005 || Luke Solomon

When it comes to house music Luke Solomon can easily be classed in the best of British category. To say he is an unsung hero is unfair as Luke’s contribution to house music in general is widely recognised and rightly so. Whether its breaking seminal tracks, his work under various pseudonyms or remixing some music royalty Luke has since 90’s travelled the world sharing his left of centre take on house music.

It is impossible to talk about Luke Solomon and not discuss Classic Music Company. One thing that has been a constant throughout much of Luke’s career is his and Derrick Carter’s consistently excellent record label. What was formed from a mutual love of unique music has grown to become one of the most money in the bank imprints in the game and without Luke and Derrick at the controls we might not have been treated to the tracks that has truly helped shaped house music. In keeping with this finely curated musical ethos Luke has delivered an upfront slab of gourmet house music for the next edition of our podcast series….

What has been happening in your world lately?

I’ve been through so many ups and downs and challenges in my life that I’ve felt pretty equipped for this most recent turn of events. I made a call in March, after realising that things were going to be like this for quite some time, that I needed to just get my head down and write and create. So that’s what I’ve been doing. Making music and running the label.

Have you been writing much music lately? What has been inspiring you in the studio?

That’s been pretty much my manifesto for 6 months. Trials and tribulations have always been the source of inspiration for me – its fuel for writing and creativity. Faced with death, grief, anxiety, I’ve always used music as my therapy and it works. The inspiration has been constant.

You have been working with Honey Dijon and Horse Meat Disco very closely, how has the dynamics worked and how have you been influenced by the other?

With Horse Meat it was the development of our friendship over the last 5 years or so that led to us working on music together. I’ve become very close with the boys and they had music that needed completing so I stepped in and offered my services – a few years later we finished an album.

With Honey our friendship goes back 25 years. We’ve been working together very closely for quite some time so the music just kind of happened. For me in both instances, when you become close to fellow artists, and you operate on the same wave lengths, it’s very easy to get inside each other’s heads and translate that to music. It just comes naturally as it’s a partnership.

You and Derrick Carter are responsible for signing some of house music’s most seminal tracks, if you could pick one which has had the most impact and what is the story behind you signing the track?

Oh, this is always hard as it changes. There are really two I think. DJ Sneak ‘You Can’t Hide’ – that’s the single that changed everything for us after Derrick brought it to the table. It opened up our audience and enabled us to become more than just a hobby. Isolee’s ‘Beau Mot Plage’ was the single that I think turned Classic into a label that was about more than just one thing. It showed the dynamics of both Derrick and my taste and how that came together and really showed our diversity. There are a ton more though!!! It’s been a lot of years.

What new Classic Music Company business can we expect soon?

Well a number of things but I’m incredibly excited to be releasing a Floorplan single. I’ve been a fan of Robert Hood’s for a long time and when Lyric and Robert appeared with their new guise, I jumped on it immediately and championed it. So now we get to release a single and that makes me happy. We also have Honey Dijon’s second album, Black Girl Magic coming in the New Year which is beyond. Some more music from Dave + Sam, Eli Escobar and Kim Anh, and more music from Dave + Sam. It’s happening.

Have you discovered any new talents of late? 

Yes, I’m always discovering! Some of these not new and not recent discoveries but I want to shine a light on them as its important to shout about the next wave – we need these artists to carry the torch to a brighter future – Jaden Thompson, Ace Mo/MoMa Ready, Josh Caffe , Syretta, La La, Sippin T, Ash Lauryn, Horatio Luna , Cakes Da Killa (fresh to the world of House Music) – I could go on.

With the popularity of house music continuing to explode how have you found the standard of music that you are being sent?

Well that’s a million-dollar question. On a personal level I’ve had a difficult relationship with dance music of late. More often than not I am pretty under whelmed. I think for the most part producers have become lazy and complacent. Money has governed the terms in which people operate and more often than not, music has played second fiddle to touring. I think the pandemic has really allowed the curtain to fall much like in the Wizard of Oz. You start to see how much of this industry is driven by hype over talent. That’s been prevalent in the music I’ve been hearing.

I think it’s impossible to release weekend singles now and sustain a profile. The platform for disposable music has gone, it’s not sustainable. So now everyone has turned to vinyl to give their music some kind of validation, but that doesn’t mean it’s good and it will work. I’m starting to see a wave of new talent and artists come through especially within the female, POC, Black and also Queer community that are following a whole different path and that aren’t transfixed by an old and irrelevant set of rules that have been dictated by out of touch management and agencies and the industry as a whole. They have nothing to lose and they are just being free. That coupled with what I feel is the beginning of a creative explosion that will come the longer we are restricted in our social movement. Once those things are removed, I’m ready for that burst of light to happen.  I’m rooting for the new world. That’s exciting for me.

With there being so many labels around (and for a long time now) how do you keep your own output and your label fresh?

I’ve always been relentless in my pursuit for the new and inspiring. That’s something that has always been a focus for me in my monthly Business as Usual radio show. That pretty much applies to the label as well. So, with that in mind, the music just kind of gravitates. I like to see the label as a family of misfits playing to the beat of their own drum. We are not just about putting out a great track and moving on. You need to join the gang too – that’s important. I’ve always seen Classic as more than just a record label. It’s about art and culture too – all of those things.

Talk us through your mix for us, how did you approach it compared to a DJ set? Any must listen tracks on there?

Honestly – I genuinely needed to exorcise some demons. It’s been a minute since I actually released a little energy. I’ve been buying musical obsessively through lock down, more than normal. I’ve just been building folders, digitizing records, digging through old music and just practising at home. When you’re on the road all the time it just a cycle and sometimes I think, music gets over looked so I just needed an excuse to record 6 months of that and pent up energy. There’s the new Floorplan on there somewhere 😉 – and quite a few unreleased and forthcoming jams.

It has been some time since your last visit to Edinburgh, what are your memories of the city and your gigs there?

Oh man I love Edinburgh loads and have some properly fond memories but the one that really sticks with me is Derrick Carter and me playing at Pure. I can’t remember too much about the night obviously but for some reason my orange socks became a talking point. Who knows why that stayed with me. It was an immense night for lots of different reasons. More recently I had an absolute belter at Hectors. 

Interview by  Stu Todd