Get on a train and we'll be strangers again
What happens when you combine an electronic music project featuring a distinctive future bass sound with an elaborate mixed media art project? Two Dutch creatives gave the idea a go, and the end result: DROELOE, a unique duo making waves within the EDM scene.
Originally appearing out of the blue in 2015 with their viral track "zZz" on San Holo's indie record label Bitbird, the duo was later revealed as producer Vincent Rooijers and digital artist Hein Hamers, whose respective positions within the band played to their strengths much like Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett in Gorillaz.
The duo's musical output draws on the genre hallmarks of electronic trap music, but with a heavy emphasis on melodic elements and a diverse sound palette. Also, glockenspiels. Lots of glockenspiels. The duo's visuals make heavy use of VHS tape filters for a Retraux aesthetic, along with lavishly produced, photorealistic environmental design, a cube of neon lights used for their live shows, and a visual trademark present in almost all of their work: a skull made of solid gold.
The duo made waves with more singles on Bitbird, Lowly Palace and Monstercat before expanding their discography with a trilogy of EPs: A Moment in Time in August 2017, The Choices We Face a year later, and rounding out with A Promise is Made in October 2019.
Rooijers and Hamers announced that the two of them would part ways after five years of making music and art together as DROELOE in October 2020. Rooijers will continue the project on his own for future releases, though not without a proper goodbye in the form of a rerelease of the trilogy as one collective anthology album, titled A Matter of Perspective.
After a two-year hiatus, Rooijers returned with the PILLARS /// EP in early 2022, sporting a new visual identity alongside the classic DROELOE sound on three tracks serving as the start of a new era for the project titled "Unexpected Odyssey."
Oh, and by the way: it's "drew-lou", not "dro-low".
- A Moment In Time (2017)
- The Choices We Face (2018)
- A Promise Is Made (2019)
- A Matter Of Perspective (2020)
- PILLARS /// (2022)
A MOMENT IN TROPES.
- All There in the Manual: Since a large chunk of their work is either instrumental or makes use of limited lyrics, they tuck much of the artistic and emotional intent behind their work into the songs' descriptions on YouTube and SoundCloud.
- Arc Words: The phrase "together we are free" is used verbatim in two of the three tracks on the PILLARS /// EP (and the idea of self-liberation in the third ties in pretty solidly with the line).
- Bilingual Bonus: Their name is a slang term for "hungover" or "wasted" in Dutch.
- Boléro Effect: "Arazu" makes use of this through its primary vocal loop.
- Book Ends: A Moment In Time begins and ends with the same looping synth note.
- Creator Thumbprint: The skull.
- Compilation Rerelease: A Matter of Perspective is one of these. Described as an anthology album, it wraps the previous three EPs up into one package along with an epilogue of its own extra tracks.
- Early-Installment Weirdness:
- Some of the earliest songs on their SoundCloud (including "Straight Murder" and the demo version of "Arazu") make heavier use of outside samples and bear a closer resemblance to straight-up electronic trap than their most recognizable work. Elements of their recognizable style are certainly present, but "zZz" seems to be the point where their most distinctive elements, including the glockenspiel, start to emerge. (They later made a return to their trap roots with some of the tracks on their third EP, most notably on "Grind & Hustle" and "World Full of Snakes".)
- While the golden skull has been around since the very beginning, some of the accompanying elements like the VHS-style video effects and text weren't present until the debut of their "LIFE." documentaries on YouTube in May 2017, and "Lines of the Broken", which dropped the same month.
- Electronic Music: Yep! Specifically, future bass and electronic trap, with electropop and occasional dubstep leanings.
- Fading into the Next Song:
- A Moment in Time uses this at the beginning and end, with "Back When (1997)" blending into the opening of "Sunburn" and "Homebound" transitioning into the beginning bars of "Just Now (2017)".
- On The Choices We Face, the end of "Turn Around" blends into the opening bars of "Looking Back".
- Friendship Song: "Only Be Me".
- Genre Roulette: Their work is easily as much future bass/trap inspired as it is synthpop-influenced, and that doesn't even cover the metallophonic elements.
- I Am the Band: Vincent makes all of the tunes and became the sole member in 2020. Hein joined him on DJing duty on tour dates until late 2019.
- Idiosyncratic Cover Art:
- From the start of the project up to A Matter of Perspective, only two of their early solo singles ("Wake the Warrior" and "Shibuya") and two collaborative releases ("Lines of the Broken" and "Running Away") didn't feature their hallmark golden skull.
- The Unexpected Odyssey singles, meanwhile, build their visuals around a particular black, white and yellow color scheme and a slash motif (represented as lines on a crosswalk on the single cover to "Strangers", bars across a window on "Demons", etc.).
- Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: A Moment in Time, The Choices We Face and A Promise Is Made each share similar cadences when said out loud.
- Limited Lyrics Song: A lot of their songs with vocals make use of this trope, though it's averted on tracks like "Lines of the Broken" and "Weird Machine".
- zZz: "I know, I / It's like a lullaby"
- "Arazu": Its title. That's it. (Unless you're listening to the original demo, which also has a Tokyo Ghoul sample for good measure during the bridge.)
- "Sunburn": "You're the one til my tan fades away / Get on a train and we'll be strangers again"
- "Step by Step": The title line and "did I walk too far to turn around, around?" make up the bulk of the lyrics.
- Aside from the two repeated verses, most of "Backbone" consists of various permutations of the lines "I don't wanna be like that though / Better grow a fuckin' backbone."
- "Grind & Hustle": "The grind and the hustle / The thing on my mind"
- "Push Through:": "I guess the only way out is to push through / And if it doesn't look great, what's it to you?"
- Non-Appearing Title: None of the titles on the A Moment in Time EP appear in the tracks themselves. Also applies to some of their other singles, including "zZz", "Kintsugi" and "Moonwalk Mike".
- Precision F-Strike: "JUMP" is clean for the most part, but featured vocalist Keeley Bumford (of Nevve) drops a whammy at the start of the song:I was thinking that maybe when we get back, you could come with me
Fuck work, fall in love right now and spend all our money
- Production Posse:
- They're one of the longer-running groups within Bitbird's roster and have shown up on all of the label's compilation albums. Some of their contemporaries include San Holo, Taska Black, Sem, Fytch, Flaws, and Duskus.
- Additionally, some of their frequent collabs outside of Bitbird include songwriting group Nevve, fellow electropop duo CUT_, and singer Iris Penning.
- Pronouncing My Name for You: The "dro-low" pronunciation is enough of a common mistake that they've made shirts with "Pronounced Drew-Lou" on them.
- Remix Album: The Choices We Face and A Promise Is Made got remix EPs a few months after their original releases. The band themselves have done remixes for their label's founder San Holo, as well as Charlie Puth and Selena Gomez, Petit Biscuit, ARIZONA, and Charli XCX, among others.
- Self-Backing Vocalist: The vocals on "Homebound" do this with a pitched-down version of the main singer's voice.
- Self-Empowerment Anthem: A common theme.
- "Weird Machine" is a fun variant, with the narrator either metaphorically seeing herself as a newly independent robot among humans or outright being one.
- "Push Through", "Statues" and "Open Blinds" fit the bill as well.
But we will turn that switch back on
We're not here to fuck around
The future's our phenomenon