Stromae: His First Album in Almost 10 Years, Rise to Fame and the Impact of Depression and Anxiety
In the early 2010s, Belgian-born Stromae was the biggest francophone star on the planet. But then, he suddenly disappeared. Many wondered what had happened to the artist that had so much potential. For the singer, early retirement wasn’t a choice; it was a long haul slog back to mental clarity following years of depression and anxiety. Fortunately, Stromae and his music are back and stronger than ever.
Finally, Stromae’s long-awaited album Multitude is out! It’s been 9 years since ‘Racine Carree,’ his record-breaking sophomore album, which spent five years in the French chart, becoming the best selling record for two years on the trot.
Stromae first broke out onto the music scene in 2010, with the dance floor anthem, ‘Alors On Danse.’ Despite topping the charts around the world, a young and impressionable Stromae feared becoming a one-hit-wonder. In an interview with the Guardian, he recalls his apprehension, “When you have a hit, people say it’s going to be the only hit in your life.” But this wasn’t the case, as the subsequent single, ‘Papaoutai’, amassed over 300 million listeners on Spotify, with the video approaching 900 million hits on YouTube.
But, all this success was meaningless to Stromae as he had more important things to prioritise: his mental health. In 2015, the Belgian star stunned fans as he cancelled the African leg of his world tour after a routine anti-malaria medicine caused crippling anxiety – a rare but possible side effect of the drug. Suffering from paranoia, confusion, panic attacks, blurred vision and hallucinations, Stromae remembers feeling like he was in a “black hole.” For three years, the ‘Papaoutai’ singer avoided public appearances, “It was important for me just to heal and get better,” he told the Guardian.
However, in his time away from the spotlight, Stromae took the chance to rebalance and heal from his traumas. In this period, his love of music, friends and family took priority. He also married his wife, Coralie Barbier and had his first son in 2018.
Before the downfall, Stromae was well known for his chaotic public stunts. For his controversial video for Formidable, he was found stumbling around the streets of Brussels, pretending to be drunk. The purpose of the video was to depict heartbreak and the devastating impact it can have on people. Onlookers were startled to see Stromae staggering around the streets, and videos were uploaded to YouTube – quickly going viral.
Fortunately, Stromae’s ability to shock hasn’t diluted over the years. To promote the new single, L’enfer, Stromae appeared on the French news channel TF1. Towards the end of the interview, Stromae suddenly burst into song, giving a live performance mid-interview. “I’ve had suicidal thoughts, and I’m not proud of it,” sings Stromae to a live audience.
Since the album’s release in March 2022, delighted fans have praised his honesty and vulnerability. The traumas he experienced in 2015 have been worked through, and Stromae now seems in a much better place. However, occasionally, he revisits that hellish place for the benefit of his music. And for this reason, almost a decade on, Stromae remains one of music’s most dedicated and talented artists.