 1972 album, ‘Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.’

from The Treatment

The producers behind BroadwayHD discuss the popular theater streamer. Plus, Sara Bareilles and Jessie Nelson dish on “Waitress: The Musical” in movie theaters.

from The Business