Recently we had the opportunity to speak with Producer & DJ Rich Mowatt aka Solarstone. Read up on a lot of interesting things you may not have known about Rich.
Hello Rich, nice to have you on MaxMuzik! As this is your first interview with us, let’s start off with a little background. How did you get into music? Please tell us about the beginning of your career as a DJ.
Hello :) Thanks for inviting me for this interview. Well, to go back to the beginning would be in 1990, I formed an indie-dance band with 3 friends – Jai Tromans (guitar) & Stu Tonks (vocals) – called ‘Emission’. We toured small venues in the UK for a couple of years and released a single in 1993. Following that I hooked up two other guys – Andy Bury & Sam Tierney, and formed ‘The Space Kittens’ – this was acid-disco-house music, we released a single on Hooj Choons called ‘Storm’ in 1995, then renamed the band ‘Solar Stone’, and the rest, as they say, is history.
For our readers who’ve never heard your music, explain your sound in 5 words.
Pure, Melodic, Emotional. I only need three.
Solarstone Exclusive 2hr Pure Trance Mix
Can you offer insight into some of your musical inspirations? And who is your favorite artist from EDM outside your own specific genre?
When I released my 2010 album ‘Touchstone’, I created something called the ‘Mindmap’ – it’s an interactive graphic illustration of my musical influences – it’s at this link. My favorite artist would have to be the Pet Shop Boys, they have stayed with me since my teenage years, other favorites include Pink Floyd, Hurts any my favorite producer is Trevor Horn.
You are from the UK, a very important country for dance and electronic music. Do you feel the U.S. is catching up though? Is there a difference you could point out between UK and U.S. producers?
I don’t know about ‘catching up’ – the US has been massively important to the world of electronic music – Detroit & Chicago are responsible for House music and Techno, and ultimately it all stems from that! I don’t think it’s possible to pin point a different between producers from the UK and US – we’re all individuals from planet earth.
You have just released a new compilation album “Pure Trance”, how was the experience working on this album like for you? How was your experience collaborating with DJ Orkidea (Tapio Hakanen) in this album?
The Pure Trance compilation is the natural next stage in my Pure Trance movement, which began as a series of ‘Pure’ mixes, then my album ‘Pure’, then the launch of the Live Events concept, then this. The whole Pure Trance thing was a result of my feeling disenfranchised with the direction that the trance scene had taken, I felt that a lot of the music had lost the spirit of what trance is all about. When we decided to launch the Live Events side of the project, I wanted to include other Djs who shared my approach to this music, who were true to their roots and understand how Pure Trance works in a club. Tapio is, in my opinion, one of the best Djs there is in the scene, hands down. He can warm up, he can headline and he can close, he knows instinctively what is going to work. Also, on a musical taste level, between the two of us we cover pretty much the entire spectrum of what Pure Trance is all about – so it made perfect sense for Tapio to compile & mix the 2nd disc of the first album. The whole experience working with Tapio is very tight. Tapio is a very spiritual and ‘family-first’ kind of guy, there’s no bullshit with Tapio, it makes working together much easier than when there are obstacles such as Ego and Ambition to content with. All the info about the album, tour and merchandise is on the Pure Trance website by the way.
You started your radio show/podcast “Solaris International” back in 2004, and you cover interesting track selection. How’s your experience so far and how do you pick your tracks for the show?
The show has several reasons for existence. Partly it is the way I keep up to date with what is being released – on ‘radio show day’ as I call it, I listen to the new music I have been sent and pick my favorites, I also listen to label demos on that day too. I also use it to premier new music on my labels Molecule, Solaris, Touchstone & Solarswarm, gauging reaction from the listeners. Also it’s a great way to connect with my fans, we have a live tracklist feed on my Twitter and Facebook – which encourage interaction from the listeners. As listeners know, it’s not all just straightforward trance music; I try to cover the progressive house thru pure trance spectrum of music, also throwing in the occasional random piece of music, which gets me excited. Recently at episode 350 we rebranded the show with fabulous new artwork, to keep it fresh. I love doing the show – sometimes on a Monday I am a bit exhausted from travelling, but it’s rare that I miss a show.
Solarstone latest radio show: Solaris International Episode # 352
Could you tell us about your music production process? Also your equipment and the setup you use in your live shows.
My songs / tracks always begin life as a simple musical phrase or idea which stands up in its own right played on the piano or guitar, then I begin the production process. I believe this is an essential way of working; otherwise you end up with a track which is all padding and production tricks, but with little or no hook. It’s relatively easy these days (due to the enormous amount of presets and sound libraries available) to create something which sounds professionally produced, but with little or no musical validity. My studio setup these days is, as with most artists, mostly software based. I spent a lot of time processing sound and creating my own sounds, something that harks back to my hardware background I guess. Presets don’t interest me. As for Djing, I keep it very simple, just 3 x CDJs and a pioneer mixer. I don’t do clever mash-ups or edits particularly – I just play good music and take people on a journey with it.
Solarstone @ I LOVE NEW YEAR – Poznan, Poland
Speaking of shows, this month you are going to have your U.S. Winter Tour. What are you touring plans for the rest of 2013? Are you coming to Canada as well? :)
The Pure Trance concept is exploding for us right now – we spent a solid year in 2012 working on it, building it – a heck of a lot of work by myself and Paula my manager, now it is starting to bear fruit. It’s an ongoing concept, which we plan to take worldwide. San Francisco and LA last weekend were amazing, next weekend we have Seattle and a sold-out show in Miami -which is rare – Miami shows are often ‘cool but half empty’ – we have managed to sell out with Pure Trance – very satisfying considering the snobbery which exists in the EDM world towards Trance in general. We are planning a few dates in Canada of course! My full tour dates schedule is here.
What artists would fans be surprised to find on your iPod?
Gosh… Barbara Streisand probably!
Any final thoughts or parting words?
Thank you for reaching out for this interview, and thank you to the worldwide Trance Family & everybody who is supporting the Pure Trance movement. Together we are stronger!