Louis Futon Breaks Down Feature-Heavy Debut LP 'Way Back When': Exclusive

Louis Futon
Jake Southard

Louis Futon

Why make an album in the era of singles? Some artists simply love and respect the format, but some others feel the call when they find a story to tell. Philadelphia-bred producer Louis Futon has been putting out work for a solid five years, but as soon as he wrote the track "Surreal," he felt a change that demanded attention. He listened to the voice within, and what came streaming out but a joyous, warm and rich collection of tunes to be enchanted by.

Way Back When is playful and incredibly cohesive. It opens with screaming horns and tinkering toy keys, bridging some sort of gap between youthful exhuberance and soulful wisdom. it's immediately charming with wonky R&B, summer-time melodies and '90s hip-pop tropes wrapped in jazzy instrumental brilliance and so many shades of soul. Billboard Dance caught up with Louis Futon to get the full story behind each of his debut's 14 tracks. Read on below.

"The Beginning"

I wanted to make a track right off the bat that wraps you in a warm blanket of brassy goodness and hits you with a wall of sound. This one really sets the whole vibe of the album. The main horn line is also a motif that references another one of my songs that some of my fans might recognize.

"Surreal" feat. RKCB

This was the track that made me want to make an album. It really signified a change in my sound that was different from the rest of my discography, and I think it helped shaped my sound moving forward. RKCB and I instantly meshed and created this mesh of R'n'B/electronic sounds that I fell in love with.

"Rewind" feat. Armani White, Ashe

I’ll never forget walking down Spruce Street in Center City, Philadelphia, hearing a car bumping this one Motown song as it drove by. I immediately ran back to my apartment, made the beat for "Rewind," then called up Armani White to lay down a verse. When I moved out to LA, Ashe and I wrote the hook and verses together, and it became one of my favorite songs to date.


I made a beat challenge video where I went down to the Venice Beach boardwalk and sampled some street musicians on my field recorder. The main sax line was the result. I pretty much built the whole song around just one melody, and then Ariel Shrumpet came over, and we wrote an insane middle section and filled out the gaps.

"Silk Jam" with Masego

I had a session lined up with Masego, and it was the first time I had ever met him in person. Within ten minutes, we had almost the whole track done. The sax in this song is actually the first and only take he played, and I loved it so much, I wanted to keep it and turn it into a jam.

"Supposed To Be" feat. Duckwrth, Baegod

This was another one of those songs that just came so effortlessly. Baegod sent me over this idea she had one day, and I just swagged it the fuck out. I had been really deep in a west coast and g-funk binge at the time, and wanted to make something with an insane swing. Me and Duckwrth later met up in Brooklyn to lay down his verse, and that was a wrap.

"Up in Smoke" feat. Reo Cragun

I had been a big fan of Reo Cragun and knew it was only a matter of time until he exploded. I had this beat idea that I knew he was perfect for, so I sent it to him and fell in love with what he sent back. We ended up refining the idea in LA, and the final product became a color that was really missing on the project. The simplicity of this one combined with the emotion that Reo delivers is something I can get lost in over and over again.  

"Restless Sea" feat. Opia

Ever since I heard the song “Falling,” I knew I wanted to make a song with Opia. I’m a sucker for screaming guitar lines, and their style was something I’ve never heard before. I had made this rough idea I was amped about and called them up and was like “Yo, you guys gotta get on this track!" Shortly thereafter, we met up and wrote "Restless Sea."

"Bad Habits" feat. NoMBe

It’s funny, because I feel like I’m repeating myself when I say I was a fan of whoever I collaborated with, but that’s exactly it. When people ask who my dream collaborators are, I usually list everyone who I’m already working with. This one was no exception. I love NoMBe’s style and wanted to venture into the alternative world. The result was something I had never really made before.


This was the first song me and Ashe had ever worked on. She sent over this rough acapella, and I was vibing with it so much, I sent something back within a couple hours. There’s something really calming about this song. I think it might be the steel drums.

"Country Roads" feat. Matt Zara, Anomalie

Matt Zara (one of my favorite guitarists) was in town one day, and we wrote this track together in an Airbnb I was staying in at the time. We were both stoked on it and wanted to send it to Anomalie, who we’re both fanboys of. Anomalie laid down one of the craziest piano solos I’ve ever heard, and we all knew this track was special. There’s definitely some heavy jazz and Robert Glasper vibes in this one.

"All My Life" feat. BXRBER, Bellah

The project starts out with joyful feel good vibes and sort of ventures deep into a rabbit hole. The tone continuously grows more eerie and serious, both sonically and lyrically, and starts to comes out on the other side with “68" and "Country Roads." I wanted to make a track that truly transitions the listener from being in their feelings to feeling bigger than themselves. “All My Life” is the track that starts to bring the project full circle, and even quotes some underlying themes earlier in the album. I can’t praise Bellah and BXRBER enough. Their voices and writing helped me create exactly what I wanted to convey.

"Royal Blood" feat. Keiynan Lonsdale

Besides the heavy R'n'B influence of this track, there’s something really beautiful about how it came together. Me and Keiynan Lonsdale had never met before, and we had a session together in LA. I remember making the full song in a couple of hours and dancing around, screaming of joy like a madman. The energy in the room was crazy. He thought I was really weird and conceited at first, but we became best friends shortly after.

"Fall On Me" feat. BXRBER

The track that rounds off the whole album and makes you wanna take on the world. BXRBER is an absolute genius. Listening to this track makes you feel like you’re climbing Mt. Everest, but on your way up, a wild yeti tries to get in your way and stop you from going the rest of the way. Despite the extreme weather conditions, lack of food rations and a wild Yeti standing in front of you ready to tear you down, you overcome the odds and make it to the top.

Way Back When is out now on all streaming platforms. Want more Louis Futon? Catch him at The El Rey in LA Friday, April 26, or at San Francisco's The Independent Saturday, April 27. Study up on the new grooves by listening to his triumphant debut album below.


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