Erol Sarp


Grandbrothers are German Erol Sarp and Swiss Lukas Vogel. Erol is a trained jazz pianist, while by day Lukas constructs synthesizers at Access Music. The duo is putting out some delightfully fascinate sounds, mixing up jazz, electronic samples and classical music. The result is thoughtful neo-jazz, put to the beat of a ticking clock that will blow your mind. Their sound is rather unique, arising from modern-sounding music, using classical instruments. As they clearly state in the Band’s bio: Classical, yet forward-thinking; expressive and emotional, yet with one foot on the dancefloor. Their two albums so far, debut "Dialation" of 2015, and last year's astonishing "Open", can emphatically confirm their innovative and masterful work.  

Grandbrothers are performing this Friday, March 2, in St. Paul's Anglican Church, Athens, Greece, in two back to back concerts, on the very same evening. In view of this eagerly anticipated event, you can read Erol Sarp’s interview for The Basement below. Thank you Erol!   


The Basement: Your dynamic as a pianist-sound engineer duo is pretty unique. What was the main idea behind this way of performance?
It all started, when we had this idea during our studies of audio- and video engineering in Duesseldorf. We sat together and wanted to come up with a project, that combines both worlds: music and engineering. Since we both were familiar with the piano, it was the most natural thing for us to focus on this instrument and create ways of using it not only the way it's meant to be played, but also adding self-built things to it, that would be able to create sounds within it. So we started to develop these little hammers that can hit the strings or the wooden and metal parts of the piano. In addition we also started to use so called 'live sampling'. It was and still is our most important rule, that everything that is heard come from the piano.

The Basement: Some might say it’s rather hard to tell a story through instrumental music. However, while listening to your music, there is a cinematic perspective, sparking images and feelings. How do you get inspiration for your music?
We get that a lot. And we would also agree, that our music can create these feelings and pictures. I think it's a mixture of all our influences - movies, books, music... – that lead us to writing this kind of music. And I would say that they definitely guide us subconsciously, but it's rather that we just sit there and improvise and jam and try not to think too much.

The Basemet: It appears that Lukas has a more technical background, while you are focusing on the piano. Is this an ideal match? Perhaps the name of the band, that contains the word brothers, refers to this special relationship between the two of you?
Yes, exactly! When we started, we knew about our individual strengths and we knew that we had to combine them somehow. Both of us mainly concentrate on what we can do best, but of course Lukas can tell me when he doesn't like a melody or I can tell him when I don't like a sound he is using. And as you already said, we get along great, so the word brothers is there to underline our friendship.

The Basement: As a listener and a fan of the band, I find it very difficult to describe the kind of music, the genre that Grandbrothers belong to. Do you think of your music as primarily electronic or classical?  Or even jazz?
We are always struggling with that. There isn't a specific genre that we would count ourselves to, because there are so many musical influences. All of the above you already mentioned, also Hip Hop and Rap, also Dubstep, also Heavy Metal, also Ambient... and we somehow combine all these genres and don't want to stick to just, for example electronic music or classical music. But we would be glad if someone came up with only one word that described our music, so that we can answer this question very quickly :) 

The Basement: You were the opening act for most of Bonobo’s tour, playing in amazing venues around Europe. I attended your gig in Luxembourg a few months ago, playing in some kind of theater, let’s say. Your forthcoming live in Athens will take place in a church. Do you have any preferences, regarding the venues you perform? Which ones do you enjoy the most?
We love switching between them because all of them have their benefits. You can get very energetic when playing in huge venues with 4000 people going wild. Small clubs have this sort of intimacy where you feel that you are really connected to the audience. Churches always have this kind of sacral atmosphere where everyone is really focused and no one dares to speak. Theaters are mostly very beautiful … and the good thing is, that we have to adapt our setlist to these venues, so that we don't have to play the same songs in the exact order every night. So it's hard to pick one...

The Basement: There is a huge anticipation for you in Athens, given the fact that the first show was sold out pretty fast and a second show was added, so as to meet the expectations of the crowd. How did you feel about this? Did you see that coming on the first place?
We have played in Athens last year at the Athens Technopolis Jazz Festival last year, so this will be our second time there. Cool thing is that we had some time to explore the city (of course we went to Akropolis...) and this time we'll also be having a complete day off to look around (might be going to Akropolis again...). We knew about this concert series and that most of these concerts were sold out. So we were hoping that we could also live up to these expectations and as it seems both shows will be pretty packed, if not sold out. So that get's us even more excited! We'll be playing (hopefully) two good concerts and even have the time to see more of Athens. Can't get any better.

The Basement: Erol, many thanks for your time, talking for the Basement ( See you on Friday 02/03, expecting to hear my favorite track, Honey, from your last album Open. We would like to close this interview sharing with us your favorite 3 LPs of all time, Erol’s top 3.

Hard one...
constantly changing, but at the moment I would go with:

The Cinematic Orchestra – Man With A Movie Camera
Khruangbin – The Universe Smiles Upon You
Jon Hopkins – Immunity

ps: I guess we have to play Honey then :)


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