Start talking about tech house and it will be a matter of seconds before someone mentions Solardo.
When you see just how quickly they have grown, becoming one of the most prominent acts on the circuit, it is still staggering that the two men behind the group met by chance. Given the way they have become real figureheads for a genre, which has exploded exponentially in recent years, you might’ve expected them to have had a far more formidable connection with one another. The reality is James Elliot and Mark Richards, who both previously had rather contrasting backgrounds in music, decided to start a new project which involved a sound that was completely alien to the pair.
There might’ve been a stroke of good fortune about the way Elliot and Richards met but there is certainly nothing lucky about the phenomenal success which they have enjoyed.
When you learn that Richards, who was previously known for his wondrous dubstep productions under the moniker MRK1, went to painstaking lengths in order to make the sharpest house records possible it is no surprise their reputation has risen at such a sharp trajectory. Spending eight months just learning how they were going to create a sound which was truly unique, including trailing around all the old studios, offers a great insight into just how hungry the pair were to get it right.
Keen to see if they’d achieved their ambition of forging an original identity in a genre that is becoming ever more congested, I thought what better opportunity than to watch them play an esteemed venue like Manchester’s Warehouse Project.
With such a notorious reputation for showcasing only the edgiest sounds throughout the entire musical spectrum I had a certain expectation that the group felt they needed something special up their sleeve. That ace in the pack turned out to be a special b2b set with long-time friend Skream. Another artist that started out with a love of music crafted at a far more frenetic bpm, the London-born musician has since cemented himself as a true house and techno tastemaker. Looking around it was clear there were a phenomenal amount of people who were as awestruck as me by the way in which the two artists were seamlessly weaving some of the quirkiest sounds together. The way in which every drop was followed by a mass chorus of flailing limbs offered perhaps the most telling demonstration for just how well their collaborative efforts behind the decks were received.
Skream has actually played a big part in providing the exposure Solardo needed at the outset, playing one of their remixes of BBC Radio 1 which was seen as a pivotal moment. Witnessing how far they have come since has been quite staggering but when I actually saw it for myself up close it was perfectly understandable how their gritty sound has struck a chord with so many people.
Amongst a glittering assembly of artists another act I was looking forward to seeing was a seriously talented and diverse musician by the name of Eli Brown.
The reason I was so eager to dart over to room three and witness this man at work was because of this new venture he has recently embarked on. Similar to why I appreciated Solardo, this for me was all about seeing an artist step out of their ‘comfort zone’ and admire their attempt to brave foreign waters. What’s even more impressive about Eli Brown is that he has taken up this conquest whilst continuing his work as one half of drum n bass duo Loadstar. Sometimes when you’re trying to put your attention into two contrasting projects it can be hard to maintain a high level of quality throughout all productions, but from what I witnessed during Brown’s set he appears an exciting exception.
Showing he is more than in tune with the latest club weapons like the recent collaboration between Green Velvet and Riva Starr was a joy to behold for someone that is a newcomer to the genre.
I have recalled just a handful of moments but in truth there were so many more which made for an unforgettable evening of entertainment. I also came away from the Store Street venue clear in my mind as to why there is so much hype surrounding Solardo. That performance alongside Skream provided so much enjoyment that as soon as I left I was instantly wondering how long it would be before I got the chance to see the duo showcase their signature sound once more.
Photo courtesy of Solardo
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