When Stromae took the stage to accept his award for best concert/show of 2014 at the Victoires de la Musique, he emphasized the collaborative nature of the Racine Carrée tour. Bringing a veritable crowd up with him onstage, he commented, “It’s all those people there, it’s them who make the tour.” Benuts, a Belgian special effects and motion graphics company, played an extremely important role: they created, start to finish, all the Racine Carrée tour visuals, video, animation, and special effects for the concerts. L’Avenir, a Belgian newspaper, ran two articles on February 20, 2015, profiling Benuts and their work on the tour.
Here’s Stromae’s performance of “Carmen” at the Victoires ceremony, featuring the impressive animation and special effects of Benuts.
English translations of the two articles from L’Avenir are below. Click on the headlines in red to see the original articles.
The special effects company Benuts, based in La Hulpe (Belgium) since January, has contributed greatly to the success of Stromae’s tour.
Major event of the year 2014, Stromae’s Racine carrée tour (which started in late 2013) has attracted thousands of people across Europe and North America. A total of 155 critically-acclaimed concerts. This success allowed him to win, last Friday, the Victoire de la Musique for best concert/show of the year.
He owes this success partly to a company that’s been based in La Hulpe since January. Benuts created the entirety of the graphic and visual universe that scrolled by on a giant screen during each song during the tour. “We are basically a company specializing in special effects for film,” emphasizes Michel Denis, director of Benuts. “In December 2012, Paul (Editor’s note: Paul Van Haver, aka Stromae) came to see us. At that time,we were in Brussels, not far from NRJ, where he sometimes returned. He asked us to make a music video. The one for one of his famous lessons, for the song ‘Humain à l’eau.’ The video has been viewed more than 5 million times on YouTube. “
Satisfied with the work, Stromae knocks again on Benuts’ door in May 2013, the Racine Carrée album under his arm. “He wanted a change in his set. He asked us if we’d be interested in working on animations for his tour.” Ten designers, including Frenchman Xavier Reyes, participated in the project for eight months. “We first delivered material at the start of his tour in November 2013,” explains the director. “Then he told us in December that he was heading for larger stages like Paris-Bercy or Palais 12. So we reworked certain content. We had to adapt it to much larger screens.”
The tour ended in Rome on December 17 (actually, it’s continuing in 2015 -Stromaeometre), but maybe the adventure isn’t over…
“Working with Stromae is a real joy,” Michel Denis says point-blank. He has very good memories of his collaboration with the young Belgian prodigy. For eight months, the director of the company Benuts and producer of special effects worked with the singer on a regular basis to discuss, adapt, refine the slightest details of the graphic elements that would scroll by during every song at his concert. “What he wanted at all costs,” clarifies Michel Denis, “is that we try to relate something through the image. That the graphic elements support the song. We made him proposals after reading the lyrics and listening to the songs. We were immersed in his world of colors and geometric shapes. I also worked a lot with Luc, his brother and artistic director.”
Sometimes perceived as mysterious by the public, Paul Van Haver is, according to the company official, a “very professional and respectful” artist. “He’s an extremely cool guy. He’s exacting in the details because he’s very involved, but he always listens to the other person. Never with a directive manner.”
Stromae has also been able to show his gratitude for the excellent work done for his tour. “He invited me to the first concert of the tour, in Nimes, then I went to Palais 12, to the Botanique and again to the AB,” he smiled. At the ceremony last Friday, Stromae also took care that he went up onstage, with the team, to accept their Victoire de la Musique.
Cover photo: screenshot from the animated intro for the show from Psychedeliktik on YouTube.