Fresh on the Scene

ECHT!

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The unique four-piece draws as much inspiration from jazz and funk as they do from rave and trap.

Some have already obtained small successes, spending years in the shadows, waiting for the right moment to shine, and others have barely left their bedroom studios. Some aim for headlining festival stages, others aim for nothing in particular – but all of them have developed a sound with the potential to turn heads. With this feature, we shine a light on some of the most exciting new musical talents our tiny country has to offer.

The word eclectic gets thrown around a lot these days, but if there's one band that genuinely personifies that word, it must be ECHT!. Dorian Dumont (keys), Federico Pecoraro (bass), Martin Méreau (drums) and Florent Jeunieaux (guitar) draw as much inspiration from jazz and funk as they do from rave and trap. The free-spirited Brussels-based band’s unique instrumental-meets-electronic style resulted in a second place in the Fresh on the Scene category at the Red Bull Elektropedia Awards 2020. "We don't care about genres; we use elements from any style, as long as it makes people dance", says Dumont. "If you have to put a label on it, call it groove music”.

Which words best capture the ECHT!-vibe?

Méreau: “Let me try: perfectionism, ambition, lightness and pleasure (laughs)”.

Where does the story start? Where did you meet each other?

Méreau: “We met each other by visiting open jams around the city. We first played together at Bonnefooi. We even had a rehearsal room over there, so we’d practice upstairs and play shows downstairs. Listening and collaborating with performing artists and DJs made us learn a lot of new things too”.

Pecoraro: "From the start, it was clear we had the same ideas. At first, there was no real objective – other than just playing music. But as time went on, we realized our music had potential, so we took things a bit more seriously”.

Brussels is big enough to support a diverse music and art scene, yet it remains small enough to sustain a close connection amongst all the artists.

For a French-speaking band, ECHT! is an unusual name. What’s the reasoning behind it?

Jeunieaux: “We are echte Brusseleirs! It’s such a local buzzword. We like using a Flemish word because you don't often see that in French, while it's not uncommon to see French words in the Flemish language. It's a powerful one-syllable word”.

Méreau: "The funny thing is no one in my family can pronounce the name. My mother always asks how ETCH is doing”.

Your band is deeply rooted in Brussels. Have you ever played with the idea to try your luck elsewhere?

Méreau: “They say the grass is always greener on the other side, but it’s hard to deny the advantages this city has. Brussels is big enough to support a diverse music and art scene, yet it remains small enough to sustain a close connection amongst all the artists in that scene, which isn’t the case in places like London, New York or Berlin”.

Dumont: “Brussels – and Belgium in general – has such a rich music scene. We’re proud to be playing amongst so many other artists that inspire us every day”.

Many of them can be found at Volta, the place we’re at right now. Can you tell us more about this location?

Jeunieaux: “Volta is a temporary project by Arne Huysmans and Flor Huybens, who transformed the old medicine factory in Anderlecht into a music centre, with rehearsal spaces for artists – and normally there would be concerts here too. There are some really cool bands here like Indigo Mango, Tukan, Bombataz, Beraadgeslagen, JUICY, and so many more. We can be as loud as we want here, and we get everything we need. Volta is one of the few places in Brussels where there is such a nice cross-pollination between Dutch-speaking and French-speaking artists. I think we can use a bit more of that in this country”.

Dumont: "We love coming down here because we always meet other people, play music and hang out. There's a communal vibe here that lifts everybody up".

Jamming is a central part of our creative process. It's how we make all our music.

You seem like the kind of band that values improvisation and jam-sessions over pragmatic song-writing.

Dumont: “Jamming is a central part of our creative process. It's how we make all our music. Usually, someone has a certain idea, and the rest starts improvising around it until we have something good. Even in our live shows, we always keep some room for improvisation to make sure no two concerts sound alike”.

Jeunieaux: “It's a great way to discover places you've never been before and surprise yourself. It's a door that leads to limitless possibilities. The tricky part is getting back to that specific part of the magic to record it properly afterwards".

That may sound nice on paper, but doesn’t this approach lead to creative differences with four different voices?

Dumont: "We're four musicians with a distinct taste, so that's going to lead to some discussions from time to time, but it's precisely that clash of ideas that gets the best results".

Pecoraro: “Playing in a band is a matter of taking and giving, but when you’re good friends, things always work out smoothly in the end”.

We’re so excited to go back on stage and play as many concerts as we possibly can.

Can you give us more background about your extraordinary BREWmix project?

Jeunieaux: “The BREWmixes have been a fun project for us throughout the lockdown because the concept is a bit different from what you expect. We recorded ourselves playing a 25-minute set, packed with new productions and live remixes of other people's tracks we love. Everything goes faster than a normal live show. We loved the concept, so we released a second one recently – and a third one is on the way”.

Méreau: “I guess an easy way to describe it would be live DJ-sets, including remixes and smooth transitions”.

Can we expect more of them in the future? Or are there other things we need to keep in mind?

Méreau: “We’re working on the final details of our debut album, so that’s something to look forward to”.

Pecoraro: “Breaking away from our hectic life beforehand wasn’t as bad as we assumed, but it has lasted long enough now. We’re so excited to go back on stage and play as many concerts as we possibly can”.