Interview with Solár Drummer Aron about their upcoming Album "Atlas"
"We love to play in complete Darkness"
Solár is a young Sweden-based post-rock project I recently met. They sent me their first album, "Atlas", and I instantly fell in love with their music. Their songs can be described as sophisticated, artsy post-music with a touch of DIY here and a pinch of prog there. I wanted to know more about them, and I think you guys should, too. So, here is my interview with drummer Aron. Please enjoy!
But first things first: "Atlas" will be available on all music streaming platforms from September 9th. You can listen to their pre-released single "Nomad" below.
Anne: Hi! Thanks for taking the time! How are you doing today? You are about to release your new album, "Atlas," which is fantastic, by the way! Are you happy with the outcome of your work?
Aron: Hi Anne, thanks for having me. I am doing great! We are excited to release "Atlas" finally and delighted with the outcome. When we talk about our music, we often say that we want to take the listener on a journey and that we would like to provoke strong feelings, which is what we tried to capture in the studio. As musicians, we are, of course, the biggest critics, and we have heard these songs multiple times in various versions. However, all of us can proudly say that when we listen to our work, it takes us on a journey and provokes strong feelings.
Anne: How is the feedback from the crowd on your pre-released single "Nomad" so far?
A Sweden-based post-rock project
Aron: Oh yeah, it has been great! We have got a ton of messages from people and some good traction with it. With today's music market in mind, releasing a 22-minute single is propably the most stupid thing you can do. But for us, this song is unique as it is one of the first we wrote and a representation of all the elements on the album. It has everything from diverse dynamics, build-ups, challenging free-form interludes, and a epic peak.
Solár – "Nomad"
Anne: Will there be any occasions we can enjoy the six fabulous songs on "Atlas" live?
Aron: Yes! We will be hosting a release gig on September 10th, here in Stockholm at a local brewery. It's going to be super loud, haha! We are also opening up for 1000Mods here in Sweden in October. We also have plans for festivals in other countries, such as Germany, for 2023.
Anne: The songs are named "Nomad", "Sam Francis" (the painter?), "Swarm", "Mesmer" (is it about the mesmerism guy?), "Breach", and "Samarkand" (the name of a city in Uzbekistan?). They sound as if there is a story behind them that puts them all together. Is there? Do you want to share it?
A nomad in the sea of dunes
Aron: I can probably write endlessly about the meaning and theme of the songs, but the overall concept is, as I said, a journey and an exploration of the mind. The title "Nomad" just came to us when we wanted to describe the bridge in the middle of the song, with the toms being very prominent. That part gave us all a vision of being a Nomad wandering the dune sea, so we named the song "Nomad".
"Sam Francis" is named after the painter known as one of the most profound abstract expressionists. Leon Olas Rosén, one of our keyboard players, came from a family of painters and used to listen to the early versions of this song when he painted his work. So, as an abstract painter, he could very much connect the sound with vision and music into colour.
"Swarm" and "Breach" are named after visions and feelings. The intro and outro of "Swarm", where the bass hits you, capture the feeling of being devoured, as a swarm does. "Breach" comes from violating an agreement and being punished for it. The speech in the song is delivered by the late Olof Palme, former prime minister of Sweden, where he talks about how we as a species, especially in the western world, destroy our future. A violation of the agreement to our survival.
With "Mesmer", we wanted to create a pause to breathe amidst all the chaos. This song features Henrik Wenne on vocals, an exceptional singer and lyricist. He explores the feelings that hurt and scare us the most, only to wake from the hypnosis with an overload of mental impressions.
"Samarkand" is the meaning of transporting you as a listener far, far away. Think of yourself as being in the middle of an endless field or a valley where you wander forever, exhausting all your energy trying to get back to safety. But, if you succeed or fail, we don't know only that the journey ends there.
Anne: You worked with Sofar Stockholm. They take care of live venues and studios, if I am correctly informed? What are your connections with this gorgeous association?
