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Dances with robots: Stromae on tour with ten KUKA robots
In 2022, the musician Stromae won the hearts of his fans in the USA and Canada, among other places. His voice, the complexity of his songs and the futuristic stage show including KUKA robots thrilled the audience. From March to December 2023, the exceptional artist from Belgium will continue his "Multitude" tour in Europe. The ten KR QUANTEC robots on stage are much more than a stylistic element: they move oversized LED screens that tell Stromae's stories cast in songs even to those who do not understand French.
1 February 2023
Reading Time: 5 min.
Stromae, born in 1985, became world famous at the end of 2009 with his hit “Alors on danse”. What sounds like cheerful electro rap at first hearing is social criticism expressed in a pleasing form. “Alors on danse” tells of people who do not face up to problems, but suppress them, for example partying. In the meantime, 14 years and three albums later, Stromae has established himself as an exceptional artist who is as entertaining as he is subtle.
By now, the name Stromae stands not only for a mixture of electro and hip-hop, but rather for world music with instruments and influences from all continents. In addition, Stromae is making headlines with his open approach to health crises he has endured – and since the start of the current tour, also with his passion for KUKA robots.
How the KR QUANTEC assists in storytelling
“The stars of this show are obviously the robots,” Stromae emphasizes in an Instagram video published in July 2022, in which he introduces both the robot dog, which is allowed to perform briefly with him, and the KUKA robot arms, which are a fixed part of the stage set. These ten KR QUANTEC robots – five hanging from the ceiling, five standing on the floor – characterize the show with their choreographed movements. KUKA system partner Vendôme Robotics from Paris acted as integrator, ensuring that the KR QUANTEC robots hold the oversized LED screens securely and move them in a coordinated manner.
Sometimes all the screens come together to create kind of a giant canvas, then again, they form an arc of images around Stromae and his musicians or shine down on them from above. On them, video segments can be seen as well as light installations and a Stromae avatar that dances in sync with the living model. Stromae clearly enjoys combining his love of technology with his art in so many ways and touching people from all over the world with it.
The person behind the star: What moves Stromae?
In his ongoing “Multitude” tour, Stromae, whose real name is Paul Van Haver, positions himself once more as an artist who offers more than mere entertainment. He is not only showing his skills and smiles, but he also shares crises and pain with his audience.
For example, he sang about the early parting from his father (“Papaoutai”). When Paul was a six-year-old boy, his parents separated and his father, a Tutsi, moved back to his native country Rwanda. There he was killed in the civil war in 1994. Paul's mother raised her five children alone in Belgium. Paul Van Haver started music lessons at an early age and performed as a rapper at the age of 15, at that time under the pseudonym OpsMaestro. Because Maestro was already taken as a pseudonym, he simply changed the syllables and became Stromae. In 2009, he did a traineeship at the radio station Nouvelle Radio Jeunesse in Brussels, which played his song “Alors on danse"”in its program. In 2010, “Alors on danse” became No. 1 in the singles charts in Germany as the first French-language track since France Gall's “Ella, elle l'a” in 1988.
The grooves and Stromae's voice were enthusiastically enthralled worldwide. His other releases, first of all “Formidable” and “Papaoutai”, were also very successful. They made Stromae rich and famous. But his African tour in 2015, with which he wanted to honor his father among others, put an abrupt end to his success and happiness. Presumably, the malaria medication he was taking prophylactically triggered his hallucinations, panic attacks and fatigue. Stromae had to interrupt the African tour and was unable to make music for years.
How the new start succeeded
Slowly, Stromae worked his way out of the crisis. He and his wife, Belgian stylist Coralie Barbier, had a son in 2018. His wife is also his business partner in fashion. Together, they create eco-socially produced fashion and distribute it through their joint creative label Mosaert. They also produced music videos for Billie Eilish, among others. Finally, Stromae was able to write songs and plan a tour again. In 2022, he delighted everyone who had missed him with the album and tour launch of "Multitude". With the new album and his concerts, the artist won many new fans.
Gathering inspiration around the world
The definition of “multitude” as Stromae defines it leaves room for the most diverse aspects of each person. It allows lightness and fun (reflected, for example, in the song “Mon amour”) as well as openly dealing with mental illness (as in the song “L'enfer”). The artist brings together different instruments such as a synthesizer, a piano, a saxo-phone, as well as the Persian ney flute and the Chinese tube spit lute Ehru, and has a long time ago ceased to be confined to any musical genre.
Regarding the stage show, Stromae is also relying on robots and artificial intelligence because they take the physical strain off him, as he told in an interview in France: “I haven't been on stage for a long time. (...) There will be a lot of staging and gestures, but less pure, real dancing: I want to enjoy more and be less exhausted at the end of the show. The last one was very exhausting and I don't have the same body anymore: I'll be 37 years old soon.” In addition, the KUKA robots allow him a modern way of storytelling that would not be possible otherwise. Furthermore, Stromae can play with contrasts: He has been imitating robot movements while dancing for many years; now his robots tell stories and his robot dog flirts with the audience. Humans and robots interact for the benefit and pleasure of all.
KUKA is proud to be the exclusive partner of the "Multitude" tour and to make this concert experience for Stromae and his fans possible. The 2023 concert year kicks off in Bordeaux on March 4, 2023, taking Stromae and his crew through various cities in France and to six other European countries. There are shows in Brussels and Rotselaar in Belgium, in Amsterdam in the Netherlands, in Geneva and Basel in Switzerland, in Cologne and Berlin in Germany, in London in the UK and in Rome in Italy. And thanks to their flexibility, versatility, and resilience, the ten KR QUANTEC robots are ready to perform within a few hours of set-up and always on board.
To the concert tickets: https://www.stromae.com/en/tour/
Welding is as much a part of sound technical training as learning to write the alphabet. Trainees at KUKA learn this craft as early as their first year of training. This now includes welding in the virtual world in a four-week advanced training course.