J. Bernardt is the nom de plume of Jinte Deprez, a singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, whose career has been largely focused on Belgian pop institution Balthazar, that is, until now with the release of his highly anticipated debut solo album ‘Running Days’.
All too often, when artists go solo after a long time in a band, there’s a tendency for them to fall into well-trodden routines when writing—something Deprez won’t deny he had to shake off. “I’m a very automatic songwriter, so at first I was still creating Balthazar-style music,” he says. But after experimenting with a Korg PolySix, the project began to evolve, drifting further from his comfort zone as he explains, “Working alone I learned that music’s not hard to create, but it is difficult to finish” he laughs. “And that was the most interesting part of this journey – and definitely what I needed – because when you’re on that kind of path you discover something new about yourself.”
On his road to self-discovery, Deprez began to play with the sort of genres he’s always had a passion for, but rarely got to express in Balthazar, “I still love the old-school ‘60s sound we created in the band—but for this project I began to think about what I’d play at a house party.” It’s perhaps for this reason, that ‘Running Days’ brims with elements of RnB, soul and hip-hop; echoing the emotional clarity of ‘90s-era D’Angelo and the vocal resonance of How To Dress Well, over beats inspired of Child of Lov and the melodic simplicity of Gorillaz. Whether in the sunny vocal hooks of ‘The Direction’, the jazzy, mellifluous horns of ‘Wicked Streets’ and ‘Motel’, or the lush serpentine rhythms of ‘Calm Down’, which surges with synths and skittering breaks.
Displaying an altogether different sound from Balthazar, ‘Running Days’ is full of seductive, primitive grooves enveloped in warm soulful vocals. It brims with elements of R&B, pop and hip hop; echoing the emotional clarity of 90s-era D’Angelo and the vocal resonance of How To Dress Well, over beats inspired of Child Of Lov and the melodic simplicity of Gorillaz. It marks the start of a spectacular era in Deprez’s work – one of beguiling rhythms and personal revelation – which leaves the record posing an open-ended question: not about what he is running away from, but what glittering new chapter he is running towards.