Soho Rising: Lous and the Yakuza

A woman wearing white sits on a chair

As part of our Soho Rising series, Soho House Head of Music Dom Chung spotlights members making waves in the music industry. Here, Congolese-Belgian singer, rapper and songwriter Lous and the Yakuza details the autobiographical nature of her critically lauded music

By Hanna Hanra    Friday 4 August, 2020    Long read

Lous and the Yakuza is the brainchild of singer, rapper, songwriter, model, and artist Marie-Pierra Kakoma. Born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kakoma’s family were displaced to Belgium during the Second Congo War, later living in Rwanda in the aftermath of the genocide. But these experiences have emboldened Kakoma, who at only seven years old wrote her first song and has been channelling her life experiences into music ever since. She carries a constant magical air of positivity and optimism in everything that she does (her stage name Lous is, after all, soul spelt backwards). 

Having made an impact last year with her debut single ‘Dilemme’, Kakoma is on the cusp of releasing her first album, Gore, produced by El Guincho (who also works with Spanish sensation Rosalía). Lous and the Yakuza has the world’s attention right now. And she knows how to keep it that way. 

What are you working on right now? 

'I’m actually in the studio making new music. I’m also preparing for the upcoming single and the album; I’m very excited. I’m getting ready for the work ahead because it’s gonna be a lot – a lot of promotion, a lot of interviews. But that’s the job. It’s exciting.’

As an acclaimed artist, what does success look like to you?

‘I guess I’ll be successful the day I’m able to reach as many people as I can with a message of love. If I can touch people and really impact them in a positive way, that will be success for me. [I want to be able to] do the same for myself, too, because that’s hard to do. That’s how I’ll be successful. That’s how I define it.’ 

What are you hoping to achieve with your album?

‘I want people to understand it, without being pretentious. I want people to feel it, you know? That’s something we can never really predict, but that’s what I’m hoping for. I’m also hoping to be someone who can be Black, and a female, and be visible and have a voice as loud as it can be – in Europe, in the industry, in pop culture. I mean, there are very few African pop artists and I want to be one of those who can make little girl dreams come true.’ 
A woman in a pale blue dress looks down at the camera

Lous and the Yakuza (Trish Ward)

A woman holds her hand up to her face

‘I want femininity. I want Black people. I want Blackness. I want to have Black everything. Because if I don’t give a shot to Black people, who will?'

You have created a new genre of music that sounds like nothing else. Was this intentional? How does it feel when people say they like it? 

‘It feels amazing. I wanted to create a sound that was personal; that was completely intentional. At the same time there’s that part of magic where you don’t really control what you’re making because you’re just trying to make good music. I wanted my sound to be only mine, and my energy to be mine, you know?’

The album is autobiographical – were there any songs that were harder than others? Which songs feel the most important to you?

‘I think some songs are gonna be hard for people to listen to. One is very, very hard and it’s about a rape. It’s difficult to hear this one [it is recorded in French], but I wouldn’t say it was hard to make. Every song was a journey; every song has its own life. I wouldn’t say I have one song that feels more important than another because everything is very much a part of me. There’s a song about betrayal, there’s a song about prostitution, there’s a song about feeling lonely – all of those things matter to me because everything is a part of my journey. Everything is part of what I’ve lived and what I’ve been through, so I wouldn’t rank them. I’ll say they’re all important for me.’

Your journey included being displaced and living in Rwanda after the genocides. How have you created something so positive from what must have been a terrible time?

‘I would say that it inspired me to accept differences. I totally and fully embrace difference. I love it when people are different to  me; I love it when people look different. I’m super nosy and curious about different things and different people. Growing up, everything around made me very open to people, I think. Maybe too open. My sisters always tell me, “Oh my God, you’re so open to everybody. You should not be, blah blah blah,” but I love people. I’m a big fan of humanity [laughs].’

Do you want people to take that from your music?

‘I want them to understand that we’re all the same. We all go through the same things, you know? When I listen to music, I want to connect with the musician. I connect with the music and it makes me feel so great, so that’s what I want for people. I want them to understand that we are the same and that I had a life and it mattered. Just like they had a life and it matters, you know?’ 

What are the important things to include in the visual side of your work?

‘I want femininity. I want Black people. I want Blackness. I want excellent Blackness in the video. I want to have Black… everything [laughs]. ‘Cause, literally… if I don’t give a shot to Black people, who will? Definitely nobody. Otherwise we would see a lot of Black things everywhere but we don’t, especially in Europe. I want to showcase the goodness that lives in our community and I want to change the negativity the world has about the Black community. I want Black men to not be seen as violent, aggressive criminals and I want Black woman like me to be shining, looking good and all that. That’s the positivity I want.’
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