Solardo: The Secret to Success | White Ibiza
Published by white-ibiza.com, July 2018
The phrase ‘rapid rise to the top’ has become an oft-repeated cliché within the music industry. Used in relation to every supposedly successful new face on the scene, it belies the true nature of the grit required to make it in a business that’s increasingly demanding, and incredibly hard to break into – regardless of demonstrable talent. Because while it may seem like an artist’s achievements sometimes come out of nowhere, frequently they’ve been peddling like mad behind the scenes. This is a fact that Mancunian duo James Elliot and Mark Richards, otherwise known as Solardo, are always keen to emphasise. “We’re not lucky,” stresses James. “We got here through hard work, dedication and sacrifice.”
Doubt about this statement creeps in because on the surface, Solardo have gone from complete non-existence to worldwide names with their own residency at HÏ Ibiza in the space of just over two years. From the outside, it could look like they’ve had an easy run of it. But delve deeper into their story and you discover that prior to becoming the next big thing, the duo put in serious graft – burrowing their way out of personal hardship and a demoted dubstep career by spending 17-hour days in the studio over an 18-month period, emerging with covetable skill as producers and a catalogue of accomplished tunes behind them. Essentially, they put in the time and it reaped rewards. “I’m super grateful to be in the position we’re in such a short space of time,” James emphasises.
This dogged attitude to success and concomitant modesty played a huge role in how they bore through those initial testing months. But it was all backed up by a belief that they could make it, a seed that for James was planted when he serendipitously picked up a copy of a world-famous self-help book at the airport. “I was on my way to Thailand to sort my head out when I bought a copy of The Secret,” he explains. “It’s about the power of positive thinking and attracting the stuff that you want. If you visualise the thing that you really want, eventually you’ll believe it so much that it happens.” It turned out that a copy of the same book also worked its way into Mark’s hands at a similar time, and so when the guys decided to head to the studio together, they were on a similar psychological plane.
For fans of Solardo, all this metaphysical reflection might seem conflicting to the duo they see behind the decks. Famed for wearing flashy, vintage shirts, snapback caps and always cracking jokes, they appear laid-back and light-hearted – a factor that’s undoubtedly contributed enormously to their easy connection with clubbers. “People can relate to us,” muses James. “We’re pretty humble, down to earth guys. When we finish playing, a lot of the time I’ll go out into the crowd and speak to everyone. A lot of these people work normal jobs and sacrifice half their weekly wages to come and see us. I grew up on a rough council estate and had nothing, so it’s nice to give something back.”
It’s a recognition of these roots that means the pair don’t take themselves or their perceived successes too seriously. “We purposefully started wearing the shirts because well-known techno guys were just wearing black tops and trousers, and probably underpants,” James laughs. “It was a uniform, and we wanted to showcase our individuality.” It’s this likeable accessibility, alongside a feverish ear for sound, that saw their fanbase swell speedily and the offers come rolling in. This summer, for example, they’re sharing a HÏ Ibiza headline slot with Eric Prydz on Tuesday nights. While the Swedish legend will be taking the helm in the Theatre, Solardo will be doing their thing over in the Club. And after a monumental opening party that saw queues round the block, it’s already looking like a very promising season. “It was absolutely, utterly incredible,” says James. “The Club room was banging from start to finish.”
For James it’s somewhat of a dream come true. He first cut his Ibiza teeth in 1997, when as a wide-eyed, 17-year old, he walked into Privilege when Manumission was in full flow. “I’d never seen anything like it,” he explains. “They had live sex shows, acrobats, Sonique was scratching and singing at the same time! It was mental. That’s where my initial love of Ibiza came from.” Over 20 years later and he’s back, this time as hot property himself, heading up his own residency as one half of Solardo. It must all feel quite surreal. “I don’t think I’ll recognise what we’ve achieved till I’m not doing music anymore, the lights have faded, and I can sit back and think ‘oh my god’,” he says. And as for fate providing a leg-up? “I believe you make your own luck in life,” he concludes. “You just need to believe that you can achieve anything.”