Hi Sabo, how are you?
I’m really well thanks, enjoying the Springtime in LA, and getting very excited for Summer
We love your latest Sol Selectas release! How does it feel to mark the 50th release from your label? A great milestone, no?
Yea 50 releases is pretty crazy, and I’m super proud to have made it this far. The most amazing part is that every release gets me more excited than the next, and to see the label getting more well known around the world, just continues to fuel my passion even further.
Tell us a bit about the inspiration behind the release? What went into it to make it a special anniversary release?
I went to visit Nevada City last Fall, and played one of my favourite gigs of 2016 at a party called Heart Bass. The crowd was extremely diverse with people from Europe, South America, Africa, India, Canada, Australia, Scandinavia, and all were very open minded to the global sounds I was playing. The vibe of the party was hot and sweaty serious dance floor work out, it was just on another level. The day after the gig I invited a bunch of musicians i met the night before at the party, to come record with me. The Earth & Sun EP was created from those recordings sessions. To make the release extra special, I asked my friends Nicola Cruz, Blond:ish, and Birds of Mind to do remixes. All of them delivered amazing tracks interpretations. And of course the artwork on the release, like all releases on Sol Selectas, was done by my partner and lovely girlfriend Helia Jamali. She has a gift at visualizing sound and music, and creating an image that really tells a story.
It features a mother and her son on string and vocals. How did this come about? How did you come to work with something so organic?
Nikila and her son Elijah Sage were recommended to me by my friend Isis who lives in Nevada City, and knows so many amazing musicians in that community. The day after the show, I went back to the club during the day with the sound guy Johnny, and we set up a few mics and created a make shift studio with my laptop. All day we invited different musicians to drop by and record over some basic instrumentals I created before the trip. I would ask them to just “freestyle” jam over the tracks, and play what they felt. Then on the 2nd take I would direct a little and highlight some melodies I thought they should focus on, and we expanded on that. Nikila was a bit nervous as I guess she hadn’t recorded in a while, but when we talked before hand, she told me she knew had studied some Orishas chants and could recite them by heart. I have always wanted to make a song with Yoruban vocals so right away I knew we had something special for “Obatala”. Her son Elijah drove 4 hours from San Francisco to record with us, and showed up near the end of the session. We were all kind of exhausted at that point, but he sat down quietly, put on the headphones, and calmly played the ravanhatta so beautifully I was floored. We only did 2 takes for him as well. I named the track “Young Wisdom” after him, because he was just so poised and talented, a young man clearly wise beyond his years.
There are some fantastic artists featured on the reworks. What’s your relationship with Nicola Cruz, Blond:ish and Birds Of Mind? Did you feel they best suited the criteria for the 50th release?
I’ve been a fan of Nicola for almost 4 years, and have been excited to get him on the label for a long time, but I knew it had to be the right song. We finally met in person last year and connected as friends, so when I made this track I had feeling he would feel the vocals, and create something really epic. His remix is incredible, and embodies exactly the vibes i was searching for. Blond:ish have also been on my radar for some time, and I love how they play these big techno events but still mix in tribal sounds and percussion, never taking things too far into the dark side. I sent them the track Young Wisdom and they immediately wrote back loving the ravanhatta string parts. Their remix is amazing and captures the vibe of their Dj sets with high energy drums, but still a worldly tribal vibe. And the Birds of Mind story is kinda funny. I had heard their music online and reached out to them but never heard back so was a little disappointed. Then while Djing in Ibiza last summer, one of them came up and introduced himself saying he was a huge fan of the label and my sound. We hit it off right away, and during that set I played “Young Wisdom” and he freaked out and asked if he could remix it. It always best when an artist WANTS to do a remix, because I know they will put their heart and passion into it – and create something unique and special. I couldn’t be happier with the 3 remixes on here because they really represent the artists themselves, and since I’m a fan of all 3, I get to play these tunes in my sets now!
How did you come to start Sol Selectas? Where did it all begin for you?
Sol Selectas originally started as a party in Williamsburg Brooklyn, at a small club called Level X. Me and my friend Eamon Vasquez were the resident DJs, and we called ourselves the “Sol Selectas”, with “Sol” being a nod to our favorite party “Body and Soul”, and then the double meaning of “Sun” in Spanish. “Selectas” was a homage to dub reggae since we were also both huge fans of that sound. We used to say we only play “funky music to make you feel good”, and that’s kind of been my motto ever since. I wanna make people smile and feel good. The label came later in 2006, and started as a white label bootleg vinyl only label. I had some tracks I made that I knew were too sample heavy to release officially, so I started the label to put out my own tracks.
How would you describe your sound and the sound of the label? What are you trying to portray through the music? It has evolved over the years, but always had a deep tribal sound, influenced by my love for music from distant foreign lands. I believe its timeless, because we draw inspiration from ancient music and try to give it a modern electronic feel. The tribal percussion connects us with our past, and the sub bass propels us into the future. We’re really trying to break down all borders with the music, joining cultures on the dance floor, people from all walks of life gathering to unite in positive way and dance. Fela Kuti once said “music is the weapon of the future” and I truly believe that, so in a sense we are fighting the corrupt politics of today with the music on Sol Selectas.
You’ve played some amazing festivals and venues. What would you say your standout show was?
Every DJ gig I play there are always these moments – when everything seems to align, and the frequency of the music perfectly aligns with the energy and vibe of the crowd. Some gigs it happens with just a few songs, and others it feels like it happens for hours. All the shows are special in that way- but if I had to mention a few that really stand out i’d say: Shambhala Festival, Ondalinda Festival, Katerblau, Scorpios, Reunion in Beirut, Cabestan in Morocco, Burning Man of course, and probably my favorite so far this year was the daytime beach party we did for Sol Selectas in Mexico, at the Be Tulum Hotel.
If you could take your music anywhere that you haven’t been, where would that be?
Africa, India, Iran, Bali, Egypt, Japan, Croatia, Argentina, Ecuador, Brazil, the list goes on….
You have a very signature sound that some would describe as worldly. Where do you draw your inspiration from to make such music?
I think it comes from traveling, meeting people around the World, and connecting with them on the most basic things like good food, good music, laughter, and dancing. I’m constantly buying music everywhere I go, talking to taxi drivers about their favourite music, and absorbing these frequencies. I take field recordings all the time and then use these to inspire my productions.
What artists would you say have influenced you and your sound?
King Tubby, Mad Professor, Fela Kuti, Funkadelic, Herbie Hancock, Burning Spear, Sade, Louie Vega, Joe Claussell, my beautiful girlfriend, and all my friends DJing and making music today inspire me every day.
What does the future hold for yourself and Sol Selectas. Any further goals and ambitions to conquer?
Aww man, we’re just getting warmed up. On the music tip, we have some amazing releases coming out this year including our follow up compilation Summer Sol II, plus new signed artists Monolink, Amentia, & Be Svendsen. My “Vibe Quest Remixes album” is coming out in the Fall, and we are going to start pressing vinyls again, but this time with full color artwork sleeves. We’ will be doing more label showcase parties around the World, including NYC, Mykonos, Beirut, Tulum, ADE, and more…And we’re also going to start making limited edition apparel to match the vibe and lifestyle of Sol Selectas. Sky is the limit and we’re aiming for the SOL!
Earth & Sun is out now! Grab it here: