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5 Facts / 5 Tracks: Solu Music

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New York’s Solu Music are Howie Caspe and Dano Nathanson, who made an immediate impact with their first release back in 2001 with the global club anthem, ‘Fade’ with KimBlee. Solu’s distinct musical style is a rich blend of house, soul, R&B, and world, working with vocalists KimBlee and Kai Martin, who brought her smooth sound to the acclaimed album, ‘Affirmation’ in 2004.

Solu Music went on hiatus in 2008, but their hearts never strayed from their love of making people feel and move. Making a grand return in 2022 collaborating with new vocalist Gabby Law on ‘Feelin’ Love Again’ they’re back and winning new fans.

As their follow-up single, ‘The Other Side’, drops on their own Solu Music label this week, DT grabs 5 Facts and 5 tracks from this much-loved duo. 

5 Facts: 

We met in the dingy basement of Goldy’s Liquor Store, where Dano’s band, Lippsmackadee had a rehearsal space surrounded by shitty bottles of vodka and tequila. The ceiling was so low that Howie had to keep his head ducked down to avoid the beams. But from the first night we hit it, we were musical brothers. The band played everywhere, from Memory Motel to Windows On The World. Our gospel was, “If this don’t make yo booty move, yo booty must be dead”. This remains our gospel.

The original vocals to Fade were deleted due to Howie screwing with the track and never backing it up. The first session with Kim was fine, but had that second session not happened, Fade probably wouldn’t be the anthem it turned out to be.

Our songs/sessions start with a random name that sets the tone for the day. We take turns and try to crack each other up. Many will remain a dark secret, but some classics are Bok Choice, Round Mound, Monkeykiss, and Rectal Thermometer. “The Other Side” was The Stuffin’.

We have a golden rule about being brutally honest while writing songs and lyrics together –  “if it’s a turd, call it a turd.”

Gabby Law, man, the amazing Gabby Law! Howie found Gabby going down a k-hole in a vocalist Facebook group one night. Three hundred links later, GABBY! And once they connected, just magic! The album they completed, coming later this year, is Solu, but it isn’t a house record – it’s undefinable. Honestly, we thought we were probably done with house music. Gabby is the one who said we need to make a house record. And wow, was she right! It’s been amazing and ridiculous fun to get back at it and reconnect with the community, and have Gabby join the fam.

5 tracks:

Abstract Truth ft Monique Bingham – (We had) A Thing (Matty’s Deep Zone Mix)

A song that would spark a whole genre of deep and sexy. This had the right recipe that made us as musicians feel like there was a place in dance music for us; live Acid Jazz over a Matthias Heilbronn deep house beat, hip lyrics from a distinct vocal talent of Monique Bingham.

Beth Orton  – Central Reservation (Spiritual Life Remix)

This was the first time we’d heard anything like this. The Spiritual Life label at the time was striking a chord with us in its ethnic rhythms and musicality. Joe Claussell and Jerome Sydenham came through with this vision, taking an otherwise slow moody Beth Orton song and making it their own beautifully crafted remix, which made us believe that dance music could have endless possibilities.

Maxwell – Everwanting: To Want You To Want

A massive influence on our sound early on was owed to the neo-soul scene of the late 90s, and this Maxwell album was just an epic sultry, soulful journey from start to finish. The opening song listed here encapsulated so much of what we loved, deep groove, lyrics, and harmonies that melt into your skin. 

Solu Music with Gabby Law – The Other Side

Deep in the vaults, we had been sitting on this bass line and lyrical hook idea. It was something that was always on the back burner, like an itch just waiting to be scratched. Once we captured the lyric “hip shake double take freak,” the vibe was set, and Gabby was the missing piece to the years-long puzzle of what this song was meant to be. It’s incredible how writing shifts and grows and morphs when you’re collaborating with someone as insanely talented as Gabby. The beautiful thing about making music is evolution and catching inspiration no matter where it comes from. We are not one-dimensional, and there are so many ways to be expressive. It’s not just the other side of Solu Music, it’s just another side.

Prince – If I Was Your Girlfriend

This list wouldn’t be complete, and Solu wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the profound influence that Prince had on us as songwriters and producers. The whole reason we started Solu was to make music on our terms, to freely express the kinds of music we feel from the mind, body, heart, and soul. No one did it better than Prince, from every angle and direction. He played by his own rules. Who else could write a song like this and pull it off?  Funky, romantic, and perfectly filthy. 

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