Mark Richards and James Elliot are Solardo, the Manchester pair who have combined esteemed solo backgrounds into a much vaunted new duo.
They broke through with 'New Jam' in 2015 and since then records on Relief, Hot Creations and Snatch! have helped establish them as leaders of the current tech house scene. They were tipped by Boiler Room and continue to enjoy support from the likes off Jamie Jones, Skream and Paco Osuna.
They now run their own label, Sola, and on Sunday September 24th they host their own arena at Abode in the Park wiht the likes of Darius, Detlef, Sante, Richcy Ahmed and many more.
Here we speak to them about how they programmed it, what else they are working on and how they approach club sets.
Hey guys, how has your summer been? What’s really stood out as a ‘WTF' moment?
It’s been very busy - lots of parties, lots of travel, not a lot sleep, but great fun. A huge stand out moment was when we played Cocoon at We Are FSTVL at 12:30 on a Sunday afternoon, and at 12:34 the seven thousand capacity tent was full! We really didn’t expect to be playing to any more than 300 people at that time.
You’re just coming off your biggest gig ever at Leeds Fest - how was it?
It was incredible, we’ve never played to that many people before, and to be the headliners that night made it even more special. There were people as far as the eye could see.
We don’t even plan for shows; we just go through new music and search out tunes to play. On the night, we just play it by ear and go off the crowd’s reactions.
How does it work when you play - do you play one each, do half hour each or what? Do you communicate about what you will play and where you will head or do you have an unspoken understanding?
We play two for two and usually have an unspoken understanding of where to go. Sometimes during the set, we might ask each other where we think we should take the sound and possibly move in a different direction.
How different is life in the house and techno scene compared to your previous incarnations in other genres? What’s better, what’s worse?
Mark: When I was in dubstep and grime I was busy, but nowhere near as busy as we are now. The events I would play, apart from in the States, weren’t as consistently big. I was playing big events, but now it feels like every show we go to on a weekend is big. The audience is rarely less than 1000 whereas, in dubstep, the average would be 300-500. I also had a lot more time on my hands back then, so making it to the studio and doing clerical stuff happened a lot more often.
Tell us about how the hook up with ABODE first happened.
We first heard about these day parties that were going off in London on Sunday afternoons a few years ago, and we had no idea who was throwing them. Regular day parties were fairly new to us, because in Manchester we didn’t really have any. There would occasionally be one every now and then but nothing that was particularly persistent. I think we found out about them as we were sent videos of DJs playing our tunes there that looked really cool. So we looked into it a bit more to find out that it was ABODE. I remember sitting there with James and saying that we need to play at one of those events, as the videos looked mental. So we asked our agent at the time to see if he could get us on which, luckily, he did.
We went down to play and our name was out there a bit because of all the tunes we already had out, but the majority of the people didn’t know who we where. Kai from Abode was our link there and, luckily, for some reason he believed in us and pushed for us to play the main room at a peak time, which was an amazing springboard for our career. The rest is all history now….
What have been the ups and downs along the way? Has it been as you always hoped it might be?
We had so many ups along the way, a fair few of them due to the lads at ABODE. One of which was closing the Printworks ABODE party, which was just unreal. Can’t say we’ve had many downs along the way, and even if we do, we put them behind us and always focus on the positives.
How did it come about that you’re to host your own arena at ABODE in the Park?
I think it was just the natural progression for us all. Our careers as DJs and ABODE’s as promoters have been fairly consistent with each other. We have sort of grown together and we’ve supported each other along the way. The ABODE lads have put us on all of the key shows as they have grown, which has helped us massively. We played Studio 338, then Tobacco Docks, then Printworks and now we’ve got our own arena at ABODE in the Park. We’ve just been so lucky to have them support us the way they have. Our arena at ABODE in the Park is mainly inspired by what we like.
How did you decide who you wanted to play? What was the thinking there?
It’s based around friends, artists we like, artists who have supported us and, generally, artists we know will get the job done and make sure that arena goes off on the day!
How different will you play as sort of residents rather than headline guests, as it’s almost like your own party? Will that switch things up musically for you?
We’ll just play how we usually do. We’ll be making sure we have a whole load of new tunes that will make the party go off. The ABODE crowd are very much a party crowd and they just want to have a sick party, so we’ll be catering for them on the day.
What tunes might people expect to hear from you in The Big Top?
We’ll be playing a few of our new tunes, a few old ones, a load of mint ones, and a few old ones!
What tunes work with bigger festival crowds, have you found?
It all depends where in the world you’re playing. When we’ve played Cocoon before, we play a lot darker. When we play Elrow, we play more party.
What else have you personally got coming up/are you looking forward to?
We’ve got a new EP coming out on Hot Creations in November. We’ve also got a new EP on our label Sola in October.
We’ll be announcing our next Solardo Sessions Tour, which will be even bigger this time than it was last time. We also have our own Solardo Sessions at the Warehouse Project on Boxing Day in Manchester, which is going to be insane.
We have a US tour at the end of this month and we’ve also been nominated for an award at the DJ AWARDS at the end of the month so we’ll see how that works out.
And finally, what’s with the jazzy shirts? Are you guys Ace Ventura fans?
It’s to “make partying great again” haha. It’s a way to get rid of bad vibes, make everyone happy, make people smile, make everyone more approachable and make partying more about the party.
For more info head to the ABODE website.