FAULT Online interviews musicians Solomon Grey



British duo Solomon Grey have one foot in the 80s and the other one in the same shoes that fits all ultra catchy electro-influenced bands. Tom Kingston and Joe Wilson are a bold hybrid of a band. With an HBO series in their pocket, they blurred the lines between writing for film and as a pop act, proving that they’re clearly suited for both worlds. FAULT caught up with the duo and it was nothing short of extraordinary.


FAULT: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? How did you meet and when did you decide to work together?

Solomon Grey: We met in Oxford around 15 years ago. A long long time ago. Tom was at university there and I was at school. We started off playing in covers bands for some money, Commitments, James brown, JK (the band, not the writer, yet!) you know the sort of thing. We were both really into music and started doing sessions trying to write hip-hop and drum and bass. We had no idea we would still be trying this long but we love it and it’s worth it. Think we might be able to call it a paying job now, nearly..


Your music is a fantastic combination of classical and contemporary sounds. How did you come up with this unique production? Can you tell us about your writing process?

Well we both grew up playing and listening to classical and I think a lot of musicians find themselves returning to the origins of their love for music. We both played in orchestras and it wasn’t till a few years ago we did the full circle and started to incorporate that technique and sonic quality into our music. Practically it is relatively quick with plugin’s etc to get a vague idea of the sound you are looking for before recording and the combination of that with electronics is around in lots of music. Maybe our take slightly differs from others but we just take a lot of time carving away at the layers, replacing and altering sounds and really making sure we are happy.


How would you describe your sound to our readers who haven’t heard your music yet?

Soulful alt electronica. That is the first time we have ever written that, and that still doesn’t feel right. We do so many different things from composing, the band and then collaborations with other artists it all just dips into so many genres but if you listen to it all you can tell when it’s us. There is a few little things that appear in everything that we do that gives it all a sonic identity.




We move from country to country, living first in London, then in Ireland and in Australia. How did geography affect your music? 

When we were in these places we reflected on a lot of things. We left our lives behind and ended up writing about our experiences and what they meant to us now as we had space and time to look at them. It was difficult for lots of reasons but also incredibly therapeutic. We looked at it as a kind of postcard back to ourselves in the city. Ireland was remote and beautiful but sometimes the silence was a bit deafening. Australia was just big, even the sky seems bigger over there. We would drive at the end of a week writing and listen to our mixes just to see where we were at. All these long straight empty roads and in hindsight I think that ended up really pushing the transient quality to the music. If it didn’t work while looking out the window it normally didn’t end up on the finished record. We aren’t like that anymore but that’s where we honed our style and methodology.


What the story behind the name of your duo. Solomon Grey?

I feel like there should be some sort of story that makes it all more exciting but Solomon Grey just seemed to stick.


You’ve been collaborating with several producers already. Do you plan to work with many other artists in the future?

Definitely. We love it, we have worked with some brilliant people and you always learn something. Everyone comes at it in a different way and there’s always a bit of shared inspiration. It has been so useful to us after such a long period of isolation to try as much as possible to open the doors to outside input. Hopefully lots more to come.


What are your influences? What music are you listening to in the tube?

At the moment, the new Godspeed album, lots of Boards of Canada and library tapes. Holden this French band produced by señor coconut and kasai Masai. We both grew up with parents playing jazz, soul and funk. Lots of Paul Simon, Peter Gabriel, Enya, Tracy Chapman, Waterboys, Robert Wyatt. We grew up with all the nineties bands like Portishead, Air, Nightmares on wax. I think if you joined all the dots there you might understand the background a bit but the list of stuff I haven’t included is so much longer.



You did so well in the past few years, making music for the feature film and JK Rowling’s BBC drama ‘The Casual Vacancy’. How did that come about?

I think that the Dathanna Ep really helped people understand what we could do. Those projects both started by people hearing that Ep and how it was recorded and wanting something along those lines. We wrote it all as we journeyed down the Wild Atlantic Way in Ireland, we used lots of field recordings and local musicians/people and we combined classical, electronica, folk and many other genres to create something that for us represented that place and that time. I think both directors were interested in working a different way to normal and I think we ticked that box.


What are your plans for the rest of 2015 and onwards? 

Finish the album which we are just doing as I write. Tour a bit later in the year. Do another film/TV project and have a nice family holiday in the summer. We both have had babies in the past year and all We want to do is spend some family time with our phones off. Smiling just thinking about it.


What is your FAULT?

We seem to be bad at not leaving something when it’s not working. We will work and work to the detriment of the piece, when in fact just doing something else and coming back to it at another time is the best idea. We are learning but still get tunnel vision


Words: Ksenia Safrey