On February 24th, 1984 the world welcomed David Solano into its grasps. Years later the electronic music world welcomed him with open arms, resulting in two Life In Color anthems as well as a score as the event’s resident DJ. He has worked with the likes of R3hab and Adventure Club, while closely tying himself to one of the most popular labels in Spinnin’ Records, who sponsor some of the most notable names in house music right now like Afrojack, Martin Garrix and Danny Ávila. From his days of playing guitar and listening to metal until now, it has been quite the journey for this Colombian producer.
Now stationed in Miami, David is pushing himself to be the best musician that he can be. That includes hunting down production techniques and tips, being unique, opening oneself up to collaborations, and of course, picking back up the guitar. We got to talk to David about some of these things along with his origins, his ties with Life In Color and he even gives all you producers out there his best production tip. Check out exclusive pictures from the creation of the LIC anthem “Unleashed” while you lend your ears to the actual song. Without a further moment, enjoy getting to know one of the most down-to-earth producers out there in David Solano.
Your EDM Interview:
1. How did you get into music initially? What about electronic music?
DS: Initially with music I really liked the guitar, so I started playing it at a young age and I had a band. Then when I moved to the US I started to hear about DJ guys like George Acosta and Tiesto when that sound started to get really big. As soon as I heard it, I was immediately intrigued on how to make it. So that was my welcome to EDM.
2. Does being from Colombia influence your music at all?
DS: Yea definitely. In Colombia you have that Latin flavor, so some instruments are very known to have that, like toms or other percussion. I definitely incorporate sounds like those in my tracks, whether it’s like toms that are distorted or alone, but I always like to have Latin percussion in the songs.
3. What kind of music did you listen to growing up?
DS: When I was growing up, man, I was really into, like, the heavy stuff. I was big into metal, like the heaviest metal possible. To be honest though, that type of music is really difficult to play; it’s very melodic and very intelligent, so making one of those songs you have a lot of instruments doing harmonies. When I went to EDM, it was a lot simpler for sure. Coming from metal, it influenced my music to be very melodic, though, like my breaks have a lot of melodies with the progressive stuff. That all comes from the heavy metal stuff I used to listen to.
4. Can you tell us how you got connected with Life In Color initially?
DS: When I went to college I had this sort of fate. I met the head guy just going to school and they were doing the parties while I was doing the DJ thing. In Tallahassee the sound was getting big over there. The crew just kinda said, “come with us, we’re going to do the first Miami one.” So we all went to Miami and we’ve just kinda been like a big family since. We’re all amazing friends; it’s a really good relationship that we have.
5. How is this anthem’s representation of LIC different from the last one with R3hab?
DS: Well I think this year we wanted to do something more vibey, more feel-good with a vocal that people can sing along to. We wanted to inspire that euphoric kind of feeling, cause that’s what you get at a Life In Color party. It had to be strong, it had to be big, it had to be emotional; that’s what I went for. Zak Waters with the vocal hit it right on the spot. The title “Unleashed” really goes with the track and it all worked out really well. It’s a really good vibe track that still lends itself to the party environment.
6. What was it like to sit down and work on a track with Adventure Club?
DS: It was cool man. I was with Zak Waters first. Zak is just incredible; he’s such a talent. I gave him the song and normally, when you work with a vocalist you go through like, four, five even six times back and forth to get to a good starting point. Dude, with Zak he just sends me the demo like three days later with his first take being almost it. It was amazing. I sent him an email with like two or three notes and he knocked it out, so with Zak it was incredible. Then, with Adventure Club it was great too, those guys are really dope. We sat down in the studio and I showed them the idea. They loved it. We got in and they did their work. They were very open to the idea and easy to work with. We agreed on changes that needed to be made, so it was just, like, really good chemistry from the get go.
7. Where has been the most memorable LIC event?
DS: That’s tough man there are so many. I always have to go with Life In Color Miami. That was just a really special one at the hometown for us. It was so big this year when they did the festival. Back in December we all just sat back and were like “wow,” we’ve gotten to this point. So yea, December’s Life In Color Miami has to be my most memorable one.
