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Feature: Solee [Podcast + Interview]

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Normen Flaskamp began producing back in the late 90ies but it was in 2006 that his "Solee" alias was born, propelling him to new heights in the house and techno realm. In the same year he decided to take the reins into his own hands and set up his own recordlabel "Parquet Recordings" to disseminate his distinctive take on deep melodic House & Techno. Aside from his own revered imprint, Solee's productions have graced some of the best-known underground recordlabels in the world: Bedrock, Suara, Noir Music, Sudbeat, Yohitoshi, Einmusika, Kittball only to name a few. Having played across Europe and international hot spots like Miami, Moscow, Tel Aviv, Buenos Aires, New York, Beirut, Melbourne and more, he's been able to communicate his typical energetic & melodic "Soleesound" to crowds in many different countries all over the world.

Hi Normen, thanks for joining us, how are you today? and what are your plans for this week?
Hey, i´m fine! Thanks. I’m just back from a few days vacation in Croatia and had a beautiful time with my family. Enjoyed the clear blue adriatic sea at the croatian coast, ate some proper Cevapcici and super-delicious fish! My plan for this week? Back to work, work, work… ;-)

What music from your youth had the biggest affect on where you are today? Are there certain tracks or albums which profoundly influenced you? 
These are some of my favourite albums which shaped me in a certain way in my younger days as a teenager:

Depeche Mode – Violator
The Cure – Disintegration
Anne Clark – R.S.V.P.

What was the first and last record you bought?
First one: Tom Petty - Learning to fly
Last one: Henry Saiz & Band - Me Llama Una Voz (Hernan Cattaneo & Audio Junkies Remix)

Let's talk about your creative process. Every piece must be a different journey in many respects but do they usually start with either a melodic idea or solid drum loop? And how much live play is involved in helping refine a track before you're content with it? 
Most of my tracks are starting with an idea of a melody, bassline or chord harmony. To complete or refine this idea i have to play some time live on my synth for sure…Sometimes a few minutes, sometimes a few hours ;-)

Your best selling track this year has been 'Anmut', can you walk us through the process on that one? 
„Anmut“ arose from that main chord/pad harmony which begins in the first breakdown. I build everything around it. For the bassline i used my new TB-03 for the first time and added some synths from the Moog Sub 37. The Chords/Pads are coming from the „Legend" and „Dune“ (VST) and the bell melody from Spectrasonics „Omnisphere“ (VST). All the drum sounds are from my sample library i collected over the years. All in all i finished the track after 5-6 days of work.

Your sound does vary from project to project which is quite exciting, it's sometimes deeper but can also verge on being techno. The one constant is a very clean, punchy sound which relies heavily on intricate details and a distinct theme. How do you accomplish this so consistently on every release and what are your go to tools in the studio?
I'm always starting a new track from the scratch, no project/track presets or pre-programmed arrangements. I like it when the sound vary a bit from project to project and i don’t wanna fall into the same pattern everytime. I am incredibly thrifty with dynamic effects like compressor or maximizer and delay or reverb effects. Following the principle „Less is more“.
I use mostly Steinberg Cubase internal effect plug-ins with some exceptions. A good mixing and mastering does the rest.

Looking back over your discography, which one of your very first tracks that still puts a smile on your face when you listen to it now, and why? And could you still play it?
As i´m usually playing Live-sets over 90 or sometimes 120 minutes with only own productions i’m always include also some older tracks. The one that i still really love is „Aragorn“ from 2011 as it still creates a big atmosphere and positive vibe, played in the right moment.

Tell us about your label Parquet, it's been running for 12 years now, which is a tremendous accomplishment given most imprints do not manage to stand the test of time. What was your initial vision for it in 2006 and how has it changed and evolved over the years to stay fresh? 
I started Parquet as a platform for my own productions but also as a home for deep and primarily ´melodic´ house & techno music. At this time i didn’t expect that I’m going to run this label over so many years and it will become such an important part in my life. Today I’m absolutely happy about the current situation and still in love with the label work and everything around it. In the last 12 years Parquet had more than 200 releases in total (incl. singles, albums & compilations) from talented artists all over the world. I think these artists combined with my vision to build a label with focus on the musical aspects of electronic music made it to what it is today.

What advice would have for an artist hoping to sign their music to Parquet? Both in terms of presentation and stylistically, what are you looking for from a new artist? 
It´s all about the music! Nothing else matters. Take your time to create something special, something musical. Be creative. Compare your productions with other professional productions and try to make it sound as best as possible. And please only send your music if its somehow related to what we are releasing on the label.

You do vinyl on certain projects, what determines if a release gets pressed or not?
Yes, since i stopped producing vinyl of every Parquet Rec. release in 2012 because of the general falling sales figures of vinyl in these times i started the „Parquet Most Wanted“ EP series. Its going to be released 2-3 times a year and includes the most played and best sold tracks of the label.

What are your feelings on pressing vinyl in this age of rapidly consumed music? And do you think it affects the perception of your label?
I still really love vinyl and the feeling to hold a physical product with music in my hands. Nowadays for me its more like a collector item for music lovers. I don’t think it affects the perception of my label so much, as we are in the era of digital djaying and from a few less exceptions everybody is looking for the MP3 and streaming market.

Do you have a label manager and/or someone who assists with A&R? Or are you able to fit all this into your daily schedule?
Most of the label work is managed by myself, but as the label is continuously growing, Alyne is helping me since this year with several things to relieve me a little bit. She is listening to all the demos and doing a preselection, helping me to find new tracks and artists. She also assist with graphic, social media things and label showcases. Furthermore i have an assistant for „Parquet Bookings“ and some accounting stuff.

Have you been enjoying the festival season? Where have you been this year and what gigs have stood out for you?

2018 was a quite good festival year for me and i enjoyed every single gig. The Rainbow Serpent Festival in Australia early this year was definitely something very special, but also to play at the Turmbühne on Fusion festival this summer was marvellous. I’m very thankful for all these great memories!

You’ve recorded the latest episode of our podcast which we’re quite enjoying, tell us a bit about the mix.
Yeah, thanks for the opportunity to make a podcast for you guys. Really like what you are doing! I selected some of my favourite tracks at the moment for your podcast and tried to create a short but intensive journey. Next to my current favourite productions by (for example) Maceo Plex, Fairmont, HOSH or Oliver Lieb, i added my new single "Mammoth" and beautiful Parquet tracks like "Solitudine" from Meastral or Alyne´s "Lost Secret".

What we can expect for the remainder of 2018 and what are your plans for next year?
I´m not planning so much, just working and working and see what’s happening. ;-)
Last week my new single „Mammoth“ came out on Coyu´s Suara label and beginning September i will finalize another 2 brandnew singles which are coming in October on Parquet Recordings.

End of September we are doing our first Parquet Open Air festival in my hometown Stuttgart and a lot of new releases from various artists are coming till the end of the year...

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