In 2001, Gotye recorded his first tracks primarily using samples. He put together a four-track CD which included the song "Out Here in the Cold". He made approximately 50 copies of this first collection, handwriting the track list and colouring in the cover sleeve in pencil. He drew on his cultural history for inspiration when naming his new project; Wouter, Gotye's birth name, translates into French as Gaultier (or Gautier or Gauthier), a pet name used by his mother (who gave French classes) when he was a child. He chose his own spelling of this variation and named the project 'Gotye'. He sent the CDs out to every radio station and recording industry contact he could find in the phonebook, then followed each up with phone calls to ensure they were delivered. Feedback on the first release was mainly positive with Melbourne street press and Australian youth radio station Triple J taking notice, giving him confidence to continue with further sample-based recordings.
Around this time, Gotye met fellow singer-songwriter Kris Schroeder at a party in Mt Eliza, and the two began performing together under the name The Basics. They formed an enduring songwriting and performing partnership and became regulars on the live music scene, giving De Backer an outlet for his passion for live performance. The Basics have continued to tour and record alongside Gotye, releasing four albums between 2004 and 2010.
Wouter went on to produce two more four-track Gotye collections which were met with positive reviews, with several tracks getting onto the rotation at Triple J. The CDs were made in the same style as the first, with De Backer hand crafting each one and tenaciously chasing up every opportunity to get an audience for his work. Interest in the Gotye project was growing, and De Backer was eventually offered a distribution deal for an album, which would essentially be a collection of the tracks from his three earlier releases. This album was released as Boardface in 2003.