Dollars to Pounds: Solar Bears

July 16, 2010

Solar Bears are so awesome that I'm going to cheat this week and drag Dollars to Pounds across the UK's only land border into Ireland. For one week only this is Dollars To Euros. John and Rian are from Dublin and Wicklow. They've made a beautiful, expansive record for Planet Mu that plays like a soundtrack to adventure and soul searching in strange worlds. I spoke to them about movies mainly but also ice hockey.

Download: Solar Bears, "Neon Colony"

The blog XXJFG described your album as "Subway soundtracking Fantastic Planet" which is a pretty great description. Is it fair to say cinema and soundtracks are a big influence on your music?
Cinema is central to what we do. It is a huge influence on both of us on a personal level. We love Ennio Morricone, Alain Goraguer, Vangelis, Clint Mansell, John Barry and George Delerue. The soundtrack to Fantastic Planet is absolutely superlative. That would be my all time favourite. Requiem For A Dream being a close second.

It sounds like there are lots of different instruments on your album.
Rian plays all the instruments. We used acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass guitar, rhodes keyboard, proteus synths, novation synths, samples and live drums as well as software. The decision to use a sound is always spontaneous as is the songwriting and recording.

You make great use of the vocoder, do you plan to work more with vocals, robotic or otherwise?
Definitely, we only had the vocoder to work late on in the sessions otherwise we would have used more robot vocals. For the next record there are vocalists we have pinpointed.

Where does the album title She Was Coloured In come from?
It is a metaphor for a multi-faceted person. Her name is Abbey Johnson. That is all I can say.

Is Dublin a good city to make music in?
The music scene in Ireland is getting stronger all the time. Rian is from Wicklow which boasts numerous good acts. Glad to say electronics are coming through more and more.

I heard that you named yourselves after Tarkovsky's film, Solaris. Were you aware of the hockey team, the Orlando Solar Bears?
The hockey team is news to us. We adore Solaris for countless reasons. It is an incredible psycho drama and meditation on life. Lonely films tend to resonate more with me. Bears is a reference to Native American culture which again is something that fascinates us. I have a great deal of respect for any way of life that is pure.

Where is the dialogue sample that opens the album from? It's driving me nuts.
It is from The Passenger by Antonioni. Check it out, you will not be let down.

Solar Bears' album She Was Coloured In is out soon on Planet Mu.

From The Collection:

Dollars To Pounds
Dollars to Pounds: Solar Bears