In the iconic Motorbass Studio in Paris, right in Pigalle, the red-light district of Paris, we have an honest conversation with the charismatic electronic rock group Goose from Belgium. We talk to Dave Martijn, Bert Libeert, Mickael Karkousse and Tom Coghe about everything, from their recently-built home studio called Safari Studios in Kortrijk (Belgium), to their newest album titled Endless, – which comes out today! – and what it's like to be working together, while enjoying and trusting the creative process, since the year 2000. Without further ado, we will let Dave, Bert, Mickael and Tom speak for themselves, introduce each other with incredible charm and finesse and talk about all things related to their new album and basically just life, in general.
First off, could you introduce each other? Bert, could you introduce Dave?
Bert: Dave does the drumming, singing and writing songs, he does his own B music, he runs a lot and works out (laughs).
Dave, do you want to do the same for Bert?
Dave: He writes songs, he sings in the studio but not live... And that's it (laughs). Oh, he rides bikes and takes wonderful pictures!
Mickael, could you introduce Tom?
Mickael: Tom places bass, he is the one who takes care of others, on a late-night he'll make sure to take you home safely, and he's one of the most amazing bass players that we've seen. If you know how complex our songs are, we always challenge him to go to the next level...
Lastly, Tom could you tell us about Mickael?
Tom: I don't him that well but he's a singer... No, I know him pretty well (laughs). If I had to represent him through a symbol it would be a microphone, for us, he's not only the singer but he translates everything we feel and spreads the word, we're quieter.
You’ve been in the industry for so long, you’re already veterans, you most likely know the ins and outs of how all of this works, however, there’s not much info out there about you. Let’s start from the beginning, how did Goose come about?
Mickael: We released our first album in 2006, we were a small, local band but we had the mission not to play in Belgium, we wanted to play abroad. That was very bold, nobody in Belgium believed that we could do that. At the same time, Dave went on tour with Soulwax, and on the day he reached out to the owner of the record company and gave them the music and that's how we got signed and started out. We played a lot in the United Kingdom, Japan and Australia, and they would say that we were “Europe's answer to Los Claxons.”
A couple of years later we signed to !K7, a German label, and we released the album Synrise, which is also a totally iconic song for Goose that a lot of people know, and it was used for games and adverts... Then we released the third and eventually the fourth album, which was recorded in Los Angeles, inspired by the city – we could say that's the lighter version of Goose. We released an album and then an EP and now we're here.
But what about the origins? The beginning of it all?
Mickael: Well, Dave and I went to kindergarten together (laughs).
You go way back!
Dave: And even before that we were born in the same hospital.
Mickael: And in kindergarten, I met Bert, and since then we've sort of had the same hobbies, when he started playing the drums I started to play the guitar and we played music together. We got to know Dave when we were 16 because Dave and Bert were together in a ‘youth movement.’ In college, around that time, we met Tom, who was really successful, and we reached out to him asking if he would join the band and asked him if he could release a single, which never happened.
Tom: I'm still waiting for the single (laughs).
Mickael: We've been playing the four of us together since the year 2000.
For your latest music video for Endless you have included archival footage dating back to 1996. Can you explain that to me? I'm a bit confused with the timeline. I guess you have been doing gigs since then, since 1996, however, I’ve read that you formed the band in the year 2000. What happened in between those 4 years?
Tom: The formation of the group, as we know it, was back in the year 2000, but before that the three of them were already playing in a band with other people. So, Dave's dad was filming all of the footage from the concerts, and that's how we managed to compile a video of old images that somehow match perfectly with this new song.
Dave: In 2000 we became Goose.
Did you have another name before that?
Bert: Loamysoil. It's a combination of a special kind of dirt and soil.
And why did you change the name to Goose?
Dave: It wasn't a good name (laughs). And also, with Tom coming in, it was a new band. It was something that could have more potential for a longer period of time.
Mickael: We were kids who were learning to play instruments and we were having fun, we educated each other, musically. As we are also friends, we have also grown up together.
Having been together for so long, you probably know each other extremely well. There’s a familiarity that must be even hard to explain, however, would you say that because you’ve worked together for so long that you have built routines? For example, is there anything spontaneous anymore about your studio sessions or your concerts? Or do you feel like you're always playing ‘the same role’? Or is there always something new…?
Dave: We take care of that. We also have our own projects, so we go away for a while, we do our own thing and we come back with a fresh mind. That gives you energy – then your band has something new again.
Mickael: We always find ways to do something new. Sometimes we do things that are a bit extreme, like building a home studio. To us, that was a way of ‘going into the future’ together.
Why is it important for you?
Mickael: It's a bigger building where we can still live and work together, and we don't always have to be on top of each other, we give ourselves freedom: one person works in one room on another project... But then we eat together at noon and work together as a collective. That was fresh input to the band, to be able to work together, although not always we're literally or physically working together on the same thing on the same project.
Safari Studios is the place where we work, Goose is our project and we challenge each other every time we make an album. It's not like we collect ten songs and move on with our lives, we always want to find something new that helps us creatively, that we have not heard before.
Bert: We are friends who are having fun, we try not to treat this like a job, or not that much, we take care of it so that it doesn't become boring.
Mickael: Maybe we will open a restaurant next.
Your album Endless comes out today, what can you tell us about it? What’s the running theme?
