Elegance On A Nudist Beach’s Dom Hemalas shows you what he’s got on his one-man psychedelic pop outfit’s self-titled debut album — showcasing today on Tinnitist.
“The title was an inside joke that came up on the nudist beach in Toronto,” says the multi-tasking Montreal musician and moonlighting member of indie-rock duo Heroes & Villains. “I was standing there wearing my blazer when everyone around wasn’t wearing anything. I declared right then and there, ‘If one day I get to record my solo album, it’ll be called Elegance On a Nudist Beach.’ ” His friends agreed, and they snapped some pictures of him, giving him his album cover in the process.
But the actual songs took far longer to create. In fact, the idea of making an album on his own had been on his mind since adolescence — though it took a Crohn’s diagnosis seven years ago, an invasive surgery four years ago, and a Covid infection in 2020 to make his dream a reality. Isolated in his basement during lockdown, he chose a path of positivity: He threw himself into his music, recording both new and old songs, and relishing the burden of playing all parts. Three years later, his self-created LP is a reality. Hemalas penned, played, sang, produced, mixed and mastered every note on the album.
Doing it all by himself was a big deal, but there was a time when he thought about looking for outside help to finish the album. “After stumbling on the title from George Martin’s book All You Need Is Ears, I felt fuelled with the faith I could pull it off,” he said.
It wasn’t an easy process, but Hemalas worked with what he had. His basement was his main studio, though later in the pandemic, he utilized his jam space in the east end of Montreal to record late at night, when necessary. “The learning curve was huge — from production to songwriting to becoming more proficient on the bass and piano,” Hemalas explained. “Most of the songs were about 70 per cent there early on, but once they were up for recording, occasional riffs or a whole new section had to be come up with on the spot.”
Earlier this year, Hemalas had the idea of playing his project in front of a live audience. That meant putting together a band. “After many hours putting this LP together with a lot of attention to detail, the idea of only releasing it online wasn’t fathomable,” Hemalas said. He assigned lead vocals and guitarist to himself, then enlisted Dave Lines (keyboards), John Gurnsey (bass), Chuck Doucet (lead guitar) and Yoann Gasniere (drums).
Listen to Elegance On A Nudist Beach below and watch the animated video for the single Without A Shadow Of A Doubt above.