Sullen Belgian indie rock band, Balthazar’s egalitarian approach to their music has manifested in many forms. With Maarten Devoldere and Jinte Deprez sharing lead vocal responsibilities, the band extends itself to representing more than just one perspective. That being said, they’re going on a hiatus very soon, and are currently wrapping up a series of pre-sabbatical farewell dates.
After six years of continual touring, writing, and recording, Maarten and Jinte have decided to explore their own solo projects. Devoldere just released his debut record, We Fucked A Flame Into Being under the moniker Warhaus, while Deprez is developing material to release as J. Bernhardt. I caught up with them at Into the Great Wide Open festival in Vlieland to talk Balthazar and what the future holds for their solo material.
How do you feel Balthazar has evolved since Rats?
Jinte Deprez: A lot in the sense that it became a much bigger band in the first place. Rats was kind of a strange album because we didn’t expect that so many people would like it, it’s like for a niche audience.
Maarten Devoldere: Well, Rats was a very introverted album. Thin Walls we created on the road, which gives a completely different vibe. It’s way more extroverted and had more energy. It’s a very instinctive album, because we were writing on tour. You’re not thinking very deep when you’re on tour.
Jinte: There were a lot of people who liked it and it was strange feeling, whereas with Thin Walls, our latest album, it’s easier to tell why it reaches a wide audience. We needed to wrap it up like it’s the end of a trilogy. It’s like Applause and Rats mixed together with a little bit more matureness.
Why did you choose not to self-produce this time?
Maarten: Because we had self-produced 2 previous albums, and we thought that it was just time to do something new and get out of our comfort zone. We were afraid we would start to repeat ourselves too much.
Jinte: The first two albums were really amateur, we recorded everything ourselves in our bedrooms in trashy circumstances, whereas now it was like a proper standard recording session. I feel mixed about it because when I was there I was like ‘this is great, I don’t have to worry about a thing, just play my part.’ I looked back on it and those bedroom sessions were quite interesting as well, it adds a whole different atmosphere.
Did you find the song writing process was more collaborative on the road?
Maarten: Each song starts from an individual idea. Then we send each other ideas, and then we work further on it. It’s a joint effort. That’s always been the case.
Jinte: We took everything for granted, it’s so easy. Just like I have these songs, let’s do it, I have these ideas let’s do it, okay we have an album. We didn’t really have to think about it too much, whereas on the first album it was much more collaborative because our ideas were a bit less evolved or not finished enough or we had some problems in songs. Then we had to solve it by taking a verse or a chorus from somewhere else. I think we got way better in song writing and the result of that is that we had to work less.
Warhaus is notably darker than it is in Balthazar. Is there a reason for that?
Maarten: I don’t think it’s a sad album, or a depressed album, but it celebrates the mystery of a woman I don’t understand, stuff like that. I think it’s more cool to give it this mysterious vibe, which you can’t comprehend completely, instead of making a feel good pop song.
How do you feel J. Bernhardt differs from Balthazar?
Jinte: The whole project is more personal in a way that reflects my philosophy about music. I really love the primitive groove thing about being a human being. You’re very much related with beats and grooves. The backings and everything [on J. Bernhardt], it’s all very gospel soul related. It’s very monotone. There aren’t any crazy melodies or whatever. I think to me, that kind of music results in a very strong emotion when actually you’re not doing anything. You haven’t said a word.