Solar Wolf are a UK based trip hop, ambient and dub live act currently on tour with Dreadzone. Releasing through their own label – Moon Lounge Records, Solar Wolf have provided support for a number of high profile bands and artists, and have won an army of fans with their atmospheric live show.
During a quiet moment, A&R Simon Huxtable sat down with Mark Ward from Solar Wolf to find out about life on the road, the new album and more.
Hi Mark, so glad to meet you. Thanks for finding the time to chat to us at Decoded Magazine. How are you?
Yeah I’m good thanks!
So tell us about Solar Wolf. How long have you guys been together?
Solar Wolf originally started in 2012 just really as an experiment, I’ve always loved the Bristol (UK) Trip Hop sound and love to experiment in the studio, this then developed into a live show and we just went out there and done our thing.
Walk us through your personal musical journey. What was it about the downtempo sounds of Trip Hop, Dub and Ambient that attracted you?
For me personally the idea of being restricted to one sound or genre is difficult, I like to experiment with sounds whether it’s electronic or acoustic and mix it all together and see what happens but I’ve had a passion for the Trip Hop dubby type stuff, it just stirs up so many emotions and so deep and dark and mysterious, it’s really free music to create which I love….no boundaries.
Who are your heroes in the scene? And have you met any of them in person?
So many of them!! Massive Attack would be an obvious one but there’s loads of cool stuff out there, Tricky, 9 In Common, DJ Shadow, UNKLE, Howie B, Portishead, Tor, Thievery Corporation…too many to mention. Not met any of those, yet would love to tour with them though.
Talking of touring, we understand you’re currently on tour with Dreadzone. Out of curiosity, how did Dreadzone contact you to support them, and secondly, as a support act do you have to hold back in your performance at all?
We got recommended through a friend that runs a venue in the South of England and it went from there, we became friends and do loads of shows with them now, they really love what we do and are really supportive, MC Spee from Dreadzone is on a track on our next album.
No, we never have to hold back at all, they even watch our shows sometimes: love it. Dreadzone are really cool guys and one of the hardest working and best live bands out there.
Have there ever been ‘differences of opinion’ with any of the high profile acts you’ve worked with?
Not with us personally but we’re all pretty chilled people and avoid diva behaviour, in my experience it’s usually the hangers on and tour managers that are the biggest divas!!
With so much amazing music out there already, do you find the crowds at your concerts are as receptive to discovering new music or new bands? What ignites their passions the most?
We tend to attract what I consider real music fans, they seem fascinated when they watch us perform and tend go away knowing that they’ve really experienced something, but if when you perform live you lose yourself in your performance the audience will too, it’s all about the experience and being professional. I believe if you radiate your passion for what you do people really pick up on that.
Lets move on the the new album. Hows everything going?
Yeah really good, we’re just putting the finishing touches to the mixes then I’ll spend a week mixing and mastering then it’s ready to go. Really excited about this album as we’ve got some really amazing guest musicians featuring on it.
How does a typical Solar Wolf track come together; whats the average timescale?
No timescale really, I generally put most of the ideas together then we all dip in and out but I write when I’m feeling it and don’t force it, you can’t force creativity.
How much of your production process is computer based these days? Do you prefer it that way?
It’s 50/50 to be honest, I use Ableton live but I also play live synths, guitar and vocals plus we have a live scratch DJ, live bass player and guest vocalists.
We understand you’re also a promoter. Can you tell us about Pulse Festival?
Yes I co-run Moondust Events, Pulse started in 2010 after my son had heart surgery to raise money for the children’s heart unit in Southampton UK, we’ve now moved onto other projects currently working on a project for The Murray Parish Trust called Rookwood Festival which is taking place on 4th June in Medstead, Hampshire and we’ve got lots more lined up for next year.
Do you think UK festival goers understand the costs behind their tickets? How do you strike a balance between great artists, a well organised and run festival and a face value ticket price that doesn’t put people off?
Not many understand the costs at all festivals are really expensive to run, you just have to budget carefully and create something really special that people want to return too, I don’t really get the whole chasing lineup thing that seems to happen because I don’t think that a festival is just about the music, it’s about creating an experience.
Mark, its been great to chat. We wishing you all the best with the new album and the touring. What else does 2016 have in store for you?
Thanks for your time too!! Lots of live shows and more music, plenty of wine and stuff too!!
01// Kruder & Dorfmeister – Definition
02// Snakadaktal – Ghost
03// Tor – Glass & Stone
04// Solar Wolf – Karma
05// Blue States – Diamente
06// Bonobo – Sleepy Seven
07// The Lushlife Project – Budapest Eskimos
08// Smoke City – Underwater Love
09// ASC – Aqualoop
10// Tor – Let Me Down
11// Air – La Femme D’argent