Sola level up with their first 100% productions mix
Catching up with the Grand Theft Audio bosses in the midst of their busiest year to date
To have invested enough time on your craft to have enough material to fill an entire set without compromise… It’s a bucket list ambition for any artist. A bucket list ambition that Sola can well and truly tick off.
Wrap your ears around this. Sola Powered Volume 1: an epic adventure comprising 56 of the Grand Theft Audio bossmen’s productions, remixes and edits. All Sola, all stunning, all yours…
A high voltage, full spectrum showcase of all Sola sounds, the mix hits at a poignant moment during their on-going rise. 2023 has been a critical year for the Manchester/Melbourne act.
Key releases have come our way on their own label Grand Theft Audio plus the likes of GZ Audio, Nuusic, Korsakov, Play Me and Boomslang (to name a few) and they’re also in the midst a variety of tours with shows this year ranging from as far afield as Vancouver to Vietnam.
Just weeks ahead of the next leg of their intrepid missions, and days ahead of their massive Dance In The Rain EP on Nuusic (featuring the likes of Jfal, Freddy B and Conrad Subs on the remix) we caught up with Sola‘s UK-based contingent James and Robbie. Get to know as you listen to the beats. Chances are you’re well acquainted already: Sola are no strangers to 1 More Thing, having been incredibly supportive during our launch year with a full EP exclusively for our Patreons. We made a video with James, Robbie and key members of the gang at the time which you can watch here.
Rumour has it they’re back again this October with another exclusive EP for 1 More Thing! Read on to find out more about that, this mix and everything else Sola have been powering up in 2023…
Holy moly! This tracklist! Thank you so much for this mix!
James: You’re welcome mate, couldn’t think of a better home for it than 1 More Thing
Robbie: Yeah man thanks for hosting it
Our pleasure! This is your first 100% Sola productions mix… It’s a bit of a moment isn’t it?
Robbie: We’ve always intended to do one of these and now definitely felt like the right time
James: Three or four years back, I don’t think we had enough material to make a mix like this, but doing it this year, it was hard to narrow it down to an hour, which is why it spilled over a little. Definitely already thinking about what we should put in Volume 2.
It must be a nice feeling compiling so much of your own material and putting it into a journey like this?
James: Absolutely. Not while we were mixing cos we were in the moment, but when I first listened to it back, I actually got very emotional. We put a piece of ourselves in every tune that we write and hearing them all together like this, I was jumping through all the different years and all the situations I was in when we were writing these, it was crazy.
Robbie: I actually gave it a first proper listen through at the campsite at Boomtown. It does feel a bit mad hearing it back and remembering all the old tunes and being reminded of some of the dubs we’ve got forthcoming. Also seeing the tracklist for the first time blew my head off a bit too.
That’s awesome. It kinda feels like 2023’s been a bit of a moment full stop for you guys… It appears to be have been a pretty hectic ride for you since we last spoke. How’s it been?
Robbie: Yeah man, gotta be the craziest year we’ve had so far. The trip to Vancouver has to be the highlight. The whole thing was such an experience. We met so many great people, especially Krissy Footnotes, who looked after us so incredibly well the whole time and drove us around in a convertible Mustang haha. We also got to spend the whole trip with our friend of 15+ years Diligent Fingers.
Also Barcelona for Sub:Conscious and Rotterdam for Riot Dubs (for our good friend Bohdan) were amazing plus getting to play Nass Fest, which is a festival I’ve actually been to as a paying customer, which is always special.
James: Yeah it’s been proper mad being paid to fly to cities in other countries and play our music for people. We’ve also had the chance to work with Skittles this year, who is in both our top five favourite MCs list, as well as do a remix for jungle legend DJ Rap and another for the equally legendary Dope Ammo and MC Tali. All three are in this mix. Our two EPs so far (one on Korsakov, one on Boomslang) as well as our remix album Stars Realigned were all very well received too and really helped us reach the ears of many more people who are feeling what we’re doing at the moment.
Phew! PLUS you’re about to go on a massive tour again now… Tell us everything!
James: We’re looking to play two dates in Vietnam and another six in Australia as well as help people refine their own music through seminars and teaching sessions. It’s coming immediately after two weeks in Florida for me cos taking my kids to Disney World so I’ll be gone in total over six weeks, which I think will be my longest ever time away from home. Really excited for it! One of the highlights will be meeting the third member of Sola, Paul, who lives in Melbourne cos we’ve never met in real life before. Big shout out to Filthy Philp and Inguerzon from Trigga Fingaz Events for all their help with connecting to Aussie promoters and the advice they’ve given us.
Robbie: It almost seemed meant to be as my friend Poe, who runs events in Vietnam, shouted me enquiring how possible it would be to get us out there, and just around that time we started getting interest in some Australian dates so we managed to work it all into one tour.
It’s gonna be an experience man. I’ve never been away from home for that long either and normally when we perform abroad it’s just one gig and one trip there and back. Also, I don’t consider myself an arachnophobe, the little spiders here don’t scare me but those absolute beasts over there definitely do haha. It’s gonna be the trip of a lifetime!
Ah wow! What are the Sola tour essentials to pack?
Robbie: For me it’s suncream! In Canada I got brutally sunburnt and it wasn’t even really that hot. As we were lucky enough to get driven around in the aforementioned convertible Mustang, I got badly sunburnt knees and even now I have brown knees in the middle of my pasty white legs. So yeah I imagine it’s going to be even more essential in Australia!
