Dorian and Federico hold up two cups and toast each other in front of their laptop camera. »Coffee,« Dorian grins with a French accent, and Federico says. »We need a lot more of this, tomorrow we’re going on tour to England for five days.« They appear to have overlooked a much better stimulant: their own music.
They have just released their second album as Echt!, called »Sink-Along«, on Sdban Ultra, a Brussels-based electronica and jazz label. That fits in well with the Echt! concept. They play electronic music with a jazz twist. Their sound combines the beat-driven jazz of the likes of BadBadNotGood, the churning IDM of Flying Lotus in their »Cosmogramma« days, and straight-up instrumental trap reminiscent of Hudson Mohawke’s TNGHT phase.
The special thing about them: They play real instruments on stage. Those who have experienced electronic band projects like Elektro Guzzi or Radian will have an idea of what this looks and sounds like. The sound of Echt! doesn’t just work in clubs or at the CTM. It also works at jazz festivals all over the world.
Federico once put it philosophically, says Dorian. Electronic music makes use of samples taken from live music. As a band you listen to them, try to rethink them on individual instruments and then play them back. »That way a kind of loop is created«. Federico scratches his chin. »But we will never be able to create the same sounds we hear,« he says. »It’s the search for solutions with the means we have that makes the sound so unique.«
The Lucid Dreams of Four Trap Jazz Artists
A few years ago, when the four were still playing in Brussels’ bars, they mainly played covers, he says. »We rewrote the music of J Dilla, Aphex Twin or Dorian Concept for our instruments,« says Federico. »It was fun to find out how to recreate these electronic sounds.« After all, he says, this music is less about the notes and more about the search for sounds.
This search begins in the mid-2010s. At the time, Dorian and Federico, as well as Martin and Florent, were studying at the Brussels Conservatory. They know each other from courses they take together, but they only find each other through jam sessions outside of music school. You hear each other play and you soon realise what makes the other person tick, says Dorian, who originally comes from a classical music background. »Our shared love of electronic music led us to form this band.«
»We rewrote the music from J Dilla, Aphex Twin and Dorian Concept for our instruments«.
Each of us brings different strengths to the table, they say almost simultaneously. While Federico describes himself as the »practical guy on the bass«, he sees Dorian as the »lucid dreamer« of the band. Florent, the guitarist, sometimes exhausts everyone, because he knows exactly where things are going. And Martin doesn’t just hold Echt! together behind the drums. »Since we don’t have a bandleader, it can be a bit tricky sometimes,« says Dorian. »But even if we don’t agree on certain points, we still share the same vision.«
Impact is not a Question of Genre
Watching recordings of live performances gives you a glimpse into the »Echt! universe«, as Federico puts it. The band forms a circle, moving closer together and does not only play to the audience. A piece of advice we received in a band coaching session, according to Dorian. »We want to express that we are more than just a combination of solo musicians, we are a single unit«.
This is another reason why it is not always possible to identify where the sounds that make up Echt! come from. »But that’s the strength of the project,« says Federico. »That you can’t define it.« Whether the audience is made up of jazz connoisseurs or clubbers, Echt! always wants to convey an »experience«. Listening to »Sink-Along« in this way, it quickly becomes clear that this sound has to be experienced.