Grandbrothers Talk


The duo calling themselves Grandbrothers (and we've no reason not to believe them!) are putting out some delightfully intriguing sounds that fuse jazz piano with electronic sounds, resulting in music that lifts your body right out of a slump and pricks up your ears as if you were a horse startled by a speeding car. Having recently been picked up for some much deserved airplay by Gilles Peterson, I asked the pair a few questions so that they could illuminate us on their emotionally-charged music;

Please introduce yourselves: who are you, where are you and what are you?

We are Lukas (28) and Erol (29), currently residing in Western Germany and we are a duo called Grandbrothers.

How did Grandbrothers get started? What were your original goals?

Lukas: It all started at university when we had to do a project – we sat together and were thinking about combining the grand piano with a computer. From there on we started to develop our own mechanics and softwares for a concert we had to do for the exam. While doing it we realized that we liked this whole thing so much that we wanted to go further and make this a band and do records and stuff and it kind of worked.

Who first inspired you to make music? What was the first record that made you fall in love with the finest art form?

Erol: Well, the band that really got me into making music was Metallica and their album Master of Puppets. It was at the age of 15 when a friend introduced me to them (the same friend who encouraged me to grow my hair…) – I fell in love immediately and started playing the guitar and drums shortly after.

Lukas:  I would say that I got attracted to music in the very beginning of my childhood – my father used to play the piano all the time, so music has always been around me. I can remember that after he put us to sleep, he went to the living room and continued playing and sometimes I secretly stayed awake just to listen to him play.

How did it feel when you found out that Gilles Peterson was a fan? Are there any other famous fans of your music that you're particularly excited about?

Erol:  We have been huge fans of Gilles for a few years now – his shows are always a great way to find new music. Music that you wouldn’t find elsewhere. So when we started we always thought how cool it would be to have our music played on the radio and on mixtapes and especially on one of his shows and then one day I got an e-mail saying "we’re playing Grandbrothers now“ – I immediately called Lukas and we were excited like little boys and giggling.

We also recently were made aware that Bonobo – another great, great influence – played 'Ezra Was Right' on one of his DJ sets in Japan. We’ve been sent a video that we must have watched at least 500 times. 

Why did you decide to combine jazz piano with synthesizers?

Lukas: It is important to us that all the sounds we use are not synthetic! So there aren't any synthesizers or keyboards that we use to make our sounds. We wanted to have sounds that sound like strings or pads though, but they're all created through self-programmed patches and effects.

Erol: As for the style of the piano there's different influences in there: Some chords or progressions that have a little jazzy touch, but also lines and patterns that are more inspired by classical minimal music and even pop music – and it's lots of fun to mix them.

Did you ever consider making music differently?

Lukas: We were thinking about it, but for the moment we are going to stick to the way we do it now.

What has been your favourite musical moment so far?

Erol: The first public concert we played at Salon Des Amateurs in Dusseldorf will always be memorized as something special for us because we didn’t know how the people would react, if they would dance and move like we hoped they would… so we were a little nervous… but when we were playing the first tunes and people started nodding their heads we got more confident and at the end people wouldn’t stop cheering… so that was definitely encouraging and showing us that people like what we are doing.

Do you listen to much classic music? Are there any modern classical music-makers that you're particularly into?

Erol: Yes – there’s classical composers like Debussy, Ravel or Satie that have a strong impact on our musical background. And then there’s a lot going on in the so called neo-classical scene, feels almost like a little revival – there’s guys like Nils Frahm, Max Richter, Olafur Arnalds, Chilly Gonzales, Lubomyr Melnik… that we all love to listen to.

Lukas: Yeah, the list goes on… I've become a huge fan of cologne-based musician and composer Gregor Schwellenbach. Also Steve Reich and Ryuichi Sakamoto have a huge impact on us. As for the classical music I'm familiar with all the Bach and Mozart-stuff from my childhood, because I was singing in a boys choir when I was a child.

What's your favourite piece of electronic music?

Erol: Are we talking electronic music like the real crazy stuff from the 50s and 60s? I’ve always found it hard to listen to it continuously but the one piece that always comes to my mind there is 'Gesang der Jünglinge' by Karlheinz Stockhausen – 
always sends shivers down my spine…

Lukas: Mh yes, when we're talking about that stuff it would be Stockhausen's Kontakte. I have been to the Studio for Electronic Music in Cologne where Stockhausen used to work on his music and got to see a lot of his equipment and the original scores. There you can see all the instructions for the different sounds and what I found so fascinating was how much of an effort it was to record like 10 seconds.

Where do the wild things live?

Erol: In my pants!

Lukas: *shakes head*

Have you heard about the bird?

Erol: Yes.

Lukas: No.

Erol: A well a bird, bird, bird…

What's the best way to get rid of a splinter?

Erol: Amputate!

What's the most rock and roll thing you've ever done? Have you ever thrown a tv out the window?

Erol: There was this one concert when the promoter said we couldn’t bring any alcohol on stage… but we each sneaked a glass of fine red-wine onto it… that was pretty hardcore.

What can we expect to hear from you in 2015?

Lukas: Dilation, our first album, is just out. If you haven’t heard it, do it now! Otherwise we will start working on fresh material very soon, so keep your ears and eyes open.


Anything you'd like to add?

Erol: No. Buy the album!

Grandbrothers debut album Dilation is out now via FILM.