Over the last couple of years Solardo have solidified themselves as heavy hitters in the tech-house sphere and they’re showing no signs of slowing down. This year the Manchester duo have had one of the biggest summers of their career to date, with a vast Ibiza show count, including appearances alongside legends such as Eric Prydz. Not content with just performing, the producers have been promoting and releasing a slew of artists on their label, Sola, as well as their own records and remixes for the likes of Santé and Nic Fanciulli.Here, Solardo’s James Eliot takes time to talk a milestone release on their label (including a brand new collaboration with Camelphat), and the duo’s upcoming Warehouse Project show. Check out the full interview below.
Catch Solardo at Omnia
How has your label, Sola, been going?
It’s going really, really well. Me and Mark started the record label around the same time that we actually started Solardo because we’d made so much music in the studio and we could find no output for it. All the labels and demo emails we’d sent it to didn’t respond, and we’d been giving USBs out to raves around the world and got no response so we though ‘fuck this, If no one’s gonna put music out and we’ve got so much music to put out that we believe is extremely strong music we’ll start our own label!’ We put our debut single on the label called ‘Planet Moog’. It got picked up by Boiler Room, they premiered it on their YouTube and SoundCloud and we got quite a lot of traction from it. Sola started a long time ago as an output for us, but as the time progressed and we started making a name and gathered momentum as Solardo, that’s when we started putting other music out. It started off once every two months, then once every month, then every two weeks and now we’re currently releasing every Friday because of the volume of music that we’re receiving from around the world. But yeah, I think we’re now the third biggest tech-house label on Beatport and the people who are behind us are Hot Creations and Relief Records. We’re ahead of the likes of Dirtybird and Repopulate Mars so it’s quite humbling. But to be fair, as much as it is humbling, we graft our bollocks off listening to demos on a daily basis and selecting the right music for what we believe is not the current sound but the sound that is forthcoming.
You guys don’t seem to take yourselves too seriously, do you think dance music needs to be more fun?
I have the utmost respect for each individual and how they portray themselves online. Yes, naturally, me and Mark don’t take ourselves too seriously when it comes to messing around and whatnot but when it comes to the music side of things we take it extremely seriously. We’ve played at some very serious techno festivals this year in Germany and Spain. And when we go there, because the techno crowd isn’t quite like a house and a tech-house crowd, we’re not as animated, we don’t wear the super-bright flowery shirts, we’ll still stick to what we know, and wear more cool and slick shirts which are predominantly black. It’s a completely different vibe but this is what I want to do more of. I don’t want people to just sit there and think Solardo its some one-trick tech-house pony that can only do that. We’re in our late 30s, we’ve got a lot more tricks up our sleeve than just one sound.
can you talk us through the mix?
Our mix is made up of all of our own productions, released and unreleased music, all of which is coming out over the next few months. We wanted the mix to represent our sound and it’s a good chance for people to hear what we’re up to.
You’re heading back home to do the Warehouse Project this year and you’re curating the line-up. Are you planning anything particularly for that set?
We’re extremely honoured to be playing there this year. We don’t get to play in our home city very often anymore, only twice a year usually: Parklife and a WHP show. So it’s always special to have a bit of a homecoming. To come in and be curating your own Warehouse Project is still quite bizarre, especially as it was one of the first establishments that really caught my ear. I went to the first year of the Warehouse Project when it was in Boddingtons Brewery. I had all my mates talking about this new event. 10 years ago there wasn’t the internet factor there is now, where everything is run by social media. Back then it was more flyers and posters. All my mates showed me this flyer and obviously at the time I had no idea who Richie Hawtin and Seth Troxler and these other people were but I went anyway and I remember I was just blown away for a long time by the music. I had no idea about it. For it to really open my eyes to this sound and then to be coming back these years later and putting my own event on there is pretty mind boggling.
Having featured releases from artists ranging from Prok & Fitch and Shiba San to Max Chapman and Wheats, is there anything specific you’re looking for when sifting through the demos you’ve received?
For us, the whole process of signing a track is choosing what we’re going to play in our sets. We’re constantly road-testing new demos and we’re in a lucky position where we get to play a lot of big raves, so we’re always looking for the reaction.
As you continue to push the envelope in the tech house scene, what advice would you give to an artist just starting out in the genre?
The only advice that we can give anyone is to never stop what you’re doing. I made music for 18 years. I started out producing dubstep in 1999 and had a very successful career in dubstep. Say about 2012, the market dropped for what I was doing and I had to evolve. But if you’re persistent and persistent in what you do and believe in what you do, then it will always work. But, it will only work if you fully believe in it. Laws of attraction.
When you’re not producing, playing, or working in the scene, do you guys have any hobbies or things you do in your downtime to relax?
It’s difficult as we’re so busy touring, and any free time we do generally get we try to put into the studio. Any downtime is spent with my missus and family, we generally only get one or two days a week to actually do something but it is what it is, being this busy is amazing but it does have its downfalls!
No, not everything is for everyone. What it really boils down to is that we’re in a very fortunate position to make people dance in festival stages and in dark rooms. At the end of the day you’re making people have a good time regardless of if you’re playing jazz music or if you’re in an orchestra or you’re a techno DJ or an ABBA specialist DJ. If you are a professional DJ you’re living your dream job, to make people dance. So I don’t like to get into the whole ‘I’m too cool to listen to tech-house’, or the snobbery. There is a hell of a lot of snobbery, it’s rife in the industry, I’ve seen it with my own two eyes. I’m not gonna start outing people or naming people but people are snobby, and I agree with certain bits of it because the new tech-house sound is very generic and all sounds the same but we don’t play stuff that all sounds the same. When we were making this sound it was three or four years ago, we rode one of the first waves into this whole new sound. And we move with the times, we’re constantly evolving, constantly looking for new sounds, experimenting with different types of music. So I couldn’t give two pulls of a donkey’s tail what people think about tech-house or what people think about house, or pop or techno. Everyone’s got a personal preference and it is what it is, I just try not to get caught up in the bullshit.