Buffalo-based production duo Solidisco has been invigorating the dance music world with their unique take on current music trends, mixed with (of course) various takes on disco. And as we've been seeing Don and Matt's star rise over the years, a few weekends ago we arrived at their festival debut at the infamous Halloween celebration HARD Day of the Dead in Los Angeles. Performing an unforgettably energetic live set filled with groovy uplifting bootlegs of their own, Solidisco's festival career has started off with a bang. Lucky for us, we got to sit down with the duo about their perspective on their music, and we grabbed an exclusive first listen to the recording of their 75-minute live set from HARD, available below for free download. If we've sold you on Solidisco here, not to worry, they've got their monthly Hustle Radio podcast to look forward to available HERE.
EARMILK: When I first starting coming to HARD it was Deadmau5 and Crookers, now they’ve really transformed where they have Maya Jane Coles and artists like that. What do you think about this transformation?
Don: It’s a great thing. I think this is one of the best festivals, and the lineup is just amazing. I’ve seen a lot of sites where people say, “This is one of the best festivals,” and it really covers more than just EDM. We were talking about this yesterday and we feel like EDM just covers a sub-genre right now. So, it’s cool that this covers dance music, EDM, and everything else in between.
EM: When did you start listening to disco?
Don: I came from a hip-hop background and disco for me was a gateway to understand what people consider house and EDM. That was the first kind of stuff I first started playing in my sets when I began DJing on my own. You’ve been listening to disco forever though?
Matt: Yeah, my parents always listened to it, so I’ve been listening to it for a while. But as soon as I started listening to house music I was into Armand van Helden and some of the stuff he started with.
Don: My parents liked everything, we listened to MC Hammer and Bob Marley to anything classic rock.
EM: Was there ever a time where you just decided, this is what we’re going to do?
Don: Sort of, because at one point we just did an EP together and we didn’t really have a plan. It was just something to do, and Matt came to my studio with some ideas. I thought let’s just finish these ideas and put them out there and see what we can do. It ended up being a disco house CD and we decided to keep doing it but with a different name, since it is so different than anything else. At the time there weren’t a lot of people doing disco house like we were doing it, so we thought it was good to give it a seprate name and separate brand. We did it for the love of music, not thinking that anything was going to happen... But now things have been picking up.
EM: Why do you think that disco has seen such a reemergence. Even Skream has gone all he way from dub to disco.
Matt: I think artists are just getting tired of the same dance music. I think he realized that dubstep is getting old and wanted to change it up. People are starting to like new genres, like deep house and nu disco is getting bigger. We are trying to have our own niche from the progressive house stuff.
EM: You do a lot of remixed, so where do you find these tracks?
Don: We get asked a lot to do the remixes, but if we do a song like the S.O.S. Band, we just do a song we really love that we think could use a 2013 update, a Solidisco update.
EM: Right. And with that type of song, is it a vinyl that you find and then transfer digitally? Or what’s the process?
Don: With the S.O.S. Band, it was a popular song back in the 70s. We both played the original early on in the night on our own nights, so we thought it needed an update. But a lot of the time when we are working on the originals, we are mining 12” vinyl. We will hear it, or find it online then buy it from Italy, because there is a whole movement of people selling vinyl
Matt: Most of the songs don’t even exist anymore in digital form, so that’s the only way you can find it.
EM: I started with discodust and discobelle, that’s were I began listening to electronic music.
Don: I remember those. Those were good days. I feel like the LA area was one of the first to adopt that blog hosue sound
EM: How do you update disco to make it current? Do you have to change much?
Don: For us, we sample songs from the past. We take and arrange them, sampling maybe just a second or two and just build an entire track around that. New chord progression, new bassline, new drums, new everything almost. The sample is really to try and take the organic sound that you can’t create, things that the laptop-made sound of today can’t achieve. For example we love horns and you just can’t emulate that well with a synthesizer. And on top of that, you have to make the song sound good on a big system, so you need to modify it fit the current setup.
EM: When you first started out, how did you convince people to book a disco act?
Don: We kind of waited to take shows. We wanted to play the right rooms and to people who understood what we were doing as artists. We are trying to take the approach of artists that DJ, playing our stuff and remixes.
Matt: And when we do our live sets we blend a lot of our acapella with our songs. We still make it so people recognize things, like the Daft Punk songs we just played, but mix it so we please fans and the mainstream alike.
EM: So you said you waited a little bit?
Don: I think we played our first show about a year ago. We played a small show in Rochester and then we opened for Aoki about 8 months in. Then we waited until we started getting dates and gradually got an agent and more shows. We didn’t want to rush things.
EM: Right around that time you did a release on Fool’s Gold, right?
Don: We did release on the Clubhouse and our two songs were the singles. We’ve also had releases on Ultra and a number of other labels.
EM: This year in particular has been exceptional for disco. Why do you think that?
Matt: The Daft Punk album helped a lot. People just got hyped on it again.
Don: It’s gonna be one of those things that will come back again and again and again.
EM: Are you going to check out Giorgio Moroder?
SD: Oh yeah.. We can’t be two places at once, well maybe we can, but… And Kavinsky and The Magician. There are so many great acts here.
EM: And so far, what would be the highlight of your career?
SD: Today would probably be it, the mainstage at HARD. It was incredible and LA is unbelievable. We’ve always had great moments in LA.
EM: We talked earlier about different genres, and I was wondering: do you want disco to get bigger? Or do you have fears about it becoming too homogenous like other dance genres.
SD: No fears about that. To be able to play on a stage like that and get our music out there is great, as long as we keep it really true to our sound. And, take Calvin Harris for example. If you took Rhianna of the track and just had him singing, it would still be a great track. I don’t feel like that is selling out at all.
For disco we are just doing it for us. If people like it, they like it. But we aren’t doing it to be popular or to get somewhere. This is our sound. There are other ways to get to a mainstage faster and to be trendier, but we don’t really care about that. We just love the music with all our hearts.
EM: Any other plans for 2013:
Don: We have an EP coming out on Ultra and also a single, “Top Of The World". We played it in our set, and it’s a bit of a different sound for us, but we are going to stay with that pure disco sound and try to adapt it.
Matt: It’s all about the feel-good vibe of disco. As long as we have that vibe then we’re good.