James: I need my Nintendo Switch for super long flights and a travel pillow, travel cushion, etc… My flight from Florida to Hanoi has gone very wrong with delays already and I’m stuck doing a 37h journey (with two layovers) so I need all the comforts I can get to survive that marathon haha.
Blimey. The reality of life on the road. Touring aside, you’ve mentioned some pretty substantial releases already. You’ve also just dropped an EP on Nuusic, too…
James: We’ve been wanting to write an EP for Nuusic for some time as we really back what the guys are doing with the Nuusic project and they’ve put out single tracks of ours in V/A compilations. An EP for them seemed like the next step and we really took our time with it, I think it’s about 18 months in the making. It was wicked working with frequent collaborators Freddy B and Jfal again and also such a great experience to work with someone like Conrad Subs who is, release for release, my favourite jungle producer of this decade.
Robbie: This has been one of those releases we’ve been getting more and more excited about as the release date approaches. I love every track on there in different ways. Dance In The Rain has been my set opener for a long time now and I think Freddy’s vocals just make it anthemic. Conrad smashed the remix as well.
I think the most notable track as far as concept goes is Ska Tissue. As Sola we often like to come up with a concept first then all go to work on bringing it to life. With this we thought “there lots of ragga and reggae jungle but you don’t hear as much ska jungle” so we went in and made this jungle roller full of upstrokes/ offbeats and brass sections.
Love it. I understand you’re working on a vinyl release right now too, right?
Robbie: As I imagine is the case with many producers over the age of 30, we’ve always dreamed of dropping the needle on our very own vinyl, so we obviously cannot wait for that moment. Will also be great to physically hold our music in our hands for the first time. For me the big track on this is Owed An Apology as we are lucky to be one of a handful of D&B producers to work with my personal favourite on-record MC, Skittles, and he absolutely nailed this one.
James: I’ve been mixing on vinyl since 2002 and like Robbie, it’s one of my biggest bucket list goals to tick off. We’re so happy that the music that’s been taken for it already is of such high quality and involves a mix of our closest friends in the scene like Sammie Hall and Jasmine Knight and people who we look up to and admire such as Skittles and Conrad Subs. It’s very cool that it’ll be coming out on Riot Dubs too as they were one of the first labels to believe in us and see our potential before we had many fans of our music or much career momentum.
That’s great. How’s everything going for you label-wise at Grand Theft Audio?
James: I think it’s safe to say this has been the strongest year for GTA as a label. Having artists like Kleu, pyxis, Tengu, Hologram (De:Tune, Citrusfly and Degs), Exile and I.C.U join our ranks alongside our already incredible core artists of last year like Perplex, ESKR, Jfal, Charlie B, Corrupted Mind, Vektral, Debice has really caused a noticeable spike in the quality and quantity of our output. We have so many more great tracks to release before the year is up too (over 50 more tracks!) so watch this space.
Robbie: I can’t believe it’s the tenth anniversary of the label next year man! This year we put out relentless releases all throughout the year but I think next year we are going to have a few less releases but bigger ones and really make them count. Of course the biggest example of this being the GTAX 10th birthday release, a lot of which we already have planned and ready to go.
James: We’ve also joined the world of Twitch. Our handle is @gtarecs – It’s mainly a mixture of us DJing and us helping producers who are stuck on their tracks with feedback sessions. But we also stream sessions of technical knowledge stuff like mixdowns and vocal processing, tune reviews and interviews/ hangouts with other artists. It’s refreshing to be on a non-Meta platform where the strength of the content is the only thing that matters rather than social media gimmicks.
Robbie: I think the most notable GTA news this year is the addition of a new member of staff for the first time. A few months ago we added Giles Valeur Adu AKA Aduken to the team as a junior A&R and he has slotted in really well and it already feels like we’ve known him for years. We’ve been teaching him lots of the A&R tricks and how to run a label, and it’s been great having a fresh pair of eyes and ears in the team that can show us new perspectives on things.
Oh sick. Big up Aduken! You’re working on something very big for 1 More Thing as a follow up to last year’s Patreon EP. What can you tell us about it?
Robbie: Yeah we’re really happy with this 1 More Thing EP and it might even be more personal than the last one. We really can’t wait to see your reaction to these tracks when we play them for you live on our Twitch stream when we’re back off tour.
James: Absolutely, there are four tracks, three original ones and an off the wall VIP, all of which have been specially written for this project by people who believe in what you’re doing with 1 More Thing. The average energy level is a little higher than last year I reckon and I think you’re genuinely gonna be over the moon (no pressure haha).
Sick! LOTS of pressure!! Amazing. What else does the world need to know about Sola right at this very moment in time?
James: That we’re incredibly grateful to all of the collaborators, remixers and remixees on this mix. So massive big ups to Aduken, Aries, Benny V, Cheshire Cat, Cliques, Conrad Subs, Debice, DJ Hybrid, DJ Rap, Dope Ammo, Exception, Freddy B, iBot, Jfal, Helen K, Hypolar, iBot, Kalum, Kleu, Lauren Rose, Manuva, Minor Flux, P739, Perplex, Plasmator, pyxis, Reid Speed, Replete, RivalTechnique Russla, Sammie Hall, Saxxon, Shayper, Shroomz, Skittles, Stompz, Stuart Rowe, T-Man, Tali, Tengu, The Moods & Weejii.
Robbie: I hope this mix gets across quite how hard we work on both the quality and quantity of the tracks we make and release. Also, the best is yet to come! Thank you so much to everyone who has supported us so far, yourself very much included Dave.