Tina Herbots

On Friday, Belgian duo blackwave. released their newest album, titled no sleep in LA.

The name stems from the band's playlist while they were in California, and it ultimately became the title of their record. But the album almost never happened, according to the longtime Variance favorites, who spoke with us ahead of the album's release, discussing how they almost quit music altogether after they released their 2019 debut Are We Still Dreaming?.

"We almost had a point where we're like, 'Maybe we should just quit blackwave.," recalls singer-producer Willem Ardui, one-half of the duo, speaking with Variance on Zoom. "It almost came to the point where we didn't really feel like it was worth it to keep going at it because it was so hard to keep it going."

Ardui recalls that after the release of their first album, they were feeling depressed and "not knowing where to go with it," struggling to find their footing and facing the realities of a very intense music industry which isn't always kind to newer, fresh talent. And then the pandemic hit.

Rapper and bandmate Jean-Valéry Atohoun recalls releasing the album at the end of 2019, feeling like it was the beginning of their dreams coming true, only to face a great unknown with the Covid outbreak, which left them questioning their next move, not just long-term but even in the short-term.

"Not knowing when we would be able to restart and actually do stuff," he says. "That was something that was really hard for me, to not really know what's going to happen in the future and at what point we actually play shows again and perform the music that we created. And I don't know, I think I lost a little bit of my will to create music."

Ultimately, Ardui says the pandemic forced them to rediscover their original love for love for making music, and as they revisited their passion for creating, it reignited the desire to pursue this project.

"In the end, that was kind of what we came back to," he says, noting the album has themes of feeling down yet on the other, finding hope and getting to the other side of the struggle. 

Coincidentally, they ended up with more music than they could have even anticipated.

"Earlier this year, we wrote a bunch of new demos," says Ardui. "We went to London as well to write some some demos there. We just have a bunch of music that we want to finish. There's like almost 30 tracks that we've started already. So I think after this project, we'll continue working. Because after the first album, we didn't have anything and that was kind of why we fell into that point."

As Atohoun explains: "I feel like before, we were always rushing towards the finish line and having nothing to continue working on. So now we're filling that void of having no idea what to do next. So that's definitely not going to happen now. We're just going to keep working and hopefully make the best music we've ever made."