Zwangere Guy — somehow lesser known as Gorik van Oudheusden — comes clean during our interview: he ain’t all that much of a collector. He bought his first record at the age of 23 and currently owns no more than a thousand of them, all put on display on the living room’s central mantelpiece. Rest assured, dear Gorik, this series revolves around quality rather than quantity and we’ve got the fascinating discussion with Raphael Top-Secret from a couple years ago to back that statement.
Van Oudheusen has got an undoubtable knack for vinyl either way. Whether he is putting out music under the Zwangere Guy moniker or with his STIKSTOF collective, Gorik consistently releases his records on vinyl. And when it comes down to his personal collection, we soon enough discover that it is a remarkable and extremely Brussels-inspired mix of hip hop, electronica, dub, African and Turkish music and Lange Jojo.
Van Oudheusden shares a house in the heart of Brussels with his girlfriend and two roommates, a stone's throw away from the majestic court of justice. “Everyone living here is involved with music. Landlord's prescription”, says van Oudheusden. Part of the living room serves as a small studio where music often resounds. It has a guitar, cables all over the walls and it shelters the kind of organised chaos that’s akin to the creative mind. Inevitably, a house of this kind, filled to the brim with music, results into creative cross-pollination. Proof is easily found: we are spot roommate and violinist Hendrike Scharmann's name amongst the credits of the first STIKSTOF vinyl.
Warning, this is a re-press
Up on the couch are some recently opened boxes with the repress of Zwangerschapsverlof Vol.3, Zwangere Guy's very first album. When it sold out, van Oudheusden decided to go for a second batch, but not without adding 'REPRESS' in capitals to the back of the record. “I really wanted to make that crystal clear. Stuff like that is important to me. My friend Romeo Elvis took it even further, he will be re-releasing his album featuring ten entirely new edits, that's the real shit.”
The second supply also shows different artwork, tinted blue instead of red and the cause of creating quite a fuss. “Everyone saw something different in the cover's image — a lot of people figured it was a penis, but basically, it's pieces of cloth draped over one another.” A mindful DIY attitude runs through all of van Oudheusden's vinyl productions, be it his own or records made with the STIKSTOF collective. The whole of it is self-management, with some occasional disturbance on the financial part of things as a result. “We distributed STIKSTOF's first record all over Belgium, but never bothered to collect our money. Sometimes, we're all just a bunch of idiots in the same room.”
Smoke, cook, dance
With a cup of tea at hand, van Oudheusden starts to leaf through his collection. Apologising for the utter lack of structure — “There's black music and then there's the rest of it” — he pulls out some of them at a frantic pace: Outkast, Shuggie Otis, Death Grips, Tuluum Shimmering, Sade, Holger Czukay, Osibisa, Jacques Brel and Arbeid Adelt all pass by within a few seconds.
“Part of it comes from my girlfriend's father, who's a DJ. I gathered the rest of them over the course of the six years I’ve been collecting. I kind of got them from all over the place. I like to buy records at flea markets, maybe because my grandfather was a brocantier, but Brussels spots like 72 Records, Caroline, Veals&Geeks or Crevette often attend to my needs too. While travelling around in Senegal and Gambia, I managed to get my hands on a few gems and when I hitchhiked from here all the way up to Istanbul, I got into Turkish psychedelic music. Besides that, I often buy records after shows. It also happens that fellow musicians or labels like Different Fountains, Le Motel or Sagat pass some of their stuff on to me.”
Van Oudheusden categorises every record according to its function: smoking, cooking or dancing. He prefers to light a joint to the sound of hip hop or dub. “Jah Shaka Meets Mad Professor, smoked quite a few spliffs to that. Or Ravi Shankar, the ideal soundtrack to space out on.”
The Napster years
Born back in 1988, van Oudheusden spends his teenage years in the company of CDs, MP3s and Napster. His uncle passes along a few CDs signed Tupac, Eric B & Rakim, NOFX and Rage Against The Machine. Many hours of listening to Radio KIF and De Hop on Studio Brussel will do the rest: Zwangere Guy is won over by hip hop and spends hours browsing his plastic CD folders with hundreds and hundreds of discs.
As the digital download revolution freed the way to uninhibited access to just about any music, it would take a while for van Oudheusden to start collecting vinyl. “If I had been born earlier, I would have been into vinyl much earlier on. But I've always been a product of the now, and CD’s and mp3’s were simply much more accessible for a kid my age, back then. Nowadays, I often re-buy my favourite hip hop albums on vinyl. Which reminds me I still have to stock up on everything Tupac ever released. I just couldn't do without Tupac in my collection.”
Jeanke, the retired ballet dancer
Van Oudheusen doesn't spend his every dime on records, nor is he vinyl fanatic. However, it seems a story lurks behind every album in his collection. Moreover, van Oudheusden proves to be a born and bred entertainer, relaying these tales with gusto. The records perhaps closest to his heart, for instance, came from an unexpected source. In another lifetime, van Oudheusden used to work in construction. One day, he ended up in the company of Jeanke, a brisk seventy-year-old from Brussels.
“I'll never forget it. There was no way of stopping Jeanke. I think that job took three days longer than it should have because we talking and talking and talking. Jeanke was a retired dancer and had worked for Béjart for several years. After his professional dancing career, he worked as a counselor for the Monnaie theatre. Needless to say, we had quite some topics to discuss. He showed an interest in my music and when the job was done, he invited me back to his house. Stacked away on the attic were five crates filled with records. ‘Choose’, he said. Among others, I brought home ‘Mister Heartbreak’ by Laurie Anderson and three albums of hypnotising trance by Muslim Gauze. Suddenly I was able fill an extra cabinet in my record rack and I was introduced to a whole bunch of unknown music, all thanks to Jeanke!”
From a stack of 7 inches emerges a small record wrapped in shiny mirror paper. On it, no more than a small sticker stating “Zwangere Guy” in capital letters. Turns out it's a release by Swiss Bank, a project by his buddies Jazz en Phasm, to which he contributed. The tracks aren't to be found online and only twenty copies of the record were produced.
The idea is simple yet brilliant. “QPLV: Que Pour Les Vrais”, so van Oudheusden explains. “They sell these 50 euro a piece. Afterwards, they go shopping at Louis Vuitton or Gucci with the profits. Of course, they're just messing around, having a laugh with these gangsta rappers who take themselves all too seriously. Each record is made during a single nightly session at the studio and pressed immediately. With what they made off this one, they both bought a Louis V belt. Hilarious, if you ask me.”
Name: Gorik van Oudheusden | Occupation: rapper and social worker | Age: 29 | Where: Brussels | #records: +- 1000 | Genres: Hip hop, funk, soul, jazz, weird shit, ambient, disco, dub, French chanson | Aliases: Zwangere Guy, DJ AZERTY SAFARI | Favourite record store: Every shop in Brussels | Equipment: 1x Technics SLK1200 | Classification: there is black music and there is everything else | First ever record: Nas - Illmatic | Favourite record sleeve: STIKSTOF - OVERLAST