Few names in tech house carry more weight than Solardo at the moment, the Manchester based duo having reached astronomical heights over the last year and earned themselves a position at the head of the UK’s techno and house table. Time flies when you’re having fun, they say, and it goes even quicker when you’re playing sets every other night, so we were grateful to catch up with one half of the Solardo team via Whatsapp this week. Here’s how things went down when TA got chatting to Solardo’s Mark Richards.
Mark: Hello everybody
TA: Hi Mark
Mark: Ready when you are!
TA: Sweet, let's get this show on the road
Mark: Let's roll
TA: How's festival season been treating you? Sounds like it's been pretty hectic
Mark: It's been mental. We're doing around 30 festivals this summer so it's pretty much a couple a week
TA: Woah, 30 is a lot! What have been the standout fixtures so far?
Mark: We Are Fest and Eastern Electrics were pretty insane, just because we had to play so early on each of them as we had other gigs that day. Both of them were at capacity the minute we walked on. It was amazing to see cos at 1230 pm on a Sunday afternoon we didn't expect much more than a few hundred. Instead there was around 6k.
TA: That sounds nuts, but then you guys have blown up massively this year. When did you realise Solardo had become such a huge hit?
Mark: It's still sinking in tbh. We have loads of gigs but we still sometimes think to ourselves is this show going to be busy. So when we get there and they are it's an amazing feeling.
TA: 👌 That must be a nice position to be in!
Mark: Haha defo is
TA: I've read that you used to be big into dubstep as MRK1 back in the day. What do you make of the scene now?
Mark: The scene now is a lot bigger and the parties are on a whole different scale. I think part of the reason why I'm still apprehensive when I turn up at gigs nowadays is because in dubstep I was so used to turning up at not so decent gigs where there wouldn't be so many people.
There was a point when dubstep was huge but it still wasn't anywhere near as popular as the house and techno world.
TA: I heard someone at Glastonbury yelling "all I want is Solardo's naughty tech house", so I guess you must be doing something right...
Mark: Haha yeah must be
TA: You've got big enough now to run your own Solardo sessions up and down the country, including at whp on boxing day. That one has a big lineup with some real party animals, but who'll be the last one to go to sleep?
Mark: Hmmmm there's a few party professionals on the lineup tbh. Skream is probably the bookies’ favourite. Potentially followed by Joey Daniel. wAFF can also put in a good performance when he's on form. Obviously cos its our night we'll have to give it a good go also 😝
TA: Haha yeah I hear Skream takes some beating. Hosts are expected to lead by example though...
Mark: I've tried a couple of times over the years and been left in a pool of sick 😷
Mark: My own that is haha
TA: Go hard or go home I guess!
TA: It must be fun playing such a big event in your main stomping ground, Manchester. How does the city rate when it comes to party culture?
Mark: I think it's up there with one of the best in the world. WHP has has cemented Manchester on the world party map with the parties that they throw over the years.
There was obviously a lot of previous past party culture dating back to the days of the Hacienda but I think WHP have kept that culture alive and pushed it forward even more to a different level.
TA: That's an interesting take, do you reckon we're back to the 'Madchester' days of Hacienda then?
Mark: Not in regards to breaking new music and culture. As that is what made the Hacienda so famous. But in regards to building on those foundations and taking them to another level and also maintaining them. Its often that parties/clubs/music organisations come and go, just like the Hacienda did. But WHP is and has maintained the traditional of Manchester being at the forefront of the party scene and taken it up a level.
TA: Yeah, I'd agree with that. Do you think the UK in general has suffered though? A lot has been made of drugs policy, Fabric etc lately, and some people are arguing that our night life is suffering
Mark: I think it has to a degree but it appears that the right steps are being made to make the clubbing environment safer and therefore protecting our nightlife culture.
TA: It's interesting that you mention safety. Do you think drugs are the problem or is it more the way that drugs are dealt with in this country?
Mark: It's down to a few factors. One of which being people not knowing what they are taking. So I think the introduction of drug testing at festivals and clubs is a great idea.
TA: Ah yeah I agree, we don't have the right drugs education in place here. A lot of European cities and even festivals seem to do testing pretty effectively, I bet that must make a difference.
Mark: Without a doubt
TA: Speaking of which, you're playing at the first BPM Festival in Europe when it kicks off in Portugal. How excited are you for that?
Mark: We can't wait. We're playing for Kaluki who throw some of the best parties across the world so I can imagine it's going to be insane.
We played kaluki at BPM Mexico earlier this year which was amazing.
TA: What makes parties like that so good?
Mark: The lineups, the people attending, and the vibe.
Mark: The vibe is very important.
TA: Yeah of course! I guess that's also a benefit of playing as a duo - you always have someone to create a bit of atmosphere with.
TA: If you had to add a third member to Solardo then, who would you choose?
Mark: My dog Dave cos he's chilled and isn't any stress haha 😂
TA: He does look chilled
TA: Is Dave into his house and techno as well though?
Mark: Yeah he sits in the corner of the study when I'm working so I think he must be
Mark: Don't think he's heard anything else haha
TA: Dogs have better hearing than people so maybe Dave knows best. A very good test subject for new tunes indeed!
TA: I actually think I've been in that same pose that Dave's got going on after a heavy weekend too
Mark: Haha yeah we all have
TA: What do the new Solardo trio recommend as a cure for those post session blues then?
Mark: We don't have time for hangovers we just soldier through. I try and be as healthy as possible during her week to try and balance the bad with the good 😊
TA: Haha fair enough, I think we'll leave this one here. Cheers for taking the time to chat and I'll let you get back to chilling with Dave now. All the best mate!
Mark: All good thanks man
Solardo’s busy summer season continues as they play an Ibiza boat party on Wednesday 23rd, before Bestival and BPM Portugal in September. September also sees them play at The Warehouse Project as well as Abode In The Park.
Photo courtesy of Solardo