Thrill-seeking with Brussels’ lyricist Lord Gasmique.

Barely out of school and with only just a few tracks released, Lord Gasmique – the rapper alter ego of Stéphane-Antoine Eklou (1998) – has already turned heads thanks to his heavy-toned delivery, nonsense lyrical output and appearances on some of the city’s radio shows and stages, building a reputation as the scene’s next big thing. We spoke with the Brussels-based wordsmith for a frank talk about narcissism, milestones and how he’s above everyone else.

Photography (c) Thomas Ost.

How did you come up with Lord Gasmique?

Lord Gasmique is a grand character, which is something people don’t yet understand. In my daily life I’m Stéphane-Antoine Eklou, and when I’m up on stage I’m Lord Gasmique. We’re two different people. When thinking of a stage name I first came up with Lord because of the narcissist side, and Gasmique because of the humoristic aspect. Lord Gasmique is the one who’s above everyone else.

Where did it all start for you?

About two or three years ago, I had some friends who were into rap. They’d already dropped some songs on YouTube, and that’s how I slowly discovered the genre as well. It’s not like I had this lifelong love for it, but after a while I did start writing. Just small stuff, at the start. Then I shared it with my friends at parties or wherever who in turn told me that I should put some stuff up online, which motivated me to create a Facebook page where I posted freestyles at first, and now here we are.

Tell us something more about your crew.

I’m in three crews, actually. Bruksel’R, the one I started out in, and then the 63 collective. We share a studio called Bulle à Vers. And finally the sixoclockgang, which I discovered when Zwangere Guy invited me for a Frontal radio show on Bruzz. I met with Phasm and some other members of the gang, and by force of hanging out and making music together they quickly became part of the family.

How do you approach your music? Can you explain the thought process behind a track?

Everyone who knows me musically is going to tell you the same thing: I’m a weird one when it comes to writing. When I started out it was often without any productions whatsoever. I wrote while in class, or while traveling, places where I didn’t have access to good instrumentals. So I went on and wrote, and only looked for productions that went well with the text afterwards. Now that I’ve met several beatmakers the process is different. I prefer being next to them in the studio, watching them work and collaborating on the spot.

I don’t want to be a part of that scene of moralising rappers. What I do is about entertainment.

What do you write about?

My lyrics come from nowhere. They’re not about sharing a message; I don’t want to be a part of that scene of moralising rappers. What I do is about entertainment. I want people to laugh, to have a good time. I want it to bounce. Sometimes I tell a story, other times it’s complete nonsense, a sequence of insults. Whatever pops into my mind.

The best moment you had as Lord Gasmique so far?

There have been just a few occasions where I performed solo, but it has been exceptional every time. The most exceptional one must have been a Frontal night at Beursschouwburg in February. The venue was jam-packed, people were screaming along with the lyrics, moshpitting and all. The crowd was insane. Even Flemish-speakers. I had no idea my tracks reached all the way across the linguistic divide. And it’s this shared experience with the public that makes it all worth it. It’s really the reason for me to rap. When you’re on stage, people send you so much force and energy, and all you want to do is go for it even harder. It’s like tennis, where you give each other strong blows, only it’s with love. In Brussels right now, it’s a real pleasure to see our city move up, thanks to the Damsos, Hamzas and Roméos. We’ve been in France’s shadow for a bit too long, and now these artists help us get so much exposure that Brussels is finally getting the attention it deserves.

Can we expect a mixtape anytime soon?

I’m foreseeing something for late 2017. I hope it’s going to work out so I can release it in time. People have been asking me about it, which I understand. It’s all well and good to drop one or two tracks. But actually, I’d prefer first releasing some more tracks here and there, to get my name out there.