With their husky tones and boyish charm, the Cape Town-based alternative rock band, My Brother Einstein, carries me away to a dimly lit dorm room on the Tygerberg campus in Cape Town with their newly released EP, It’s Relative. The collaborative storytelling in their music immediately enchanted me and I needed to know more.
What’s in a name?
I started to explore why I favour this particular band so much. Maybe it’s the name “My Brother Einstein” – odd, but accurate as 3 out of the 4 band members study medicine and the other one is doing a BCom degree. As I listened to the voice note from lead vocalist, Xander Botha, I realised that the name is in fact much more humble than that.
Botha and Jonathan Lotter (on the drums) met back in grade 9 at the Afrikaanse Hoër Seunsskool in Pretoria and started making music together. Botha transferred schools and Lotter started a new band dubbed “My Brother Einstein” by his father.
The original duo regrouped in varsity, where they started collaborating with Craig Scholtz (bass and vocals) and Werner van der Merwe (lead guitarist) and the name just stuck. “There isn’t really a story behind the name,” Botha claims with a bit of humour in his voice, “Jonathan would probably say it is because he thinks that we are very clever, but actually he is the mastermind because he is incredibly good with people and all the business stuff. So yeah, we all just think really highly of each other and we call each other brothers.”
The four songs on their EP It’s Relative: Gin & Tea, Out of My Window, Coastline and Jozi, have been on repeat since I discovered this local gem on iTunes. As a person who tends to over-analyse and who suffers from chronic curiosity, I am dying to know more about the birthing process of their lyrics and how the stories that they are telling so melodically came into being. For now, however, I will just have to embrace its mystery. It is after all relative…
“We want to write relatable stuff, even if it means something completely different. That is what we want to achieve, just for people to relate and to get away with an ambiguous undertone that makes people feel like they are part of the song.” Kudos to those brothers then. Their music manages to capture the listener and provide them with a sense of strange familiarity like a scent that you associate with something without knowing exactly what, and yet it brings back some long-forgotten memories.
They did however agree to share some insights into their muses and music-making processes. Most of their songs are collaborative efforts at creating sounds that tell stories from personal experiences or from the experiences of close friends and some of the songs have come with the band since their early days in Pretoria, but some tell new stories. Once again – the relativity maintains the mystery.
As for the future
Keep your eyes on “My Brother Einstein” as they have some exciting prospects for 2021. “We are planning to release a whole album next year, maybe earlier, with some singles in between.” As for me, I really hope that they do.
I want to know more. I want to know what you told her when she asked you why you couldn’t fly while she was drinking her Gin and Tea, and did you tell her that you did indeed fly from your window and into the night to see her?
Listen to their EP here.