"We played in Stockholm before the pandemic hit us"
Aron: Sofar Sounds is a global organisation active in more than 350 cities worldwide that organises live gigs in unique venues like a retail store or a living room. We change the venue for every gig, so each experience is unique. And yes, I am one of the artist bookers for Sofar Stockholm. Solár had the opportunity to play Sofar Stockholm in December 2019, just before the pandemic.
Anne: You are a band of four, are you? With two persons on the keys, one guitar player/singer and a drummer? Who plays which instruments? Is Solár more like a collective like The Ocean, who sometimes come together and play in different constellations, or are you a fixed group of musicians?
Aron: Solár consists of Martin Sundgren (keys/bass), David Sundström (guitar), Leon Olas Rosén (keys/bass) and me, Aron Stén on drums. We are not like The Ocean, as we do have our respective instruments. However, Martin and Leon change the bass role from song to song or even in the song itself, as both of them are familiar with playing the bass and the keyboards. Martin's primary instrument is the electric bass, so we have started incorporating a bass guitar into one of our newest songs. In addition, we have a guest on the album, Henrik Wenne, who is a dear friend of mine and a fantastic vocalist!
Anne: How would you describe the Swedish post-rock scene?
Aron: We have some great bands like Lights and Motion, Oh Hiroshima, pg.lost and Immanu El, who all write incredible music. The live scene for post-rock music is very small. So, we rely on close contact with bands like ourselves, trying to fit us in wherever we see an opening. However, for Solár, we have our aim set on other countries, especially across Europe, where we see much more potential and opportunity for bands in our genre.
Solár – "Atlas"
Anne: Who are your biggest influences?
"We love Cult of Luna and Mogwai"
Aron: We draw influences from a variety of different genres and styles. It can also be a mood or feeling, such as panic or hopelessness. Or a specific scale, for example, we use the phrygian scale a lot. But I guess the most prominent influences in terms of bands are GY!BE, Swans, Pink Floyd, Cult of Luna, Mogwai, and Sigur Rós.
Anne: Did you always want to make post-music?
Aron: We all studied to become freelance musicians, and the natural line of work here in Sweden for such a professional is to play with pop artists. Playing with artists doesn't always allow for 100 per cent artistic freedom, and the genre can be a bit too generic sometimes and not as unique. We had an urge to play music as far away from the mainstream charts as possible, so we went into a rehearsal room together, cut the lights and started jamming for hours in complete darkness. Eliminating the sense of vision forces us to enhance our hearing and listen to each other. This is still the way we play today to draw out the maximum amount of feelings.
Anne: Are there any side projects you are involved in or previous bands you want to mention?
Aron: I play in a newly started and very angry hardcore project. We don't have a name yet, though. Leon plays with various artists, some of whom come from Swedish Idol, and has his Lo-Fi duo, nap.head.
Anne: You describe your music as dark and atmospheric, which puts it into words pretty well. All these light and heavy moments, sudden changes and emotional paraphrases – Is this how life is?
Aron: I would say that it is one aspect of how life is. Every person comes with a backstory and carries some "load" which we don't see at first. Furthermore, you never know what comes next, as life is unfair and unpredictable.
Anne: Is "Atlas" the first record you created?
Aron: We have all recorded shorter albums or EPs in earlier projects, but I believe this is our first album that's longer than one hour.
Anne: Did you enjoy the process of writing and recording "Atlas"?
"We enjoyed working with Jonas Lindström"
Aron: Oh yeah, we loved it. The album is recorded at Durango Recording in Stockholm. Jonas Lindström was the recording and mixing engineer. It is a fantastic studio, and Jonas made the whole experience a memory of a lifetime. Kai Blankenberg did the Mastering at Skyline Tonfabrik in Düsseldorf. He also did an excellent job!
Anne: What's up next for Solár after your album is out?
Aron: We will play our release gig for the album on September 10th. Then we are opening up for 1000Mods here in Sweden. Next summer we have some festival gigs in Germany which will be great. With the pandemic stretching over two years, we are very eager to play live, especially outside of Sweden, so for anyone interested, get in touch, and we'll come and play!
Anne: Thanks very much for answering my questions. It was a pleasure! All the best for your plans and the release, of course!
Aron: The pleasure was all mine, thank you!
Solar – "Nomad"