A New York Evening With Stromae
80 N 6th St, Brooklyn, NY 11249, USA
The GRAMMY Museum is thrilled to present an intimate conversation and performance with Stromae at National Sawdust in Brooklyn, NY. The conversation will include a discussion about his career, including his latest album Multitude, his current North American arena tour, fashion, creative process, as well as his artistic influences, musical background, and more. Following the conversation, Stromae will perform.
Stromae is one of many artists to be featured in the GRAMMY Museum’s new New York City program series, which includes bringing a slate of the GRAMMY Museum’s renowned GRAMMY In The Schools Education Programs and Public Programs to the East Coast in partnership with the City of New York Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment. “A New York Evening With…” is presented by City National Bank.
Since 2015, Stromae has been busy. He launched five clothing collections and collaborated on videos for Yael Naïm (Coward), Dua Lipa (IDGAF) and Billie Eilish (Hostage) under the Mosaert label. He created the label in 2009, together with Luc Van Haver and stylist Coralie Barbier for artistic creation. It operates in the fields of fashion, audiovisual media and, of course, music. When his Brussels studio was completed in 2018, his life changed pace to that of a craftsman returning to his workshop for a third album, Multitude.
You don’t need to dig deep into descriptions of suffering to recognize the paradoxical fruitfulness of certain negative experiences. Multitude comes after a period during which Stromae’s body slowed down drastically, forcing him to take a hiatus from the stage. With it came enforced furlough and its silver linings: settling down, leading a more relaxed, structured life, closer to family, making work exciting again, expanding his sources of inspiration and, most of all, making what he went through worth it by reinvesting the dividends of this challenging phase into the core of new songs. Far from any self-centered self-pity, Stromae took advantage of this time in his life to identify more closely with others, putting himself in the shoes of characters he feels sympathy for (in the etymological meaning “suffering with”). The unstable men in La Solassitude and Mon Amour, the prostitute’s son in Fils de Joie, the depressed and suicidal protagonists of Mauvaise Journée and L’Enfer, the mismatched couple in Pas Vraiment, the invisible people in Santé, the suffering women in Déclaration; he embraces them all with kindness and altruism, providing each with a touching portrait. By doing so, he gives the title Multitude a deep resonance, the same one that Walt Whitman conveys in his poem, of which Stromae could take up the opening: “I am large, I contain multitudes, I am of every hue and caste, of every rank and religion.”
With a Rwandan father that he did not see often and a Flemish mother who single-handedly ran a household of six, Stromae was born Paul Van Haver in 1985 in Brussels. He grew up with this sometimes blurry and chaotic double identity, a relationship to himself and others that he learned to soothe through music. An innate alchemist of opposites, he found the magic formula for mixing rap, afrobeat and francophone lyrics without offending the tradition tied to one or corrupting the dance DNA that the others share. We know what came next. The albums Cheese (2010) and Racine Carrée (2013) spearheaded by the titles Alors On Danse, Papaoutai and Formidable exceeded all expectations, filled concert venues and took over dancefloors: 4 million albums were sold (including 3.5 million physical sales). Stromae received countless awards, including four Victoires de la Musique, four NRJ Awards, one MTV Award, and achieved historical feats like filling the prestigious Madison Square Garden in New York. To date, his discography has about 6.5 billion streams worldwide. A multitude, not far off from the number of people making up humanity, which is concealing another type of multitude…
Among his childhood memories, the ones that he particularly cherishes are family travels to far-away countries. Mali, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina… his mother had a pronounced taste for otherness, going so far as to drag her children along with her backpacking off beaten paths and tourist routes. We had previously caught a glimpse of Stromae’s taste for sounds which he seemed to have become sensitive to on the road, such as the cavaquinho in Avé Cesaria. In Multitude, they become essential features. Chinese violin, or erhu, in La Solassitude, Persian ney flute in Pas Vraiment, Andean charango in Mauvaise Journée, Venezuelan tres in Mon Amour, most of them played by authentic musicians, which would make it difficult to accuse Stromae of cultural appropriation. On his current playlist, you can hear Mongolian diphonic songs, Colombian cumbia and traditional Sahrawi music, a sign that his interest for what can only be called “exoticism” is neither a phase nor meaningless. It is nothing like putting on a folk costume, but rather a part of the subtle art of reaching out to the other. Multitude is Stromae’s other way of exploring the world, while staying firmly attached to his roots.
Having stayed loyal to the same software for 15 years, the beatmaker who was waiting to be awoken since Racine Carrée renovated his toolbox with a distinctly South American influence. In Santé, the first track, C’est Que du Bonheur and La Solassitude, Stromae switches the patterns up, leaving aside overly used ones, and humanizes the language of the machine, going so far as to introduce a string quartet and a harpsichord in Fils de Joie. An alchemy of opposites, shaped by the will to testify without judgement or contempt to the human condition in all its diversity, and to the urge to explore the lives of others, sometimes your own (Que du bonheur on fatherhood, Invaincu on healing), making this album a window on the world, on people, and a rare moment of communion and pleasure to be shared.
Stream Multitude: https://interscope.lnk.to/multitude
View dates for Stromae’s North American arena tour: https://www.stromae.com/en/tour/
Show Time: 7:30pm
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