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The Yummy Mouths | Photo: the band's official press kit
The Yummy Mouths | Photo: the band's official press kit
Loes van Schaijk -

All Eyes on Flanders With the Yummy Mouths and Jezus Factory Records: “Hopefully, the Border Between Flanders and Wallonia Will Disappear”

This was originally meant to be an article on Belgium, but once I dove into the topic, I soon realized that the regions of Flanders and Wallonia each deserve their own "All Eyes on" article here on Insounder. Although the saying "music has no borders" is true in a way—as musicians from various cultures usually get along just fine, there seems to be no beef between musicians from the Dutch- and French-speaking parts of Belgium—there are some infrastructural differences that bands interested in touring this country might want to take into account. Focusing on Flanders today, I picked the brains of young garage rock trio The Yummy Mouths and Andrew Bennett of Jezus Factory Records, a UK record label specializing in Belgian releases. 

The Yummy Mouths: "It's very nice to have someone on your team who goes for it 100%"

The Yummy Mouths, an up-and-coming young band from Kempen in Flanders, plays juicy garage rock with a touch of post-punk and sweet pop sprinkles on top. Formed in 2019, the trio consisting of Klaas, Cis, and Jef released their debut EP UGH! in 2021 on FONS Records and Gazer Tapes. The lead single "White Noise" was proclaimed Catch of the Day by the radio station Studio Brussel and their "catchy, no-nonsense music" has been getting a lot of positive feedback and airplay. 

What are some good places to play in your region (clubs, festivals)?

For the level we are at now, venues like JH Wollewei (Turnhout), Farrm (Hasselt), BarBroos (Ghent), Cabron (Antwerp,) and Inuit (concert organization from Leuven) come to mind. As a young band, you get a lot of opportunities here and you can present your music to a nice and enthusiastic audience. In the future, we aim to play in slightly larger concert halls such as Trix (Antwerpen), Vooruit (Ghent), and Het Depot (Leuven).

In terms of festivals, we have good memories of Gladiolen. This was the biggest show we've played so far, together with acts like Ruben Block (frontman of Triggerfinger), High Hi, and The Haunted Youth and it was a great day. For the rest, we haven't played a lot of festivals yet as corona prevented us from doing so. Next summer we have some great festivals planned. More about this later via our social media!

What was/is the influence of corona on the music scene in Belgium?

It was and still is significant. Many artists had released music at the very beginning of the first lockdown and it gets lost because you can't seize all the opportunities with this new work.

We ourselves, we feel, did make the most of it. It gave us time to work out the songs from our first EP with the intention of releasing it by the time more was possible. In the end, we also had to make the leap at a certain point to release it, hoping it would be the right time. Our EP was released on June 25 and in retrospect, we timed it well. On that date, only seated shows were allowed in Belgium, but everything was well received and the ball got rolling for more shows, also towards the fall where we played some really nice shows.

As a still relatively small band, we perhaps had an advantage over slightly larger bands. There were a lot of small-scale events this summer (partly due to audience restrictions in Belgium) and we were really suited for that.

Unfortunately, a lot of shows have been canceled and postponed so we have to reschedule and try to find suitable dates next year. The positive side is that we already have a lot of shows scheduled for next year!

What are good studios and what names are associated with them (recording, mix, master)?

  • Thomas Valkiers's Hightime Studio in Herk-de-Stad. Our EP was recorded and mixed there.
  • Steven Maes's MotorMusic in Mechelen. This studio can be rented and has no dedicated mixing engineer.
  • Mastering: Laurens Grossen (who mastered our EP), Jerboa.

What does your relationship with your label look like?

Our EP has been released on two labels—the vinyl on FONS Records and the cassette on Gazer Tapes. FONS Records is owned by Niels Hendrix and they took care of the distribution and promo of our EP. Besides that, they helped with all the things that come with releasing your own record.

The cassette was released on Gazer Tapes and is the label of Dries Hermans (who plays with Fake Indians and Poppel, among others). Dries already believed in our band from our first singles, so it was only natural that he would release our EP on cassette. If Dries believes in something, he goes for it 100% and that's very nice to have within your team. He has also opened doors for us that would otherwise have still been locked and we have learned a lot from him.

