SOLAR BEARS

Solar Bears
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SOLAR BEARS



Written by Suzie McCracken
Photos and illustrations by Robert Scanlon & Suzie McCracken
29 Sunday 29th April 2012

How would you describe your stuff to someone who wasn’t familiar with your first album, She Was Coloured In

I think it's in the eye of the beholder, we blend genres all the time. Krautrock and electronic music influence us just as much as soundtracks do. I tend to let people make up their own minds rather than dictate or suggest something to them. We have been compared to countless bands since we began. It is often better to take the album as a whole rather than analyse individual tracks. Describing yourself can be slightly limiting psychologically, it can place barriers around your work. When we first started making music we decided not to have a style or an overtly recognisable sound.

Your name comes from an Andrei Tarkovsky sci fi flick, and your Twitter and Facebook feeds constantly direct me to insane movie clips. Is your music a kind of soundtrack to all the obscure stuff you’re watching?

It can be taken that way, or as a soundtrack to cinema that has yet to be made. We would love to score a movie in the future. Our name is a reference to Solaris and numerous other things that matter to us culturally. Simple language is more direct and gets to people quicker, so it made sense. The positive side of those social media sites is being able to get everyone onto films or songs you have just discovered yourself. That works both ways. The only downside of the platform for me is a lack of privacy on occasion.

You’ve talked a little before about using vintage equipment during recording, what draws you to that? 

Vintage equipment has character and distinction. As a band we try to capitalise on everything around us, not just gear. Analog synths and drum machines have a history that VST plugins cannot touch, the signal they create has a different effect on the human brain. Working with a mouse and screen can be counter intuitive. Hardware and outboard gear are an avenue for spontaneity, maybe as a result of using more senses other than visual ones. Most music makers cannot afford such luxuries so I understand completely why they go down the software route. It can be just as effective.

I saw your first ever live show at Rough Trade East. Since then you’ve added visuals to your gigs, how will your shows continue to evolve? What can the crowds at The Great Escape expect?

It is more full on and continuous now. The more we play the faster it gets. Visuals are so important for the presentation and aesthetic of what you are doing. Our first gigs were really useful to try out tempos and combinations. It is always good to have peaks and troughs but now we fascinated by acceleration and force. All the ambient elements are left in the studio. Going to gigs has been an eye opener too. Not just dance music but guitar music as well. 

Some of the delicacy of your tracks is lost in a live setting, but not to it's detriment. Was there a conscious decision for the live experience to be a little more hard-edged?

It has gone that way naturally, we take the audience's reaction on board. Paying attention to responses mid-set have dictated a change in approach. Do you want people to be full of adrenaline or do you want to provide melancholic moments? I am a big fan of Leftfield for instance and they do not pull any punches when they play live. Giving the audience something they do not necessarily expect is worth the risk in my opinion. I go to a gig for live music, not perfect studio music.

The tracks you’ve released since the last album (‘Alpha People’ and ‘Cosmic Runner’) are exciting and pretty different from what we’re used to. What are we to expect from the next album? Will there be more vocals?

Thank you. The new record covers as much ground as the debut but in novel territory. We are really content with the reaction to both of those two songs. They are quite alien to each other but have the same spirit running through them. There is more live playing on this LP which is related to the fact we have a professional studio now with a large live room. We also have very high quality microphones and the sound is undoubtedly more high fidelity. Having said that we still use tape and other tools to damage the recordings and give them a past.

The title is Supermigration, is there a reason behind that?

The title is down to a few things, firstly the way people are altering on a global scale and secondly it describes the movement of the tracks themselves. An album has to have a recurring theme or narrative. All the classic albums have one. Storytelling with words or instrumentals. It is the same pursuit/objective. I like how bands nod to their heroes and show respect for their teachers. There is also a secret reason to the album title. 

Mysterious. What were you reading/watching/listening to throughout the making of the new album? Is there any new music you’re really excited about?

Both of us cherry pick topics to research. I study human development in depth and Rian reads up on recording techniques non-stop. To answer your question we loved the Death in Vegas album and the Kuedo lp on Planet Mu. I would highly recommend people getting into Letherette too. A rare French film named Gandahar was a favourite. Kelly Reichardt is a director I would ask people to look out for. She is a film lecturer in the States and she is one of the finest out there. One of her movies features a main role by Bonnie Prince Billy which was transformative for me on a personal level.

For more info (and links to insane art-house films) go to the Solar Bears Facebook.

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