In Conversation: Solaariss
I had the absolute pleasure of catching up (over zoom) with the wonderfully gifted and talented, Solaariss. We delved into his musical upbringing and influences, collaborations, his debut single Up Until Recently and his next steps in his music journey. I’ve known Solaariss for a little while now and we have had countless conversations about music, but this one is by far my favourite. I began with just checking in with how he’s been surviving during this pandemic, because I know we’re all going through it.
“I’m all good thanks, I’ve been surviving and yeah that’s pretty much it – haha, joking – I’ve been good. It’s been difficult because a lot of opportunities were on the horizon but unfortunately; corona. I’ve managed to stay creative and come up with different ways and ideas to keep my hands busy and it’s led to a lot of good stuff”.
It was good to hear that he was able to stay creative, as I can imagine there are musicians who are struggling with a lack of inspiration, so I wanted to know the kind of stuff he’d been up to.
“[Lockdown] really gave me the time and space to do some of things I said I wanted to do for a long time but haven’t been able to do; for example, play the guitar, learn how to animate, do graphics and how to edit videos. Lockdown happened to be the time to do all of these things”. New things aside, he also worked on his craft, “I’ll admit I’m very new to the whole writing lyrics and vocal thing because I’ve always been instrumental, but I have done a little pen writing in the background. I seem to have a structure of coming up with lyrics, either on the spot or over the course of a few days where something might have happened, and I write it down. Being at home meant that I couldn’t just go out to get inspiration; nothing sporadic could happen to influence me to write the next line or verse. It was hard at first, but the time that would usually be allocated to travelling or working that I now had free allowed my mind to go to other places and think about how to approach things from different angles, or should I say different from how I usually do it. It was a different writing experience but one that I definitely want to take on board and use in the future when coronavirus has left the building”.
This gave me the perfect segue to discuss his new single “Up Until Recently” which was released on Sunday. We discussed how he came up with the song, “It’s is a song about a friendship – a situation that I had with a friend a long time ago. We were really close, and she was a very great person but due to circumstances, I ended up ghosting her for some reason which I thought at the time was understandable, but it was only up until recently – see what I did there? Haha – I feel like it’s one of those situations where you’ve looked back at something and you’ve realised you probably didn’t do the best thing, but the other person might not necessarily be thinking about that mishap; they may be over it but in your head you’re like ‘ah I feel really bad’. Essentially, I put what I would say if she could hear the song into lyrics”. I asked him if the girl knew the song was about, and whether he would talk to her about it, “nope, I think when the song is out, I might just forward the Spotify link and be like ‘this is about you by the way’. I definitely feel like it would be nice to catch up with her after all this time!”
I’ve always found it really interesting that Solaariss comes from a classical background, and he’s found a way to use those skills to play jazz and other genres incredibly well. He also transitioned from cello to saxophone that intrigued me.
“It wasn’t as hard as it could have been just because of the way that I look at music. I’m always looking at ways to incorporate my own ideas into stuff, so whenever we were in orchestra and playing a piece, I was always thinking of little melodies and thinking ‘if I composed or orchestrated this, what would I do here and there’, so it was all lingering in my brain. Also, not learning how to read music for the saxophone allowed me to train my ear and tap into musical thoughts in my mind to make that transition easier”.
Where did your music journey start?
“Starting from home, my mum was a singer - she sang in church every Sunday and she was one of the lead singers so I learnt a lot of cultural musicality from her and the most important musical element that I learnt from my mum was harmony; she was just really good with it. Whenever the choir would sing, she could just harmonise and make it sound so beautiful, so hearing that Sunday after Sunday taught me how music resonates and how notes resonate with each other to sound beautiful. From there, in primary school I joined an orchestra in my area playing cello and that helped my technicality in music quite a bit. I learnt all the theory”…
And there’s A LOT
…”Yep, there’s definitely a lot! But all of these were good because they were foundations that could be used in the future and that I’m using right now to create music that I really want to make. It’s like learning how to use the tools so that when you want to make anything, you can make anything. That’s what growing up in an orchestra did for me, shout out to ‘Harmony Lambeth’!
And then, as I got older I picked up the saxophone and it really helped stem from my classical upbringing because classical can be very strict musically like follow the page but jazz is like okay with everything you know what can you do, so learning how to play saxophone and playing with others as well really boosted my musical ability to the point where I have all these crazy ideas in mind and I want to put them out there for people to hear”.
“Hm, okay I’ll give you answer A and then I’ll give you answer B. Answer A; its simply because I wanted to get out of lessons more – I thought if I learn another instrument they’ll take me out of lessons for an extra hour, that means I’m out of lessons three hours a week; amazing. Answer B is that I picked the tenor of the saxophone in particular as my main instrument because of the relationship between that, the cello and my tone of voice: we’re all tenors essentially. Also, being able to sing and show emotion on the saxophone is a very beautiful thing– it’s something that I feel is not as easy to do on the cello. You can be the canvas for beautiful music when it comes to playing the cello, but you can really be at the forefront when you’re playing the saxophone”.
Did you have any particular artists that influenced your style of music when you were growing up, if so, who?
“I would say my number 1 biggest influence to this day is Labrinth”.
Do you know what, now that you’ve said it, it all makes sense – I see that 100%! Earthquake in particular!
“Yeah that was a crazy record! That guy is amazing, and the way that he creates his music and puts his sounds together to make the music that he loves, it’s just brilliant really – it’s resonating. He is definitely an inspiration not just musically but production wise as well, his beats are crazy”!
How would you describe the music that you typically create?
“The music that I create right now (and I say right now because you never know where your music journey is going to lead to) I would say it’s an oxymoron really. It’s very upbeat, you can dance to it, to put it simply it’s a vibe. But when it comes to the meaning and the lyricism, they have a deeper meaning that might not be as happy – it might be a bit melancholy, forward thinking or talking about a deep-thinking issue lyrically, but I like the juxtaposition between the two. You have some people who just love to vibe, they love the beat and how it makes them feel and then you have another side to it where you can hear the meaning through the noise essentially which creates two completely different listening experiences and I love that”.
One example Solaariss and I discussed was ‘Pumped Up Kicks’ by Foster the People. Lyrically, it talks about the effects of teenage mental illness whilst the beat is portraying something completely different.
What is the next step for you?
“I think now I’ve introduced my sound with ‘Up Until Recently’, I want to show more of my artistry; my diverse sounds and more creative ideas. You know I make music and produce but [incorporate] things like animation with music. My classical side is definitely something I’d like to bring to the forefront – One of my best experiences was playing with the LPO (London Philharmonic Orchestra) and the BBC Concert Orchestra. The reason why it was so great is because it was the first time I had arranged a piece for an orchestra, so being able to do that with the music that I have now, I would love to do that. Southbank, if you’re reading this hit me up haha”.
Up Until Recently is out now on all platforms!