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Every Wednesday at 4pm the North 103.3 highlights global artists during Northland Afternoon

World Music Wednesday: Stromae

Stromae sitting posed in front of a white screen. Wearing a black bowtie, white button-up shirt, and blue sweater vest. The background is set up to look like a bedroom with a desk on the right and a mattress on the ground to the left.

World Music Wednesday is a weekly segment on The North 103.3 FM. Every Wednesday at 4pm on Northland Afternoon, we will feature a brand-new release or a significantly important past work from our vast library of music from around the world.

Support for World Music Wednesday comes from Simply Ballroom in Duluth's Craft District.

Today’s World Music Wednesday spotlights Belgian artist Paul van Haver, better known as Stromae. He is half Belgian, half Rwandan, born in Brussels. He originally studied classical music in school before being sent to boarding school at the age of 16. During that time he formed a small rap group with his friends. To this day Stromae is known for blending hip-hop with electronic music.

In 2000, Stromae used the stage name Opsmaestro, later changing it to Stromae which is Maestro with the syllables reversed, following French slang style Verlan. When Stromae was 18 years old he co-created a rap duo with rapper J.E.D.I, the duo created one music video before J.E.D.I left the group.

Stromae released his first album Juste un Cerveau un Flow un Fond et un Mic (meaning just a brain, a flow, a background, and a mic) but it wasn’t until Stromae started training at a radio station NRJ that his music career took off. The music manager of NRJ was impressed by what would be Stromae’s first single Alors On Danse (meaning then we dance) and allowed for it to be played on air for the first time. Soon after that Stromae signed with Vertigo Records. Just two years after the initial release, the song reached number one in Belgium, France, Sweden, Greece , Germany, Austria, Turkey, Switzerland, Italy, Denmark, Romania and the Czech Republic. Later that year he collaborated with Kanye West and Gilbere Forte for a remix of Alors On Danse. He also was nominated for Best Dutch and Belgian Act at the MTV Europe Music Awards in 2010, and once again nominated for Best Belgian Act in 2011.

Prior to the release of Stromae’s second album, the single Papaoutai was released and charted top five in Belgium, France, Netherlands, and Switzerland. In May 2013, a video of Stromae allegedly drunk and staggering around a train station went viral. A couple of days after the video went viral it was announced that Stromae was releasing his new single Formidable and the videos were from his upcoming music video which was taken on hidden cameras. Stromae released his second album Racine Carrée (meaning square root) in August 2013. Stromae once again was nominated and won Best Belgian Act at the MTV Europe Music Awards. During this time Stromae partnered with his wife, Coralie Barbier who is a fashion designer, to create the fashion line Mosaert (an anagram for Stromae). Stromae wanted to bring together British style and African aesthetics. The first collection launch was a success and was almost completely sold out in only three days.

Stromae made it onto the Late Night Show with Seth Meyers in 2014 which kicked off his US tour. He went on to work with Lorde and various artists to create the soundtrack for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part One. In 2015 Stromae once again toured the US, performing at SXSW, Coachella, and became the first exclusively French-singing artist to sell out a concert at Madison Square Garden.

After a couple of years working on his clothing line and releasing a few singles, Stromae announced that his third album Multitudes would be released in March of 2022. The single leading up to the album Santé was released in October of 2021. In an interview with KCRW, Stromae was asked if this was a song about workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, however the song was written about the woman who cleans his house and more broadly it was written about celebrating the people who are “working while we are partying”. He also created a dance to go with the song Santé.

In April 2023, Stromae canceled a couple of tour dates due to health concerns and the next month the rest of the tour was canceled. Stromae is still working on his clothing line Mosaert, releasing their latest clothing line Capsule 8 at the end of May, 2023.

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