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A Day in the Art Life of...

A Day in the Art Life of Petite Noir

The ‘A Day in the Art Life’ series is meant to convey a sense of the life of art world figures; a taste of their routine or an ideal day in their life, sprinkled with some philosophical musings.

Sitting in a black chair, facing an organ, is a man dressed in black, wearing a pink feathered hat.
Yannick Ilunga, also known by his stage name Petite Noir, is a Belgian-born, South-African-raised, Congolese singer, songwriter, and producer. He gained recognition for his unique blend of electronic, pop, and African musical influences, creating a sound that is both innovative and captivating. With his soulful vocals and genre-bending approach, Yannick Ilunga has established himself as a prominent figure in the alternative music scene.

My day begins with… saying a few words to the lord almighty. I like to spend an hour or two quietly, thinking and meditating on whatever it is that I need to do that day. I do this wherever I am. I am constantly moving so certain things like meditation are very important. I do it in my bed. Wherever I lay my head. I feel like I am in constant communication with God. Wherever I am.

Currently, I am very active and working a lot which makes my mind operative all the time. So to be honest, I’m not as consistent as I want to be. Throughout my day, I am constantly thinking of problem solving or the next idea that will bring me one step closer to my goal. Right now I am also moving around a lot for work. My publisher is in Paris and my label is in London so I’m constantly between the two.

Later in the year I might be able to take some down time in South Africa or Congo - that is why I make these moments to keep me grounded, like meditation. Even if it’s not the way that we traditionally know it. For me meditation can be going for a walk and just being deep in my thoughts. This is my favourite kind - in nature preferably.

A man wrapped in loose red fabric standing in front of a burning white car.

When I need to feel inspired, I… Usually go for long walks around the city mostly in areas where there are parks, beaches, promenades, or getting lost in a forest. Or, I visit a gallery or museum such as White Cube or Tate Modern which are currently my favs. But really, creativity speaks to me anywhere.

My family and friends are usually also super sources of inspiration as they have held me down during my toughest moments. I usually call my mom, and read things that she and my dad send me. My mom lives in Congo but she is also travelling constantly.

I'm not into watching movies or reading too much. There is no other feeling that inspires me like writing music and creating music in my studio. There is a specific feeling that I get when I create music that I can get from nowhere else and it fuels and inspires other facets of my life.

Exterior view of a modern white-walled building in St James's London.

Some of my best ideas come... At the most random times. Most times I get these downloads - this is what I call messages from my inner self that appear when I’m deep in thought at times when my intuition is most alive and aware - sometimes in the middle of the night. Sometimes I constantly wake up in the middle of the night. I know that there are ideas that are trying to come to me, usually at around 3am and 5am.

Sometimes it happens while I’m working on creating music. I get ideas while creating, like a streamlined process, but things aren't always that easy. Sometimes just seeing something gives me an idea. My best ideas also come from my home land, Congo, and Africa as a whole.

Image: White Cube, St James's London.
Dark green, densely wooded, foggy Congo Rainforest.

The place that means a lot to me… Would be Congo, because I didn’t get the chance to really grow up there, so when I am there it’s a really special time for me. The way I relate my ideas to Congo and Africa is that they also set a template in terms of their rich agriculture and the landscape as a whole. In my mind I can imagine a place like the rainforest and try to create a sonic version of that.

The elements really influence my art. The way they just are. Nature has perfect timing. It doesn’t make mistakes. It knows its role and goals and moves towards them with discipline, for centuries sometimes even. So to me, there is no better visual inspiration. And Congo embodies a lot of the aesthetics that I see or hear in my head. The energy of the land is also very powerful and dense.

Image: Congo Rainforest

The artwork/object/thing that I could never part with… My guitar! I will never be able to part with my beautiful Fender baby! The guitar is the first instrument I picked up as a kid and will forever be faithful to it.

If I could, I would collect… Every single Francis Bacon, Samuel Ross and Kerry James Marshall piece!

My idea of happiness… Is peace of mind… that is the most important thing to me. Getting to a place where I have peace of mind, but also working on what I love, while going through the ups and downs.

Are you a passionate writer with a unique perspective on contemporary art, culture, and social justice or an individual with untold stories or overlooked insights?
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