WLUW Sits Down with Van Goose (Drummer of Marcy Playground)

Posted by: Ella Frauenhofer

Shlomi Lavie, lead singer and drummer of Van Goose, carved out time while at Reggie’s Chicago on Thursday, March 14th for a brief interview. 

One of our very own DJ’s hosting “Velvet Fever” led the conversation. Read what they bantered about below

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Ella Fraunhofer: Okay first off, how are you? How are you feeling about the show tonight?

Van Goose: I’m good. Things have been pretty intense because all the preparations for the tour, and the album just never stops, and a lot of it is on my back, so it’s a lot of running around all of the time. But it’s super exciting, and so far, it’s been awesome.

EF: Awesome, and when did you start the tour?

VG: So it started on March 7th, a week ago. 

EF: Have you ever played in Chicago before?

VG: I have, but not with this band. I played drums for Marcy Playground, so mainly with them.

EF: And what venue did you play at?

VG: I remember Double Door, but I think they closed, right?

EF: Oh yeah. They did close actually. 

VG: Such a cool venue.

EF: Very cool venue! I’m so bummed about it. I used to go there all the time.

VG: Yeah, we played there a bunch of times.

EF: So my understanding is that this is your solo project. How are you feeling about, I’m assuming, having all or most creative control?  

VG: It’s something I wanted to do for such a long time. You know, my mind was full of noise, and it was like, you’ve got to do it. Sit down, and make this record already. So for me, it’s such an exciting moment to finally finish an album, since I’ve been working on it for probably four years or so. I feel fulfilled. 

EF: Oh wow. What lead you to start this solo project?

VG: It was mainly the understanding that I would not be able to rest until that thing comes out. It was almost like stronger than me. Before that, I was messing around with writing music, and prior to this, I had another project that was my solo project, but it was… it was a very theatrical show when I was hiding behind a voice, kind of making this raspy voice and wearing masks and all that. At some point, it felt like it’s not as honest as I’d like it to be, so I stopped doing that, and felt like alright, now no masks and just be honest. 

EF: So it sounds like it’s been a long process… four years. Can you tell me a little bit about the process.. inspirations, feelings, thoughts?

VG: There’s so many influences and because it’s been such a long process, the way that I imagine the album when I just started and the way it ended up are completely different. In between, things change, and my taste changed. There’s a huge early underground 70’s disco influence on the album. That’s kind of one of the things I had in mind for this project, combining more aggressive punk elements with that kind of stuff, dancy stuff. That was kind of the core idea behind the album, and I built it from there.

EFAnd you think it’s different from your past work?

VG: I think it’s different. It’s definitely more honest and less jokey. There’s still a lot of humor involved, but it’s much more honest, and yeah.

EF: Yeah. And you were born in Tel Aviv?

VG: I was born in Haifa and lived in Tel Aviv for a good 10 years. I moved there when I was 18 because when you’re a musician, Tel Aviv is pretty much the place.

EF: Definitely. And you lived in NYC at some point as well?

VG: Yes, so from Tel Aviv, I moved to Brooklyn, and I’ve been there for the last 11 years. 

EF: In considering both environments, do you feel that those places have any influences on your music or the sound that you are drawn to?

VG: For sure, for sure, for sure. I mean with Israel and the scene… I mean, that’s where I come from, so growing up as a musician in Israel, it’s inevitable not to have any influence. Very much New York has an influence as well because our sound and the concept of disco started in New York state, and then the concept of combining those elements with punk is also something that was kind of invented in New York. This is the city to be in as far as the music I do. Most of the bands that influenced the album are mostly NYC-based bands and labels. 

EF: What would be your “favorite” song off of the album?

VG: Oh, that’s tough, and it’s kind of strange because there’s only one song that is kind of on the mellow side and is very different from the rest of the album. For some reason, that song kind of like still hits me the most, possibly because it’s a song that I did not mess around with long enough to get tired of it, possibly for that reason. 

EF: And what’s the name of the song?

VG: It’s called “Wildstar.”

EF: What do you hope to convey to the listeners of Habitual Eater?

VG: I guess, I like to confuse people. I like to be able to be not definable in a way, and kind of like break the boundaries of this is this genre and that is that genre. I like people to respond from more of a physical place. You know, we play these shows, and they are very rhythmic. We have five people in the band, playing different instruments. It always feels almost like we have five drummers in the band. They are all playing very rhythmic patterns. I’d like to get people to respond physically to the music if that makes sense. 

EF: Yeah, absolutely.  Last question, fun one. What are you listening to right now?

VG: Oof, uh, how about I look at my Spotify playlist of things that I’m discovering. So let’s see what I’ve got… (looking through phone). There’s a band called NOV3L. It’s N-O-V-the number 3- L. They are from the northwest or British Columbia, and they have a little bit of the same energy as us. I bumped into a video and loved the sound, so I bought the record, and it sounds incredible. It’s very post-punky, Talking Heads. Also, Moonduo. They’re so good, so good. It’s a duo, I believe. It’s also the combination between synths and live instruments. Very much dancey but also rocky. Helena Hauff, who I believe is a German producer. That’s full on like electronic, experimental, disco, house stuff. That’s like really, really cool. Oh! There’s this band, Kruangbin. 

EF: Oh, I know exactly who you’re talking about! Kruangbin. 

VG: So good, soo good.

EF: So good! Well, good stuff that you’re listening to. Any last remarks?

VG: I guess my message is to stay in school!

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Shlomi’s calm yet passionate attitude made sitting down with him a very comforting and humble experience.

In a way, it juxtaposed Van Goose’s following performance, which was energetic and at sometimes, unpredictable and confusing, just as Shlomi had hoped to portray. Confusing and unpredictable are being used as positive terms in this case, as the performance simulated a roller coaster experience.

Moments of a steady house, disco beat urging me to get up and dance (as this was a sit-down show) sank into moments of experimental synth takeover, causing me to stop, stare, and try and understand what my body was experiencing and feeling. Van Goose officially succeeded in causing not just a mental and emotional reaction but a physical response as well. In conclusion, recorded Van Goose, although favorable in its own ways, does not do live Van Goose nearly enough justice.

Nonetheless, Van Goose’s new album Habitual Eater can now be streamed on all music streaming platforms. 

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