TG Gondard is the kind of man who smashes stuff when he’s angry. But seeing as it’s only his own property that he destroys, it’s still fairly easy to sympathise with him. The experimentalist veteran from Brussels makes chansons that are rugged, but loaded with hidden details and lonely crooning. We spoke with Gondard about vandalism, recording tapes with tennis rackets and getting rid of meaningful possessions
Interview by Sander van Dalsum
Have you ever been a victim of vandalism?
Yes, but nothing really serious. Some annoying drunkard destroyed the mirror from my van in Tirgu Mures, Romania in 2003. And I think my first bike here in Brussels was damaged at night.
You kind of asked for that last one – bikes do seem to attract vandals.
Also cars here in Brussels – if I had one here with French matric plates, windows would probably be smashed every week. It’s what happens to all of my friends.
I assume you’re not really a destructive kind of individual yourself…
Well, I do destroy my own electronic, musical or computer gear when I’m really angry. I hate it when machines cease to obey.
I used to think it wasn’t cool to destroy someone’s property, but that it was okay when something corporate got damaged.
If you consider stealing the same as vandalising, sure. But if it’s just to express your frustration, it’s pretty pointless. If you choose a precise target for some political or ideological reason, then it may be more interesting.
Okay, but what if you could destroy something – anything – without being punished for it?
Probably this ‘petite ceinture’ road that goes all around Brussels, which is nearby my flat, so that cars cannot drive there any more. Give me a jackhammer and I’ll start now.
There’s a lot going on in your compositions. Are you a man of detail?
Actually, not really. For a couple of years, I’ve been working with a computer to create my tracks – it replaced the old four-track I used to use. It was like opening a treasure chest. Slowly I started to make songs that were more and more complicated. I now sometimes spend two weeks on a single track, which is a lot for me.
What do you think is the most non-detailed, barebones thing you’ve ever done with music?
That’s probably my tape album that was recorded solely with a tennis racket…
It was pretty raw stuff. It was basically a 14-year-old teenager scratching a tennis racket with a credit card.
That sounds super conceptual for a young teen.
I don’t think it was that at all at the time! I was determined to play music but there was no instrument at my home. So I recorded what was laying around; the radio, the sound of the wind, me throwing things on the ground…
Please tell me these recordings are available to the public…
I’ve still got the tape! But honestly I don’t think it’s very good, so it will remain in my parents’ house for ever-ever-ever. But who knows – it might become very relevant some day.
You’ve been active in the experimental music scene since the ’90s. How many times have you pulled apart your way of making music and reshaped it completely?
Actually quite a few times, I think! After the racket-era, I bought a bass and started to play in a hardcore band. Then I bought a guitar and started to record ‘classic’ lo-fi rock songs. After that I discovered drone music and I was deeply into that. I even was a terror/speedcore DJ in the late ’90s/early 2000s.
Wow! I’m especially interested in that last one!
It was more melodic and gentle than the Dutch equivalent.
No, in France it was absolutely different. It was the ‘free party’ scene – very punk and very wild. Travellers, dogs, ketamine – those kinds of things… Somehow the audience was more or less the exact political opposite of the Dutch audience, and was associated with anarchism and the far-left wing.
TG, I want to ask you one more thing: what personal trait are you looking to get rid of?
I don’t want to live with objects any more, so I’m ‘deconstructing’ my home. I’m slowly starting to sell all the things I have accumulated over the years. I don’t care about anything anymore – not even my records.
Oh no, not your records!
I already got rid of them. If I want them back, I’ll buy them again. But I’ve still got my speedcore records – those are very hard to get rid of…
TG Gondard will be performing at Koffie5Euro, Rotterdam on Friday, 25 September. Bear Bones, Lay Low will open the show with his dreamy psych and drone. Free for members.