Tue. Oct 27th, 2020

#MusicExchange: Rapid-fire Q&A with music stalwart Neill Solomon

Undoubtedly, Neill Solomon is one of the finest singer-songwriters in South Africa.

musicexchange rapid fire qa with music stalwart neill solomon - #MusicExchange: Rapid-fire Q&A with music stalwart Neill Solomon

With his distinctive vocal style and musical agility, Neill Solomon has left an indelible mark on the South African music scene.

As frontman to Neill Solomon and the Uptown Rhythm Dogs, as well as Neill Solomon and the Passenger, Solomon continues to shine lyrically and musically through his talents.

He has remained active in his studio during lockdown, working on various projects and albums with local and international musicians.

Musical geniuses join forces

A reunion of musical minds and solid friendships led to the culmination of the Uptown Rhythm Collective album, driven by Neill Solomon and Dan Chiorboli.  

Solomon and Chiorboli have remained a tight knit and an invincible force, personally and musically for over 40 years.

Their vision, creative spirit and skill have yet again placed them in the spotlight as they passionately and effortlessly join forces to create The Liberation Project which incorporates and speaks of the struggles of the past.

The project, and essentially the album that has come out of this journey, mixes South Africa, Cuba and Italy, featuring Phil Manzanera (Roxy Music), Juan De Marcos (Buena Vista Social Club) and Sipho Hotstix Mabuse.

We caught up with Neill last week for a rapid-fire chat.

RAPID-FIRE Q&A WITH NEILL SOLOMON

What does the new decade mean?

Dreams, vision, reflection, ingenuity.

Fame is about?

Fame is often the downside of success yet at the same time it is the benefit of hard work and the satisfaction of creative achievement… no matter what anyone thinks of you.

Retirement will happen when?

Never!

What don’t you like?

Lying, cheating, dodgy business or flaky people.

What does music mean to you?

Everything! It is a uniqueness in one’s self.

What is the most enjoyable aspect of your work ?

The time creating, no matter the end result.

Any funny moments on stage?

It would have to be at the age of around 15… we had a schoolboy band. I borrowed a guitar amp from Chris Ghelakis, a VOX AC30 amp which wasn’t earthed. Stepping up to the mic about to sing Something You Got by Joe Tex (I will never forget the song), my mouth hit the mic…hands on the guitar strings and boom, I got a shock.

Needless to say, the audience thought it was part of my performance… and I still have the scars on my hands.

Your heroes?

No heroes, just inspirers.

Which living person do you admire most and why?

Definitely not Trump! I admire people who do great things no matter what, in all walks of life.

What is your most treasured possession?

It would have to be my acoustic piano I received from my parents for my 21st birthday. It still stands faithfully in my studio. Junk Foods and Disposable Ladies was written on that piano.

It’s your round, what are you drinking?

Definitely Scotch.

Dream gig to do?

The Ruins of Baalbek in Lebanon, preferably with musicians I love.

What makes you stand out?

My uniqueness.

Nicknames?

Zorro.

If you were not a musician what would you do?

Make money! Jokes. I’d do art.

Pick five words to describe yourself?

Curious, creative, honest, hopeful, ethical

Five favourite SA albums of all time?

  1. Astra – Freedom’s Children
  2. Laurie Levine – Six Winters
  3. Falling Mirror
  4. The Occupant – Neill Solomon & The Uptown Rhythm Dogs
  5. Hawk – African Day
7ee220c7 pic 3 - #MusicExchange: Rapid-fire Q&A with music stalwart Neill Solomon
Neill Solomon. Image: Supplied

Greatest movie ever made?

This is a hard one… musically it would have to be The Mission. Also The Passenger starring Jack Nicholson and Maria Schneider.

What song changed your life?

No doubt Eight Days a Week by The Beatles.

Who do you love?

People.

What is your favourite word?

Ambient.

Favourite fashion garment ?

Not really a fashion fundi; more of a jeans and T-shirt kind of guy. I do have a weakness for pens though.

So a good pair of jeans and T-shirt with a great pen would be my favourite fashion garment.

Give us some proper slang and what it means

I’m waai-ing back to Barracuda’s pozzie — said by a friend in art school in Durban. It means: I am going back to Barracuda’s place.

Top of your bucket list?

An American No 1 hit on the billboard charts is somewhere on that ever-growing list.

Your greatest achievement?

Life and survival.

What do you complain about most often?

Unreliability.

What is your fear?

Emptiness.

Happiness is?

Doing what you love.

On stage I tend to?

Enjoy myself.

The best life lesson you have been taught?

My parents taught me to avoid negative people and music taught me never to give up — a good life lesson recipe.

Do you get worked up whilst watching a sports game on TV ?

Absolutely.

Where would you like to be right now?

Anywhere safe.

Do you do charity work and if you do, what do you do?

Yes I do. Running the Studio Passage One Music, we often give aspiring musicians a space and opportunity to do their thing.

Not having the resources to record or develop, we make this incredible space available to them to give them hope and a sense of personal and creative achievement on their journey with music.

Wishes and dreams?

Keep making music and inspiring others.

  • Twitter – @neillsolomon
  • Facebook- Neill Solomon
  • Passage One Music Facebook – Passage One Music
  • Instagram – neill_solomon

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