Are there any organizations in Belgium that help musicians with financial support, information, contacts (e.g. subsidy for the release of a CD or clip, support to organize a tour abroad)? is the main contact in Belgium for every artist's questions and also publishes a lot of great articles about the ins and outs of the music industry.

For financial support, there are a few possibilities in Belgium. Sabam for Culture, for example, is a fund that helps finance music videos. For support to tour or record music, it's better to file for a grant. The region of Flanders certainly makes nice grants available for artists. Since corona, there is also the fund LIVE2020. This supports various relaunch initiatives.

Up till now, we have financed everything ourselves, but it's certainly possible that in the future we will look at subsidies to gain some more security.

Suppose a foreign band wants to tour in Belgium, what advice would you give them?

Pick some nice music bars in the bigger cities and try to get gigs there. There's a big chance that you'll play for more people there than you would in a youth center somewhere in Flanders and in our experience, these are always very nice evenings with an enthusiastic audience. The advantage is that you can still go to a bar afterward because in larger cities there is always something to do.

Is there actually such as thing as a "Belgian music scene," or are Flanders and Wallonia very different in that respect?

We notice that there is a significant boundary between Flanders and Wallonia. For us, as a Flemish band, it's very difficult to get playing opportunities in Wallonia and we think it's the same the other way around. Besides that, not that many Walloon artists are really known in Flanders.

This fall, we organized a few shows together with Meltheads, but we found out firsthand that it's hard to get a foothold in Wallonia, and even in Brussels. Hopefully, this border will disappear in the future because we are already such a small country and the cooperation between Flanders and Wallonia could be a lot better.

What other Belgian artists do you have in your record collection and/or would you like to see live?

Some Belgian artists from our common record shelf are:

If you have to check out one of these artists it is The Guru Guru—a fantastic band with about the strongest live reputation of all we have to offer in Flanders!

What radio stations and media in your country are quality and supportive of new music?

Some music blogs that support new artists are Dansende Beren and Luminous Dash. They cover a lot of new music and are very supportive of new Belgian bands.

Radio Willy has been very important to us. It's still a young station but it has managed to gain a large audience and from our second single we have almost always been in their playlist with several songs. You don't have to be a big band to get your music played and that's very nice for a young band.

For a band like ours, Studio Brussel is undoubtedly the most interesting radio station and they have played our music regularly, although in this case, it depends more on the show hosts whether we get picked up or not.

Andrew Bennett (Jezus Factory Records): "I know the people I work with and I want to serve them well"

Jezus Factory Records logo

Andrew Bennett with Craig Ward in London | Archive of Andrew Bennett

Formed in 2006, Jezus Factory Records is an independent UK record label that specializes in Belgian and particularly Antwerp alternative music, although they also have a few Dutch and UK artists on the roster as well. They distribute releases for other good independent labels such as Heavenhotel, Starman, and Audio Antihero. A free sampler album is available for download on their Bandcamp page.

My interview with Andrew Bennett started with him asking me a question: "Have you heard of dEUS?" He was clearly relieved by my immediate affirmative answer (they were huge in the Netherlands when I was in college)—because dEUS is essential to the story of the label and the obvious first question that he knew was coming...

Why Belgian music?

In the early-to-mid '90s, me and quite a few of my friends were obsessed with the chaos and creativity of bands like dEUS and Evil Superstars. They had some minor success in the UK—dEUS was headlining venues with a capacity of about 1000, Evil Superstars were playing to about 200 people.

Actually, has anyone else mentioned Rudy Trouvé to you yet? He’d probably laugh, but I’d classify him as the King of Belgian music from the '90s onwards. He’s really a music scene himself. Rudy was in dEUS, then in Gore Slut, Kiss My Jazz, Lionell Horrowitz and His Combo. He left dEUS very early on. Craig Ward, who was Rudy’s friend and also a member of Kiss My Jazz, replaced him. And then Craig was replaced by Mauro (Pawlowski, who was the main singer of Evil Superstars. And then the three of those guys had a trio called The Love Substitutes. It’s well confusing. 

