Noire Velours recently unveiled her latest song and music video, “Full Of Myself,” an empowering and soulful anthem, and we had the chance to chat with the emerging Togolese singer-songwriter to talk about her inspiration and vision as an artist.
Please tell us more about your new release..
My new single, “Full Of Myself,” is a self confidence booster. I want everyone listening to feel as powerful and proud as I was, writing it. The song is all about the path of becoming a confident human being, so confident that you feel invincible.
In other places, a common expression to outline what I wish people feel like while connecting is literally, "I am the shit’’.
In ‘’Mina’’ a native language from the south of Togo, we tend to add a provocative aspect to it by comparing ourselves to deity. I felt it was the correct way to end the song while reconnecting with my culture by saying: “I am the voodoo, what can they say?”
After all, without knowing our culture, where can you go? What future can we build?
Have your surroundings shaped you in a creative sense, and in what way?
Growing up, I was always singing in my bathroom or with my aunt and her sons in Benin and they are actually the first people I shared a stage with. Everybody is an artist in the family: painters, singers, writers, fashion designers… so I grew up in a whirlwind of creativity.
I am not even surprised I became a singer; I just wish I knew sooner that it was more than a Saturday hobby or a simple family activity.
What is one experience in life that, without it, you wouldn’t be the artist you are today?
I think it is the loss of my cousin, who was like my brother that finessed the artist I am today. He died in his 20's, in a tragic accident in France. He was one of the cousins I used to sing with and also an amazing rapper.
I was broken for sure, but it made me realize that this one life that we have, we need to make the most of it, living and totally fulfilling our dreams.
Somehow I know he is proud of me, of his brothers.
Do you have anyone that you consider your mentor? How has their help or advice shaped you?
Mentors? I have a lot of them! My producers for sure, Eddy Mufasa and Kick'F, the mystical Togolese singer Elom20ce, my dear aunt Huguette. What I like about these people is they talk to the artist but also to the young African woman I also am. They feed me as a whole person, as Christelle, as Noire Velours.
I learned to be confident in my music, thinking: ‘’Just because you don't feel ready does not means you are not’’
But you know, the best mentor is the Universe, God, the Energy. Whatever you want to call it.
How does your creative process differ now compared to when you started?
I can't say that I changed my creative process. It is just more organized since I signed with my label. Working with a team has helped me focus on the writing and emotion of my songs, without having to worry about production or promotion anymore.
I produced myself my first single ‘’Black Is’’ and its music video. And let me tell you, unless you can kagebushin like Naruto, well you definitely need a team :D :D
If you could take anyone in the world dead or alive for dinner, who would it be?
It would be my cousin for sure! First because I miss him, and let's be honest, where he is, I think he now knows all the secrets of life. I want all of it. And the gossip too!
Where do you find your inspiration?
My inspiration are the sounds I hear, pieces of conversations, movies, anime and manga, artists that inspire me such as: Masego, Angelique Kidjo, Brymo, Doja Cat, Burna Boy, Nina Simone, the list can go on and on.
But what inspires me the most are the human feelings. The ones we don't really pay attention to. The ones that can be filthy or dirty. The ones that are so subtle. You know when you are happy on your birthday, you are not just happy. You are happy of course, but also always anxious of the future, a bit sad and nostalgic, afraid because one day or another, you will die. We all always feel these things, but we tend to numb our minds with work, distractions, social media, couple life, etc. This is what gets my interest.
Feelings and how to deal with some of them.
Who are your top 3 favorite artists of all time?
My top three best artists of all time: Michael Jackson, James Brown, Rihanna. Period. Point. Blank. Ain't nobody tell me nothing.
Do you prefer recording music or live performances?and why?
I love recording because for me it is like cooking a good meal that you can't wait to share with the world. But! Live performances are my favorite. The energy, the people, the sound of the instruments, the stress, the one second of self-doubt, the adrenaline, the applause, this is what I live for. I need to work harder on my performance to be able to get on the biggest stages of this planet.