Ekko & Sidetrack : Brother vs Brother

Perth duo Ekko & Sidetrak have been bubbling away for more than a minute now. Steadily building momentum and profile over the last four years with a series of low-key releases and precision bootlegs, all the while running a fine line in acerbic videos, last year’s arrival on Viper with Burgle / One Time was a clear level up.

After a summer of shows, in both their native stomping ground Oz (including their own Adventures events) and in Europe, they’ve returned to Futurebound’s imprint with two more striking sonic stories: Let The Light In / Melt. Two contrasting tales that showcase their scope and depth of palette, the former is a triumphant feels-fest laced with soulful urgency from vocalist Reija Lee that’s been supported fellow Perth artist Pendulum’s El Hornet.

While the latter is a raffish, peaktime monster that flexes on a refreshingly loose drum arrangement and is plastered with strange, cool and weird textures. It’s undoubtedly their most hair-raising tune to date.

Two full-strength sides to a D&B coin that’s flipping higher and higher; Let The Light In / Melt is another level up for the two brothers who played in bands together before they switched to 170. We called Jeff and Jonon Hansen up and asked them some horribly awkward questions just to see how deep their sibling synergy goes…

Who does mum and dad love the most?

Jeff: Oh man! I’d love to say they love us all equally (we have another older brother too by the way) But I’ve caused my folks the most anguish by being the middle child and being cheeky. If you’re pushing me then I’ll say Jono. This is gonna sound lame but he’s a bit more caring and nurturing. I’m a little more aggressively competitive. So if they had to choose one, maybe they’d choose him?

Jono: This is a terrible question! With me being the youngest I’m going to say me but they show equal love to all three of us. I think they’ve had more time to get sick of them.



Who’s the funniest?

Jeff: I am!

Jono: He is. We make each other laugh more than anyone else in the world. To each other we are the funniest people. It can be as stupid as a look or a body movement. We’ve got so much non-verbal communication we can revert to school kid giggles very very quickly. So yeah he is, but I hope he said me for this reason, too.


Who told the most tales as a kid?

Jeff: Let’s say Jono. But only because he was the youngest. We’d kick him out of the room because we’re watching a movie he’s not allowed to watch but he’d go and tell mum we’re watching it. It’s inevitable.

Jono: Oh we both told tales over the years. It was pretty even I think – we had a tumultuous relationship. I definitely lied more than Jeff and tried to get away with more things and avoid trouble within the family. I was the bullshitter but he often saw through it… And told on me. Yeah, definitely him.



What’s the biggest fight you’ve had lately?

Jeff: There have been some doozies! We still regularly fight. Silly disagreements over stupid things. Let me think of a recent one… I wound him up and he was having a bad day anyway, it led to an argument. And by that I mean we yelled at each other and gave each other a lot of shit. It got a little heated and instead of hitting me he stood on our studio whiteboard and smashed it. It’s still in the studio as a reminder.

Jono: Where do you want me to start? Most our arguments start late at night after too much coffee. We’re edgy and there’s a disagreement and it escalates. Recently we fell out over something stupid on a long studio day. In an act of frustration I kicked the shit out of a whiteboard. It’s still there now. Did he mention that one? I bet he did.



Pin-point the moment you knew you could work together as bros…

Jeff: Probably when I bought turntables in 2008. Jono was also buying records and mixing over his friends’ houses and there was a point where I was like ‘you can’t use my decks!’ But then it turned into ‘you can use the decks but don’t use my records!’ But then I’d hear some tunes he was playing and think ‘okay I like this’ so it turned into ‘let’s pool our records’. So that was a moment where I first thought we could do stuff together.

Jono: We played in bands before all this, so we knew we could make music together in a live sense but there was a day before he had a studio and he had this desk and I’d go in to use his computer to write. One time I left a track open on his computer and he said it was sick. He suggested making some changes which were all really sick ideas. That hadn’t happened before and that process excited me. I couldn’t wait to get back from lessons and see what he’d done. It was a sense of synchronicity that I’d not felt before.



Who’s the biggest diva?

Jeff: Ah I think that’s me. Because I want things to be perfect. My expectations are incredibly high. It’s not like a ‘where the fuck is my particular brand of spring water?’ diva but more like ‘this isn’t perfect. We need to make it better!’

Jono: He’s definitely more highly strung. He has a shorter fuse if something goes wrong. That’s as close to a diva as we’ll get. He’s much more of a perfectionist than me, too.



Who’s got the weirdest habits?

Jeff: Jono. He’s got a few quirks. He used to carry a handkerchief with him everywhere. He’d have them in the club, in work, in the house and he’d rinse them. He was, and still is, the only person I’ve seen with a handkerchief aged under 85. Very old school. But I think he’s sorted his mucus situation out now. He’s got some idiosyncrasies but they’re amazing.

Jono: Oh both of us. We’re very similar, especially in the way we do things. Little mannerism and thinks like that. But I’m a little more neurotic. I check things too many times – like an alarm clock and locking doors. So I guess if it’s one of us, it’s me.



Who’s the best producer?

Jeff: We split it up naturally as a musician and engineer. I’m more drawn to the engineering side. Maybe it’s because I taught myself graphic design and software from an early age. But Jono learnt the drums and piano and is more musical. But that’s the beauty of being a duo – one person is totally spent and it’s like the other one tags in. I’m the finisher. He starts lots of ideas. It means less arguing and less whiteboard smashing.

Jono: We both are! In terms of production he’s got his strength in the mix and I’ve got mine in the musical aspect but we’re both involved in the whole process from the start. In terms of the actual word producer, though, it’s technically Jeff.



Who’s the most adventurous?

Jeff: Jono. He’s swum with sharks. He’s a lot more adventurous than me.

Jono: Probably me. He’s a bit more cautious. I’m quite cautious but I have something in brain that allows me to not think of the imminent danger. I’ll go down a hill drunk on a skateboard into traffic, he won’t. I’ve taken some silly risks over the years.



What’s been the weirdest adventure you’ve been on together?

Jeff: Going to a bush doof around four hours out of Sydney was very weird. The exposure to psy-trance alone was interesting. We got picked up from out hotel from this random girl, they gave us a tent, we played on this little stage and it was all a bit crazy for the night. We got back to our tent at 6am and woke up in the blistering heat. We wanted to die…. But we couldn’t go home until the girl was ready so we spent another night there watching Godfather and woke up to a whole load of zombies the following day and had the longest drive back. It was very interesting. A very good people watching experience.

Jono: We’ve been on a lot of adventures together. But a particularly weird one that springs to mind was a gig in a bush doof. It was an experience. We’d never been to one before, and we’re open-minded fellows, but this was a pretty wild adventure in the middle of nowhere. We bailed early on the second night and watched a movie. We could hear icicle playing on a stage near us but we were there in the tent watching Godfather in a tent. Ridiculous when you think about it.



BROTHER SCORE: 8/10: Whiteboard-smashing, bush doof-raving, hanky-rinsing, non-verbal body communicating, beat-making Jeff and Jono are officially good brothers. Follow them and boost your own relationship with your siblings today!

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Let The Light In / Melt is out now on Viper