One of the most captivating traits that a musician can possess is the ability to project themselves in such an effortless way. Zimmerman (aka Simon Casier of Balthazar) is the latest to remind us of that effortless air - laying his soul bare in the form of his debut album The Afterglow.

It's an album that tells the story of a guy and a girl, and the end of their journey together. It's a tale we've heard countless times, yet Zimmerman has done a brilliant job of presenting it in a new light. Of course, the fact this story is indeed his own is a testament to that, but what makes The Afterglow such a pleasurable listen is how the comfort of one's skin and abilities is projected throughout its tracks. I got to sit down with Zimmerman recently to find out how The Afterglow came to be, in both technical and lyrical terms.

It really does amaze me to think that you, Jinte, and Maarten were able to create these projects while touring for so long. When did the writing for Zimmerman officially start for you?

Well, there were two starting points for me in the writing process. First one was when I was eleven years old and started playing the guitar and the bass, and I instantly started writing songs, or at least what I thought were songs at the time. I actually never stopped doing so ever since. But I always got involved in bands that already had their own songwriters. So my songs have always been a kind of hobby for me, knowing that one day it'll be the right time to release them to the world. That point was about two years ago. My relationship with a girl was coming to an end. I didn't really realise it, but somehow I managed to write songs and write down words that described how I felt, without knowing it. When we broke up, I kept writing songs and at one point I wrote title-track 'The Afterglow' which literally is the summary of all those other songs I've been writing those last few months. So it all came together nicely really.

What do you feel it was that made you realise, 'ok, I'm writing for an actual project now'? What made this experience different?

I actually didn't realise I was writing for an album. All of the sudden I saw what I wrote these past few months, and I thought to myself, 'this should be my first album'. This should be The Afterglow. I had written songs that have a same kind of atmosphere, they all tell a part of a bigger story, and most importantly, they all capture a moment in my life.

When you listen back to the album, does it feel as though it has a theme or a collection of themes that relate to one another? If so, what themes do you feel are omnipresent?

It's a break-up album. Not in a negative way, but more of a story. A story about me, about her; and about doubt. And about not having answers and being okay with that. The first single 'Someday Maybe' kind of reflects that theme. In the verses, I keep asking questions, and my answer is always the same: "Is it worth the effort we put in? The trophy is here, but who will win? Ask me to, and I'll sign up for the defeat. Someday. Maybe." It's about that contemplation.

It's a tired thing to state but being in a band and going off on your own is a brave thing to do. What makes me feel comfortable asking you this is that with Balthazar you're the bass player and though you also do backup vocals you're never at the focal point of the band. Was it difficult or weird at all, adjusting to being that focal point?

Because these are all my own songs, it doesn't feel strange at all. It's full on 100% me now. It's not that I can't be myself in Balthazar, but as you said so yourself, with Balthazar I help raise someone else's babies and they've become a part of me and who I am. But now I get to raise children of my own.

Do you feel that creating this album has taught you more about yourself creatively? And if so, how?

Definitely! I've learned to find out what I'm good at and what not. And to bring out the best in the things I'm good at, instead of trying to make something I'm not. This album is 100% me, and if I had worked with an external producer it would've been a different album, which wouldn't feel mine. For example: I love playing the guitar, but I know I'll never be able to play a proper guitar solo. So I didn't try to play a solo. And probably never will. 'Cause it's not who I am, or who I want to be. On the other hand, my profession is playing the bass, but on my album there's only one song where I actually play the bass. All the other bass parts I played with a bass-synth. Somehow it felt right to do this and to step outside of my comfort zone and to put the songs upfront and not play bass on the album.

The most fun part about recording this album was that the songs are all one-takers. I wanted to keep things spontaneous. Of course, the parts and ideas were decided beforehand. I love that way of working, not thinking too much about small details. An album is a piece of work that's made at some point in your life and it should sound that way. You can keep retrying and redoing things but that doesn't necessarily mean it's gonna get better.

What was the moment where you found yourself feeling comfortable as a singer?

I've always sung since I was just a kid. I had bands when I was a teenager where I sang the lead vocal. Of course in Balthazar I've only been singing backing vocals. So it's new to me to do the lead vocal in a live situation. But I sing a lot at home, or when I make demos, so in that way it doesn't feel strange at all. It's all about being who you are when you're a singer, don't try to imitate someone else, your voice is what it is. And that's what makes me feel comfortable as a singer.

Your band mates in Balthazar, Jinte and Maarten, have evolved a lot as singers. The versions of themselves on Thin Walls for example differs greatly from the versions of themselves on Applause. Do you feel that you've learned from them in any way?

Of course. But then again, it's a normal/natural thing that when you get older you sing differently. I can already hear myself sing my songs a bit different now on stage than on the album.

I love the first song you've unveiled to the world, 'Someday Maybe'. What was the process like, creating that song?

For me there isn't much process in writing a song. I think I wrote all the songs on the album in 5 minutes. 5 minutes per song that is. I just take my guitar and start playing around and I instantly feel if it's going to be a keeper or not. I remember starting with the chords from the verse and singing something on top of that, and the chorus came as I was jamming along. If a song or a part of it doesn't instantly feel right, it never will (for me).

The video is especially grand and fitting as well. What was it like filming that video and is there an inherent concept behind it?

The video was really fun to make. I had the idea for a long time to make a video with just photographs and nothing much happening. And there is no scenario, no story in the video. I love videos where there is no clue at the end. We're gonna keep that idea in mind for all the other music videos. As you see for the video we made for 'Hard To Pretend', it's very boring actually, but that's what I really like about it. Nowadays everything needs to be fast and flashy, and I'd like to do the complete opposite of that. For 'Hard To Pretend' it was even more fun to think of an idea, because it's not a single, so everything was possible.

That track reminded me quite of bands like The Strokes a bit. Not exactly in sound, but in simplicity and tone. I'm curious, Thin Walls was quite a cinematic album, an album that harkened a lot towards mood. Does it feel at all that when it came to making Zimmerman you wanted to delve into a more rock sound where things were a bit simpler in comparison?

The whole idea after the arrangements of the album was quite straightforward indeed. I wanted to make the songs the only thing that matters, and not fancy soundboards or other hip-things-to-do in music in 2016. All the instruments you hear on the album are actual instruments I own. So there was no choice for me. We used the instruments I have and nothing more. And nothing less as well: we used them all!

So it's not that I had an idea of 'let's make it rock, or pop or anything'. I thought to myself 'let's make it songs' and use the instruments I have at home to fill in the arrangements.

When you decided on the album title, The Afterglow, did you find yourself immediately comfortable/confident in the title? Does it feel like a title that reflects what the music conveys in some ways?

Well, the title was easy to choose. First: it's also a song title. And when I wrote that song everything fell into place, so I had to choose The Afterglow as the album title as well. The whole album is about reflection, reflecting on the end of that relationship; so it fits perfectly.

Apart from you being at the focal point, how do you feel the shows as Zimmerman will differ from your shows with Balthazar?

For a starter they're all different songs! But for me, the main difference will be that I'll be playing the guitar on stage instead of bass. I've always wanted to play the guitar on stage, but everyone kept asking me to play the bass. So now that I'm my own boss, I've decided that I'm going to play guitar.

Plus we've also made a set-up that's completely free from any click tracks or samples, which means there's a lot of freedom in the structures and completion of parts. Plus my band, Laurens Billiet on drums and Senne Guns on synths, are amazing musicians - I've been playing with them for years in different set-ups, so it's really nice on stage that with one look we know what we want to say or do. We also play the songs live a bit different than on the album, which of course adds to the fun part of a gig for us; as well as for the audience I believe.