Mickael: It was a journey. When we started working on the album, we wanted to be free of all external expectations and go on lockdown together, – unrelated to Covid. We talked about what challenges us and realised that we wanted to get back on tour and play, that's how we started to make the album. We also wanted to be very musical with the songwriting, so, if the previous EP was very electronic, this would also be but, in this case, we didn't want to let the machine speak, instead of the humans behind it.
Nobody was looking over our shoulder trying to figure out what we were doing or checking if it fits a certain genre... We just wanted to focus on what we wanted to do, and we had a lot of fun in the process. We then all agreed that we had to go to Motorbass Studios in Paris to finish it. We knew that the vibe in the studio is amazing, and we knew it would bring a certain kind of magic to the album, and it definitely did. We prepared all the songs in our home studio but left enough room for that magic. After those 3 weeks here, we went home with a completely different album we thought we were making.
Talking about the different studios, from Safari to Motorbass. I'm hearing that you constantly need – not just change, but a challenge, otherwise, you get stuck doing the same thing. Was that why you created Safari Studios? How long had you had that idea in mind?
Mickael: For a long time. We talked about the idea of having a place. We had a studio above a bar, which came in really handy (laughs). But after a while, it became too small, it was just one room.
Tom: We were evolving as people and as a band and that room became too small, something needed to change.
It sounds like you guys needed a place to work together, even if you worked on different projects, but you need a space you could share. Is Safari Studios sort of like a co-working space?
Mickael: No, it's more like a bar – a private bar.
It's like a fun way to work with your friends.
Mickael: That's exactly it, if it's not fun then there's something wrong because we're friends. We try to find ways to keep it fun.
So you created this space and then went to finish off the album here at Motorbass...
Dave: Well, it was just a happy coincidence. They were different pieces that fell together at the right moment.
Tom: Our producer first came to our home studio to experience our home, our vibe, he experienced how we made all those tracks. After, we worked for 2 weeks over there and then we moved to Paris to finish the recordings, as the opportunity came up.
Bert: We were also more isolated here. Safari is our island but it's still in our hometown, we have our families there... So we have more distractions. We knew that we needed a short period of time to focus on this in order to work fast.
Tom: We had a great time recording here. We knew that it was important to enjoy ourselves to do something creative. The city of Paris helped us to achieve what we wanted. That all adds to the result.
Can we notice that on the music?
Dave: It's been a ride and you can hear that in the music – all those nice dinners we had (laughs).
Mickael: I'd like to compare the album with a house party, it has different stages: a bit boring at the start (when you're a bit anxious) to extreme highs and lows.
Or even the different roles that people have at a house party.
Mickael: Yes, definitely.
Someone could be in a mood where they're like “I didn't feel like going out but here I am” or someone could be having the time of their life...
Bert: Or everyone wants to play their own songs so all of the songs are different...
From what I'm hearing, you needed an outsider's perspective to let you see that perhaps you needed something different or new. Then you were offered this space and you took advantage of the opportunity. Was it the city of Paris that really influenced you or was it more about you guys having these experiences but somewhere else? Could this magic have happened in another city?
Bert: It could have been somewhere else but the way it happened is the right way. It had to be Paris because of our producer... I cannot imagine this happening in a different city but...
Dave: It would have been different.
Mickael: Even the way the studio and the studio engineer work... Everything has an impact on what the album sounds like. It's the combination of people who make the album, not necessarily the city.
Dave: I still think a big part of our album was filmed in our hometown of Kortrijk, recording in Motorbass was the cherry on top. It was a present that we gave to ourselves by finishing it here, and it's thanks to our producer, Victor.
It's always important to have some sort of external point of view to help you out. Even if you have a certain vision in mind.
Dave: Yes but you have to choose the right kind of person and not have too many opinions. We had a very intimate team, everyone was here because they wanted to be in the room, not because they were hired. It was a really fun process, and we had no external advice from managers, companies or industry people.
You have to be very wise with who you can trust with their criteria.
Dave: Yeah, with Victor we can just be musicians.
Bert: We don't have to think of the technical stuff.
Tom: It's a sort of freedom, we can just play our instruments and throw out ideas and we're all there for each other.
Mickael: It's also nice to have someone act as a captain, like “we're going in that direction!” As a creative, you start to doubt yourself.
That's also something I wanted to ask. At this stage in your career, do you still get self-conscious and how do you deal with that? When do you know that this is the song or the direction you want to go in? Is it intuition?
Dave: I'd say, don't overthink it. You don't have to be ‘too conscious.’
Mickael: You have to be open to the magic that is music or art. I really do think that every time we come up with chords or a melody, they come out of nowhere and it moves you, I think that's really special.
Dave: In a way, we're still really naive, we just play and that's part of the magic: we don't always know what we're doing. We're not interested in explaining the technical parts.
Some people might want to theorise it but sometimes it's just better to leave it and let the music speak for itself and that's perfectly fine.
All: Yeah.
What’s next for you guys? What can you tell us about your upcoming tour? I know that you're coming to Barcelona on May 1st and you're playing at Sala Apolo, are you excited?
Mickael: We're also playing at Mallorca and Lanzarote! We're very excited because it's been a long time since we played on an extended tour like that, so we're playing in many different cities.
And what are some goals you haven't accomplished yet?
Bert: We don't have specific goals but we want to keep doing what we love.
Dave: We want to make more records, meet new people...
Mickael: 5 years ago I would have said Coachella but no, surprise could be anywhere, we could have the best gig ever at a random city. We want to be able to be active.
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