Maxim Meyer-Horn

21 Feb
Music

Lous and The Yakuza: “I Thought of Becoming a Prostitute at Some Point”

It’s always interesting to meet artists that have something to say and want to share their story. Lous and The Yakuza is that kind of an artist and deeply impressed us during our talk at a sunny, but cold day in Brussels. At the age of twenty-two, the singer is all set to inspire the world with her songs and can count Madonna and Alicia Keys to her fans. In our chat, she talked about her roots, her busy life and exclusively reveals something about her debut album that will be released on June 5th.

You’re currently very busy with all the preparations for the release of your debut album in June. How are you getting yourself ready mentally and physically?

I’ve been doing a lot of dance training for the live shows and the videos that are coming up. We’re going to release two singles before the album release so that’s not much time for making two videos and all the other shoots that are coming up. I also try to take as much as free time for myself, which is very hard these days. To be home and not do shit is so hard.

I’m not only a singer and have so many things to do. Right after this interview, I’m heading into a meeting with architects because I’m designing 8000 square meters. It’s so hard to find time for myself at the moment, but I have to. Otherwise I’ll get crazy with the album release.

The media are slightly going crazy for you and calls you ‘the next big thing of 2020’. How happy are you with the response so far?

Of course, I couldn’t be happier. I want things, but I never expect anything. I just want enough to live for myself. But on the other hand, I need to be a millionaire, because I have to save some people from poverty in Africa, so I have these different objectives. I just have to say that I’m so happy with everyone’s response, but I wasn’t expecting that. I expected things to take more time to be honest.

The music that I’m bringing is not the music you used to hear, because when you look at the top 10s all over the world, there’s nothing like my music. It’s as if I don’t really belong anywhere, so I need to work harder and I’m just so glad that people actually wanted to give it a try. It gives me so much happiness.

You have worked very hard on your first album. Is there maybe something you can already reveal that you haven’t told anyone yet?

There’s a song about prostitution on the album that I really, really love. The lyrics of the song are awfully difficult, but it’s the song I’m most excited about since it will bring a lot of drama. Drama in a good sense, because I want people to talk about actual topics. My whole album is so fucking heavy!

Dilemme” and “Tout Est Gore” are the chillest songs on the album to already give you an idea. I really want to bring those subjects out and want to start conversations, because we can only change things, if we talk about it. That’s why I talk about things that could be seen as negative, but they are just the reality.

Has your life story had a big influence on the outcome of the album because of that?

The whole album is autobiographic and is a reflection of my life. The song about prostitution, that’s something I haven’t told anybody. I wrote it because I was thinking of becoming a prostitute at some point. I was living on the street without money or anything, so I had a feeling that there wasn’t anything I could do and thought that I might as well had to become a prostitute.

I wanted to interview many girls and boys that are in this situation and by asking them questions how it is and how they feel, that’s how I realized that I could never ever do it. It’s harder than anything we can possibly imagine.

It’s absolutely hard. A lot of people in that position put a lot of pressure on their shoulders and have difficulties to get out of their situation…

Yeah, it’s really a vicious circle. The song is written from the perspective of two kids. One of them is the son of a prostitute and the other one isn’t. The one that is the not-son of a prostitute is making fun of the son of the prostitute. That’s how I realized that I wouldn’t like to put my child in that position, without of course, judging any prostitute mother. So far, I can only relate to what I’m thinking it could be and not what it actually is.

You were born in Congo, moved to Brussels, then back to Rwanda and finally came back to Brussels. How have you experienced your youth.

Extremely different. When I was in Congo, I was separated from my mother at the age of two and basically didn’t know my mother, because she had to immigrate to Belgium in 1998, two years before I could. I grew up with just my father and when I finally met her, it was a bit weird to know that she was my mother and that my father didn’t come with us. I did feel uncomfortable, but at the same time, I have so many amazing memories.

In Congo, I was so happy because there was so much music, but I was living in a ghetto in Brussels. Back then, Anderlecht and Saint-Joost-ten-Noode (both towns in Belgium) were so awful. You used to see people dead in the street and crazy shit like that, but as a kid, you’re so reckless and only care about happiness.

