“Don’t do it alone; find a team” — I learned this pretty fast, but when I first started, I was pretty stubborn and tried to do everything myself. Writing, recording, mixing, marketing; it’s just not possible. Early on, I was trying to be like many of my favorite guitarists that seemed to have it all figured out. Still, in reality, they had several, if not dozens, of people around them to help them be successful not only on tour but also in the studio and creating an online presence. It’s not a one-player game.
As a part of our series about rising music stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Solstice aka Solstice Music
Solstice represents the ever-expanding wave of artists by combining music genres to form a new sound. The Alternative-R&B singer/songwriter’s prologue began when he picked up a guitar in his late teens, heavily influenced by progressive metal solo players and groups. Having tried to form supergroups in his local area, the guitarist-turned-singer leveraged his voice as the missing piece to carry out his vision.
Solstice makes up one-third of the music collective Midnight District, alongside Pacemaker and AnthonyJsenseI. In less than one year as a solo artist, he has made up for the lost time by releasing an EP, two singles and will wrap up the first chapter with a collaboration EP set to release in early 2021.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I was a military brat, so my family was on the move until around middle school. Soccer was my first passion growing up, and that’s where a lot of my time went outside of school before I picked up guitar during my mid/late teens. Once I got to university and spent more time practicing, I knew music was what I wanted to do long term; I just wasn’t sure what that would look like until recently.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
I was at a birthday party in middle school and heard the song “Afterlife” by Avenged Sevenfold, and it was *the* craziest song I had ever heard at the time. I knew I wanted to play guitar from the guitar solo alone, but soccer was my priority when I was younger, so I didn’t practice as much as I should have.
Fast forward to university, however, and I started writing my first original tracks. They were all instrumental, guitar-driven, and influenced by progressive metal and rock artists. Seeing my songs available for streaming on platforms like Apple Music and Spotify was something I never thought would be possible, but I refreshed my phone and saw my album there under my name. I hadn’t smiled that hard in a while at that time in my life. Close friends listened to it, and nothing much came of it, but I knew I had the power to make something special happen. I also tried forming bands in my local area because I knew this wasn’t something I’d be able to do alone. Still, I could never find anyone with the hustle, vision, or dedication to make anything significant happen until I linked up with AnthonyJsenseI and Pace.maker around Summer 2019.
These guys welcomed me in just after my network evaporated before my eyes overnight a few months prior. Once we found our dynamic, we got right to work, formed our collective, Midnight District (MD), and have been applying pressure ever since.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
The most interesting story so far is how I met Sensei and Pace. The drummer of one of my bands went to school with Sensei and had known him prior. I had the opportunity to meet Sensei about a year and a half before I did at an event some friends were going to, but I didn’t go for whatever reason. Sensei and I followed each other on Instagram and swapped pleasantries now and then and kept each other’s heads up. When my last band fell through, I finally messaged him about working on music together, and the rest is history.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
The funniest mistake I’ve made so far happened while I was playing a show in one of the bands I started while at university. I played lead guitar, and during the main section of the song, my pick fell out of my hands, so I had to finish the song just strumming with my fingers. Anyone familiar with guitar knows about crafting guitar tones, and luckily my tone was set up so that even without a pick, I was still able to be heard with less attack on the strings. I do a better job of holding on to my picks now though.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
It’s still under wraps now, but I’m excited to hit 2021 hard with several new releases. The first is a collaboration release with a very talented alternative artist out of Atlanta, GA. The project’s got a theme and a sound he and I were able to form together, unique to us, and it’ll feature my first collaboration with an artist outside of MD.
I’ll be following that with singles that I’ve kept in my pocket to build momentum to release my next project. The next project is something that I started crafting and molding in parallel to writing Villains, but I saw the potential, and how far I could take it, so I put it on the back burner to finish my first EP release a couple of singles. I’m looking forward to creating this next music realm for my listeners and fans to be immersed in; It’s going to be special.
We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
When you have diversity in any art form, but particularly with film/television, from the creators to the actors, directors, and every role in between, you also, by extension, have diverse content. Diversity leads to more content that can be created for many audiences and allows everyone to be represented and for those stories to be told and heard. The stories shared yield perspective, empathy, and humanity. It’s essential to have these things because it gives everyone a chance, even Hollywood, to remain authentic and socially aware.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1. “Don’t do it alone; find a team”
I learned this pretty fast, but when I first started, I was pretty stubborn and tried to do everything myself. Writing, recording, mixing, marketing; it’s just not possible. Early on, I was trying to be like many of my favorite guitarists that seemed to have it all figured out. Still, in reality, they had several, if not dozens, of people around them to help them be successful not only on tour but also in the studio and creating an online presence. It’s not a one-player game.
