Montreal electronic duo Solar Year first caught our eye with this cool video of the release party for their debut album, Waverly, where they piped the music underwater in a big pool and DJed beside it. Their FADER mix comes on the heels of a new announcement: their “Night & Day” single comes out December 3rd, the debut release of No Fear of Pop’s new 7-inch label Stratosfear Recordings. Download the mix, then read an interview with Ben Borden and David Ertel about making music in Montreal, pool parties and Hell’s Angels. Tracklist at the bottom (worth a look).
Download: Solar Year’s FADER Mix
What’s your favorite thing about Montreal? BORDEN: There’s this empty field by de Gaspé between these Soviet looking factory buildings with rabbits and foxes which is kinda tucked away from the rest of the Mile End. It’s as much a great space for communal gatherings as it is for solitude. People here are all kinda weird (in a good way), like you’ll see grandmas with blue hair banging pots and pans in the streets to protest the government with their grandchildren. It’s kind of one of the only places in North America where the youth are so empowered, and older people actually seem to get it. ERTEL: Montreal is North America’s little utopia. I thank this city for giving us the time and space and confidence to pursue our artistic dreams. All our friends basically live in a five block area and there is this really strong sense of community where everyone is working together and supporting each other. It’s sort of an endless artist residency. ou can seriously work under 15 hours a week and live really comfortably while working on music. We’ve been able to test out our material in super low pressure environments and really workshop our music.
Where is your ideal place to make music? ERTEL: For me, I think any empty room with no distractions is ideal. When we’re making music, we often don’t need much gear or a lot of space. Mostly I just need a place where I can lock myself in for hours until I’m finished. BORDEN: We’ve had a bunch of jam spaces in a short period of time for some reason, so we’ve been a bit nomadic. My favorite one was this space we had in a sealed in garage. It had all these weird instruments, like bunch of pump organs from the 1800s. We didn’t really end up using most of those instruments in the final product, but they were more ambiance builders.
How did you come up with the idea for the Waverly underwater sound installation? ERTEL: There’s an elemental quality to our music. Our sound samples, our harmonies, our visual art—they are ultimately inspired by the basic components of the universe. So water made sense to us for this show. It’s sanctifying, powerful, womb-like. We wanted to present our music in a meditative environment. We collaborated with our friend Aleks Schürmer to develop these ideas for the show. The underwater speakers provided a really unique sonic environment: the sound is totally directionless and dry—everywhere at the same time with no echo. You are totally physically immersed in the sound. There is a sense of communal space while you’re sharing the pool environment with your friends, while at the same time you experience moments of true introspection as you float by yourself.
You were in New York for CMJ—Best (or worst) experience playing shows in the US? ERTEL: We’ve done a lot of special shows, but one really special one pops out in my memory. Some friends had set up a generator out by these train tracks. The weather was totally fine, but then all of a sudden near the end of the last song, huge dark clouds started to come out of no nowhere, and the winds picked up in a frenzy. There was this incredible electricity in the air of an impending storm which was perfectly matching the energy of the song. The very second we finished playing, the rain came pouring down. It was a Captain Planet moment, like we were directing the storm.
What’s the Solar Year spirit animal? BORDEN: This summer we were trying to have this whole spirit quest experience, without much luck, then we met this wise Hell’s Angels in the desert who had a profound way of being. That Hell’s Angel dude is probably the closest thing to a power animal we have.
Nico Muhly – Mothertongue Part 2
Usher feat. Nicki Minaj – Lil Freak (instrumental)
Dancehouse Children – Sea Breeze
Solar Year – Global Girlfriend
Toni Braxton – You’re Making Me High (DiFrankz’ Chill Out Experience Mix)
Bernart De Ventadorn – Can vei la lauzeta mover (performed by Catherine Bott)
Sainkho Namtchylak – Boomerang
Albert Swarm – Things Fold Into Themselves
Beloved – Sweet Harmony
Psychic TV – Starlit Mire
Mekele – The Will and the Why (excerpt)
Primal Scream – Higher than the Sun
Majical Cloudz – Turns Turns Turns