While some artists have become international sensations overnight, most have spent years in the studio and on the road, honing their skills and building their repertoire, before making a splash on the global scene. We discuss that process and the tools of the trade in our A Cappella series.
A single glance at Solomun’s slammed itinerary would be enough to convey his credibility in the scene. Hailing from Hamburg, Germany, the seasoned vet has toiled his way into the favor of discerning heads as a producer whose music is both brainy and boundless. The Diynamic label head has extended his imprint into a traveling festival for his fellow forward-thinking fam. He’s currently gearing up for the return of his celebrated Solomun +1 parties to Ibiza this season, in which he brings out a special guest for a single appearance every Sunday at Pacha. Before then, he’s given us the opp to pick his brain a bit.
How do you overcome a creative block? When was the last time this happened to you, and what were you working on?
I suffer from a creative block especially when I am on the road a lot—because sometimes during those periods come super interesting remix offers, like last year. In the middle of Ibiza season came the offer to remix a track for Robert Plant. And I really tried hard, but nothing came into my mind, so I had to cancel. And my friends were like, “This is the singer of fuckin’ Led Zeppelin; you have to do this!” But you can’t force inspiration. And in this case, I just had to wave the white flag and say, “OK, it didn’t work. Maybe next time.”
“This is the singer of fuckin’ Led Zeppelin; you have to do this!”
How does your music creative process begin?
I only need time and to be calm. During my holiday, when I don’t have to fly every weekend, I am always surprised what can be possible if you just have enough time and are calm. If I don’t have this, it’s tough.
Is there a particular system or method you adhere to in your work? How important is it for you to experiment and take on the risk of failure?
I like to take risks, honestly—because if you don’t, it’s hard for you to develop. But I am not a megalomaniac; I only take risks I think I can handle.
Is an artist just someone who does something better than most? What does being an artist mean to you?
Oh, this is really a tough one. What is art? Is art something only artists can do? Is art maybe craft with a little special extra? What divides craft from art? I would always say that art is 10 percent inspiration and 90 percent transpiration. Of course, you don’t need to know how to play piano to produce music. But producing itself needs a lot of craft. Oh my, what did you do with this question, guys? I don’t know.
For me, being an artist means I can live out my ideas, my identity, through music I produce. I don’t have to pretend something; I can do what I feel. And therefore, my tracks are always the current state of how I feel at this moment.
Is there another genre of music that you’re tinkering with or would like to make?
My musical roots are in hip-hop, soul, funk and R&B—this mixed with some electronica could be interesting for me.
What’s the first production trick you learned that you still use today?
A UAD plugin for the bass drum, where you can change attack and release. If you need more punch, you can change the attack with the plugin, and then the kick drum comes stronger in the mix. If you don’t have this, you have to EQ a lot. So, I just recommend this.