To call Elderbrook an electronic artist would be to undermine his many talents as a singer, songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist. Alexander Kotz is the very definition of “versatile”, a modern day triple threat – his musical influences range from country and soul to rock and gospel, whilst he’s classically trained in piano and guitar.
Despite this, it was Elderbrook’s undoubtedly dancefloor-orientated collaboration with German duo Andhim that first cast him into the dance world spotlight; his distinctive lilting vocals resounding in clubs across the world, with Mixmag naming it one of their top tracks of 2015. Prior to this he’d released just one debut EP under the Elderbrook moniker, ‘Could’ – with the title track currently sitting at a cool 5.3 million streams on Spotify alone.
For Kotz, “phonetics are as important as lyrics. My voice adds another important harmonic element to the sounds.” It’s this which marks out the distinctive Elderbrook production style; those soulful vocals adding a sense of emotion unlike any other standard club fare. There’s a sense of depth and texture on each one of his releases; whilst he admits he’s enamoured with “the power of the computer”, it’s the electronic and acoustic guitar, synth pads and percussion coming from every available prop that give his tracks character. On his quest to “make something I haven’t heard before”, Kotz has been known to sample the sound of breaking reading glasses and crackling ice in coffee, although “I often bang the table I’m sat at, sample it and use that as my drums”. When hand-picked to turn in an official remix for Clean Bandit’s no1 single ‘Rockabye’, Kotz eschewed the easy pop-house route to turn in an intelligent, sexy dubbed-out take on the track, attention-grabbing for its sheer sense of restrain.
Despite this, Kotz maintains that his releases have to contain an element of “that bounce”, something that translates to his increasingly talked-about live shows. With just a microphone, an MPC and a guitar, Elderbrook has gone from selling out hip venue Omeara, to the larger XOYO and most recently, touring with Gorgon City at the 5000 capacity O2 Academy Brixton. The lyrics may be reflective, but during his energetic performances Elderbrook makes sure he to keep a sense of humour – “that means things don’t get too serious”. Having been handpicked to support the likes of Hayden James and Rüfus Du Sol on tours of the US, Elderbrook’s profile has now grown significantly stateside too; he recently sold out his own headline shows in Brookyln, New York and Echo Los Angeles. Having become a huge draw in his own right, he’s now looking forward to his biggest headline show to date at London’s Oval Space in October.
This summer looks set to be pivotal one for Elderbrook, who has just released an incredibly popular collaboration with Camelphat, ‘Cola’ on Defected sublabel DFTD. Upon release it was instantly picked up as Danny Howard’s Hottest Record in the World on Radio 1, and has picked up further support from Annie Mac and Pete Tong, as well as Solomun and MK on the global DJ circuit.
Still just in his early 20s, he’s now poised to release his biggest body of work to date. The 7 track ‘Talking’ double EP is due out this August and features collaborations with Joe Goddard, Starsmith and many others. Showcasing Elderbrook’s diverse range of influences, the EP moves through downbeat lullabies, dramatic broken beats, neo-soul and chunkier house cuts – yet the final product is never jarring in its range of paces, thanks to the overarching sense of feeling and those inimitable vocals.
With collaboration requests coming in thick and fast and headline tour dates ever increasing, Elderbrook looks set for mainstream success – yet for him, “the main goal is to just keep making music I love”.