14.02.2019 | Words by: Alex Rigby
There’s a theory that says it takes 10,000 hours to master anything. In his 20+ years of DJing, I imagine that Solar has racked up quite a few more than that playing records to dancefloors. As such, you find that his performances posses a vintage quality that comes only from a person who has quietly observed the ebbs and flows of a scene, learned its methods, and its craft, to the point of serious artistry.
Before his visit from San Francisco, Solar took the time to chat with us about his experience; the formative rock and metal bands which he holds dear, the abundance of talent he is witnessing in his beloved Bay Area, and about his continued friendship with Interstellar Funk, who he will play alongside in the basement. Q: What was your first kind of exposure to DJing?
A: My Dad had a pretty massive record collection when I was growing up, and he worked in the rock and roll business. He would take us to lots of shows: from Grateful Dead and The Clash to Bob Dylan and X - and that meant that we were exposed to a lot of different styles at a young age. Back then, every time we would go to the record shop he would let me, my brother, and my sister pick out one record each of whatever we wanted. And thus began my own collection.
DJing came at a much later time. In my early twenties, I got discouraged with the band thing and discovered acid house via the Wicked Sound System crew when they first made their way to San Francisco from the UK. The Criminal Justice Act had pretty much shut the rave scene down in Britain, so they came here to San Francisco where there was a perfect breeding ground for it. It exploded from around 1990-1997. I left on a summer-long European trip with the mixtapes I had collected trying to find all these crazy acid tracks that had blown my mind. I was not very lucky in finding the records I was looking for, but I came back with enough money to buy my first turntables and mixer.Q: I remember watching you play once and you closed with The Cure - ‘A Forest’. Am I right in thinking that there were quite a few formative bands for you when you were growing up?
A: Actually, that was probably “Charlotte Sometimes
” by The Cure. I closed with that song quite a few times over the last year. There were so many formative bands growing up, but a few standout moments or albums from my youth were things like seeing Grateful Dead perform “Drums and Space while I was sitting on stage in my dad’s lap. I also remember hearing Metallica “Ride The Lightning” as a very young teenager which exposed me to a bunch of harder-edged music: stuff like D.R.I., C.O.C., Misfits, and so on. Towards the end of high school, I started listening to The Cure and bands liked that. The album Pornography had a huge influence on me the first time heard it, and still does to this day. It’s so simple and so heavy at the same time. It’s always a subliminal reference point when I am writing my own music.Q: Do you ever find yourself playing different kinds of stuff over in Europe, as opposed to the States?
A: I feel the music that I like to play seems to resonate more in Europe than in the States. It does especially in places like De School where I feel you are kind of encouraged to play from your heart and what you are truly feeling. I am sure the strict drinking and curfew laws in the States have a lot to do with why people are not as open, as the clubs are pressured to sell as much alcohol as they can in the short time they are allowed to sell. They have pressure to book the ticket sellers and then this is what the crowds get exposed to. With that said, there are definitely a few parties throughout the US that are going completely against this and creating spaces where DJs and artists can truly express themselves. Q: Interstellar Funk has invited you to play here a few times now, and I know that you’ve had him over in San Francisco to play at your parties. How did you guys hit it off?
A: I feel we have similar tastes in what we like, and in how we go about presenting it to people. I have huge respect for him as an artist, label owner and for his radio show on Red Light Radio. He played my favorite set of the campout festival we do! We’ve done a few back-to-back sets in the past, and hope to do some more this year. Q: There’s an abundance of talent coming out of the Bay Area recently: Avalon Emerson, Matrixxman, The Honey Soundsystem guys, Mozhgan, C.L.A.W.S, and Russell E.L Butler, to name just a few. Who to look out for next?
A: Jay Fields is someone that I feel definitely should be on the radar. He makes an insane amount of music under his alias Exillon, as well as through his collaboration with Identity Theft (another one to check out) named Abandoned Footwear. He does live sets solo and as Abandoned Footwear, and they are both incredible! There is a double LP coming out soon on my roommate Tyrel William’s label called Secret Studio. Tyrel is a bad-ass DJ as well. Keep a lookout for Nihar and Creatrix, too, and the RS1409 guys (Skander, Sohrab). There’s also Bronze. And I can’t forget that Vin Sol and Sepehr both have great LPs coming out on Dark Entries. Finally, the entire Katabatik crew is always doing amazing things.
I have to say that I am just scratching the surface here and that these are mostly producers that I’ve mentioned, but people should know that there is a plethora of talent in the Bay Area. I’m excited to see a lot of artists getting their shine, and hopefully, some more ears will check out the sounds bubbling out this crazy place.Q: What’s up for your label Squirrels on Film next?
We just released the Its Own Infinite Flower EP by a good friend and cohort named Tasho. Next up will be my label partner C.L.A.W.S. and an EP which I have been playing non-stop this past year. Following that. a Squirrels on Acid V/A and an EP from the recent Mediellein transplant Chris Mitchell. Thanks, Solar!
Catch Solar alongside Interstellar Funk and Pasiphae this Saturday
in the basement.