Cutting out the unnecessary: GOOSE is ready for Something New

Pictures by Charlie De Keersmaecker

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The Kortrijk-based band releases a new EP, Something New, today.

No other Belgian band defies stereotypical categorizations like 'rock' and 'electronic' like GOOSE does. 10 years after their iconic Synrise album took the world by storm (the title track recently came in second at The Greatest Switch, Studio Brussel’s definitive list of Belgian dance classics) the Kortrijk-based fourpiece drops the brand new club-oriented 'Something New' EP on Friday. We set up a call with Mickael Karkousse and Tom Coghe and discussed keeping the ideas flowing and staying relevant in today's gig-less world.

Welcome to 2021. What’s your relation with the idea that you need to maintain a social media presence? And how difficult is it to stay relevant as a band during an endless lockdown?

Karkousse: “You only need to stay relevant to yourself, end of story. Admittedly, maintaining a social media presence is something we had to get used to (deep down we’re still MySpace fans). For a long time, we didn’t want to deal with Facebook and Instagram, but at some point, it becomes unavoidable. Two years ago we chose to be more active on those platforms. More so, this lockdown indirectly moved us much closer to our fans. Back in the days, artists were not expected to do that at all; the wider the distance between artist and fans, the better. Since we became aware of that, we've learned to enjoy the close relationship with our fans".

And what about the pressure from today’s streaming platforms to churn our new material as frequently as possible?

Karkousse: “We don’t mind releasing new music more frequently. We became frustrated by the classic album-centred trajectory artists had to stick to, resulting in vast amounts of time between creation and release. We still like to take our time when we need to, but for the recent single, Viper, we made sure to limit this to a minimum. We don't do this because Spotify wants us to, we do it for ourselves. Nowadays, artists can work a lot more freely with singles, EPs, etc. We have embraced that approach because working like that feels a lot more honest and fun".

Everything we do only makes sense once we’re able to perform it on stage

In previous interviews, you said your music is made exclusively to be played live. Has not being able to play shows impacted your creativity?

Coghe: "We are a live band, indeed. We started as a rock and roll group, so we knew the importance of a live audience from the beginning. Even when we retreat to the studio after; everything we do only makes sense once we’re able to perform”.

Karkousse: "It's in our DNA. When we write music, we always envision what it would sound like to a live audience. That's an important difference with bands who make music and decide to adapt it for a live performance afterwards. We miss being on stage, interacting with the audience, travelling, meeting new people, etc. Everything we do feels theoretical now. We still make music because that’s what we do; but nothing really happens in the end, other than a few radio plays. Emotionally, we’re suffering, but to say it has an impact on our creativity is an overstatement”.

You’re a band without a manager. That’s an interesting choice.

Karkousse: "Traditionally, touring rock bands drag around an unnecessarily big crew. They tend not to be very interactive with the people around them. On the other hand, DJs travel alone (or with one tour manager), which forces them to be more social. We also realized DJs do a lot more things on their own, while bands are expected to have all sorts of managers. We never felt comfortable working that way".

We want to release music faster, which boils down to cutting out the unnecessary, a philosophy we're applying to everything we do.

“We always want to feel in control, but only in the last two years we felt ready to do it on our own. Keep in mind we’re still surrounded by a great team of bookers, press agents and record label contacts. Without them, making this decision wouldn't be possible. Similarly, we want to release music faster, which also boils down to cutting out the unnecessary. It's a philosophy we're applying to pretty much everything we do".

What's the story behind your new mini-album, Something New?

Karkousse: “About a year ago, we wanted to shake things up and break old habits. Rather than spending years in a studio making the perfect album, we wanted to record and release tracks immediately. Simultaneously, we started working with media artist Bart Stolle, who made incredible visuals for our new music. Eventually, this project became the EP you can hear today. We’ve added a remix of each track in there for good measure. Consider this the first step towards the new album we’re currently making”.

New album? So this EP is a first taste of what’s to come?

Karkousse: “None of our projects sound the same. GOOSE is a collection of different influences, and Something New is a bit more club-oriented. The upcoming material will be a lot more suitable for live performances”.

If there’s one lesson you could teach your younger selves, what would that be?

Coghe: “Embrace your eccentricity! It’s ok to be weird, don’t apologize for it, be proud of it”.