Since releasing his first ever single (‘Till We Ghosts’) as Petite Noir in 2012, Yannick Illunga coined the term “Noirwave” to describe his sound which stems from a mixture of African and new wave influences. Today we see the release of The King of Anxiety, Yannick’s debut EP which we’ve been waiting for since we caught up with him for our annual Young South Africa series last year.
Our first indication of what we might expect came from the EP’s lead single ‘Chess’. It’s decidedly uplifting for a song written during a break up, though Yannick’s smooth vocals do well to conceal the fact as he sings “I can smile again, it’s possible – with or without you”. The track was later accompanied by a music video directed and shot over a weekend in Hackney by East London filmmaker Cieron Magat.
Earlier this month Yannick dropped a new recording of ‘Till We Ghosts’ feat. Yasiin Bey aka Mos Def (the original, not the remix, made its way onto the EP) and just last week we were given the official audio for the mesmerizing and moody track, ‘Shadows’. ‘Come Inside’ and ‘The Fall’ make up the rest of the 5 track EP. In an interview with Pitchfork Yannick reveals the name of the EP to be a triumph of contradiction. The King of Anxiety “is meant to be positive”, he says. “But in a lot of cases in life, you need to be the king – even during bad times, you need to overcome.”
Yannick grew up wanting to be a policeman, then a skateboarder, until music “found him” and, as it were, pretty much took over. That’s not to say he isn’t involved in other pursuits – clothing collaborations and videos have also formed part of his creative output, over and above his various musical endeavours thus far. In our Young South Africa interview with him, he filled us in on how his style of music has developed: “What inspired it was the fact that I was interested in all different kinds of music, before coming back to my roots. My musical journey basically went in reverse. People usually go from the music they listen to at home – from their parents, traditional music etc. – and branch out from there. I went the complete opposite. I wasn’t really interested in the norm and from an early age started listening to music outside of my culture and home. Things like metal and punk and stuff like that. Then I came back around to listening to more traditional things, finding myself and what a rich ear in music my family always had.”
Purchase a digital version of The King of Anxiety (which will also be available on vinyl soon) here.