Manchester producers Solardo are one of the hottest commodities in house at the moment. For years, Solardo have tackled every corner of house, and from Afro to tech to their recent push for classic rave sounds, the duo has conquered each subgenre with ease. Meanwhile, their label Sola Records has steadily pumped out Ibiza-ready belters all year, including Late Replies‘ recent Beatport chart topper, “Hold Up.”
Solardo’s Mark Richards and James Elliot are now allowing listeners to start 2021 the right way with a mix exclusively for Dancing Astronaut. On top of the mix, Richards caught up with Dancing Astronaut to chat about New Year’s Eve 2020, the future of livestreaming, and his highlights of 2020. Stream the mix and read the Q&A below.
Featured image: Graham Jay Photography
Tell us about the mix; what kind of music did you put into it and what feeling were you going for?
Richards: “It’s the sort of stuff we always play, so it’s pretty underground [with] a lot of bass-driven stuff, but you know when I say bass, my bass is probably different than [what you mean when] you say bass-driven stuff, it’s a little bit different. There’s a bit of techno in there, just what we generally play if we were doing a normal New Year’s Eve show somewhere.”
Needless to say, 2020 was a tough year, but you had some bright spots. What was your highlight of the year?
Richards: “Getting a silver plaque disc for ‘XTC.’ I’ve made tunes for like 20 years, but have never ever gotten recognition from a disc. So to get that…that was amazing.
We also did the show in Croatia in August, and that was also amazing, you know, because obviously with all restrictions over in Croatia, there wasn’t any at the time, so it was just cool to actually have a big gig [in-person] as opposed to online or being socially distanced. I was on top of a castle in Dubrovnik.”
I mean, I made loads of music [over the past year]. A generalized highlight was that I was able to make music where I can make the switch to really good recordings. Usually when I’m making tunes, I have to do it on the fly, so when I fly around to gigs, I’ll be just jumping into the studio for a few hours here, a few hours there, or making it on a plane and then taking it to a studio for a few hours to mix it and make sure it sounds good. But one good thing would be that this year, I’ve had more time to make music. So I’ve got a lot more tracks to choose from opposed to making a track and saying, ‘that’s the track, that’s the next release, let’s go with that.’
For every one release, there must be 15 tracks. And then I’m also doing two tracks with Calvin Harris as Love Regenerator. It’s a massive highlight, obviously because he’s Calvin Harris, and that’ll be coming out around February or March. The year before, it was like every weekend was a highlight, there were so many amazing things, but I’m sure hopefully we can get back to that sort of life.”
2020 was the year that livestreams really took off. In 2021, what do you think the future of livestream performances will be?
Richards: “From what I’ve been told, from people we’re involved with, it’s virtual reality [VR]. So the people we work with, they’re developing the VR experience. At the moment, it’s obviously in early stages. But, I think they’re going to be launching these virtual realities in 2021. There’ll be shows obviously, so you might have a big show, say for instance in Manchester, and then you’ll also be able to relive it virtually by VR set from home. So if you’re in America somewhere and you want to go to this show, which is [both] a VR show and [an in-person] show, [you’ll be able to].
That’s what I’ve been told, and I think it would make sense for us to go that way, and I’m very sure it’s going to go that way. I even know that the idea for VR would be to wear visors and gloves so you can actually feel the experience as well, so you just got the whole 360 with the VR set. I think this [past] year, there were loads of livestreams, and that was just a doorway to what more is to come.
Earlier on in the year, we did the Tomorrowland livestream, which took [livestreaming to a] different level; it was a real submersion. We [also] did Lost Horizons livestream, it’s like a Grand Theft Auto type livestream where you have your own character. If you have a VR system (or you might be able to do it on the computer), you could walk into the club with your little figure…you get to watch those DJs. We recorded it already, so it’ll be a virtual world all around us. You could walk from different area to different area…I mean, that’s an example of how things have been promised in terms of livestreams at the end of the year. At the beginning of , people were doing them from their kitchens, and at the end of the year, you’re doing Tomorrowland where it’s a real high-quality livestream, and then…well, they’ve done a few already in fact where you’re actually controlling your own person going into livestream sets, and I think it’s going to develop a bit more next year.
I mean, it’ll be cool, but it’s not going to be as cool as going to a rave, so let’s focus on making sure we have raves to go to, but it could be an open door. If I wasn’t doing what I was doing, if I wasn’t traveling around everywhere doing gigs and I wanted to have a few drinks and have a party at home, I could invite some friends and we’d put on the VR set and we’re all in the club together straight away. No bouncers around to stop people from doing what they want to.”
What is your favorite New Year’s Eve memory? What was the best New Year’s Eve you’ve ever had?
Richards: “As a DJ, for the past few years, I played gigs, but then missed New Year’s Eve. So I’d either play before New Year’s Eve, or just after, or I’d be on a plane going between sets, so it’s always been really hectic. Last New Year’s Eve was really good, we landed in Dubai from America, went to dinner, then played an outdoor venue which overlooked the Burj Khalifa. Obviously we played at midnight there, and when midnight struck, the Burj Khalifa lit up. They have all these fireworks and the whole thing gets lit up…things get projected onto it, loads of different things, flags and animals, and all sorts of mad shit up and down the Burj Khalifa.
So we finished our set and we literally left instantly. I had a car waiting, got in the car, and then got on a flight to Berlin. I slept for a few hours, landed in Berlin, and with the time difference I think it was like 6:00 in the morning. I played another set at HYTE, which was amazing because it went from being, you know, the Las Vegas type setting of Dubai to HYTE, which is in a real rustic, industrial warehouse in the depths of Berlin where the music’s completely different, but we have to play according to the time slot. It’s just pretty cool experience, getting to party in two completely different settings in two completely different countries.”
Solardo ft. Rowetta – Enough
Crooked, Andre Salmon – Da Hot Nation
Mauro Venti – Emergency
Fabio Neural – Right Here
Diego Canderelli, Antonello Camboni – Rings
David Herrero – Native Drums
Hector – Clicka Sound
Jamie Jones and Harvy Valencia – Kwik E
Josh Hvaal – Live and Kicking
Federico Ambrosi – Down Time
Yungness and Jamin – WTH
Piem, Havoc and Lawn – BLin