Members: Bert Libeert, Dave Martijn, Mickael Karkousse, Tom Coghe
Interviewee: Mickael Karkousse
Nationality: Belgian
Occupation: Producers, songwriters
Current Release: Goose's Heaven Remixes are out now. Click here to listen to them.
Danial Arsham – DeLorean (sculpture)
Les Rhytmes Digitales – Damaged People

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When did you start writing/producing music - and what or who were your early passions and influences? What is about music and/or sound that drew you to it?

At a very early age I was in love with music. The magic of MTV when we grew up, the live sessions, the magical world of music videos, made me dream about a life as a musician. And even before that I was glued in front of the TV, watching Elvis Presley movies and The Beatles documentaries.

At the age of 14/15 I started to play the guitar because my best friend Bert (Our Drummer in GOOSE) had a drumkit and we dreamed about being a band playing for our friends in school. As in other artforms it's the ability to take an audience with you into your imaginary world that is so special and addictive. Playing live and feeling the energy in a room is exceptional.

For most artists, originality is first preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you? How would you describe your own development as an artist and the transition towards your own voice? What is the the relationship between copying, learning and your own creativity?

We are fortunate that we were able to play together for most of our lives. Some of us have been together since we were 16 years old. We used to play blues, rock’n roll, minutes and minutes of guitar solos, then we discovered AC/DC and our sound was just that. We wrote songs like them, copied their stage act, we even won a talent show covering "Whole lotta Rosie"!

In 2000 everything changed. Then Tom (our bass player) joined us and we started experimenting with synths and drum machines because we didn’t find the right sound that we were looking for with guitar amps, peddles and drumkits. We tried to simulate the energy of guitars and drums but with machines. That’s probably the reason why we can rock with synths: Because we have that heritage of Rock’n Roll in our fingers.

What were your main compositional- and production-challenges in the beginning and how have they changed over time?

When we started out we had to rent the studio of someone’s dad in a garage, if we wanted to record a demo. We had no clue how to commit our music to tape.

Then ProTools entered our lives. Our first album ‘Bring It On’ is us experimenting and finding our way. At the time we were allergic to reverb because we followed the examples of our heroes. However, there was a period where we used tons of it, exactly for the same reason. Even today we are always looking for new sounds, new methods, simply because we want to change, surprise each other and grow as creative beings. We are not making the same record twice, so it’s an ever-changing sound that we are after.

What was your first studio like? How and for what reasons has your set-up evolved over the years and what are currently some of the most important pieces of gear for you?

Digidesign 002, 1 drum computer, 3 synths and a couple of guitars. We didn’t have microphones to mic real drums and amps, so everything was recorded with DI’s. Which made the sound very aggressive, right in your face, pure excitement.

How do you make use of technology? In terms of the feedback mechanism between technology and creativity, what do humans excel at, what do machines excel at?

A new instrument always brings new ideas and sounds. Especially when you are not in control of the machine, beautiful errors occur and those are really nice to have.

The interaction between humans in a studio is unique. The constellation of a group defines what is going to happen. It’s all about the vibe. When we work on an album, there is a moment where we say to each other “The album is finished!” although we haven’t recorded a single note. But it’s about how we want it to sound, the idea behind it, that makes us excited.

Then we start writing. A machine can’t tell you what album you have to make. But it can help you find the right direction.

Production tools, from instruments to complex software environments, contribute to the compositional process. How does this manifest itself in your work? Can you describe the co-authorship between yourself and your tools?

We really like the idea of recording audio. Our studio is packed with analogue gear because we like the touch of it. They are not perfect, just like us. They can be grumpy, just like us. And having real instruments surrounding you is inspiring too.

Having said that, we have been using softer synths over the last couple of years. As a tool, to save time or to try something out. But most of the time we tend to replace them with the real stuff. You know, it’s only with the second album ‘Synrise’ that we discovered what midi was and how it can help you.

Collaborations can take on many forms. What role do they play in your approach and what are your preferred ways of engaging with other creatives through, for example, file sharing, jamming or just talking about ideas?

Most of the time we get together in the studio for a couple of days. It’s important to build a relationship with an artists or producer. It’s crazy how it forces you to build a friendship over a couple of days as opposed to real life, where it would take you weeks to arrive on the same level of friendship.

And how do you get in the friendzone? By eating and drinking together. Most artists share the passion for at least one of these two.

Could you take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work? Do you have a fixed schedule? How do music and other aspects of your life feed back into each other - do you separate them or instead try to make them blend seamlessly?

Since we have our new studio (Safari Studios) we meet up every day. We start around 10h and leave around 17h. During that time we try to make music, together or separately in different parts of the studio. We choose to organise the studio with 3 different rooms where we can record individually if necessary as we are also working on different projects at the same time apart from our work as GOOSE.

