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In Conversation: Solardo

In Conversation: Solardo

We caught up with one half of the group, James Eliot, to discuss their latest record with Paul Woolford, how they've used lockdown, and their recent show in Dubrovnik

Solardo are currently one of the biggest acts in dance music and have shown no sign of slowing down this year releasing a number of monster collaborations alongside the likes of Armand Van Helden and Paul Woolford.

The Manchester duo, who found their break with the 2016 anthem 'Tribesmen', have since toured the globe year in year out and also established their own label Sola as a honeypot for the finest tech-house music.

We caught up with one half of the group, James Eliot, to discuss their latest record with Woolford, how they have used lockdown and the recent show in Dubrovnik amongst other things.

When asked about their record 'Tear it Up' Eliot was happy with the reaction but thought there was greater potential to make the track an absolute smasher.

"I truly believed we could've made that single absolutely humongous," he said.

"I had a bitter taste because of the gigs we had planned and pencilled on some of the biggest club and festival stages in the world."

Solardo collaborated with Woolford on the song, which also features the vocals of Pamela Fernandez.

Woolford is a veteran in the music industry and is known for his ridiculous work-rate, a prominent example being last year when he released four albums inside 12 months under his Special Request alias.

However Eliot was quick to dismiss this as the sole reason they were itching to get in the studio with the Leeds-born producer.

"He’s one of the nicest blokes you’ll ever meet," he continued. He’s the absolute salt of the earth. There’s no hidden agenda or an ego.

"There are not many people left in the scene with the traits that Paul has."

Over the past few months Eliot and his partner in crime Mark Richards have taken the time to focus on two things; A&R and relaxation.

With over 200 gigs a year it can be hard to give your honest opinion on every demo that is sent in. In contrast these past few months have seen the duo secure three album deals to the label which they have touted to be prominent records in 2021 and 2022. They have also found the time to start up a second imprint Sola Nauts.

When asked about the thinking behind the label, Eliot admitted it was a chance to showcase the best from across the whole of the dance music spectrum.

"With Sola Nauts it all came about from the demo page," he explained.

"There were so many different styles and sounds from techno to electronica to minimal."

Eliot believes strongly in karma and thinks that if you do things right and treat others how you wish to be treated then everything will fall into place. That ideology is one of the key drivers behind his intention to provide life-changing opportunities for upcoming producers through the new imprint.

The Manchester artist also admitted there were too many “chin strokers”. These are people who in his eyes are too quick to discount music that is different from the status quo.

"We’re in our own lane," he continued. "You’re doing your own thing and we’re doing our own thing.

"Put some blinkers on like the racing horses and focus upon yourselves."

On the other side Covid-19 has given the Manchester pair a chance to recharge their batteries with Eliot using the time to rekindle his love for fishing.

"My pastime has always been carp fishing," Eliot added. 'I did quite a lot in the UK as well as Europe, including Croatia and Slovenia.

"Towards the back end of the touring I was starting to feel a little bit of fatigue. You’re on a different plane every day. A different train or a different car.

"You’re waking up in places and wondering where you are. I’ve got quite a young family. The children were being neglected because of the commitment of the touring."

Eliot continued how it had been a "blessing in disguise" because it is very easy to lose touch with who you are when on the road.

There is a mismatch between the public’s perception of the life a DJ leads and the reality. Often artists don’t have any time to check out the cities they are performing in.

When asked about the misconception Eliot was quick to explain just how hectic a DJ’s schedule can be.

"There are times when you have to take your suitcase to the gig and once you’ve pulled your USB out the decks you’re straight back in the transport and getting back on the plane at seven in the morning," he said.

"During festival season your set time might be at 10 in the morning, it could be two o'clock in the afternoon or seven o'clock in the evening.

"People don’t see behind the eyes that you’ve not slept for two days, barely eaten and grabbed Burger Kings on the way through airports."

When asked which show they were most gutted about not playing because of the pandemic Eliot admitted it was so difficult to try and pick out a single show.

"Where did you get that question from," he fired back. "You’re trying to destroy me here aren’t you?!

"The Ibiza residency was the clear-cut one. We were headlining the Radio One stage at Reading and Leeds.

"We were playing Coachella and Music On in Amsterdam, which is curated by Marco Carola.

"That was a massive goal for me to get onto the Music On line-up. Kappa FuturFestival in Italy was another one."

Eliot and Richards have been coming to Ibiza for the last few years and so when that routine was devastated by a global pandemic, it came as a great disappointment to the Mancunian duo.

Determined to continue this famed tradition Eliot took a trip with his mates for a birthday celebration. However it proved to be such a bad decision.

"When we were walking down the street the Guardia Civil and Policia local would pull up next to you and scream out the window and try to give you fines for not wearing a mask," he said.

"My experience of Ibiza is I land there Tuesday morning, go and play a residency to between 6,000 and 7,000 people and then have a big villa afterparty or get on a plane to go to another destination. To see the island in that state was an awful experience."

Finally we wanted to check in with Eliot about their recent party in Croatia. Whilst they might've been bitterly disappointed with the way Ibiza has changed during these unprecedented times Dubrovnik provided a pleasant alternative. The beautiful city, which overlooks the crystal-clear waters of the Adriatic Sea, was the stage for the event.

There was a meticulous amount of planning that happened prior to the event and Eliot was quick to acknowledge that organising the show was hugely stressful.

"The week before the event the UK government put Croatia on the quarantine list," he said.

"We had to cancel the official event as it scared a hell of a lot of us."

Eliot also wanted to stress how much they were monitoring the statistics relating to Covid.

"We were checking the spikes in the region," he added. "Everything was passed by the local Croatian government and the mayor of Dubrovnik."

"It wasn’t done because we weren’t showing any remorse or respect for the people who have lost family members. We weren’t trying to be the Pied Piper of Covid.

"The reason we went ahead is because a lot of the people who booked on haven't got unlimited resources. We were getting inundated upon our social media that people had booked hotels and flights which were non-refundable.

"We made an executive decision between our team that we can’t let our loyal fans down."

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In Conversation: Solardo

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