After a whirlwind few years, Manchester duo Solardo have well and truly cemented themselves as two of tech houses heavyweights. We caught up with Mark ahead of their debut Paradise show at DC-10 and the release of their new EP. Take a look at what they had to say.
Just a few short months ago, Solardo were playing in small clubs in Manchester, trying to break through into the underground scene. In 2015 they released "Slam Jam" which was immediately signed to Steve Lawler's ViVA Music, setting the pair up with a flow of steady releases on great labels like Hector Couto's Roush and Kerri Chandler's MadTech before allowing them to release on Paradise head honcho Jamie Jones' Hot Creations with the now world famous "Tribesman."
Now, the northern boys have conquered every event, festival and Ibiza date that they have come up against. Nothing is stopping their momentum and quite frankly we don't want it to. We sat down with Mark of Solardo, or MRK-1 if you remember the original days of dubstep, to talk about music, their inspirations and how they see themselves in the scene. Take a look below as we chat to Solardo.
What were your musical influences when you were growing up?
I was into all sorts of music growing up. I was really into Guns and Roses who were the first band I saw in concert for a couple of years then I moved into following more dance and rave based music. The Prodigy was and still are my all time favourite group. They led me into the rave scene, which I was heavily involved in for many years, travelling the country each weekend going to illegal raves.
During that period I was also well into hip-hop music, and the likes of Wu Tang Clan, Ice Cube, Ice T, Snoop and Dre. I was especially into music with swear words because I thought it was cool (laughs)! If the album didn’t have a “parental advisory” sticker on, I wasn’t interested. I then moved on from the happy hardcore rave scene to jungle and drum and bass. Again I would go to raves all over the country on a weekly basis and do all sorts of shit you shouldn’t be doing, but which made it so much fun. I'll leave those stories for another day!
What was a fundamental track that led you to wanting to produce your own music?
Super Sharp Shooter by Dj Zinc was a turning point for me when I started thinking to myself that I wanted to get into making tracks. Around that era of the late 1990’s, I was just starting to DJ and I thought if I was to have any chance of getting anywhere as a DJ, I was going to have to start making tracks.
How do you think growing up in Manchester influenced the sound that you produce?
I don’t think it has directly influenced our sound but growing up in a city with a creative environment possibly has an effect on what we do. We spend a lot of time surrounded by creativity as we’re in the studio a lot with producers, bands and DJs around the city. Just being in that space encourages us to push the boundaries with the music we make!
When did you feel like you were really starting to make it as a duo?
Last year was a really strong year for us. We had a string of releases, remixes and radio shows – it was pretty much non-stop. We didn’t even have much time to sleep! It’s a great feeling being able to do this as our full time job. We’ve got our busiest summer lined up for this year, released our debut Essential Mix and just played Glastonbury! Everything is so surreal.
How did it feel selling out every show of your “Solardo Sessions” Tour?
It was pretty mental, we never expected to it to have the kind of success that it did. During our tour, we experienced one of the most special gigs that we have ever played! It was our homecoming to Manchester after being on tour for the last few month prior. It was at the Albert Hall and played to a sold out crowd of 2800 people. The atmosphere was unreal!
What’s your favourite track out of every song you’ve produced?
It’s so hard to pick just one! We would go with The Step Off, Work That Shit, Phonejacker and the B side to Tribesmen, Psycho Ex Girlfriend.
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You're making your Paradise at DC-10 debut tomorrow, how excited are you?!
What can we expect from your label in the coming future?
We have another EP coming out on the label soon and we’ll be releasing lots of great stuff from up and coming producers that we’re excited for the world to know about. One of them is a local lad from Manchester called Mason Maynard, who will be releasing on Solä in the near future, so make sure you check it out!
What’s one track that you’re currently playing in every set?
We’re currently obsessed with Floorplan’s latest release ‘Let the Church’. The combination of gospel vocals and boisterous rhythm really gets the crowd going every time – people go mental for it.
Talk us through your signature look, where do you find those shirts?!
Everywhere! We spend a lot of time trying to find them. We go digging in vintage and second-hand shops as that’s where you usually find the most unique and bizarre pieces.
Who’s a producer you think we need to look out for in 2017?
We’re going to be putting a lot more effort into our Solä imprint this year and this is where we will be showcasing our favourite producers so keep your eyes peeled on that. Franky Rizardo recently released two tracks and he has been smashing it lately!