During his recent tour of the west coast of North America, Stromae did some really wonderful interviews. Here’s a selection of some of our favorites. Click on the titles in red to read each of the full original interviews.
Is it a sign of Grammy Awards to come that Stromae’s been interviewed by GRAMMY Pro? The full content of this interview is only available to members of The Recording Academy, but there’s plenty here for the rest of us to enjoy as well. Calling Stromae “the ultimate festival artist,” the interview touches on Stromae’s thoughts on his Coachella debut, how he avoids clichés, and his belief that being equal parts ridiculous and pretentious onstage makes a great performer.
He mentions that, after his performance at Madison Square Garden on October 1st, “It’s going to be close to the end of the project with the second album.” Is he hinting that there may be still more tour dates in October?
The interview with Vibe was conducted just before Stromae made his Coachella debut, and the author notes that “the nerves are definitely there” for the performer, who is clearly “the shy sort when he’s not elevated on a stage in front of thousands.” Stromae is modest and humble about his success: “My job is composing, singing, performing, but not being a star. Being a star is not a job and that’s really important for me say.”
Stromae discusses how he’s feeling just before he takes the stage at Coachella, who he’d like to work with on his next project, and the fight he had with his manager about social media. He explains why he chose the medium of animation for the “Carmen” video and how American audiences are different from European ones.
He’s says he’s been composing a little, but only informally: “I’m trying some stuff in the lab; some ideas and when I’m in my shower. Just some melodies, but nothing really concrete.”
In answer to the question “What do you think people should know about Paul the person versus Stromae the artist?” Stromae answers frankly, “I think you should know more about Stromae than Paul…. When I’m on stage, that’s a job. It’s acting, it’s faking, just making fun of yourself, telling bad jokes—I’m pretty good in this—dancing, just to entertain. I’m really shy and it has to be like this because otherwise, I couldn’t be on the stage, you know. It’s because I’m so shy, I can be on stage, so pretentious, like, ‘Okay, who do you think you are to be on the stage in front of thousands of people?’ I’m a bit crazy, yes. Maybe you have to know that I’m a bit crazy.”
The interview for The Wild took place the day after Stromae’s performance at The Fader Fort at SXSW. Performing with just a DJ, without his musicians, was something he hadn’t done in years and “I forgot how exhausting it was yesterday. I remember how it was without the [other] musicians. You realize that when you’re onstage with them, you can share the energy. It was so difficult for me to breathe after the [solo] performance, I was like, ‘Okay, just be quiet, because I don’t know if you’ll still be alive at the end of the performance.’ You know when you’re too anxious, too stressed, you put so much energy and [it was] too much. I saw the performance and I was okay, but onstage, I was almost dying.” But at the same time, ultimately “it’s not just about technical things, it’s about music, not special effects and stuff. It was good to be back with the essentials.”
Here’s Stromae at The Fader Fort demonstrating his grasp of the essentials:
He’d love to add some new elements into the mix of aesthetic influences for the next “project,” which we take to mean the next album: “I don’t know, maybe Bolivian outfits, really nice Mexican blankets. There are so many things to discover.”
He also discusses the next Mosaert capsule, which is expected to be released in June.
In answer to the question “What do you hope listeners get out of your music, even if they don’t speak French?” he responds “Whatever they want, actually. That’s not my decision, it’s pretentious to say, ‘I want you to pay attention to this or to this.’ My music is mine when I’m alone in the studio. When my sound engineer listens to it, it’s his song as well, or when my brother or my manager listens to it. It’s the same with other people, it’s not mine anymore. If people want to listen to it just for dancing, it’s okay. If it’s for the lyrics, it’s okay. If it’s for both, it’s okay.”
As far as the infamous “break” Stromae plans to take after this tour, he says, “When you’re touring, it’s priceless to be alone, and I need to be alone. It’s so difficult sometimes when you’re on tour and all the time with somebody. It’s so important to be alone and focus on what you think and what you want, process all those feelings. I’m trying to compose now, but without thinking about the next album. I don’t want to have too much pressure, I’m just composing.”
He appreciates the energy of American audiences: “The big difference I can notice is that people are more expressive in the U.S. than in Belgium. I think that French people are more expressive than Belgian people, but people in the U.S. are so positive and there’s something positive you can feel onstage.”
He addresses the paradox inherent in the fact that he uses YouTube and social media for promotion while his video for “Carmen” criticizes the overuse of social media: “I’m saying that if you use it too much, that’s the danger. It’s a bit of a moralistic story, but at the same time, I’m not against social media, I’m not against Twitter. I’m just saying to myself first, ‘Be careful, it’s important that you love yourself, but not too much.’ That’s the reason why we chose to do [the video] in animation, to have a funny way to tell it.”