Meeting with S-TRA, a new star in the world of French rap. At the crossroads between the poetry of the constellations and the hectic rhythm of the streets of Nantes, this young 18-year-old artist already has a clear vision of his art and the mark he wishes to leave in the world of music. With the release of his first EP "INSOLUBLE", S-TRA invites us to dive into a musical cosmos where each piece is a shooting star crossing the sky of his thoughts. In this interview, he reveals the mechanics of his creativity, his stellar inspirations and his aspirations for the future. Follow us as we take off on a journey into the heart of his artistic universe, where the immensity of space meets the depth of music.
Can you introduce yourself in a few words for those who don’t know you yet?
My name is S-tra, I am 18 years old, I come from Nantes and I am originally from Vendée and I recently released my first EP INSOLUBLE.
How did you get into the music world?
First of all, I started discovering this passion for music at the age of 12 in 6th grade. I started writing on my course sheets to tell you. Then one day I asked my dad to lend me his camera so I could film myself rapping. And at the beginning it really wasn't great but it was by posting several freestyles in my room on Instagram that I managed to create a small community. Afterwards I stopped because of lack of time, and I really wanted to release my first single on the platforms, and I found an old text in my PC and that's where BALAFRE was born. I was very surprised to see the feedback around my first piece which was subsequently shared in a story by Vladimir Cauchemar. I really wanted to mark my arrival on the platforms. Then afterwards I met Elliot and Gabin (Apogée) who helped me enormously to push my artistic universe to the end and create the DA that I currently have. We released several clips together, did several photo shoots and they also helped and advised me enormously in the creation of my first EP “INSOLUBLE”. If I hadn't met them I wouldn't be the person I am now.
Your music is very inspired by the stars and the galaxy. Where does this fascination come from?
I have always been fascinated by the stars and what is happening above us. It's when we lift our heads a little that we feel alone in the face of the universe. I also find everything that happens in the universe fascinating, whether it's the comets that move or the constellations, it tells a story and it's often when I feel alone that I find myself the most and that I manage to express myself in my texts.
What pushed you to innovate in 2023?
In 2022 I really didn't release much and I didn't see myself doing the same in 2023. I took a sort of little break at the end of 2022 and I tried to refocus on myself and recharge my batteries in terms of of inspiration. Then at the beginning of 2023 I released my first music video “RÊVE” directed by Apogée and that’s when I started to say to myself ok we’re doing serious things. After the release of the video I released a single “INSIPIDE” then I took a break to really focus on the EP. I really pushed myself in 2023, I really wanted to show that I was present and who I really was because through a few singles my vision still seemed blurry. Then it was when the project was released that I showed who I was and that I wasn't coming back with a single after a break of almost 6 months.
How would you describe your artistic universe?
My artistic universe is based around the stars and the galaxy. These are the elements that reflect my solitude, as if I felt alone in my world, on my comet. It's like I'm an alien, and I've never felt like I belong like I'm from somewhere else. Then I think that a lot of other people are a bit in this state of mind and that's why I wanted to create this project so that those who are not in their place and that they feel existed and find themselves in this solitude. I also draw a lot of inspiration from what surrounds me, like my friends for example.
Your latest EP seems to be the most advanced in your discography. Can you tell us more about the creative process?
The creation of this EP is a kind of achievement for me, because it is the most advanced thing with such an in-depth universe that reflects my personality. I started by contacting a few beatmakers like Doni, Honnoj or l0ne. Then for the writing, I wrote the entire project in 1 month and you should know that I am not someone who records several pieces and then makes a selection. I prefer to refine the songs, modify the productions, add creative elements rather than making several songs and not selecting them in the project. To record I was only recorded with friends. Then, for the artistic direction, I wanted to change the hoods and have something more creative and unique. I was able to work with ultra-passionate creatives like lnterlude who made me two hoods and Bacla who made me a Balaclava. I then did a shoot directed by Nypo on the set of BRU(H)ME directed by Apogée. We shot the cover on location and then used AI to create a futuristic background on the image, then Lunartic then painted the cover to create this creative effect in the image of the cover.
What is the meaning behind the spatial energy you seek to convey in your music?
This spatial energy is transmitted in my way of writing. It's as if I wanted to romanticize the stars and give them importance because what is above us remains fascinating, we don't know how long they have been there. The universe is really interesting. I find it fascinating that we are undoubtedly being observed, or that we don't really know what is all around us, which encourages us to raise our curiosity.
Do you have any processes or habits when you create?
I don't really have creative processes when I create something. I tend to write when inspiration comes and it can come at any time, like watching a series for example or a discussion with friends. That being said, I have a few habits when I create. I already write in the disorder of production and then I structure my text. I can very well start writing from the end of the production and come back to the chorus then finish at the beginning of the production.
Do you work alone or do you prefer to collaborate with other artists?
I've always been a bit lonely and withdrawn about what I do. I always made sound alone in my room. I think this phase also played on my solitude, hence the stars and the galaxy. But recently, I have discovered lots of ultra-talented and incredible artists from a human perspective. I prefer to speak to the human rather than the artist when I talk about collaborations on songs. I'm trying more and more to open up about feats with friends even if it's complicated to link my world to the artist or the other way around.
What are your plans for the future?
Can you give us a taste? For the moment, it remains a little vague, because I have just released my first project “INSOLUBLE” and as it is a sort of “business card”, I prefer to keep the project alive and see how it will evolve. On the other hand, I have planned some featurings, including one which is in preparation with my guy Kamango. I have also planned the production of the limited edition physical CD of the EP and an event which is being organized in Nantes.
Are there any artists who particularly inspire you?
There are many, but I am easily inspired by my guys like Owen, Advm, Kamango or Nepher. I am lucky to be surrounded by equally talented and creative artists and beatmakers, each with their own universe. But I am enormously influenced by “new wave” artists such as Selug & Senar, Luther or Wallace Cleaver who are real sources of inspiration, whether in terms of creativity or originality in productions with sounds never heard before.
What makes you happy outside of music?
Outside of music, I spend a lot of time with my friends or my family, or playing video games. I also really like partying. But what really makes me happy is meeting people or at least discovering new people. I find it very interesting to discover strangers and then make connections. It's also a kind of source of inspiration, the discussions with these strangers which become enriching. For me, it's all those little things, or those brief moments in life, that can brighten someone's day. That's what makes me happy, meeting new people.
Interview by Teo Comyn