At some point, I was promoting a concert for The Love Substitutes in the UK, which led to me founding the Jezus Factory Records label in collaboration with (now former partners) John Douglas and Jerry Lee-Lewington. In the beginning, we released a few compilation albums to test the waters—and the response was surprisingly positive. We signed some great artists and 15 years later, all of them are still as active as they ever were, and still making quality records.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s a very incestuous music scene. One guy can be in 10 different bands or "collectives." It’s very much a jazz thing, to have a band where you lead, and be in another band with pretty much the same guys where someone else leads… That’s why they’re so exotic to an English person—English and American rock bands tend to be influenced by other rock bands, whereas Belgian (art) rock bands are influenced more by jazz bands.

In a way, this is to their own detriment, because it’s how do you market all those different projects, all those different band names? They aren’t really trying to—there’s no big marketing machine, no careerist fort, and I think that’s the beauty of Belgian music, at least that scene that I’m talking about that started in Antwerp.

What's so special about the music scene in Antwerp?

There’s a certain section in Antwerp where it’s cheap to live, so all these musicians live there.  

Also, the Belgian government helps them with a musicians’ grant that they can claim as long as they can prove they’re working and they release a certain number of albums a year (although I understand this grant has been recently dramatically reduced). In England, you can’t live like that, you’d have to get a job on the side, whereas in Belgium you can live a modest living on that grant. They don’t need to think about what sells so they can eat, that pressure is gone—they can actually make art. They can make art for art’s sake.

Any of these guys, if they’ve got an album for me, I just know it’s gonna be good. They have a wide palette of influences—a guy like Mauro can do pop one moment and noise the next. They never make the same record twice really. There’s just a consistency… You don’t know what it’s gonna sound like, but you know it’s gonna have quality.

For example, I started working with Craig Ward and put out an album of drones of his; then an instrumental King Crimson type thing and also some "Blade Runner on crack" experimentations with Radboud Mens; then he had a band called True Bypass with Chantal Acda who are very folky; then another folk album with Mark Mulholland and Hannes d'Hoine (who I ended up stocking his Jon Doe One and DAAU albums); then he had a noise rock band called A Clean Kitchen Is A Happy Kitchen, we put out both of their albums; Butsenzeller was playing drums so I ended up putting out some of his solo stuff; and then his other bands Stovepipe (garage rock) and Hersencellen (electro punk); and then I found out the bassist Paul Lamont had this EXCELLENT band Grand Blue Heron. Guess what, I ended up putting their two albums out too. That's just one small example and I really could be here all day explaining all the different facets...

How has the Belgian music scene changed in your opinion?

I'm probably not the right person to ask, because I listen to the same musicians who are still making great music, even though many of them are in their fifties or sixties now. dEUS is still playing, even though they're not so much a collective anymore, they've turned into a pretty normal rock band. Other than that, I don't really know what 20-year-olds are listening to nowadays, to be honest. 

What advice would you give a band that wants to be on your label?

I would tell them not to do it, haha! In all seriousness, at this stage in the game, I know the people I work with and want to serve them well, so I am not looking for anyone else.

What are some of Belgium's best studios and who are some of the best engineers?

The best studio in Antwerp in my opinion is Studio Jezus (no relation to Jezus Factory!). It's run by Pascal Deweze of Sukilove, Metal MollyBlack Cassette, and Broken Glass Heroes. Simply the best mastering engineer is Uwe Teichert who, in my opinion, has mastered pretty much every significant Antwerp release; there is just something about how he does it; I think it's a refusal to take part in the "loudness wars." 

Is there such a thing as a "Belgian music scene"?

There is a big difference between Flanders and Wallonia FOR SURE. Most of the Antwerp bands could not get arrested in Wallonia and there is little point in them playing there... However, Kloot Per W—a Flemish musician who's been going since the late '60s—is hoping to change all of that with his forthcoming French-language album which we will be putting out next year. He recorded it with Pascal Deweze. Not only is it a great record because of the rare cultural crossover and the high quality of the recording (Belgian music is often quite lo-fi), but it's also going to be the make-or-break album for the label. 

