“Is it a woman, a man or even a duo?” This was the question that swirled around social networks before Vacra, the French artist with the androgynous, honeyed voice behind the hits Tiki Taka and Plan séquence, showed his face for the first time at a concert last February. Even after revealing himself to his public, the rapper remains enigmatic and bets everything on his music, which has helped him accumulate over 100 million online listens on various platforms. A few hours before his appearance at Off Piknic, part of the MEG Montreal festival, on Friday evening, PAN M 360 spoke with him about his rise on the French scene, his Galatée project and his future ambitions!
Last year, Vacra’s track Plan séquence went viral on the TikTok social network, even though the song was released in 2021. From then on, Vacra quickly gained in popularity, and listeners wanted to know more about him. The only drawback was that the artist wasn’t showing his face on social networks or in his music videos at the time. As a result, rumors abounded on the various networks, and fans did their utmost to find the person behind this success. The mystery surrounding his identity and a succession of excellent releases, including Nunchaku and Tiki Taka, enabled him to make his mark on the French rap scene.
In February, Vacra released Galatée, an eight-track offering, followed by an enhanced version with three additional tracks a few weeks later. In this danceable project, the man explores a multitude of avenues, offering rap tinged with influences as much Afro as pop. Often compared to Belgian star Hamza, Vacra has a world of his own, with polished lyrics and infectious energy. One thing’s for sure: the French artist’s progress is breathtaking, and he’ll be one to watch closely over the coming months!
PAN M 360: Welcome to Montreal. Is this your first visit to Quebec?
VACRA: Yes, it’s my first time here. We’ve been made very welcome and the city is beautiful. The people here seem great and I’m very happy to be in Montreal.
PAN M 360: Do you know anything about the Montreal rap scene?
VACRA: When I arrived two days ago, I had the opportunity to listen to some music by local artists, and I must say it was very good. Otherwise, I’d never had a chance to listen to much Quebec rap.
PAN M 360: You’ve enjoyed a meteoric rise on the French scene over the past two years. For Quebecers who aren’t necessarily familiar with your art, could you briefly summarize your career path?
VACRA: At some point last year, my track Plan Séquence went viral on the TikTok social network, even though it dates back to 2021. My song Tiki Taka became popular, I unveiled my first project Galatée and went on tour all over France and even Canada.
PAN M 360: How did you cope with this extremely rapid growth?
VACRA: Very, very well! It was fulfillment from A to Z. Everything that’s happening to me at the moment is bringing me great happiness. I’m very happy to be able to meet my public. I’m very well surrounded, so I didn’t feel any pressure or stress. Everything came together naturally, and it was perfect.
PAN M 360: Of course, it’s impossible not to mention the unveiling of your face at a private showcase last February. Why did you choose to remain in the shadows until then?
VACRA: I wanted my music to speak for itself before people talked about my image and person. I also wanted to continue to be able to walk the streets in peace and quiet. It was very natural. We made music videos and visuals in which I didn’t appear, and the mystery gradually built up. This anonymity gave us time to work on the visuals for my Galatée project. What people appreciated was my music, and that’s all that matters.
PAN M 360: Why did you decide that the time had come to reveal yourself?
VACRA: The time had come to show myself when I had a project to defend and was ready to take it on tour. Before, I didn’t necessarily want to show myself and be in the limelight, but as soon as my project was ready, it was certain that I had to meet my public.
PAN M 360: Following the evening’s event, reactions abounded on social networks. How did you deal with the aftermath?
VACRA: There were all kinds of reactions. I think most people were pleasantly surprised, while others were disappointed. It takes all kinds of people to make a world. One thing’s for sure: I got a lot of love and good feedback. It’s been great.
PAN M 360: Do you want to continue to be mysterious and reveal as little as possible about yourself?
VACRA: I’m sure people will get to know me over time, but I’ll always remain mysterious. I’ll always be discreet, that’s how I am in life. I’ll be seen more in the public sphere, but that doesn’t mean I won’t be discreet. I’ll continue to put music first. You won’t hear anything about my private life.
PAN M 360: Let’s talk more about your music. For an artist who is just starting out, your music is really well-crafted. How many years have you been creating?
VACRA: I’ve been a music lover since I was a kid, so I’ve been in the music business for a very long time. I’ve been making music for a very long time, and it’s taken a lot of hard work and hours in the studio to get where I am today. I’ve been creating for many years.
PAN M 360: You mention that you’ve been in the music business for several years, and this is reflected in your music, which is a happy blend of different styles and sounds. What do you listen to?
