Solkatt are Leo Pearson and Peter Lawlor, a hardware synth loving duo with a penchant for danceable grooves and subtle string arrangements.
Lawlor has previously released house-inflected dance music under his Replete alias on labels such as Ele Records, Paper Recordings, and Always Human Tapes. Pearson meanwhile has released music on Howie B’s Pussyfoot Records as part of Inevidence in the 90’s, and over the years has worked on music for the likes of David Holmes and Shit Robot, and more recently has been part of Future Bones.
They first collaborated as Soklatt on project that originated when they were asked to create 90 minutes of original music for a 46 speaker geodesic dome, which was premiered at Electric Picnic 2017 as part of the RedBull Soundome Stage.
Gold Seal EP is their first release of 2022, a release that brings together their myriad influences across three idiosyncratic original tracks and two fantastic remixes from Pearson and Lawlor themselves.
WWD: Solkatt came about in quite unusual circumstances back in 2017… can you tell us a bit about the work you were commissioned to do?
Sure. Myself and Leo were asked to compose 90 minutes of original music for the RedBull Soundome. This was an 8-channel 48 speaker geodesic dome that premiered at Electric Picnic that year. Dj’s played in the Soundome throughout the weekend and myself and Leo’s music was on loop in between the acts. It was a really fun project and it was after this that we decided to use this music and this started our Solkatt project.
WWD: How do you think that first experience shaped the path you chose to follow as Solkatt?
I think that it was quite useful as we made a sort of brief for ourselves when composing the music for the Soundome, so when it came making more functional music we already had an idea of each other’s preferences musically. We knew what direction to take the project pretty quickly as a result.
WWD: We know you have a bit of an obsession with hardware in the studio – any current favourite bits of kit?
I really love my Hydrasynth. A super versatile synthesizer with a really complex arpeggiator. I love using it for pads and strings. I also recently got the Polyend tracker, which was something I was unsure if it would be for me but it’s really intuitive and great for generating ideas. I know Leo is having fun with the 808 and 909 clones at the moment and uses his Dominion synth quite a bit. Too much to mention really.
WWD: Do you make sure you get to know all the different bits of hardware intimately before you start using them in your music? Or is it more a case of live experimentation?
It’s definitely a case of turning the thing on and seeing what sounds I can get from it. I would be a lot more likely to look up a video tutorial online than pick up the manual to be honest. I’m sure there’s loads we’re missing out on by doing this, but we end up where we want to be in the end. But, the manual always has the answer.
WWD: Your next EP is Gold Seal, which includes remixes from both of you. How do you go about remixing your own work? Is it different from how you might approach remixing another artist?
I think the approach is quite similar to be honest. Whenever remixing Solkatt stuff or other artists, I think both of us try and grab what we really like and what works from the original track and drag it more in the direction of our own personal tastes. At the same time, it depends on the track and what we need. For example, for out Inhaler release we made a decision that for the remixes I would do a more up tempo track and Leo would turn it into a more ambient piece. So, it’s almost a case by case basis.
WWD: You were both making music separately before Solkatt. What do you feel you both bring to the table that compliments each other?
I think we both definitely bring different skills to the table. Leo brings years of experience when it comes to arrangement and sound design, as well as attention to detail overall. I come more from the Dj side of things, so I might know what would work well on a dancefloor and try to edge the music in that direction.
WWD: It’s hard to exactly put what you make into a genre. Do you think this puts you at a disadvantage in terms of people knowing how to take your music? Or do you think that’s ultimately a good thing?
It comes with advantages and disadvantages. I think if we just did one particular thing people might be drawn to the music in a more immediate way, as they could just think, “Right, the lads make techno. I like techno.” It also can be good though as the music seems to surprise people and people tend to get curious about what the rest of our stuff sounds like.
WWD: There are clear rave influences throughout the EP. Do you have fond memories of the 80s/90s era?
Well, Leo lived through the whole 90s era of rave, so I’m going off his stories about raving in the mansion house in Dublin. Whereas I missed all of it on account of being born in ’89. What I like about that era is the simplicity in the tracks. Sometimes we can overcomplicate electronic music, and the proliferation of technology is great in many senses. But, sometimes you don’t need to use all the tools at your disposal.
WWD: Do you think dance music has gotten too serious since then?
I’m not sure if dance music has gotten more serious since then. I’m sure there were DJs/producers that took themselves very seriously back then also. I just think with the internet and ‘serious techno DJ memes it’s easy to think that everyone is like that. But, there’s definitely a lot of people just having a laugh these days also.
WWD: What else do you have planned this year that we should keep an eye out for?
After rolling out the Gold Seal EP, we’re going to concentrate on putting out more music on our label, Made Magnetic, and we’re currently tentatively putting a new live set together. The main thing we’re looking forward to is playing live again, and seeing how all this new music will sound live.