Apart from the music we manage our label that releases all our records and collaborate with different artists or brands on creative projects. In the evening and early mornings most of us are full time parents.

Could you describe your creative process on the basis of a piece or album that's particularly dear to you, please? Where did the ideas come from, how were they transformed in your mind, what did you start with and how do you refine these beginnings into the finished work of art?

‘Discovery’, Daft Punk’s second album had an big impact on how we make music. Definitely when writing our first album ‘Bring It On’. Every song on that Daft records is a world of its own. Production- and structure-wise but also that wide array of feelings that every single song will give you. 14 different little planets that make one ‘very Disco’ Universe.

That’s how we try to approach GOOSE albums, too. Every idea /track starts as a rough sketch, not even a demo, there are no rules as long there is something magical in there that the all 4 of us can connect to.

When we sense that the idea is viable, we’ll start working in depth, very carefully not to lose that spark we originally felt.

There are many descriptions of the ideal state of mind for being creative. What is it like for you? What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily?

I don’t think you have to be particularly happy or sad in order to be creative, but something has to be going on. Either you watched a movie, saw an expo, read a book … you need a trigger. And the trick is to be aware of that trigger. Sometimes you can walk around in a city and feel nothing. But that’s up to you, there is always inspiration around the corner waiting for you, but sometimes you just don’t see it. So. I guess you have to open up, don’t think too much and let it go.

When you work on a song, the beginning is always exiting. You found a good groove, where you can dance to for hours or a catchy phrase or topline. Then the actual work begins. Making the idea into a track is hard work. You have to level with the band, find the right angle, make it sound new for yourself …

We are blessed to be a band. We challenge each other and never go with the easy way out. It’s not so that every song is a struggle, but every song has his difficulties and as a band you try to find the best solutions. And that result - after a creative process - makes it sound like you.

How is playing live and writing music in the studio connected? What do you achieve and draw from each experience personally? How do you see the relationship between improvisation and composition in this regard?

We write to play live. Playing for a crowd is what we like best. That does not mean that every album track is suite for the stage, but when we are working on a song we try to imagine how it would work in a live setting. Who would play what and thinking about it in this light, helps us sometimes to see where there is work to be done on the track. It can sound amazing on your computer, but if none of the parts are playable live, well … then you have a problem. At least in our case, as we always play everything live on stage.

On stage we do not tend to do much improv. If it does happen, it’s mostly because someone made a mistake. In the studio however, it’s the happy accidents that make a track.

How do you see the relationship between the 'sound' aspects of music and the 'composition' aspects? How do you work with sound and timbre to meet certain production ideas and in which way can certain sounds already take on compositional qualities?

Yes, sometimes the sound defines the composition. The combination of effects or patches on a synth can alter the composition in such a way that it changes completely from your original composition.

But then we're only talking notes and bars. I don’t think a composition is just that. It’s the production, the sound, the energy. We often end up with a completely new track after we patched a new synth of piece of outboard.

Our sense of hearing shares intriguing connections to other senses. From your experience, what are some of the most inspiring overlaps between different senses - and what do they tell us about the way our senses work? What happens to sound at its outermost borders?

Sight (the visual) is a really important sense to us that we are connected to when writing music. We are often very inspired by an imaginary film scene or even an existing photograph or image. The mood that an image has, will affect us in the way we write.

Once we have almost finished an album it works the opposite way. The music will dictate now how the album cover will look. Sometimes this can be very direct, or it will make a contrast with the music.

Art can be a purpose in its own right, but it can also directly feed back into everyday life, take on a social and political role and lead to more engagement. Can you describe your approach to art and being an artist?

We hope that our music inspires artists and people in many ways. Our motivation isn’t political or socially engaged. We see it in a broader perspective. Sometimes people come up to us and tell us that we have introduced them to electronic music or we start a collaboration with an artist, like Bart Stolle, because our music inspires his work directly.

If we can help people to see things differently, we are happy. There is not just black and white, there are other colours too and the best thing is that you can make your own. That’s what we try to do.

It is remarkable, in a way, that we have arrived in the 21st century with the basic concept of music still intact. Do you have a vision of music, an idea of what music could be beyond its current form?

I think music did change quite a bit. Especially with the use of technology it has become generic in a lot of ways. We used to be surrounded by a group of producers that really were game changers: Sebastian, Erol Alkan, Justice, Surkin, Les Rhytmes Digitales, Air, Daft Punk. Today a lot of DJs don’t make music for themselves but they only care about the interaction with dancefloor. And that is just not enough and I’m afraid that kind of music will not stand the test of time. So, we hope that certain DJs who have been forced to stay at home due to the Covid19 outbreak, will take the time to come up with something new.