Paul Van Haver (born 12 March 1985, Brussels), better known by his stage name Stromae, is a Belgian musician, rapper, singer and songwriter. Stromae was born to a Rwandan father, Pierre Rutare, and a Belgian mother, Miranda Marie Van Haver. He is originally from Laeken, in Brussels. He established himself in both the hip hop and electronic music genres. Stromae came to wide public attention in 2009 with his song “Alors on danse”, which became a number one in several European countries. In 2013, his second album Racine carrée was a commercial success, selling 2 million copies in France alone and nearly 600,000 units elsewhere. He has sold over 8.5 million records worldwide.
Stromae was born in Belgium to a Tutsi father. His father, a successful Rwandan architect, was killed during the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. His mother raised him and his four siblings in Brussels, and later in a nearby suburb. She encouraged each of her children to play a sport and an instrument. Stromae studied percussion. His mother placed him in a Roman Catholic Jesuit school after he failed in the public school system at the age of sixteen. He formed a small rap group with friends while still in school. His early influences included Belgian singer-songwriter Jacques Brel, Cuban son, and Congolese rumba. Even though he was raised as a Belgian, he has stated that he did not always feel that he was from Belgium.
In 2008, Stromae worked as a young trainee at the music radio station NRJ in Brussels. Vincent Verbelen, Music Manager, was impressed by the talent he perceived in Stromae’s first single “Alors on danse” and decided to air it for the first time on NRJ. The response from listeners (including influential personalities ranging from Anna Wintour and Jean-Claude Van Damme, to the then-president of France Nicolas Sarkozy) was one of extreme enthusiasm and Stromae came to wider public attention. In a few weeks from that point, sales of the song established it as number one in Belgium.
By May 2010 the track “Alors on danse” had reached number one in Belgium, France, Sweden, Greece, Germany, Austria, Turkey, Switzerland, Italy, Denmark, Romania and the Czech Republic. Stromae collaborated with Kanye West and Gilbere Forte in a remix of his hit “Alors on danse”. In 2010, he was nominated for Best Dutch and Belgian Act at the MTV Europe Music Awards.
Stromae is known for his distinctive physique and clothing style. He has used this image in launching a limited fashion line, Mosaert (an anagram of his stage name). The collection features bright colours and geometric patterns, and has been described as “hipster” and “retro kitsch”. Stromae has said that he wanted to “create a bridge between British style and African aesthetic.”
The first collection was a success, with stocks almost sold out after three days. The second collection, Capsule No. 2, was released at Colette in Paris on 3 December 2014, and features the square root design on each item in different colours. Capsule No. 3 was released on 7 April 2016. The new designs are the first to use patterns not previously worn by Stromae, reflecting Mosaert’s intention to gradually move into a separate stylistic identity for the clothing line.