IAMWAVES is the type to go with the flow. He spoke to Helen Herimbi about his new music and being deep.

“I really wish I had a better story about how I got into making music,” he confesses, “you know, like that I landed here because I killed someone or…” – like 50 Cent – “got shot nine times.” He laughs.

Yannick Ilunga, who is known to his fans as IAMWAVES (pronounced I Am Waves), is one half of electro-pop group Popskarr. He has just released his own EP, Petite Noir, and is most amused by the fact that he doesn’t have a dramatic foray into music.

He apologises for this profusely.

But one thing he isn’t sorry for is recording his booming baritone and making an eclectic mix of beats. He says: “I know someone in the spiritual realm must be looking out for me because my parents are academics.”

Born in Belgium but raised in South Africa by his Angolan mother and Congolese father, IAMWAVES is the youngest of five children.

As expected, there is a unique mixture of languages floating in the 20-year-old’s household. One of those is French. Petite Noir is a nod to this part of his life. He explains, “I speak French and Petite Noir means ‘Little Black’. I am black, but I am not little. Still, naming it ‘Big Black’ would have been too obvious.”

He tortures the lemon at the bottom of his glass with his straw for a moment and his eyes start dancing. “But!” he exclaims, “Noir is in the female tense – because you know French words have male and female tenses – but I wasn’t going to call myself the male version.”

By this time I’m confused. Sure, calling the EP Grand Noir wouldn’t be the most innovative thing but the irony in the Petite Noir title would be lost on most people, wouldn’t it? He chuckles for a moment then shrugs. “It’s really not as deep as people think but I wish it was.” Furthermore, “I chose petite because the music is in a minimal vein.”

The six-track EP includes songs that sound like they were conceived in an astral dimension where the sparse lyrics are in freefall almost to the point of inaudibility and the instrumentals are spacey yet layered.

“I like to blend my vocals into the actual synths so that they start to sound like they are actual instruments,” he says.

A stand-out track is Maison Noir, “which stems from my Christian background”. The title means the Black House and, IAMWAVES says: “You know how in the Bible the snake came to tempt Jesus in the desert? Well, this song is about falling into temptation and I liked it because it sounded dark and stuff.” It was also inspired by “the fact that I’ve changed from how I used to be, always hanging with friends and getting high. That stuff isn’t me anymore.”

And how about LLAF EDICIUS?

IAMWAVES is most proud of this particular ditty because “the title is backwards, it actually is Suicide Fall and it’s just synths. When I visualised it, it was as though I was falling down backwards. From a waterfall. Or something very high.”

That would make for an insane video. Slightly less crazy is the video to what seems to be Petite Noir’s single, I Don’t Need Your Money, Believe Me (Girl).

Featuring the Capital Of Cool collective (a four-person creative society which includes IAMWAVES), the video has images of prisoners of war, choppers and lengthy kissing scenes. But will we ever see it on SABC1’s Live? He purses his lips and shrugs, “I’m trying to create a cult following so I don’t want mainstream success, even though I kind of do want it.”