VACRA: In general, I really listen to everything. I like to discover new things and draw inspiration from different worlds. I don’t necessarily have a favorite style, I’m very eclectic in my listening. I love everything!
PAN M 360: Last February, you released your project Galatée, and enhanced it two months later with three additional tracks. What was the creative process like?
VACRA: I already had a good base with Tiki Taka and Plan séquence, my two most popular tracks. My team and I locked ourselves away in the studio to work on the artistic direction of the project and come up with a coherent whole. It was important to me that my first project be solid. After all, it’s my first calling card. The creative process went fairly quickly, so we didn’t necessarily have to put any titles on the back burner. That’s how we ended up with Galatée.
PAN M 360: Where does your inspiration for writing come from? What are the recurring themes in Galatée?
VACRA: My inspiration comes from the people around me, what I observe, the human encounters I have and what I feel. When I’m in the studio with my team, we talk and reflect on different themes and subjects. It comes very naturally. I never write at home; I do everything when I’m in the studio. It’s a very fluid process and it goes really well.
For Galatée, I’d say that feelings, love and joie de vivre are at the heart of the project. It’s inspired by what I was experiencing during the creation. There’s also a nostalgic side. There’s a certain contradiction between happiness and nostalgia.
PAN M 360: The collaboration with Ronisia, “Non c’est non”, stands out from the other tracks on Galatée for its committed lyrics about consent. Do you want to take more of a stand on issues through your songs?
VACRA: I don’t think the subject of consent should even be up for debate. For me, it’s normal to respect someone’s choice, you shouldn’t even have to ask the question. So, I don’t know if I can say that I’m going to take more of a stand in my future songs, it was just normal to do so. I’m definitely going to continue to say the things that make sense to me in my songs. It’s normal for people to think I’ve taken a stand with “Non c’est non”, but I think it should just be natural. Unfortunately, it’s not natural for everyone, and if this piece can help awaken some people to stop doing stupid things, so much the better. No, it’s not, it’s simple though. I’m really happy with the result of this collaboration with Ronisia. Every time I sing it on stage and see people singing it, I’m very happy.
PAN M 360: As you mentioned earlier, you’ve released several videos in the past in which you don’t appear. In each of these clips, the dancing comes to the fore and is very important. Why did you make this choice?
VACRA: Over the years, I’ve received a lot of videos of people dancing to my songs, and I’ve always liked that. Personally, I can’t dance, so I’m always very impressed by their performances. For the videos, we made this choice because it went very well with the music. There’s something crazy about having someone dance to my music, and I love music videos. I’m very fond of dancing and I don’t think it’s ever going to leave me.
PAN M 360: There are a ton of people dancing to your tracks on the TikTok social network, which has been an integral part of your recent rise. What is your relationship with this app?
VACRA: First of all, I’m very happy with everything that’s happened to me, and a big thank you to TikTok. I’m very happy with the public reception and the fact that they like my sounds. After that, I think it was more my music that spoke to this network. For my part, I don’t really have anything to do with this platform, I hardly know it and I don’t have an account on it. Basically, I’m not really into social networking, I don’t understand anything about it. I don’t know how to make videos. When I used TikTok in the past, all I could see was cats and useless stuff, it was like I couldn’t understand anything. Anyway, it’s made a huge difference to my life, and I’ve gained a lot from it. Over time, I’ve proved that there’s real artistic work behind my music and that I’m not just a popular rapper on this network.
PAN M 360: You’ll be taking the Off Piknic / MEG Montreal stage on Friday night. What can we expect from your performance?
VACRA: We can expect the revelation of the mystery haha! No kidding, we’re in for a really good show. I can’t wait to meet the Canadian public and defend my different songs. As usual, I want to connect with people, dance, sweat and have a great time. I hope to be able to convey the emotions that can be heard in the project, and I hope to delight the people who will be there.
PAN M 360: If you had one song in particular to share with Quebecers before your concert, which would it be?
VACRA: It’s definitely Tiki Taka, because it’s my most popular song and the one I play on every stage. Canadians tell me that there are only three months of sunshine in Quebec, and they have to make the most of it. I have the impression that this song is the best for dancing and getting in the mood. Otherwise, I invite them to discover Galatée‘s various tracks.
PAN M 360: From what you can tell, what are you planning for the future?
VACRA: Right now, my team and I are working hard to produce the best music we can. When I have that, I’ll be back with new material. That could take six months, a year, two years or more. I’m going to take the time I need to create a logical follow-up to Galatée. One thing’s for sure: an album is in the works, and people won’t be disappointed!