We recently met up with legendary DJ Luke Solomon, a close friend and avid shopper at Son of a Stag. As a British house music hero, Solomon has performed live around the globe, he’s set up seminal label Classic Music Company with Derrick Carter and achieved UK & international top 10 charts with quirky house tunes from his band Freaks. He’s known as an unsung hero on the house music scene and he's not going anywhere! Solomon shares his go-to denim brands, how he first got into the music scene, his biggest achievement, and how Covid-19 has affected him and the music industry.
Hey Luke, thanks for joining us today! As someone who has achieved so much in the music scene, tell us, did you always know what you wanted to be when you were growing up?
Oh man - I was honestly so lost for so long I never really gave it a huge amount of thought outside of just doing art - I went to art college - I wanted to be an architect, then interior design.
But then “rave” happened and I just knew I needed to do something relating to that!
Haha! I guess that means music has always been a big part of your life?
Yes totally from such a young age. I loved collecting. Mostly cassettes from the age of 12 / 13 - I grew up in Cyprus and moved back when I was 15, so records weren’t really a thing until I came back to the UK. Then I started collecting 7 inches, then albums. Playing all that music to people felt like a natural progression. Discovering and sharing music has always been a huge thing for me.
Wow, sounds like you started your music collection at a very early age, what was the first record you bought?
The first cassette I bought was Dexys Midnight Runners… The first Vinyl was Madonna, Holiday. I was obsessed with her!
Who doesn't love a bit of Madonna! So what was your first experience of DJing like?
My first gig was a house party in Barnet. I remember just thinking I was awesome and that was that. In hindsight, I'm pretty sure I was absolutely terrible. The music was great though - I just hadn’t developed the skill set.
A night to never forget hey? You started your production team Freaks with Justin Harris in 1996, how did you two meet?
We were introduced at Middlesex University student Union on a Friday night. It was peak rave years and Middlesex was jumping off massively. We hit it off and promised to work together - then eventually it happened. I went over to his studio and we worked on Ep and that was the beginning of a wonderful friendship.
Sounds like it was meant to be! So great when you can build a business with a friend… getting back to business, which DJ’s inspired you the most and why?
I have to say the top of the list would be Derrick Carter but actually, there is a huge list of Chicago DJs that have blown my mind over the years. Chicago was my school - watching those masters at work was just a whole other level of craftsmanship. Gemini, Diz, Ron Trent, Chez Damier, Farley Jackmaster Funk - Lil Louis - DJing is in their DNA. The way records are played, mixed together - the programming …it's just another level of talent.
We couldn’t agree more, Chicago had a great scene! You were on the road a lot during your time, can you tell us your favourite/most memorable experiences?
I think number one was Doing at Glade Festival after a Freaks live performance and Cajmere got on the mic unannounced and proceeded to do vocals over my whole set. It was dark and people were coming up and asking where I got the A Capella from and then saw him standing next to me. That was epic.
Playing with Derrick Carter at Yellow in Japan. We had just done a Classic party and it went on and on for hours - 13, 14 hours - people just lost their minds then we came out of the club and it had snowed. It was magical.
More recently we did a party at Glitterbox x Printworks. It was the week before everything shut down and the party was epic. I guess it will always stay in my mind - DJing to 6000 people not knowing what was ahead of us. I will always remember that.
I think we all have a pre-pandemic memory that we hold close to our hearts, but it sounds like you had a party never to forget! How badly has COVID19 affected the industry?
Well, it's shut us down from the live aspect. Everyone has their different story but in all honesty, I’ve been very fortunate. I’ve been working in the industry for 30 years plus - and have ridden the peaks and troughs and perils of the business. I had to put myself in a situation that allowed me not to be solely reliant on gig income - the hustle has always been very real. . It's heartbreaking to watch so many friends and colleagues have to go through the sudden demise of their entire business, but in the same breath amazing to watch those that have been forced to get their hustle on to survive.
It has been a testing time, what do you think the future holds for you and the events industry? Do you have any upcoming events?
I’m enjoying writing and producing alongside A&R - this year has allowed me to get focused in that space. I’ve been working on some pretty major projects that will start to see the light of day over the next 12 months - Gig wise yes I have Gala festival - Defected Croatia and Defected at Drumshed in July and some other amazing gigs towards the later part of the year which will be announced in next few months.
Awesome, we will be sure to keep a lookout for your announcements! After everything that’s happened in the last year, a lot of people have seen it as a time to reflect, I’m sure you have too, can you tell us what’s been your biggest challenge and best achievement?
The biggest challenge was coming to terms with the grief of losing one of my musical partners, Kenny Hawkes, to addiction. It made me evaluate my own situation, realising that it could have been me. That is when I found sobriety and turned my life around - it's been 10 years now and has definitely positively affected me as a person, which in turn has changed my life.
Being sober for 10 years is probably my greatest achievement also.
That really is something to be proud of Luke. I'm sure it hasn’t been an easy ride. Something I know you’re fond of is your heritage style. What's your go-to outfit for behind the decks?
After music, it's clothes for me. I feel it is so important to be switching things up and keeping it fresh. I’m back on my ‘Hats” thing again. I have a huge collection that I stopped wearing but decided to try that out again - currently wearing a full count cap.
Like to keep the T-Shirts fresh and exciting - don’t tend to wear denim when gigging but again it depends. The main thing is that it's a full “outfit.”
A full “outfit” really is the main thing, we totally get it! So you don’t wear denim when you’re gigging but when you do wear denim what's your go-to brand?
Huge Full Count fan - love their jeans. Spellbound is the top for me though - from the denim to the chinos - jackets …amazing denim. ONI is also a big fave.
You sure do know what you like! Thank you for your time today Luke, we will be sure to stay posted on Resident Advisor for your upcoming events and we hope to see you in-store again soon!