8. Why do you think people like paint parties so much?
DS: Well I’ll say the paint is one of the reasons and somehow they love it. I don’t really understand, but I think it’s cool and everything. I never really liked just getting covered in paint, but people love it! I don’t understand what it is. So 100% they love the paint, but they also come for the production. The production of the shows are completely top of the line. They’re always trying to think of the next new thing. They aren’t trying to copy anybody; that’s the thing, they are always trying to do their own thing. That’s what I think separates Life In Color from all these other events who are competing and sometimes even copying Life In Color. Life In Color always tries to focus on their own vision.
It’s a full on production. There’s a story. It’s not just sound, speakers and lights. The performers are actually on stage living and acting with the experience. So that’s another thing that I’ve seen that’s really cool that other events aren’t necessarily doing.
9. How has working with Spinnin Records been?
DS: Good, man. Those guys definitely know how to give you the right direction. They’ve always been really good when it comes to feedback. They’ve seen the biggest guys in the industry come and go, with some people still being with them. They know what you need to work on and how to get better, so that, I think, is the best thing about working with them. They give it to you straight. If you do something great, they’ll tell you, but they’ll also say what you need to work on. They really strive to be a legit music label, so that’s what I like about them. They have a high standard, but that’s just how it is.
10. Anything upcoming we have to look forward to?
DS: Absolutely. I’m actually doing a really cool record I am working on right now, but I can’t really give away what it’s about. It’s gonna be coming out in the Summer and it’s gonna be an awesome record. I just have to wait until everything is approved; it was kinda like a last minute thing. That’s one record I am really excited about and I am also finishing a track right now with Lucky Date. It’s a vocal song that we have been working on for the past few months. We’ve shown previews to some labels and everyone loves it. I’m also trying to finish my second collab with R3hab, then I have some instrumentals I am trying to finish up. Some stuff may not be in its final stage, but they’re all solid.
11. Favorite software & plug-in?
DS: For software, I have to go with FL. It’s insane, I love it. You can work very quick and get things to sound good fast; that’s what I like so much about it. As far as plug-ins, I’d have to say Alloy. Alloy is a mixing plug-in and it allows you to clean up the sound very well without harming it. You can go into the sound and cut out the bad high frequencies and low frequencies, but you still have the natural, raw sound still. Sometimes that can cause things to sound harsh and you lose a lot of the sound when you do that. Alloy is very gentle, it’s very nice. It also has a compressor, a limiter and a de-esser in it which is amazing. All these things are in just one little plug-in, so basically the first thing I put on every sound is Alloy. It’s from Izotope, so you know the product is quality.
12. Any vocalist you’d want to collab with?
DS: I really like two guys. As sad as it sounds, I just came across him and I don’t know his name, but the vocalist for Slightly Stoopid. He has that reggae vibe to his voice and he sounds really original. I came across a couple of their tracks and I thought if I get to make a song with this guy it would be incredible. So that was kind of a random one that I just came across. I think Adele has one of those amazing, powerful voices. I think if you make the right EDM track with her it would go right immediately to the top. It’d be difficult to make, but it’d be fun and be a smash.
13. Craziest thing you’ve seen at a performance?
DS: I mean, I see a lot of stuff, man. Umm, I think I’ll have to say something that was recent and pretty cool. They had this guy up on the crowd in a wheelchair and they threw a chick on top of him. They were just like… almost going at it, ya know. I thought that was pretty freakin’ hilarious. They were making out and even more than that, so I thought it was freakin’ crazy. I was just thinking “what the hell is going on right now?”
14. Favorite genre of electronic music?
DS: Genres are such a grey area nowadays. I would before, maybe, progressive. But now, it’s like progressive can be in electro tracks or just straight house. I’d definitely say progressive is my line, but I couldn’t pick one genre to stick to. I like to make electro drops, I like to make minimal drops. I don’t want to just make straight progressive.
15. Best production tip?
DS: Watch Youtube videos! As sad as that sounds, but actually about production, I’d say, understand space. You have to understand every sound is taking out space in your track with each frequency, so you can’t put fifty things in one spot. You have to understand how to sidechain, how to compress things against each other and a lot of times, less is more. Instead of trying to put ten things going at once, if you just have three with the right reverb, that will sound huge. I think that’s a golden rule especially in a drop. So yea, understand space and understand you don’t need twenty things in a drop to sound huge. Three things done correctly, or four, is more than good enough. And watch videos, for sure! I went to production school, and I learned some things I maybe wouldn’t have learned on Youtube, but the majority of the things that I keep using, I learned them from Youtube. There’s so much available today, even outside of music production.