Night Shift
Kuna Maze

Released: 9 Jun 2023

Label: Tru Thoughts

Brussels-based producer, multi-instrumentalist and DJ Kuna Maze, presents his debut album ‘Night Shift’, a concept record built around the journey into the night.

Musically the release evokes the nostalgia of sweaty and smoky jazz clubs but through the prism of modern electronic music. This ethos is projected through Kuna Maze’s live band, a melting pot between the jazz and club culture of the then and now. Acting as an anthesis to the sunlight imagery often associated with broken beat, house and jazz music, ‘Night Shift’ is an ode to the city after dark, a hypnagogic whirlwind into the unknown.

“This album is about the nightlife, the party, the wandering, the weird things that can happen at night, almost supernatural sometimes, the people (weird and not) you can cross, the night shops, the people working at night…” Kuna Maze explains.

This new release is straight off the back of a record with Lyon-based producer and long-time collaborator Nikitch. The duo released their sophomore album ‘Back & Forth’ via Tru Thoughts last year, featuring Brazilian singer-songwriter Joao Selva and with a remix from broken beat pioneer IG Culture. The LP was made Worldwide FM’s Test Press Club Record and gained acclaim from Jamz Supernova, Mary Anne Hobbs (BBC 6Music) and Okayplayer. The album was followed by a Europe-wide tour with standout shows at Dour Festival, Ronnie Scott’s (London) and Le Botanique (Brussels).

Influences for ‘Night Shift’ stretch far and wide, from the broken beat and UK jazz scenes to the sounds of iconic label Apron (Steven Julien, Zopelar) UKG, Jamaican dub recording processes (FX, delay, reverb, dub sirens) and sound system culture holistically; 70s jazz-funk, John Carroll Kirby… but most of all Donald Glover’s award-winning ‘Atlanta’. Kuna Maze elaborates: “The way the TV show was filmed, directed and constructed – a mix of weird, absurd, sometimes supernatural, but ultimately really subtle yet tells a complex story – all inspired the concept of the album.”

‘Night Shift’ see’s Kuna Maze evolve his sound, production techniques and musical direction, inviting vocalists and collaborators to the forefront. Legend in the scene and creative polymath Steve Spacek adds his ghostly vocals to lead single “I Told U”, while Belgian singer Reinel Bakole presents an ethereal proposition through layered and sparse vocals on “Reflections”. Kuna Maze’s own vocals make an appearance, littered throughout the LP in the form of inaudible rhythmical experimentation.

Guest players on the LP come from Midva aka Nils Boyni, keyboardist from Emile Londonien, who Kuna Maze has a joint project with called ‘House Party’, an improvisation group that incorporates two dancers. The project debuted at Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide Festival, Séte, the track “Don’t Drop Dead” was recorded just before the event meshing broken beat with jazz. Previous collaborators Dorian Dumont (from the band Echt!), Pierre Spataro (saxophone player on Nikitch & Kuna Maze’s ‘Back & Forth’), Victor Pascal (live drummer for all of Kuna Maze’s projects), and Jan Janzen (also a key part of the live band) – all add their flair too.

A DJ resident on Brussels’ essential radio platform, Kiosk Radio, as well as being an artist in resident at Volta, a music community and centre for the city, Kuna Maze has firmly made Brussels his home, a metropolis with a flourishing and emulating jazz-electronic scene (home to Alia, Echt!, Le Motel, Lefto, Mika Oki). Constantly evolving and adapting his sounds, Kuna Maze has played alongside accomplished producers, such as Nosaj Thing, Flako, Lapalu and Machinedrum, while boasting releases on Cascade and Galant Records, as well as remixes and collaborations with the likes of Andreya Triana, Blu Samu, Black Josh, Ødyssee, Katuchat, Woodwire, Winston McAnuff and more.