Daniel Solar - Inside The Rubicon Album
Hailing from Hannover in Germany, Daniel Solar is one half of the sublime ‘Dikso’ label alongside Andi de Luxe, the amazing edits imprint responsible for many disco-infused dance floor destroyers. Daniel has been dropping solo heat for over a decade now on labels such as Diynamic, Sleazy Beats, Nomorehits and Peppermint Jam who have been gobbling up his releases with vigour.
Daniel now unleashes his superb ‘Rubicon’ album which features 11-tracks of cross genre goodness. Encompassing all the very best elements of Nu Disco, Deep House and four to the floor flavors, there really is something for everyone on this album. It’s a real house connoisseurs dream release, so we decided to sit down with Daniel for an in-depth discussion, as we went Inside The Rubicon Album with Daniel Solar.
- ‘Rubicon’ Album is available on Traxsource: HERE
I actually started working on an album a few times now, but somehow I always ended up signing most of the tracks to EPs and compilations. ‘Fascination’ is one of the tracks that has always been considered being a track that was dedicated for my album, so I had it lying around for some time now. At first it was a rather short cut and was intended as a interlude type of track. But over the time it grew on me and I decided to extended it to a full length arrangement. The track features a sample from one of my favourite Hip Hop instrumental albums. Every time I listened to the original track, I just had the idea of chopping and looping it to a more edity and loopy approach. The title is a reference to Anton Zap’s ‘Fascinated’. It doesn’t feature any samples from Anton’s track and they probably don’t have much in common in general, but when I started working on it, it somehow reminded me of it. So basically ‘Fascination’ became the working title and I decided to keep it in the end.
For some time ‘Drowning’ only existed as a couple of scenes in the Ableton Session View. I do that a lot when writing tracks. I start in the session view and compose different parts of the track without having an actual arrangement in mind. In the case of ‘Drowning’ I had pretty much the whole track done, but never made the final arrangement. When I started working on the album I went through a lot of projects to see if there are still some unfinished gems (I do that regularly anyway). When I opened this particular project, I started skipping through the scenes and asked myself why I ever stopped working on it. I started playing around with the scenes and more or less recorded the whole arrangement live from the session view. I corrected only some small things, but left most of it as it is. That is why the final track arrangement still has some rough edges, but for me that’s kind of the charm of it.
I made this track together with Andi de Luxe. He is the guy I run the label with and we play as a DJ team quite a lot as well. That is why I really wanted to do one of the album tracks together with him. Most of the time when we produce music together, we do remixes. So this is actually only the second ‘original’ track we ever made after ‘Seventh’ which has been released on House Of Disco. Andi is very educated when it comes to old disco and Italo songs and he is very good in picking the right songs and certainly the right sample parts of a song. He sent me a rather rough cut of the track and I immediately had a lot of ideas how the final track could come together. So I asked him if I can have the parts and then finish it together. In the end it was a pretty easy task to do, because all the important parts and the idea were already there. From a DJ perspective, it’s probably my favourite track on the album. I’ve been playing it almost every time since we finished the track and it simply works.
A few years ago I played the warm up for DJ Naughty and he played that particular disco original later that night. I was standing on the dancefloor and I thought “wow, that bass line is totally wicked”. So I asked him what it was and it was a pretty unknown 10-inch he was playing. It certainly took me some time to get my hands on it, as there was only that 10-inch release and no digital release. I finally found the record on eBay a few month later. Since then I started like ten (well, probably even 20) tracks with the bass line sample, but always ended up not being satisfied with the result, so I just gave up on it. This year, I stumbled across that record again and decided to give it one last try. I started mixing it with a lot of different records to see what kind of direction would probably make the most sense musically. After a few hours I had one record by Tommy Largo and one by Phil Weeks which both made the most sense to me, so I started working on it again and programmed some drums that where pretty much in the middle of these two tracks. When I started working on the arrangement and the final track, I somehow had this vintage disco/filter house association with the track, so I decided to emphasize this a little more.
