Hello Irma, How are you?
I am pretty good. Always :)
We saw your fantastic Google Chrome commercial which teared us up a little. It’s wonderful to see that talented musicians can actually make their dreams come true. So, how has your life changed since you posted your first song on YouTube in 2007?
Thank you very much ! I don’t even know where to start ! My life has changed dramatically since I posted my first song on Youtube . I think I still can’t realize how much, though. At that time I was a student in a Parisian business school (from which I graduated two years ago:) I had arrived from Cameroon, 5 years before that, with all the difficulties that such a cultural change implies. My only rock and anchor was my music. I started posting videos on Youtube to share my passion with my friends, not really realizing the huge thing that this network was going to become for artists a few years later. One day I woke up and saw that one of my original songs was featured in 25 countries around the world. My fairy tale started. Thanks to an indie label called MyMajorcompany based on crowd-funding, 416 people sent from heaven raised 70k euros in 48 hours to offer me the opportunity to record and promote my 1st album. Then I started touring around France, then Europe, then in the US, then China. Every night I was feeling so blessed that I got to live these unbelievable human experiences. I’ve just released my 2nd album that I had the chance to record in a beautiful studio called Jungle City in NYC last year . Timbaland was in the room next door, and one night he sat in the studio for hours listening to my songs and to my story…:))) As a child, I really could never have imagined or even dreamed of what I am experiencing right now.
What was the first song you wrote? What inspired you to write it?
I have been writing since I was 11, and I know is the first song I finished. I can remember that moment as if It was yesterday . I was in my bedroom, playing my 1st guitar ever, which belongs to my father.
At that time I realized that the social inequalities that I saw every day seemed casual and normal for the adult people around me. And it just drove me crazy . I couldn’t stand or understand this “down to earth” resignation toward injustice. But as a child I knew my words had absolutely no importance . So music appeared as my only way to express this frustration. It was my only weapon.
Do you remember the first thing you did when you signed your first record contract?
I called my parents They live in Cameroon. I was excited and scared at the same time. I needed their blessing :)
The video of your latest song, “Save Me” is spectacular! How did you come up with the idea?
Thank you ! For this video, I really wanted an artistic performance that had never ever been done before . This song is basically saying “ I want to get out of this dark , paralyzing box I am trapped in because of my fears, my addictions. Step by step I need to set my self free. So I wanted a performance that symbolized freedom in every way. A performance that symbolized a walk from darkness to hope and liberation. Literally I needed to perform in an imaginary world that could magically slip from hell to heaven. I sat down with a friend of mine named Xavier Maingon. Originally he is a lighting and artistic director. And probably the most creative person I know. Just like me he likes to be challenged and brain teased :)) He’s the one who came up with the brilliant mapping idea and the collaboration with “SuperBien” a Parisian graphic agency specializing in the production and conception of 3D and lotion based content.
Which allowed to mix the dance and singing performances with a background that was constantly evolving from darkness to light . Well, the technical and artistic challenge lived up to our expectations:)))
Everything had to happen in perfect unison at the video shoot, since it was recorded in one shot. How much time did you spend rehearsing? How many times did you have to record it so that the final take could be perfect?
It took one day of rehearsal with just me and the choreographer- Marion Motin. (Who, among many others, choreographed for Madonna !!!:)
Then we had only one day of shooting on the set. So we rehearsed the choreography with the little girls (who did an unbelievable job) in the morning, while Xavier and the SuperBien team were thoroughly working on the technical adjustments. Then at 2pm we went for the first take. We knew that it was going to take a few takes before the technique and the performances were perfectly synchronized. We shot the last and final one at 9pm after at least 20 full takes !!
As an artist whose career was launched on YouTube, where do you think the online music industry is headed? What challenges will artists be facing?
If only I knew ! :) My guess is the online music industry is going to take more and more space in the traditional music industry. Allowing artists to be emancipated from the traditional way of promoting their music. We can’t even really call it traditional anymore .
But this democratization of the music industry naturally leads to a tough and open competition among the thousands of artists that share their work everyday. The only advice that I can give is always stay true to yourself. Work on emphasizing all the particularities that make you and your own sound unique. Always try not to accommodate with the trend but to create your own to stand out. . That is to me one of the most important challenge. The other one is to have faith and never stop doing your best because I believe when your work is eventually out there, it’s destiny. It is not really in your hand anymore :))
To how many platforms do you upload your music?
I only upload my music to Youtube, and then share it on my other pages such as Facebook, Twitter.. I used to upload it on Myspace but I don’t anymore. I just started using Soundcloud a few weeks ago.
How many plays does your most popular song have?
On Youtube my most popular songs have 13 million plays . But I don’t know the number of plays it has in total considering other platforms.
What do you think about the idea of an online platform that would provide the total number of plays and likes a song of yours has (regardless of how many versions exists on multiple sharing platforms uploaded by you or by someone else)?
I think that’s brilliant. How many times I heard of stories about artists finding out one day that one of their songs had had a huge impact in this or that country and had absolutely no idea. That is an extreme situation of course but even if you spend days trying to figure it out, it’s literally impossible to be aware of all the platforms where your music is available, played, popular …this would be a priceless tool for artists allowing them to evaluate and work on the real impact of their music worldwide.
Thank you for making this possible :))
What are your plans for the near (and far) future?
Well, I am now starting my 2nd European and African tour. I hope it will be as long, as intense and as blissful as the 1st one. I also hope to have the opportunity to go write my 3rd album somewhere in Central or South America , maybe Argentina, maybe Nicaragua …don’t know yet.
For now, I’ll just try my best to. measure up, cherish and hand back all these beautiful things that I received gracefully.