Belgian singer Stromae quickly rose to fame in the early 2010s, and soon after, the pressures of public life took their toll. The artist has been open about his depression and anxiety, the cause of his seven-year hiatus from pop stardom. With the recent release of his long-awaited album Multitude, the maestro is back and ready to bare all—even stripping his complex electronic pop hits all the way down to an intimate live performance.
Stromae’s music relies on intricate, heavy layering of global sounds and tracks. During live performances, this often means pre-recorded tracks are essential to maintaining the original sound of his music. And while this practice works well for selling out Madison Square Garden, it’s not how performances usually go at NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts. For this engagement, NPR gave the short instructions, “no preset sounds,” and Stromae’s team got to work finding a way to carefully craft his music in real time.
The team came early a day before to rehearse for hours, bringing in an array of computers, synthesizers, mixers, and producers to accomplish the feat. The resulting performance shows the marvel of modern technology and the ingenuity of Stromae. Starting with “L’enfer,” Stromae digs his heels into the darkness of the song’s lyrics, relishing in the intimacy of Tiny Desk to belt out alongside members of the Yasna Voices NY Bulgarian Women's Choir. Stromae’s “Santé” somehow maintains the upbeat, cumbia spirit of its studio-recorded predecessor, while the performance of “Alors on danse” refreshes the 2009 megahit. Releasing all of the electronic elements of the previous songs, the group ends the session by performing an incredible a cappella rendition of “Mon amour.”
Stromae’s Tiny Desk Concert shows an artist relinquishing themselves to the bare bones of their music, resulting in a perfect capsule of a long, successful career.
Scroll down to watch and listen to Stromae’s captivating Tiny Desk Concert.