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Elderbrook's brand of electronica is alternately melancholy and danceable.EXPAND
Elderbrook's brand of electronica is alternately melancholy and danceable.
Fiona Garden

Grammy Award-Nominated Solo Electronic Musician Elderbrook Makes Himself Dance

Elderbrook is an electronic producer, singer, and multi-instrumentalist best known for his chilled-out, down-tempo style, but he makes high-energy music as well — and he's good at it. In fact, his single "Cola," a collaboration with British duo CamelPhat, is nominated for a Grammy for Best Dance Record.

Whether or not a particular song is a banger doesn't affect his energy level when it comes to performing live, however. He can't help playing with "a tremendous amount of energy," he says.

"I don't know where it comes from, but I kind of harness it and jump all over the place. I've seen videos of myself, and I'm just bouncing out of control. I don't know how my knees haven't snapped yet."

Born and based in London, Elderbrook (real name Alexander Kotz) cut his teeth as a teenage acoustic singer-songwriter and was exposed to the limitless possibilities of computer-made music during college.

"I learned how to record my guitar and my voice well, and then I kind of stumbled across all these new tools for creating weird and wonderful sounds," he says. "It escalated to where I started making electronic songs, adding bass and synths until the guitar was no more, or at least very subtle."

As Elderbrook, he uses a low-key, ambient sound palette to make electronica with a clear emphasis on songwriting; his tender vocals often take on a lullaby quality. He's previously played with a full band but is touring as a solo performer, using loop pedals to add layers of instrumentation.

"I know I have the space to change things last-minute and do crazy, weird stuff," he says. "I have more liberty to maybe go off on a tangent if I'm really feeling something in the moment. And If I do go crazy on the vocals or something for five minutes, I don't have anybody tapping their feet in the background."

That's not to say Elderbrook's live sets involve plenty of improvisation. He mostly sticks to the plan, but he does occasionally take risks by manipulating various sounds on the fly and embracing happy mistakes.

He takes a similarly fluid approach to studio recording, usually starting with percussion — maybe just a kick and snare — and then building the song layer by layer.

"I just kind of mess around until something sounds good, lock that in, and see what else sounds good," he says. "It could be a sample; it could be chords; it could be anything. There are no rules when you're writing, and the song kind of forms itself."

When the instrumental track starts to feels right, he lays down the vocals. On his latest EP, Talking, he delivers emotional lyrics over warm, deep synthesizers and sneaky-groovy beats. "There are some bouncy, bouncy moments," he says.

Elderbrook acknowledges that solo electronic musicians are a bit of a fad, so he's working to stand out in a crowded field. But he's optimistic about the possibilities of his upcoming tour, which includes a set at Floyd in Miami February 6.

"Since I was superyoung, it's been my dream to do a tour of North America, and that's about to happen," he says. "I couldn't be happier with where I'm at."

Elderbrook. 10 p.m. Tuesday, February 6, at Floyd, 34 NE 11th St., Miami; 786-618-9447; floydmiami.com. Tickets cost $10 to $15 via ticketfly.com.

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