Editors’ Notes Since coming to the fore in 2015 thanks to an Andhim remix of his track “How Many Times,” British singer-songwriter Alexander Kotz—better known as Elderbrook—has been on a whirlwind ride. “Cola,” his 2017 Grammy-nominated collaboration with Liverpool duo CamelPhat, became one of the biggest dance records of the decade and cemented his place at the most exalted of club turntables. Why Do We Shake in the Cold? deals with all the ecstatic highs and dramatic lows of that experience. “This is an accumulation of the last five years of writing music where I've been through loads of different sounds,” Kotz tells Apple Music. “I've put out projects before, but what's different about this is that I really use every different part of where I've been musically and put it all into this one space.” Written and recorded largely between LA and his garden-shed studio near London, the record features key collaborators including Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, Nicky Night Time, and Jacob Manson of the DJ duo Blonde. While Kotz’s celestial vocals, knack for an infectious melody, and low-key electronic productions will have big-name producers queuing up to take on remix duties, nods to the likes of Bon Iver, The National, and Caribou can be heard throughout—it’s dance music at its most heartfelt. Here, Kotz takes us into his debut album, track by track.

All My Love
“The first Christmas we were together, my fiancée gave me a ring with ‘All My Love’ inscribed on the inside of it. From there I really wanted to use it as a title for a song, but for a long time, all the versions I wrote were a bit shit. Then I wrote this and it just really worked. It’s about being vulnerable and being in love. I like how the song never drops really.”

Numb
“I wrote this while on tour at South by Southwest in Texas. I was playing two shows a day for a week—sometimes to people and sometimes to absolutely no one—and found it absolutely exhausting. I wrote it in my hotel room and it’s about the loneliness you sometimes feel when you’re on tour and missing home. I took the lyrics to [Australian producer] Nicky Night Time in LA and we messed around with synth sounds until we had the track.”

I’m a Fool
“I wrote this back in the UK and it all started with the Rhodes piano sound. Once you’ve been touring for a while, you accumulate a little crew in each city. If I’m in, say, Vegas or Toronto, I know people I can turn to if I want a wild night out. It’s called ‘I’m a Fool’ as I guess it’s easy to act a bit like a fool on a big night out.”

My House
“The lyrics are taking the piss out of people who always want the biggest and best thing. It’s a commentary on the ‘I want’ culture—always wanting the faster car or the biggest house but never stopping to enjoy the moment. There’s a bit of a tone change from the first few tracks too, and when I came to sequencing the album, I definitely wanted a bit of a midway lift.”

Something About You
“I wrote this about three years ago, so it’s the oldest track on the album. I worked on it with Rudimental for a while. It’s about a time when I was going out, staying up late, and drinking a lot and if I’d carried on down that track, I might have lost someone very close to me.”

Down by the Bay
“I wrote this in LA with Jake Manson, who used to be in Blonde and is a big producer and songwriter now. There’s the old cliché about English songwriters going to America and ending up writing these really American songs, and that definitely happened a little bit. I wanted to paint that picture of the kind of American lifestyle I saw in films growing up.”

Take a Minute
“This track is a reminder to myself to take a step back, look at what you’ve got, and realize that everything’s pretty OK and you’re luckier than a lot of the people in the world.”

Back to My Bed
“This covers similar territory to ‘Take a Minute’ lyrically, and it’s about talking to a fictional character and telling them not to worry what other people think. Live your life the way you want to and don’t get bogged down in society telling you to conform.”

Set Fire to My Gun
“I had five hours spare in Toronto before a show, so I hooked up with my friends [Toronto artists] Bobby Love and Dayton James and we wrote this that afternoon. It’s about being vulnerable and giving yourself over to someone who’s not good for you at all. The gun in the story is the girl I’m in love with in the scenario. I love making up stories in my songs. I’m inspired by bands like The National who paint wonderful pictures with their words.”

Why Do We Shake in the Cold?
“I made this the title track because it really sums up the recurring themes of the album, which are vulnerability and the need for human interaction and showing other people that you need them.”

Next December
“This is the first song I ever wrote where I just kept the melody and lyrics in my head until I could get to some equipment or my studio. It’s about when I proposed to my fiancée Sophie and all about how we’d be married by next December. I recorded this with Jake in LA and we just used the first really rough take. It’s got a bit of a Bon Iver vibe and was originally much more Auto-Tuned, but I thought that sounded too much like him, so we dialed it back a bit. It’s a slightly different vibe to the rest of the record.”

1
3:31
 
2
3:50
 
3
3:17
 
4
3:42
 
5
3:23
 
6
3:29
 
7
3:29
 
8
3:22
 
9
3:59
 
10
5:13
 
11
2:08
 

Other Versions

Music Videos

More by Elderbrook

Featured On