Elias Devoldere is the drummer in bands such as Nordmann, Hypochristmutreefuzz, Suwi, Robbing Millions, and John Ghost. Following an ep, Kaiku, released last summer, Bloomed > Exploded is his debut full length as a solo artist. Besides writing and singing, he composed, played, recorded, and produced the bulk of the ten songs himself. ‘Everything blooms’, he explains the title of his first album. ‘Until it explodes, and something else is able to grow from it’. In this case, what came full cycle is an intimate coming-of-age album of intangible atmospherics, crisp melodies, and understated rhythmical patterns.
‘As a kid, I just wanted to play football, you know?’, says Elias. ‘But when I was eight years old, my parents made me choose between drawing school and music school’. And thus began a dedication to rhythm for Elias. At 18, he enrolled at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in his hometown of Ghent, opting for a jazz education. ‘Not because I aspired to become a master ‘jazz drummer’, but to learn music, to become a good musician’. It was at the academy that, after an impromptu jam session, Nordmann first came together. The exhilarating instrumental quartet went on to win second place at the prestigious Humo’s Rock Rally in 2014, and released three albums to critical acclaim, with a new one in the works.
Devoldere, in the meantime, had completed his degree with a craving – ironically – for music. ‘I was in over my head with jazz for such a long time, and went on an epic discovering spree. Moses Sumney, James Blake, Kendrick Lamar, Connan Mockasin… Lots of stuff I had missed over the years. In a way, I reconnected with the kind of music I was into before jazz dominated my life. Pink Floyd was my first love, for instance, and later Radiohead proved to be a game changer. Diving back into those kind of sounds, I was feeling the urge to follow my old dreams, of being a solo artist - or something more than ‘just’ a drummer, anyway. So I bought a guitar, an interface for my laptop, and started writing’.
When he released his 5 track ep Kaiku in the summer of 2021, it summarised a lot of firsts for Elias. First time writing lyrics, first time as a lead vocalist, first time recording his own songs all by himself. The songs had been around for a while, but taking those leaps took a long time. ‘Making the ep helped me to find my voice, in every way possible’. Still, in the aftermath of the pandemic, the songs on Bloomed > Exploded sprouted in a time of upheaval. ‘Musically the album is quite serene, gentle even. But the themes speak of internal unrest and uncertainty. There are a lot of questions on the album, as it turned out. Duality, as the title suggests, coming from the struggle between a wish to turn everything upside down and a search for peace. Honestly: the prospect of my 30th birthday was messing with my head too’.
Recorded during a period of solitude in France, Elias initially relied heavily on synthesizers and drum machines. ‘Explode / Boalis was one of the first songs I wrote for this album, and pivotal for its atmosphere, based mostly on electronic elements. Later, I did use ‘real’ drums on most of the other songs, though, and contributions from other musicians, but the overall mood is very cohesive’. ‘Pure’, that’s how Bruno Ellingham, the UK engineer who mixed the album, described it. Much to the delight of Elias, who reached out to Ellingham because of his previous work with bands such as Massive Attack and Portishead. ‘Hearing the end result, I thought he really captured the essence of the original demo’s. For me, that adds to this album being a sincere reflection of my true self. ‘Take a dive/ Into the place where it’s more quiet’, as I sing in the last song, that kind of sums it up for me’.