2. “Consistency is key.”
Everyone should have this on their list. We live in a world where we can get access to just about anything immediately for a dopamine hit. Food, gadgets, and toys, whatever your craving or vice is, odds are you can get it within 24 hours and with little to no effort. Creating content or cultivating an audience will not happen overnight unless you’re some anomaly, and even then, you’re likely to lose it just as fast as you get it.
I would always try and create massive gains here and there instead of focusing on posting consistently, practicing consistently, etc. So those tiny gains would compound over a year, two years, and five years. Compounding efforts is what I strive to live by now.
3. “Just start and learn as you go.”
I always tell other artists that I work with that the perfect time to start marketing yourself was last week, and the next best time is right now. The hardest part is getting started. I waited to start taking music seriously until I got to college. I don’t have regrets because I had other passions, but in a game where everybody is trying to outdo each other, there’s no time to waste. Gary Vaynerchuk is a massive voice when it comes to this: start your business NOW, start your youtube channel NOW, start your online store NOW, start your TikTok NOW, and figure it out as you go. The hardest part is getting started.
4. “Commit long term upfront.”
As I mentioned before, everybody wants to be somebody, but one of the traits that separate those who find success from those who fail or give up is that they weren’t in it for the long haul. I’ve been working on music since I was 16. I’m 24 now, and I’m just now finding some form of traction with a team at least as dedicated as I am. That’s eight years of trying and failing, people wasting my time, wondering if I’m meant for this, but continuing anyway, and countless restless nights.
I experimented with growing a youtube channel from scratch, no marketing, no team, just me. I consistently uploaded to the channel for roughly 30 days straight. After about 20 uploads, I was still under 50 subscribers, but once I got close to 30, the channel exploded and started seeing new subscribers (in double digits) coming in every day past that. Always play the long game with anything worth having and commit to at least twice as long as you think it’ll take to start seeing some real growth or return.
5. “It takes money to make money.”
I’m paraphrasing, but I believe there’s a metric that says most businesses don’t make substantial, steady money until their second or third year. I’m starting to see that right now. I’m still very new and am in my fetus stage as far as the music world is concerned. However, as soon as I started putting substantial money into gear, marketing, and guidance to hone my craft, all of a sudden, I see returns on that. The returns may not always be monetary, but they’re still returns on investment and valuable to me, manifesting my vision. Invest in yourself, because if you don’t, how can you expect anyone else to?
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
My best advice here is to create goals for the day, the week, the month, and the year and be sure to write them down. Next, set some form of a schedule that you can repeat (compounding efforts, remember?) that will help you get there. The schedule should also include time for a break, which I need to remember for myself. I find myself still feeling like I don’t have enough time, so I end up trying to do everything all at once, and I’ve burned myself out several times from that. When you’re organized, life is so much easier.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I’d want to lead something that educated people to create their value and derive validation internally instead of from others. Once you’ve made your value, everything else that one may be looking for, money, status, or even just self-actualization, will come after.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
This is going to go to my bro, who I also call “the big homie.” He knows He’s helped me unpack many mental barriers I had years ago, along with my demons. I couldn’t get past all of that; I know I wouldn’t be where I am today with the mentality and focus I have.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
One of my favorites is, “You have power over your mind — not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” ―Marcus Aurelius. To summarize, focus on what you can control. Aurelius is a stoic, and on top of practicing stoicism, I’ve also been working on manifesting reality by working on what I think and say. Easier said than done, but by focusing on what you can control — what you think, say, and do — and not worrying about anything else, you can make many extraordinary things happen for yourself that will make you happy by your design.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
It’s tough to decide, but the shortlist is between Tosin Abasi, The Weeknd, and Thierry Henry. All three have dominated their respective spaces and are experts at their crafts. To dissect their brain and hear more about their process and what they do to stay sharp would be life-changing.
How can our readers follow you online?
The following link will take them to everything that I do: https://biglink.to/solstice simple as that. If they don’t want to click that, my Instagram is @solsticexmusicx, as I am most active there.
This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!