If you thought Afro-Western music was limited to either world music (The Very Best, Amadou & Mariam) or novelty joke groups (Die Antwoord), you’re dead wrong. Cape Town’s Yannick Iluga, better known by his stage name Petite Noir, is the perfect candidate to subvert your myopic view of what sort of music could come out from the continent.
Perhaps it’s his age – he’s only 21 – perhaps Cape Town, being South Africa and all, is just more globalised. Whatever it is, it is rather startling to find new wave goth coalescing with traditional African music. Or maybe it doesn’t? Petite Noir is purely new wave goth, crooning over his electronic production like he were from dreary sunlight-scarce London than sunny South Africa.
But unlike his pasty-white counterparts, Yannick has soul. So much soul that his sombre voice reverberates into your subconscious, causing an elegiac reaction that seems to belie the sunlit Cape Town milieu shown in the video to debut single ‘Till We Ghosts’. Perhaps because there’s so much soul to him that when otherwise trite sayings like “never going to be same again” is sung on the song, we believe him. Petite Noir is the opposite of diminutive, JUICE sees a crossover potential the likes of The Very Best.