Interview | Elderbrook Makes Electronic Music with a Heart
Photo: Fiona Garden
Elderbrook is a musician’s kind of electronic music artist. The British singer, songwriter, and producer is a skilled multi-instrumentalist whose diverse musical influences range from folk and gospel to rock and hip-hop.
Known offstage as Alexander Kotz, he started his musical career in indie bands and became a fast-rising electronic artist whose “Cola” track was nominated for a Best Dance Recording Grammy in 2018. He’s also collaborated with fellow Brit hit makers Gorgon City.
Elderbrook’s latest single, “Capricorn,” is an instant classic that’s been a fan favorite on his U.S. tour which wraps up at the Elsewhere in Brooklyn on Oct. 6. I chatted with Elderbrook about his songwriting approach, the making of “Capricorn,” and his astrological sign.
Mandatory: Okay, I have to ask. What’s your sign?
Elderbrook: Sagittarius. 20th December.
“Capricorn” was one of my songs of summer 2018. What’s the one memory that will stick with you when it comes to creating that song?
I remember writing and recording it in a little studio in West London and it coming together quite quickly. I loved the story that the song was about. I wrote it with a guy called Nicky Nighttime. The one memory that sticks with me most though is having lunch that day. I had a pasta dish.
Your songs have a more traditional structure. The music revolves around the vocals and lyrics rather than the other way around, which is what you find in a lot of electronic music.
I think the music revolves around the vocals and lyrics because I produce my music as well. When I’m making a beat, I know where to make space for the vocals. The songwriting process usually starts with drums. I’ll spend some time finding some nice sounds and put them together. After that, it doesn’t usually take too long until I start imagining a melody over the top.
You can hear a wide range of influences in your music. What was the first song you heard that made you want to be a musician?
I can’t remember a first song so much. The first album I heard that made me want to be a musician was Kings Of Leon’s Youth and Young Manhood. That’s still my favorite album to date. I remember after hearing it and loving it, I wanted to start a band with my friends. The early days of that band were us just trying to sound like Kings Of Leon and me doing a bad impression of the lead singer. I’m glad it happened though or else I might not be where I am now.
You’re in the middle of a U.S. tour. Is there a particular place you’re looking forward to experiencing for the first time and why?
I’m looking forward to going down south the most. I’ve never been to Texas, but have heard good things! Looking for those sweet Tex-Mex tacos.
Word is you’re working on a new album. Can you fill us in on what to expect?
It’s going to be a combination of all the different kinds of music I’ve released up to now. Some more dancey. Some more indie. It’s been a long time working on it and discovering what it’s going to be, but I’ve learned a lot about who I am as an artist in the process and I’m excited to share new music!