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Noirwaver: Petite Noir Takes New York City

We go behind-the-scenes with Petite Noir at his Brooklyn concert, the last American stop on the 'La Vie Est Belle/ Life Is Beautiful' tour.

Petite Noir in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. All photography by Dexter R. Jones


Petite Noir is sitting backstage at a Brooklyn venue watching skateboarding videos on his tablet phone while he waits on his sound check.

The Congolese-Angolan songwriter is finishing up a run of shows in promotion of his debut album La Vie Est Belle/ Life Is Beautiful that have seen him and his band perform across Europe and America.

New York City is his last stop in the U.S. and, though his reserved stance doesn't show it, Petite Noir will be playing a roaring live show for a sold out crowd at Baby's All Right later that evening.

Petite Noir, aka Yannick Ilunga, has been crafting and perfecting a sound that he calls 'Noirwave' in his home of Cape Town for over three years.

'Noirwave' channels electronic production, post-punk intensity, and Ilunga's baritone vocals into a forward-looking sound influenced by the likes of Fela Kuti, Tabu Ley Rochereau and Yasiin Bey (who he's previously collaborated with).

"Noirwave is a new wave with an African aesthetic, it grew from just being a sound to a whole movement. It’s a mental thing," Ilunga mentions.

We sent photographer Dexter R. Jones to capture behind-the-scenes, black-and-white moments of Petite Noir surrounding his Brooklyn performance.

Petite Noir in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Photography by Dexter R. Jones

Petite Noir in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Photography by Dexter R. Jones

Petite Noir in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Photography by Dexter R. Jones

Petite Noir at Baby's All Right. Photography by Dexter R. Jones

Petite Noir at Baby's All Right. Photography by Dexter R. Jones

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