That sounds serious, what do you mean by that?

Brexit has devastated me, to be honest. I had a really strong mail-order presence in Europe, built up over the last 15-16 years, loyal customers who knew that anything released by Jezus Factory Records was of high quality. But I’ve lost 80-90% of my sales because people are afraid of high shipping and customs costs.

I know some American and UK bands don’t even offer the possibility to ship physical albums to Europe anymore. Would “going digital” be an option for you?

Not for me, that’s pointless. Why be a record label then? The artists might as well put their music on Spotify or Bandcamp directly then. It’s boring, Spotify, isn’t it? But it’s reality, yeah, I know.

I’ve never based anything on what is or isn’t gonna sell. I’m not gonna listen like: “Ah, I don’t hear a single here.” If that’s what you care about, you might as well be selling cans of beans... For me, if I can’t sell vinyl, CDs, or cassettes, there’s no point. But I’m gonna last as long as I can.

What radio/TV stations and media (print and online) do you have a good relationship with, that are open to covering the Belgian artists?

The most consistently supportive one in Belgium is Luminous Dash. In the UK, Monolith Cocktail have always had our backs and understood the label. Losing Today were also excellent, but the guy sadly passed away. God Is In The TV are also very good. Record Collector sometimes cover us and this is always a holy grail for me to get reviewed in. TV—you can forget it... Radio Willy in Belgium have been very kind to us, as have Radio 1 on occasion!

What are your all-time favorite records in your collection by Belgian artists?

Tough question... Okay, here goes—off the top of my head with a load of classics I probably forgot...

  • dEUS - Worst Case Scenario
  • Evil Superstars - Boogie Children R Us
  • Gore Slut - These Days Are The Quiet Kind
  • Dead Man Ray - Trap
  • Kiss My Jazz - In A Service Station
  • Sukilove - Good Is In Your Bones
  • Pox - On Your House
  • The Rudy Trouve Septet - 2007-2009
  • Moondog Jr - Every Day I Wear A Greasy Black Feather On My Hat
  • Benny Zen - UFO Conspiracy Believer
  • Millionaire - Outside The Simian Flock
  • Tape Cuts Tape - Lost Footage
  • Creature With The Atom Brain - Transylvania
  • Pasmans - Dwalicht
  • The Love Substitutes - Meet The Love Substitutes While The House Is On Fire
  • Tim Vanhamel - Welcome To The Blue House
  • Broken Glass Heroes - Grandchildren Of The Revolution
  • Franco Saint De Bakker - Live At The Ancienne Belgique 
  • Condor Gruppe - Latituds Del Cavall
  • Per W/Pawlowski - Insider/Outsider
  • Mitsoobishy Jacson - Boys Together Outgrageously
  • Mauro - Songs From A Bad Hat
  • The Horse Head Bed - Liquid Vinyl
  • I Love Sarah - Isle Of Sarah
  • Angels Die Hard - S/T
  • Grand Blue Heron - Hatch
  • HEYME - Moving On
  • Strumpets - Rubies and Ruffians
  • Raketkanon - #2
  • Elko Blijweert - I Bambini Di Basilisco
  • Tone Zones - S/T
  • True Bypass - S/T
  • Gruppo Di Pawlowski - Neutral Village Massacre
  • A Clean Kitchen Is A Happy Kitchen - S/T

How many of these records do you have in your collection? Who are your favorite artists from Flanders? Have you ever played in Flanders yourself, or are you planning to? Tell us all about it in the comments below!

Tagy All Eyes on All Eyes on Belgium All Eyes on Flanders Flanders music scene Belgium music scene The Yummy Mouths Andrew Bennett Jezus Factory Records

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Loes van Schaijk
Originally from the Netherlands, I'm a singer-songwriter and instrumentalist (double bass, guitar and bodhrán) based in Prague, Czech Republic. I have many years of experience touring the European bluegrass and folk scene with bands such as Red Herring, Svaťa Kotas Band, and p…