Trashbeatz: How one man's rubbish can make beautiful music
Fifteen years ago, a group of Belgian men had a crazy idea involving rubbish and music. Now, they are playing all over the country, on the streets and on the stage, with nothing but recycled waste.
Trashbeatz is a popular band originally from Ghent. When they get the chance, they load up the van with rubbish cans, old pots and pans and even empty shampoo bottles, slip on their gas masks and white suits and start playing.
“We discover, sometimes by accident, some really nice sounds,” Stijn Claeys, a member of the band, tells The Bulletin. “Some can be really annoying, but you find a way to make them all work together.”
When Trashbeatz was first created, the six men would play in rock band competitions, but found they always came runner-up to the groups with electric guitars and lead singers. Their rubbish could not compare.
The band truly got their first start at the Ghent Festivities, where they played for 10 days and tried out everything they could, mostly improving together when on stage.
After nearly 15 years of experience, they now know the best way to grab people’s attention when playing on the street, but Claeys said this can also be the most difficult part.
“We started with a hat, but with no money inside of it,” Claeys remembered with a laugh. “You have to stand out and differentiate. In our case, people are already interested in what these guys will do with this pile of garbage.”
Though the band enjoys setting up on the street and playing to people walking by for the energy and the direct feedback the audience gives, it is not always easy, especially in Brussels.
It can be a difficult process to be allowed to show off your talent on the street of the capital city. Street performers must go through the city to get a permit, but to do so, they must prove they are professionals, or go through an audition to receive the approval. Once performers have the permit, they can perform in designated areas around Brussels, but only for an hour at a time. Once they have been there for 60 minutes, they must move to a different location to continue to perform.
For Trashbeatz, their concerts require a lot of equipment and much time dedicated to setting up and tearing down. To play in Brussels can be too much of a hassle, but with a town of so much diversity, Claeys said it is worth the effort.
“People only see what you’re bringing to the act, but they don’t see all the hassle it takes to be able to do it,” Claeys told The Bulletin. “ But playing in Brussels opens a lot of doors because you meet people from London to Brazil. The world is over here.”
Though many European cities, like Brussels, requires their street performers to go through much work to be able to showcase their talents, Trashbeatz is grateful to be able to perform on the streets and send their message to the world. While wearing their gas masks and using everyday items that are thrown away to make something special, they tell their audience to reduce, reuse and recycle.