Blame Fire – Petite Noir

Combining post-punk and African musical traditions into a style he calls “noir wave,” Petite Noir is the project of South African singer/songwriter/producer Yannick Ilunga. Born in Brussels, he moved with his Angolan mother and Congolese father to Cape Town when he was six, and grew up singing and playing guitar in church. After spending some time in the metalcore band Fallen Within, Ilunga’s ideas of what music could be were changed after hearing Kanye West’s 808s & Heartbreak, and he began experimenting with Ableton while writing his own songs. When he was still in his teens, he met and began playing guitar for township tech pioneer Spoek Mathambo and formed the chillwave duo Popskarr with Terrence Pearce, whom Ilunga met through Mathambo. He continued to work on his own music, combining electronics, guitar, and his wide-ranging vocals into what would become Petite Noir. The project’s first single, “Till We Ghosts,” arrived in 2012 and soon earned acclaim; Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def) appeared on a remix of “Till We Ghosts,” and he opened for Solange on her 2013 tour. Ilunga signed to the Domino imprint Double Six and released the track “Chess” late in 2014, shortly before his debut EP, The King of Anxiety, arrived in March 2015. Taking its name from an acclaimed Congolese film, Petite Noir’s full-length debut La Vie Est Belle was recorded with Boxed In’s Oli Bayston and Ibibio Sound Machine’s Leon Brichard. It was released in September 2015. ~ Heather Phares

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