Ahead of their performance at Park Acoustics, we interview Sol Gems to find out how the band originated, the emergence of psych, Golden Yolk and the cosmos.
Tell us a bit about the origin of Sol Gems – how did the band come to be?
Swooped up in the cosmos with an impulse to play music, Stru and Pano started to work on ideas and explore sounds in the beginning of 2014. Later that year, Gabriel met up to realise these ideas and start to put together Sol Gems as it is today. Plenty sun gazing, reverb and G&T’s were thrown into the mix, as always.
Your sound has developed in a completely different direction considering your former connections to The Stella’s, Changeling and the Liminals. What ignited this change?
International Feel, Interplanetary Deals, Interstellar Appeal & Universal Ideal.
You’ve recorded with Thor Rixon as a producer quite frequently – tell us a bit about that relationship and the work you’ve done with him? Has working with him changed your perception and sound at all considering he works across various genres?
Working with Thor is great. Not only are we good friends, but we were also interested in his previous work, spanning many soundscapes. We were interested in getting away from a didactic rock ‘n roll recording environment. Working with him was an awesome collaboration that broadened our horizons and thinking around the music we make and how it can be produced. It’s nice not to get stuck on a specific ideal and working with him was definitely fresh and organic.
From what I’ve heard, you’ve done all of your recordings in Cape Town, and have quite a large connection with Psych Night (also based in CT) – why is this? Do you believe you are more in tune with the audiences there? Or is it just that you haven’t found an equivalent here in Johannesburg?
Johannesburg and Cape Town are very different culturally. There is definitely more of a community that supports independent music in Cape Town – Psych Night being an important proponent of this. In the same way that animals travel to a place where there is water, we travelled to a place that just drew us in. We have many good friends in Cape Town, and being constantly surrounded by a groovy vibe wherever you go, it just made sense to add to the fun and do some recordings.
What would you say are the key difference between audiences in Johannesburg and Cape Town and how those audiences receive or interact with live music?
Double Brandy & Coke. Double Brandy & Cocaine
Stru and Pano are also organisers of Golden Yolk – can you tell me about the relationship between your band and GY? What is the goal of GY and is it any way linked to your goals as Sol Gems?
Golden Yolk is a collaboration initiated by Pano as a platform to share music and interests which fall under the general umbrella of rock ‘n roll music, be it garage, psych, soul, highlife, funk. Pretty much anything we are into and felt like dancing to. Going out for a drink with friends and there’s the same old commercial-mind-numbing music being played everywhere starts to get to you.
So instead of complaining the whole time, we thought to try put on something that we would like to attend or hang out at. There’s a definite focus on bringing friends together, music appreciation, vinyl records and photos.
Pano and Stru had just started Sol Gems and were interested in creating various platforms and projects with friends. Dan Futerman came on board and another positive collaboration was born. Golden Yolk has organised many live shows and parties in Johannesburg at spots such as Kitcheners, Stanley Beer Yard and Town Hall (RIP).
Your track “Mystery of Mind” has received over 10 000 listens on Soundcloud – was that anticipated? Tell me about the track and how it came into being?
We were very lucky that we were invited to record “Mystery of Mind” in a project orchestrated by Psych Night, Red Bull Studio & Future Now Records in Cape Town. The project was an initiative to record five of the many bands that Psych Night are involved with and then to release an online EP of the compilation – Into the Sound. The EP has tracks from The Plastics, CAVES, Mind Pool and The Psalms. Nic Berti from “The Beard” selected our track to be featured on Indie Shuffle, and from there it just kind of started to blossom with many listens all over the globe and some kind words of feedback – we definitely didn’t anticipate anything on such a scale.
You’re playing your first Park Acoustics this month – are you excited?
Super excited! Park Acoustics is a huge event in South African music culture. We’ve always wanted to play a Park Acoustics show, since before Sol Gems was formed, so it’s a great honour and feeling to be a part of something that’s so important for South African music & live entertainment. A crazy line-up and good vibes all day – see you there!
Where to from there? What are your plans for the next year or at least the next few months?
Currently we are working on material to record and toying around with different ideas and avenues. We are also getting more steam in terms of live shows. It’s like a natural progression and exploration of what’s out there and what’s possible, and that’s really exciting!
Check out “Mystery Of Mind” above and purchase your Park Acoustics below.
Featured image by Angus Mackinnon