When you’re young, you only want to be happy and have fun. You don’t care about all the other things. All these things gave me a certain sense of tragedy, because when I started writing, I started to base my texts on the reality type of stories. I loved watching anime on television and it really made me down-to-earth when I was young.

At the same time, I was such a happy kid and I’m still a very happy person. I’m really so happy that it hurts sometimes. My friends are always like: “Can you chill?” and I’m always so excited about so much shit. I think, I’m just in a trance of euphoria and am quite intense.

What were the first steps you took as a child or teenager in order to become a singer?

As soon as I started writing, I started writing songs. I did all school shows and my mother was organizing about ten parties a year. Parties in Africa are with like 200 people and that was only my family, so it was always a big event. We had to do multiple parties, because there were so many people on different sides of my family. I was basically performing at each of them and was like: “I want to read a poem for you!” and everybody thought: “Okay, you again.” (laughs)

I was really happy, singing, dancing, … I was just a born performer. When I was young, my best friend was the ‘brush in the mirror’ and had this Britney Spears-situation going on in my room, so it was a concert every day at home.

You already put out two songs. What did you want to show with “Dilemme” and “Tout est gore”?

I wanted to show my versatility as an artist. I wanted people to understand the bigger picture without getting shit, because you only have about three minutes to tell a story. For “Dilemme”, I wanted my listeners to understand the sorrow I had in me and all this duality. That’s why the title of the song is “Dilemme”, because it was so hard to choose at some point between being alone and being with people.

That’s the big decision I made in my life, because I was so confused by the human kind my whole life. Because I’ve always been extremely happy, like I said, and was extremely full of love, I used to tell people I loved them so much. I could be in relationships with women and men, and everybody couldn’t understand why I could love someone so fast. I was actually freaking them out and didn’t understand why people were so freaked about it.

At some point, it was really, really hard and I think, the last time I cried about it was this Christmas. It’s the day that makes me sad the most, because it makes me think of why love seems to be such a problem for many people. For example, I don’t get the concept of not saying “I love you!” to the person you’re in love with. Especially since I’m from Congo, where everybody is so extra.

“Dilemme” says that if I could, I would live alone far away from people I love, because the people you love the most, hurt you the most. I was really thinking that I’d rather be alone and live by myself, because I love myself, than being in this world where nobody can actually just purely love each other. It was a real teaching moment with my boyfriend to show him what the power of words is.

You can show me that you love me every day, but you have to say it to put it into distance, action and so many other things. Words have a power, otherwise musicians wouldn’t exist because the words we say, touch so many people. The power of words is giant and that’s why I think it’s more difficult to insult someone than beating someone up. You’re skin will eventually repair, but when people destroy you mentally with words, it’s way harder to overcome that.

With “Tout est gore”, I wanted to tell something completely different. I wanted to show the power and the confidence I have in me. The whole song is almost an ego trip, where I’m feeling good and at the same time, point out that everything is “gore”, which means that it’s so bloody, violent, dangerous and so extra like a Tarantino movie, that you start laughing at a point. It’s just the perfect metaphor for my life, since it’s so dramatic that I start to laugh with it. “Tout est gore” is about the fact that everything is trashy, but I’ll overcome everything.

 

You’ve worked with the amazing producer El Guincho, the same producer as Rosalía, how did you make sure you were both on the same page?

A lot of talking! We talked so much and even argued today. (laughs) We share our love for music, but we have totally different ways to showcase it, but at the same time, we have two visions that completely match. The producer doesn’t adapt to the singer and vice versa. You have to find the way, because there’s only one way, to make the visions come together. It takes a lot of conversations to make that happen, but I’m extremely grateful that I have this amazing person since he really made me grow bigger in two years than I grew in twenty years.

In terms of music, I have a crazy work ethic because I work every fucking day on my craft. I’m always thinking about how I can make it better, and that’s also why I love doing all these interviews. I want my work and words to be out-there and I’m so happy my team understands how much I can take. In interviews, I can get my actual messages out, which is in the end “love!” Love is all I care about and that’s what I want people to focus on.

Photos by Ines Vansteenkiste-Muylle

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