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Monday 09th, October 2006
Solarstone (2006)

Solarstone aka Rich Mowatt and Andrew Bury, based in the UK city of Birmingham, are one of the most well loved trance acts around ever since their seminal debut release ‘The Calling’ ten years ago. Since then they have been responsible for a number of records that would fall into many people’s ‘classics’ list, most notably the peerless ‘Seven Cities’. They have made an invaluable contribution to the trance genre over the years and each release is picked up immediately and supported by the trance elite; Tiesto says ‘they never disappoint’, Above & Beyond call them ‘Gods of uplifting trance’ and Matt Darey describes them as ‘one of the finest and most consistent production teams of the last decade’. Praise doesn’t come much higher than that. With the release of the first part of their Anthology out today, a collection of their finest individual productions under their various guises that is a definite must-have for any trance fan ( read my verdict here) trance.nu managed to grab some words from Rich Solarstone about the album.

t.nu: Hey Rich, thanks for doing this interview with trance.nu, how are you today?

Rich: Not bad, just got back from gigs in Mumbai and Cyprus so a bit worn out, but happy to see my missus and baby boy!

t.nu: Congratulations on the release of the first of your three Anthology albums. How enjoyable was it going back through those tunes and compiling the album?

Rich: It brought back lots of nice memories… well those that were visible through a ten year cloud of smoke! I was surprised how well a lot of those tunes stood the test of time to be honest.

t.nu: Do you have any particular favourites on the album?

Rich: Late Summer Fields is a current fave, but of course I like them all. Seven Cities will always be dear to me. When I came up with that melody I had goose-bumps on my arms for about an hour.

t.nu: There is such a wide variety of styles on the album, what do enjoy producing more?

Rich: Each style gives its own reward, I just love creating music. It’s healthy to change styles regularly to keep things sounding fresh although I do have to draw the line at R&B.

t.nu: What sort of equipment did you use to record your first tracks and what do you use now? Has it got easier with time and technology?

Rich: In the early days it was an Atari ST running Cubase, an S3000 sampler, bass stations, 101, 909.. of course these days production is easier in some ways – and less expensive – but a lot of producers are lazy and don’t exploit the technology at their disposal. Trance producers are very guilty of this, especially as they don’t even pan things out half the time. I always advise our Deepblue artists this: when you think it is done, spend another couple of days on fills, filters, panning fx, eq etc – the end result will be worth the extra effort. These days producers have so many incredible production tools at their disposal it is a real shame not to use them properly.

t.nu: Each track seems to have a story behind it... what made you choose to record Speak In Sympathy in a cave in Wales?

Rich: We just liked the natural vocal reverb there and thought it would be a laugh. In reality, it was just cold and wet!

t.nu: Why did you decide to record the Z2 tracks only on analogue equipment and what’s the story behind the ‘interesting’ sample used on 'I Want You'?

Rich: Well, back in those days digital equipment was in its infancy and we preferred the warmth of analogue equipment. Regarding the vocals, those were provided by a guy named Billy Mcgruddy. We were recording the ‘vocal mix’ – a proper song version, in a studio in Birmingham UK, and Billy started gyrating and being pornographic with his microphone. We liked the result so much we used it in the ‘deep & throbbing’ mix of the track.

t.nu: Have you met Jes Brieden yet? How did it work recording that track across the Atlantic?

Rich: Jes was a joy to work with. I wouldn’t advise people to work across the Atlantic to be honest, it’s much easier being in the studio together but the results do certainly speak for themselves. I got in touch with her when I was sent her track with D-Fuse from 2002, long before she recorded the Motorcycle track, she’s a honey and gorgeous too! We finally met when I played Heaven in L.A last year.

t.nu: How did you discover the so-called ‘oldest melody in the world’ used on Eastern Sea?

Rich: This was transcribed from a parchment found in Africa dated back thousands of years. Of course I did take some liberties with the notes – changing the scale a little, but essentially it’s the same.

t.nu: You seem to have an ear for an amazing melody or vocal sample... how do you come across them?

Rich: Well you may have noticed that our output is not exactly prolific, I guess the reason our releases are generally so successful is that we are very fussy, for each track released there are several that never make it out of the studio doors. Each track must be 100% perfect or we don’t release it. Hence, no artist album, although we are working on our first full artist album for release next year. Melodically speaking though, the rule I stick to is this: if the melody works played solo on the piano or guitar with no accompaniment then I go with it – if it is boring or needs accompaniment or production tricks to make it interesting, then I don’t go with it.

t.nu: When are the next two chapters in the Anthology expected to come out and what can we expect from them... and can you tease us with details of any exclusives?

Rich: AnthologyTwo will be comprised of our best remix work from the last ten years and will also include some new mixes of classic Solarstone tracks. AnthologyThree is all our best downtempo material and remixes – this is the one many people have been asking us about. There will be some new stuff on there too but these albums are in the early stages so I don’t have any more info for you just yet, sorry!

t.nu: Aside from these albums, have you any other new productions in the works?

Rich: Well I’ve just finished a Solarstone ‘Deeper Sunrise’ version of ‘Late Summer Fields’ (my track with Alucard) so that’s scheduled for next year, and also I have completed the first mix of a new track with Elizabeth Fields entitled ‘Part Of Me’, so watch this space...

t.nu: Are you going to be touring the album?

Rich: We’re actively touring the AnthologyOne album until April next year, there are new mixes of The Calling, Speak In Sympathy, Release and Destination on the way to keep the fire burning – hope to see you all on the tour when it hits your shores! For more info on tour dates and so on check http://www.solarstone.org.uk

t.nu: Many thanks for taking the time for doing this interview, and we look forward to hearing more from you in the future!

Rich: It’s a pleasure – thanks guys and keep up the good work, t.nu is a regular stop off for us!

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