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Name: Adam Bernard
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About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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Artist Of The Week - Solrac
Monday, January 31, 2011

As longtime readers of this site know, I love when artists recommend other artists to me. Usually it’s an emcee or producer telling me about another emcee or producer they’re working with. When it comes to Solrac, however, he was originally brought to my attention by singer/songwriter Jim Wolf. Wondering what a man focused on his guitar could have in mind when it comes to hip-hop? Well, that’s where the beauty of the universality of music comes in. Good musicians usually know good music, and both Wolf and Solrac qualify as such. Currently, Solrac is preparing for the February 14th release of Himself’s album, Feel Like a Star, which he produced entirely, and this week I caught up with him to find out about his career as a producer and emcee, why he made the move from Connecticut to California, and what advice he has for up and coming producers.

Adam Bernard: Hit me with a little bit of your history. How did you get your start in music?
Solrac: It depends on how you define start. The true start of it goes back to early childhood days. I’m an 80s baby, grew up an only child with no father around, dark skinned in a white family and white community. Needless to say I felt like a little bit of an outsider, but I was always drawn to music. It always seemed to be a refuge. Some of my earliest influences were Wu-Tang, Def Squad, 2 Live Crew. In the mid to late 90s I starting writing (rhymes) at about 16. That’s what pretty much what got me through the boredom of high school. Fast forward to 2000. I spent a summer in Long Beach, NY, working as a cabana boy at a beach club. I really didn't know anybody there. I was already a communications major at Quinnipiac University. I was really involved in radio and radio production and by this time hip-hop music was a real fabric of my life. I was doing underground radio shows, rapping at parties, and started to record myself a little using the school’s equipment. That summer I went out and bought myself cheap - $25 at that time - Acid recording/music production software. I spent that whole summer, and every one since, honing my craft.
 
Adam Bernard: You were a CT resident for quite a while. What inspired you to move to California and when did you finally make that decision?
Solrac: I always was drawn to California. I wanted to go to college out there, but never did anything in high school that would have justified it to my mom to let me go. Good decision considering what I was into those days. After I graduated (college) a few of my friends were moving out there. I wasn't so pleased with my life at the time and felt California would be the change I needed. So I quit my job, packed my car and made my drive across the country. I had no job and no place to live, hoping my music would take me where I wanted to go.

Adam Bernard: Can you draw any comparisons to the hip-hop scene you left and the one you’re in now?
Solrac: In my opinion the West seems to be more open to different styles than the East. Don't get me wrong, I love both coasts for what they offer, but I feel like my style of music, and the image of who I am, is more accepted out here. One negative is that on the left there is less collaboration. Heads are mostly out for their own and I think that is the reason a lot a dope talent is missed out here. There's a crab in the bucket syndrome.
 
Adam Bernard: Speaking of collaborations, I know you did some work on Himself’s upcoming album, Feel Like a Star, which is due out February 14th. What can you tell me about your contributions to it?
Solrac: I did all the work. Nah {laughs}. Production-wise, though, yup, all the work. I also engineered and mixed the project. This project is a dream come true for me and I'm hoping for all hip-hop fans out there. We were able to get Aceyalone and Scarub on the joint. Those two right there are legendary, no pun intended, and were a real honor to work with.
 
Adam Bernard: What else have you been working on, and where might people have already heard you?
Solrac: In my early days I worked with the Katch from Bridgeport, CT, and laced them with some heat on a few of their mixtapes and albums, most notably the “CT Anthem” we were able to get on Hot 93.7 in Hartford. I also produced half the Project Blowed related Tabernacle MCz Vol. 1- Aquarian Gospel, which was released in 2010. As far as current projects, I am producing and rappin on three that are complete and waiting to be released; one with the homey Dame Doo, on a project called Minute Music that we've been doing shows for out here in LA, another with Cipharadio's Nick cLAssic called The Heatseekers, and my debut solo release, Born In Captivity. All three are looking like they will be released this year.

Adam Bernard: Do you feel you have a distinct production style? Are there specific pieces of equipment you use every time, and in the same way?
Solrac: I'm not sure if I would call it a style, but it is a distinct sound for sure. I try not to get caught up in boundaries. I let it come naturally. Very seldom do I have an idea of what I want to produce before producing it. The clearer my mind the better. As far as equipment; old records and Sony Acid are what I use every time. Most people are very surprised when they find out that’s what I use to produce. My philosophy is that all equipment is just used to manipulate sound, some might use an ASR, some an MPC some Reason, but it doesn't make a difference, all that matters are the results.

Adam Bernard: What’s the best advice you could possibly give to an aspiring beatsmith?
Solrac: Put in the work and never be satisfied. If the beats are tight the collabs will come, and when you’re starting off and you got the sound you like, get some cash together and buy some verses. Nothing will help you get noticed more than working with cats that people are already checking for.

Adam Bernard: Finally, what’s the strangest thing, music related or otherwise, that you’ve seen since you moved to California?
Solrac: Besides sushi, the food sucks out here. I don't really like Mexican food, so that doesn't help. Can't get any good Italian. Can you believe no delis have a breaded chicken cutlet sandwich?!? And whatever you do, don't eat a bagel out here. Just don't do it. As far as music, what is strange is how many bad acts there are doing big things. I don’t wanna come across salty, but if it’s me, I am going to make sure that my music is ready before I put it out there.

Related Links

MySpace: myspace.com/smokie
Facebook: facebook.com/carlos.lanese
YouTube: youtube.com/user/solrac654321
Minute Music: reverbnation.com/minutemusic
Himself Bandcamp: iamhimself.bandcamp.com/
Himself Reverbnation: reverbnation.com/whoishimself

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