Paul Van Haver
Also known as
12 March 1985 (age 25)
Hip hop, New Beat, Electronic music
Musical keyboard, drums
Paul Van Haver, better known as Stromae [stromaj] (born 12 March 1985, Brussels, Belgium) is a singer-songwriter of Belgian-Rwandan origin. He has distinguished himself in both hip hop and electronic music. He first became famous with the song “Alors on danse” which remained at number one for several weeks in numerous countries throughout Europe.
In 2000 he appeared as a rapper called Opmaestro, though he later changed his stage name to Stromae (a syllablic inversion of “Maestro”, a practice calledverlan). It was with this name that Van Haver became successful.
At the age of 18, he founded a rap group called “Suspicion”, along with rapper “J.E.D.I.” in Eichof. They produced the song and music video “Faut que t’arrête le Rap…”, though later, J.E.D.I. decided to leave the rap duo.
Portrait of Stromae.
In order to finance his private school education, Van Haver worked part-time in the hospitality industry, but his school performance wasn’t up to standard. It was only later, when he registered at l’Institut National de Radioélectricité et Cinématographie, that he released his first album “Juste un cerveau, un flow, un fond et un mic…”.
During his study at the film school of Brussels, Stromae decided in 2007 to concentrate fully on his musical career. This resulted in his debut-EP “Juste un cerveau, un flow, un fond et un mic…”.
In 2008 he signed a 4-year record deal with “Because Music” and “Kilomaître”. In 2009 Paul worked as a young trainee at the musical radio station NRJ in Brussels. Vincent Verbelen, Music Manager, was impressed by the talent of Stromae’s first single ‘Alors on danse’ and decided to air it for the first time on NRJ. The response from listeners was one of extreme enthusiasm and Stromae’s career was launched. Sales quickly rose to number one in Belgium in just a matter of weeks.
Vertigo Records, a label of Mercury Records France (Universal Music Group) signed him for a worldwide licensing deal soon after this.
By May 2010 the track Alors on danse had reached number one in France, the Netherlands, Greece, Germany, Austria, Turkey, Switzerland, Italy, Denmark, Belgium, Romania and the Czech Republic.
On September 2, a remix of his hit Alors on danse has been made by Kanye West and himself.
Of his music and its influences he has said : ” I was in a little group doing rap music. I thought that rather than copying the French sound, I’d focus on a more American style but give it a European spin. And then I rediscovered 90s Eurodance. For a long time we were ashamed of that sound but in fact there’s a lot to discover, it has its roots in everything from house to salsa. I also really admire Jacques Brel – he has been a huge influence on me – but also all sorts of other stuff, Cuban son, and the Congolese rumba which I heard as a child; that music rocked the whole of Africa.” The critic Molloy Woodcraft : ” He combines 90s electro synths and beats with a laidback delivery to mesmeric effect”.