A million-selling superstar at home and in France, she discusses her confrontation with Playboy, growing up in a famous family and being publicly outed as bisexual

A few years ago, a popular pub quiz question involved naming 10 famous Belgians. The answers often revealed more about British cultural ignorance than Belgium’s ability to produce international celebrities, given that the fictional Tintin and Hercule Poirot were the best many could come up with.

The game has got easier since the rise of Angèle, a stridently feminist Belgian pop singer-songwriter who shot to fame in 2016 after posting short clips singing covers and playing the piano on Instagram. She was young, talented and not afraid to make fun of herself, pulling faces and sticking pencils up her nose. Her 2018 debut album, Brol, sold a million copies; by 2019, she was a face of Chanel. “I’d always wanted a career in music, but I was thinking more of working as a piano accompanist,” she says, folding into an armchair at a five-star boutique hotel near the Paris Opéra. “I really didn’t expect it to happen like that.”

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