Unless Tomorrow: Max Le Daron’s debut album brings the African heat

Pictures by Guillaume Kayacan

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The Lowup crew member drops his long-awaited debut album Unless Tomorrow.

These grey winter days could sure use a bit of colour, and Max Le Daron’s new release has plenty of it. As a producer and promoter who’s been a staple figure in the global music scene Brussels or the good part of a decade, Maxime Vercruyssen’s debut album was a long-awaited one. Filled with eye-opening international collabs like the Ghanaian Bryte or the Burkinese Joey Le Soldat, the Brusseleir has created a perfect fusion of contemporary electronic music (like grime or trap) and traditional African sound (like hiplife or azonto).

Why did it take so long to drop your debut album?

“I wanted to create a solid ensemble of tracks that showcase my musical universe. I was bored of making one-shot songs or EPs, so I wanted to challenge myself with an insane amount of work that could last longer in people's memories. Last time we spoke, the album was almost completely wrapped up, but I started having doubts on some of the oldest tunes of the project. Some of the songs weren't cohesive with the rest of the record. I then trashed half of the songs, and started producing some new material, more in tune with my current taste in music, and more coherent as a full album”.

Is there a message you want to bring throughout this release?

“I wanted to prove that you can make music with African influences without exploitation. My goal is that this record brings a new audience to the African artists I worked with. I also ensured that every collaborator gets the same share of the royalties as me, which is one of the reasons I worked with the Akwaaba Music label. As a Ghana-based organization, it's easier to make sure the artists get paid their fair share”.

I wanted to prove that you can make music with African influences without exploitation.

Have you visited Africa again in the preparation of this album?

“Just over a year ago, I had the opportunity to go back to Ghana to record some songs and make the music video with Stevo Atambire. December is always a crazy month in the capital, Accra, as the diaspora comes back home for the holidays. There are literally dozens of concerts and parties each day. You could see Burna Boy, Manifest and Idris Elba at the same event. For one month, Accra becomes the center of the world. We went to a Teshieboi release party in his hometown (Teshie), a small fisherman village. They had built an open-air club with wooden pallets; the kind of installation you'd expect to find alongside the Spree in Berlin or on a rooftop in Brussels. People in the club were sipping cognac and posing for their Instagram stories while the wooden installation was surrounded by hundreds of kids from the neighborhood listening to their idol performing”.

Which collabs on the album are your favourite and why?

“I love the song I made with Kirani Ayat, ‘Killer’. It's the last tune I produced and recorded for the album. I was already a fan of his work since I saw the awesome video of his tune Guda, and I got the opportunity to go to his recording studio when I was over there. I had brought along a few hip hop and trap instrumentals because that’s his playing field, but he picked out the house track I had left in the folder by mistake. He immediately started to mumble what would end up being ‘Killer’. In less than an hour, the whole track was recorded. The flow and the energy of that session were incredible, and I had loads of fun mixing and post-producing that track”.