In the spring of 2020, Willem Ardui and Jean-Valéry Atohoun of blackwave. found themselves in a difficult creative and personal period and in need of a change of scenery to recharge. They find their peace in the cosmopolitan melting pot of Los Angeles, the City of Angels, and for Ardui and Atohoun also a city of dreams. A dreamworld in which they rediscover themselves as artists and as individuals.
The spark from which blackwave. had emerged in 2016 caught fire again during their 20-day trip to the American West Coast. With renewed passion, inspiration and vision, the duo writes and works on new music, as if in a daze, day and night, with no limits to the creative process. With about thirty demos in their pocket, Ardui and Atohoun fly back to Belgium. Three days later, the first covid-lockdown hits them cold and the regained enthusiasm slowly ebbs away. Another period of uncertainty began, and at one point it was even doubted whether the group would continue to exist...
But the towel is not thrown in the ring. blackwave. starts polishing the American demos and distills 11 tracks from them. These now make up 'no sleep in LA', their second full-length album and follow-up to 2019's successful 'ARE WE STILL DREAMING?' 'no sleep in LA' is about the highs and lows of the past years, the insights they have gained, the difficulties and the beautiful moments. Everything about the record feels a lot more mature as a result. Existential themes are explored more and more deeply. Doubt and uncertainty, depression, grief and loss, dreams and ambitions, nostalgia, love and desire, no stone is left unturned.
The album also exudes maturity on a musical level: it is more compact in length than its predecessor, but the instrumentation is more in-depth. Strings, horns, backing vocals and other session musicians enrich the genre-transcending sound of blackwave. Everything is arranged to perfection without being delineated. The common thread is the thoughtful and lively lyrics of the two frontmen, and the layered production of Willem Ardui. To this end, Ardui received help on a number of tracks from the likes of Paul Meany (Twenty One Pilots), MiSCHiEF BOY (Cantrell), Spencer Petersen (Sego), Tobie Speleman (incidentally mixer of the entire record), and even his younger brother Remco Ardui.
Celebrated guest features include Lute (signed to Dreamville, J.Cole's label), Abhi The Nomad (artist from Austin, Texas who met the duo in LA) and Caleborate (a good friend and old friend to blackwave. fans). Kirby, who has already collaborated with the likes of Beyoncé and Kanye West, co-wrote the song "I Miss" on the album.