Maxim Meyer-Horn

7 Mar

Interview: Backstage at The Album Release Show of Glints’ ‘Choirboy’

Fame doesn’t come overnight, even if the media loves to portray some success stories like that, and Jan Maarschalk knows that. The Antwerp-based rapper dropped his first EP in 2015 and had his first radio hit with Vuurwerk in 2017, but it was his single “Bugatti” that put him on the map of many people in 2018. Two years later, his debut album ‘Choirboy’ is out and is set to be his next big step. Just two hours before he took the stage of a sold-out Ancienne Belgique in a custom tracksuit by Jasmien Van Loo and René, we caught up with Glints in his green room.

Your debut album is finally out after two years of hard work. Are you rather sad or relieved?

I’m happy. I’ve lived two years with it, and when it’s finished, it takes a little time before it’s out. Now, I’m very happy that it’s out there and that people can listen to it. I’ve already had lots of reactions and I’m astonished how much joy it brings me that people like it.

You worked very closely with Yong Yello on this project. How did he make you grow as an artist?

It’s difficult for me to separate my work relationship with Yello from my personal relationship because we got to know each other two and a half years ago. Since then, we’ve seen each other five days a week to work on music. We also live together, so for me, it’s difficult to define how Yello made me grow musically without looking at how we both lifted each other up in difficult times. We started to work really hard and gave the music its time.

Yello has definitely challenged me by saying that some things could and can be better, so we really motivated one another in the album process. Yello has its own production style, but the power of Yello is that he can adapt himself to the artist he’s working with. For example, Noémie’s album and my album sound totally different and that’s the hallmark of a good producer.

Do you see big differences between yourself as an artist when you released your first EP in 2015 and the artist you’re now?

There’s a musical difference and a thematical difference as well. I’ve worked with Mathias Bervoets and Yergan Callebout from VRWRK in the beginning and my music was not as defined as it is now, because I didn’t know myself or which direction I wanted to take.

Thematically, I was more abstract in what I had to say back then and was maybe a bit more artsy, which I don’t mean in a bad way. At a specific moment, some things happened in my personal life that inspired me to be more straightforward with what I had to say. I had the desire to use songwriting therapeutically and wanted to let the music do its thing.

The album has a lot of little details that make it so fun. Where do you get the idea of adding these fun extras?

When Yello and I are in the studio, we don’t think about if an audience will like it. We’re just focusing on the things a song needs to be interesting. For example, I wanted to sing something in Spanish and Yello made a sample out of it, which made it sound like a Salsa song from the sixties.

Do you make a song by jamming around or do you always start with a clear idea?

When you make a lot of music, there are many ways to make music. Sometimes, you just try to find a good melody and start from there. If I think about the album, the majority of songs on there are songs where I already exactly knew what I wanted to say. For example, for “Bugatti”, I had the chorus and knew I wanted the choir in the beginning. The same goes for “Minimum Wage”. “Gold Veins” was a little bit more experimental, but my favorites overall are the songs where I knew exactly what I wanted to say.

You took your time making the album and really tried out a bunch of things. Did you become impatient at some point, because you wanted to release an album?

“Bugatti” came out and was quite a hit. We had the possibility back then, to make a lot of hard trap songs and maybe that would’ve worked, but that doesn’t interest me at all. That’s not what I wanted to do, because I wanted to make an album that explores what I can do musically but also tells a story. I don’t think there’s room for impatience if you want to make a good album. I was experimenting with how I wanted to make music and now I know, which doesn’t mean that my next album will sound the same. I just know how I want to work and everything will be more streamlined, which is a learning process.

You moved in together with Yong Yello, Faisal (DJ and producer) and a couple other friends and formed the new collective Abattoir Anvers. How do you influence each other?

You have Yello, who’s the producer for Noémie Wolfs and me but he also has his own project. Further, you have Faisal, who’s an amazing DJ and a crazy talented producer. Thor is a photographer and always joins me. Iljen is a graphic designer and has been making my artworks since my first single. And Fivez is a pianist and my best friend since I was twelve.

We inspire each other a lot. There’s a cross-pollination between us all, and we also use each other for feedback on many levels.

Are you disappointed when they don’t like something you’re convinced of? 

That doesn’t happen a lot, but when someone isn’t convinced, you can take it as a challenge to work hard and convince him. That’s just good to have.

You have two milestones in one day for an artist, with the album release and the release show. How did you prepare yourself?

I prepared the show by rehearsing a lot, but also thought about what I wanted to do because you want your show to evolve. I think for many artists, the first album is something mythical because you have your whole life to work on your first album, but you need to release a follow-up soon. For me, I’m happy that my first album is out and I’m already busy with loads of new music.

Next summer, you’re having your big show at Rock Werchter. Are you ready for it, because the show at Pukkelpop last summer will be difficult to exceed?

Pukkelpop was really crazyyyy. But the first thing I was thinking of when I got off stage was what I could do better the next time because it was fucking insane. You never get used to these kinds of shows, but I also love intimate shows with a hundred people in the audience where everybody gets crazy.

Glints’ fantastic debut album ‘Choirboy’ is out now on all streaming platforms.

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