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INTERVIEW: Solilians

Hi Benjamin, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

We are delicious! Thanks! How are you?

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Hine Ma Tov”?

The producer on this single is our friend Merc Yes (of MRC Riddims and formerly All Natural Lemon and Lime Flavors). We gave him carte blanche to deconstruct our 13 minute version of Hine Ma Tov  (~the Space Drone Dreams Mix) and turn it into a single. We have two female lead singers, Sharon and Jenn, who are quite different (Sharon sings in Hebrew, organic, and from the Earth, and Jenn sings in English, incredibly spacey and exotic), and who compliment each other in call and response. Gabe invents home made synths that make all sorts of cosmic other-worldly sounds. The great Avant Klezmer Jazz Trombonist Dan Blacksberg solos gorgeously over the entire thirteen minute version, and Merc turned his trombone parts into ‘Guitar Riffs’ scattered throughout the single. Merc put down the block rockin’ beats cause that’s how he rolls. We’re actually releasing the full length epic slow version as our next single.

Did any event in particular inspired you to write this song?

Well the long version was inspired by wanting to explore transcendent slow spaces, while simultaneously tapping into the Hebrew psalm tradition. The single version had Merc take his MRC Riddims approach to producing and sort of super-impose it on our psychedelic trip.

Any plans to release a video for the single?

No. We’re releasing a video for our next single off the album, ‘Hatikvah: The Next Generation,’ which our bandmate Gabriel Walsh directed. It’s pretty spacey man.

The single comes off your new album Shin – what’s the story behind the title?

Our album is dedicated to Leonard Nimoy, and it’s a pretty famous story at this point that Spock’s Vulcan Hand Salute (“Live Long and Prosper”) came from Nimoy at Temple when he was a little boy, and the moment came when he was supposed to cover his eyes, ~and of course Leonard had to look and saw the Rabbi’s hand gesture with the Kohen sign performing the priestly blessing over the Temple. The hand symbol/signal is supposed to represent the Hebrew letter Shin. So when Nimoy needed a greeting in the episode “Amok Time” he pulled this out of his childhood, and to this day that’s what every Star Trek person uses in greeting or goodbye. We wanted to nod to Leonard without Star Trek suing us, while also alluding to the salutes Hebrew roots.

How was the recording and writing process?

It’s a true collaboration of the four of us. I’ll normally start with, in the case of the beats tracks, beats through a number of effects pedals and two keyboards, or in the more cosmic floating in space tracks, just keys. I’ll send it to Gabe down in Maryland who sends it back like a million times better and weirder. Then Shar and Jenn will  put down vocals over it. Two tracks on the album came about a few years ago as the soundtrack to a comic book the great illustrator Ian Densord and I worked on. Around the Summer through the Fall of last year we dug our heels in and in a flurry of inspiration finished the other 3/4’s of the album. At the beginning of this year we decided the album needed a few more flourishes such as trombone, djembe, etc., and then Merc came in to remix the single as well. (Gabe produced the rest of the album.) It’s very much a case of the whole being greater than the sum of it’s parts, very much four distinct personalities each tapping into cosmic forces creating something none of us would have alone.

What role does NYC and Maryland plays in your music?

Jenn and Sharon and I lived in NYC forever. Jenn still lives there. Gabe was with us in Brooklyn a while ago but then moved down to Maryland. Sharon and I moved out to the Island recently, but only 40 minutes outside the city, by the beach. For me getting away from the city and the rat race allowed us to explore space in a way that wasn’t possible when we were in the noise 24-7. It’s a love hate affair with the city, but getting out of it definitely put us more in touch with spaciousness, and the outer space sounds we’re really in love with. It allowed slowness to creep in in a way that wasn’t possible in the city. I can’t speak to Gabe and Maryland but he’s the most out in the country, but also has the killer studio because of it.

What aspect of the space did you get to explore on this record?

We began very consciously wanting to slow down time and explore length, influenced by Windy & Carl, Earth, and Star Trek . I very clearly remember Shugen Sensei at The Fire Lotus Temple in Downtown Brooklyn walking in slow motion, and wanting to explore that space in music.  Very consciously the original goal was to slow down time, ala Stars Of the Lid, but simultaneously, loving the dual vocal music of bands such as Stereolab, and wanting to combine these two things. Then as the album expanded somewhat other psychedelic components came to the fore and made the album a more expansive affair.

Any plans to hit the road?

We’re playing dates around the North East this Fall. New Haven, CT, Brooklyn, NY, Baltimore, MD, Philly, etc.  We’re hoping to hit some festivals overseas next year.

What else is happening next in Solilians’ world?

Our goal is to fulfill this psychedelic vision of the future, and play some amazing shows along the way with bands we love.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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