Solarstone (aka Rich Mowatt) has been deejaying and producing melodic trance and progressive dance music since back in the 90’s. His “Seven Cities” is widely credited for starting the whole Ibiza trance genre. Now with his new artist album “Touchstone” out on June 28th – I caught up with Rich to discuss the album and tour!
Q: Rich you were actually born in Rathfarnham in Dublin correct?
A: Yes my family are all from there. I think it was in the Troubles of the early 70s, my mother had a car burnt and they panicked and all went to Fishguard on the Rosslare ferry! So I grew up in South Wales for most of my life but a lot of my family is still in Ireland.
Q: And how did you get into this kind of music?
A: I used to be a body piercer years ago (as evidenced by his eyebrow pin!) and I had a piercing studio in Birmingham. A lot of these guys who worked next door – gay guys starting taking me to gay clubs where I discovered this amazing music. All the straight clubs in the early 90s were playing all that horrible music, Men in Suits, that kind of thing. And then they started taking me to Trade, brilliant club in London and I fell in love with the music. Then I got into production. I was actually in an indie rock band and it kind of just developed from there really
Q: Do you remember the first piece of equipment you bought?
A: First piece of equipment ? Well I made my first ever track on a Korg M1. First digital synthesizer. Then I got into computers after that.
Q: And what do you use now?
A: I’m a Qbase – Qbase 5 on a PC. PC all the way!
Q: Yaay – another PC user! You’ve performed all over the world as Solarstone – what are you’re favorite festivals to play?
A: Planet Love was good last year – I like Brazil. Played a great party in Buenos Aires called Zenith.
Q: I’m sure they blend after a while!
A: They do! It’s hotel, airport, venue – you get to take a lot of it in. I sometimes take my wife and son with me so that I get to spend another couple of nights there. When you’re a dj/producer as soon as the gigs over, you want to be back in the studio because you’ve had loads of inspiration from when you were doing the gig. I tend to want to dash straight back to Wales to the studio to make more music.
Q: Tell us about your new album?
A: My new artist album is called Touchstone. I have been working on it for 2 years. The idea behind it is that every artist is inspired in different ways and I decided to go a step further with it and sort of wear my inspirations on my sleeve. So I’m actively referencing all the artists who’ve inspired me over the years; people like Pink Floyd and Dépêche Mode. Even classical composers, sounds a bit pretentious but its true! But you know electro dance music is inspired in loads of different ways by lots of different styles of music. So, on the microsite for the album (http://www.solarstonetouchstone.com) I’m discussing all the different tracks and explaining what my inspirations were for them.
Q: Yes I’ve noticed there are all kinds of neat widgets and free downloads on the site, pretty cool! Obviously you will be touring to support the album?
A: Yes. We will be kicking off at Off the Rails in Sheffield on 25th June. Me and Ashley Wallbridge and Sied van Riel. All the gigs will be listed on the site.
Whenever I tour an album, I have a strong visual element on the big screen. Referencing all these inspirational visionaries over the years, rapid firing of all these images of different people on the screen but big textual statements as to what inspiration is. We will be touring for about 6 months!
Q: Any plans to come to NYC ? We’d love to see you in New York!
A: I’ve always wanted to play in New York. Very underground trance scene in NYC. I went there on my honeymoon – absolutely fell in love with the place. I hope that can happen soon!
Q: What’s your opinion on the trance scene in general?
A: Different musical genres peak at different times. And trance is maybe not as popular as it was in 2000. But you know that when you play in a club now, people are there because they love the music, not because they think it’s cool to go. So the parties are better.
Q :What are you listening to on your ipod now?
A: Hybrid's brilliant 4th album 'Disappear Here', their approach to making music ticks a lot of boxes for me, it's 'melody and arrangment first, production next'. A lot of dance music hits the buffers because it is too self restrictive... most of the promos I get sent go in the bin because they are so predictable.
Q: What are your 3 desert island disks - the songs/tunes you can't live without!
A: The Cardigans 'Long Gone Before Daylight' - a brilliantly laid back album of beautiful songs, I find Nina Perrson's voice mesmerising. Pink Floyd 'Dark Side of the Moon' - I never tire of listening to this record, it works on so many levels, the songwriting, the arrangements, the performances, it's just perfect. Vangelis 'L'apocalypse des Animaux' - one of Vangelis' most enduring soundtracks.
Q: Well we certainly look forward to hearing Touchstone and hopefully seeing you very soon in NYC! Thanks Rich!
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