Created in South Africa. Inspired by the world. This is the sound of the future
Yannick Ilunga was born in Belgium to an Angolan mother and Congolese father. He spent his childhood in Central Africa and Europe, and grew up in Cape Town listening to metal and punk. No wonder the music he makes is hard to define. It doesn’t resonate with just one type of listener, nor does it fit neatly into a genre. So Ilunga – who performs as Petite Noir – created his own. He called it Noirwave, creating a distinct sound that has revolutionised the way the world hears African music.
At just 16 years old, Ilunga was already making music and sharing it online. He formed part of the African electro-pop band, Popskarr, and later co-founded the Drone Collective, where he joined forces with local creatives to make music, fashion and art. When he was invited to perform in London, he dropped out of his degree in sound engineering. His academic parents weren’t initially impressed, but Ilunga’s insistence on pursuing his talents as a songwriter, singer, musician and producer has led to his innovative combination of African and new wave influenced music.
In his rise to fame, Ilunga has headlined international music festivals and toured with Solange Knowles. Now that he has challenged the way we think about music from Africa, Ilunga is using a new medium to reflect his identity and showcase his creativity. His comic book, titled Nwero: The Noirwave Hero, depicts a character that comes from another planet to save ours and combat evil with the power of music. By drawing inspiration from his own experiences as an immigrant, Ilunga is giving back to South Africa’s creative scene by inspiring a whole new culture that isn’t limited to music.