In the early 80s, Gabriel carried around a suitcase full of cassette tapes on which he had recorded snippets of drums from other cultures, television programs, and other random noise that he’d “stolen” to use as the basis for his own works.
“I don’t believe that I can play music belonging to another culture. It’s just, there will be certain key elements which I will steal to start off as a stretcher for something I’m working on. I think if you look at the history of music you this process going on continuously. For me, it’s something which sets up a whole series of challenges and I think has revitalized what I do in my own work.”
Here he is talking about his songwriting process on the English TV program The South Bank Show in 1981: