One of the most popular indie-rock bands of recent years, Balthazar will perform at Zorlu PSM as part of Garanti BBVA Concerts on 27 September. Before this special evening, we had an intimate chat with the band's guitar vocalist Jinte Deprez.
Thin Walls was a success story - from beginning to the end. What happened after Thin Walls?
Oh, cool that it was a success story! It was our third album and we actually didn’t take a break before. That album started immediately after the tours we did with the “Rats” album which came before into the next album the recordings of them and the tours and I mean it was really heavy tour and we kind of felt that we needed to take a break cause we worked non-stop for six years already that we were touring and we were kind of afraid that we were going to, you know it was starting to get really well oiled machine but it was also becoming a little too predictable. We wanted to challange ourselves a little bit and take a break and see if we could find that spark again and that’s why we decided to do solo projects it kind of felt like a breath of fresh air, do something completely different with different people different genres just everything different. That was a little bit bigger the story with the solo albums was starting it was more successful than we thought it was going to be, cause we really did not have any expectations before we just thought to do something different that’s it. So it was really cool. But we always had the idea of coming back with a Balthazar album, so we did.
As you also run highly acclaimed solo projects - what do you think is the essence of a good band? What makes a band special and connected?
I think it’s a question you can only answer by how long do you exist. The fact that Balthazar exist for so many years. Is the fact that we are a good team. I mean the big difference between a solo Project and a band is the fact that you have to put your ego aside in a band. It’s about being a collective and having respect for the talent of the other guys and trying to make something more out of it than you could personally do and I think that’s the goal we have as a collective as Balthazar. I mean maybe that’s why we did the solo stuff to celebrate our ego a little bit but then you get tired of your own ego, it’s so boring and predictable and it’s always nice in a band you get surprised cause there are other people with input and I mean they can do stuff you can’t do and I think the recipe for good band is just be totally humbled by other peoples talent and be happy that you can work together and I think we have done this for so many years, it’s like a family thing. To put it corny.
Fever! What was the main inspiration behind it? Is there a special story behind the name?
Actually there is the song Fever it was first. It was a little bit to celebrate the fact that we were together again, the stuff I have been talking about coming from solo projects, being a collective again, there is a different energy we were kind of happy to be together again and as you know when you do solo stuff it’s more personal more introvert so we wanted to do the total opposite of it as group be kind of extravert and celebrational and Fever really relates to that I think it’s a Feverish album in that sense there is this sort of warmth that you can never trust and the main inspiration was to catch that energy instead of trying to look fort he melancholic side again we wanted to have that more spontanous vibe I think we listen to for example Talking Heads or like the 80s Bowie where like influences how you xan be not happy but like very out-going and extravert and celebrational without it being shallow. I mean Talking Heads is a very arty band we are not that arty but the fact that you can dance to it and it’s still makes sense and it doesnt feel shallow or something is a really interesting thing. And I think we were always afraid of doing that, of being too out-going, in our music. So I think that was an inspiration to battle with.
You have been touring constantly for long years now. What do you like the most about visiting new crowds and being on the road? Do you have a best tour memory?
Yeah well it’s a different lifestyle. I mean it’s super cool because first of all there is a variation between European club shows and now we are doing festivals mainly. And it’s a totally different feeling because in festivals you play with some many other bands every weekend it almost feels like travelling with a circus! Like you are part of something bigger. The audience is here to see not only you but so many people. It’s more about the vibe – which is a very different and interesting feeling than performing a club show where people really bought a ticket for you. And when you are visiting countries and cities where people really bought a ticket for you it feels really cool. There is a story behind each person there about how they discovered your music and your band. I don’t think we know each country we visit after all these years of excessive touring. After the show we go out to party mainly. It’s an interesting thing to see after all this touring that people everywhere are actually pretty much the same. I have many good memories though. Istanbul especially, lots of good memories! We didn’t play a lot of club shows there but we did play festivals and solo projects. I played at Salon IKSV as J. Bernardt and Warhaus did as well. It was in a really cool neighbourhood to walk around and party. I have this crazy memory after the show at the Istanbul Rooftop Festival. It was I guess two years ago – but I remember it pretty well! But it was really cool to dance and have fun overlooking the Istanbul silhouette. It was crazy!
I am very excited about re-meeting the Istanbul crowd. Because I feel like with the solo projects we played more in Istanbul and not much as Balthazar. So our first tour as Balthazar in a long time it’s great to visit Istanbul. So yeah I’m super curious about how it’s going to be like cause you guys are pretty active on the Internet! I can only hope for the best. I love the Turkish crowd over there they are super enthusiastic and warm. It’s going to be great.
Indie music is thought to be more popular in the States and UK compared to the rest of the world. As a Belgian band, do you think it is harder to survive in a English-speaking indie music business?
Yes, this was something that I thought about a lot when we first started but the more we played the less I think in those terms. Of course it’s a business and to be honest it’s not so sexy to come from Belgium but then there are so many bands that rely on the power of the Internet. People can listen to whatever band they want to and they don’t know which country they come from. So there is not that much prejudice. And there are so many great bands that are from countries that you least expect like France or Luxembourg – or Turkey! And it’s cool cause I don’t really like the fact that it’s obvious when you are a UK band you are on a different path but it’s also hard too. I mean cause it’s way more business minded over there. In Belgium we started off with lots of love for music and because we wanted to tour we worked very hard for it. There weren’t any business people over our shoulders waiting for the next big hit. I’m just happy with us and with how things are working out. We are now in France playing at a festival tonight and line-up consists of urban French rap – which is super popular and cool and we make indie right beside. This makes me really happy. It’s not a competition – it’s cool to have diversity.
What is your favorite lyric from your latest album Fever?
Favorite lyric? There are many! Maybe the one that I was shocked a bit because Maarten and me write the lyrics – I’m going to say something from Maarten from the song Phone Number and it goes like “You said I could go fuck myself and that's when I knew I wanted you too.” I felt like wow this is so rude, arrogant and so beautiful at the same time. You know you always try to sing about beautiful things in life like love etc. There is so much humour in this one and he put it in a beautiful way.
Interview: Nazlı İlke Kaya
Illustration: Aslı Yazan