The idea behind ‘Don’t Let Go’ was to make a track that is rather toolish, because I was missing this kind of tracks in my DJ sets. Most of the toolish tracks are much harder and/or more techy than the other stuff I play. So I started working on a couple of loop tools and this one is the one I like most. That’s why I decided to have it on the album, although its probably more like a DJ tool than being a proper album track. But one of the main ideas behind the album was to round up all of my different productions over the years and this is particularly a part of it.
The original version of ‘Moment To Shine’ was made roughly 8 years ago, when I was mainly making and releasing music together with Marc Poppcke as ‘Solar & Poppcke’. This is one of the solo works I did during this time and I have been playing it in my live sets for years. I always really liked it, but never released it because my main focus was the ‘Solar & Poppcke’ project at the time. As a part of making the album I went through some old music and projects and rediscovered this song. I still really like it, so I decided to make a new mixdown, replace some parts and to refresh it a little bit. I still wanted to keep the old vibe, so I did not actually remix it, but tried to maintain as much as possible from the original. This wasn’t that easy tho, because the project files did not exist anymore and I had to use the files from the live act setup.
I certainly felt a little narrowed by the common do’s and don’t in electronic club music lately. Also, I personally started listening to more electronica acts. I’m really into that pretty open approach on music. Like being pretty catchy on one side, while being rather awkward and complicated on the other side. Kind of inspired by that, I started working on some tracks that do not necessarily meet all the common criteria of club music. ‘The Flow’ is certainly one of the more pleasing results though. I think it’s probably the most polarizing track on the album. Most of the people who have listened to the album so far consider it either the best or the worst track on the album! The main element which I build the track on is the bass line of Akrobatiks ‘The Flow’. I did not sample it, but rather copied the shuffled groove. That’s where (obviously) the name comes from too. Most of the synth sounds are made with a Novation Supernova, which I got my hands on recently. This is a bit special for me, because usually I hardly use any hardware at all. I don’t really believe there is an audible difference, but I really enjoyed the usability perspective of working with hardware. Like just pressing record on the DAW and playing around with the synthesizer.
This track was originally intended as one track for a new ‘Solar & Poppcke’ release. Marc and I were thinking about doing a new release together, so I started working on some ideas and drafts. Unfortunately, Marc hasn’t really found the time to work on them, so I finished the track on my own in the end. The main harmonics come from a film score which I midified in Melodyne. It was actually a full track, so the result was pretty random and did not have much in common with the original track. I chopped up and edited the midi file and made both the strings and the melody out of it.
This track was one of the drafts I sent to Marc aswell. It’s a combination of rather organic and techy parts, mixed up with chords and melodies. For me, the most interesting part of the track is the interaction between the overall track, which is almost completely written in minor and the melodic major chords that come in at around 2:40. Originally this happened by accident when I skipped through some presets for the melody part and I had one particular sound that was internally tuned to major. It took me a bit to bring both together in the end without any obvious disharmonics, but I really love the result.
This track was actually two different projects in the beginning. I have a lot of projects that just consist of one particular idea. This can be a loop or even just a sound or something. Sometimes these projects never lead to a final track, but sometimes I have these ideas laying around and start working on them later. In this case I had the main chopped piano loop that comes in at 1:15. Then later I started working with the vocal samples and had the feeling that they might perfectly fit the piano in the other project. I pitched and altered both parts until they just melt together at some point. I make most of my tracks within a few days or a week. ‘Times Of Science’ is one of these tracks that I build up over a pretty long time. Some tracks just need some time and distance to finally come together.
‘Friction’ is quite conceptional track. It is the result of a one afternoon recording session, mostly with the Supernova and an old Roland S330. I just pressed record on the DAW and started playing. In the end I just quantized it a bit, added some effects and brought it together without editing it too much. The interesting part about it is that most of the sounds play patterns of different lengths, so the groove and the actual parts of the track modify all the time. Its probably the most uncommon track by me on the album, but I really liked the idea of having this one as the closing track.