INTERVIEW: Solarstone & Ben Lost on Federation, the 21st Century Trance Band

Fed logo and band

Federation is taking the trance scene by storm. The two-year-old collaborative project between Rich Mowatt (best known for his work as Solarstone) and Ben Lost is infusing trance with elements of alternative rock to create a truly unique, new-age sound. Their fifth single, “Quiero”, just released on Perfecto Fluoro, so we sat down with the guys to discuss the history and future of the project and life as a trance band. Read on for the first ever Federation interview, including exclusive hot-off-the-desk demos from their upcoming debut artist album and the premiere of the music video for “Quiero”.

Fight the Daylight: Welcome to Fight the Daylight! Thank you so much for taking some precious studio time to sit down and chat.  How’s it going over there? What are you two cooking up?

Rich Mowatt: It’s great, we’re just going through the old Federation tracks at the moment. When we did our first Federation gig in May, we noticed that a couple of the earlier tracks didn’t sound as tough live, so we’re getting some of the other tracks back up and basically revamping them.

Ben Lost: A lot of them just needed gutting. We found that the songs that worked best live were the ones that were really stripped down. Like on “Quiero”, it’s really sparse with loads of acid, and we found the acid kicked so hard live. It worked really well. We’ve just done some work on “Synchronized”, stripping that back, putting some massive acid lines in there. Less is more, really, isn’t it?  It just works out so much better when you’ve got less going on.

RM: We’re trying to strip down, more like a traditional band, really, where you’ve got drums, bass, guitars, vocals, and then a small amount of electronic, so instead of just piling and building stuff on like you do in a club track, we’re kind of swapping things around to keep it really stripped.

FTD: You both have mentioned an album here and there on social networks over the past month or so. Will be there be a Federation album this year?

BL: There will be, yeah, we’ve got quite a lot of tracks ready to go, it’s just a case of making it into a cohesive whole and finding a good time to… I mean, things are building well at the moment, “Quiero” is getting a lot of love, and we want to get the live thing polished. Hopefully it’ll all come together at the same time, cause you don’t want to have an album out when the live thing isn’t ready. We got this new guitarist, Veraven – he’s putting some fresh guitar ideas on a lot of the old tracks. We want everything to be ready by summer.

RM: Yeah, I think we’re looking at a summer release for the album.

Federation – These Six Words Will Destroy You (Exclusive Album Demo)

FTD: Sounds like a lot of work is being done on the live aspects of the project.  Your first live gig was this past spring at Slinky. For those of us who couldn’t be in attendance, what was that gig like? How did you guys prepare, and how did it turn out? 

BL: On the night, it was great.  We didn’t have that much time to put it together in the end.  We’d been playing as a band, rehearsing sporadically, here and there. Bruce, the last guitarist, was in New Zealand for a few months, so we only had about four weeks to rehearse for this set. Then I got stranded in Korea a few weeks before the gig, so we didn’t quite have as much rehearsal time as we wanted. On the night though, it was great. Really loud, a massive venue and the crowd were really into it. We couldn’t have asked for a better debut, really. Big stage, great lights… the place was rammed, 2000 people…

RM: We just wanted to see what it was like. We didn’t know whether the band would work live, and so we just kind of threw ourselves into it because it was the perfect launchpad for the band, in front of Slinky.  We had a full house anyway – it was an amazing venue with an amazing sound system.  We saw it as an opportunity to see what worked live and what didn’t, and then to go back into the studio and reevaluate the tracks.  Like I said, we’ve been stripping things down a lot.  With a live performance, all the fiddly little things you can’t hear anyway.

BL: Without putting yourself into that live forum, without actually feeling the energy of the room and instant crowd reactions from the stage… you just don’t get that full insight.

RM: It was a learning experience.

BL: There were points that were chaotic, others that were transcendent, lots of different things going on.  We’ve since dissected it and gone, “OK, this is what really works.”

RM: It was the first and only time the four of us had played in a band on stage.  It was the first live gig that I’ve done in a band rather than a DJ since… ’93!

FTD: So was it more like a rock concert atmosphere?

RM: No, it was a club atmosphere, it was… it’s hard to explain really, because it’s dance music, not rock music, it’s all… it wasn’t a rock atmosphere.  I think the crowd didn’t really know what to expect at all, did they?

BL:  There were times when I was looking out from the stage and you could see some people just absolutely, like, “Wow, this is awesome!” and there were others that seemed a bit more…

RM: Like, “What’s going on?!”  You just think this kind of thing, what we’re doing, it doesn’t actually exist anywhere else.  This stadium sort of rock, trance, new romantic psychedelia, so we’re asking a lot of people to embrace it.

BL: When we played “Black Tide”, about halfway through the set, there was a definite change in the room, an atmosphere, when all of a sudden people got it. We started with the bells in the intro, and that was the most recent single we had around at the time, so at that point there was a shift in the set.  That big riff, that whole thing just cut through, and everyone got on board, what, about 20 minutes in? Everything just, like, lifted.  That was a big moment, and from there on in it just went off. We did “Quiero” after that one, and that was probably THE track of the set. Played at 142 BPM, and it was really (laughs), really banging. Then we finished with “Jump the Next Train”, this really acidy version that we had done, and a lot of the people that didn’t really know Federation knew that track. It was a big finish.

FTD: How many tracks did you guys perform then?

RM: Six, I think.  Did we do “Born to Be Loved”? We got this song called “Born to Be Loved” which is one of the first ones we wrote, and it’s an amazing song with really great chord changes and a really wicked chorus, but we just can’t seem to crack the production, can we?

BL: No, maybe with this new approach that we’ve got going on this this week it might work, but we’re definitely trying to go for that deep, driving sound. Like, “Synchronized” has taken on a really dark, heads-down Goa feel; we’ve sieved it down to its bare bones. It’s another acid monster now, and has a completely different atmosphere to the original.  I think as we take our tracks and push them down this route, maybe some of these tracks we didn’t think would work will actually start to work.  Like “Jump the Next Train”. When we played it Live, we had the full piano intro and then went into total 303 acid madness.

Federation - Sascha

FTD: That’s how we love it!  Alright, everyone knows Federation as Solarstone & Ben Lost, but you’ve mentioned a couple other guys involved in the project. Who are they?

RM: Well the drummer is a guy called Sascha, he was in an old band called the Freaks, he’s a great drummer and really embraces the electronic side of things, triggering samples and stuff.  The other good thing about Sascha is that he knows when not to play as well.  Sometimes, it’s just like a ride cymbal and a snare and that’s it.  The guitarist is called Veraven, he’s a mate of Ben’s.

BL:  Yeah, I’ve known Veraven for years, he used to play in hardcore bands, but he’s always been into electronic music.  He really gets it.  He’s not just coming in and doing solos and stupid stuff, he knows that there needs to be space.  He’s got a really good sound, not too distorted, not too clean. He’s taken a lot of cues from Ministry, in that regard.

RM:  One of the important things about the live elements, like the drums and the guitars of the band, is that Federation is still electronic dance music. We don’t want it to turn into a rock band with some keyboards on top – at all.  It’s about the four-to-the-floor kick, it’s about the driving psychedelic bass lines. The guitars and everything else just give it an edge that sets it apart from being just a trance record.

BL: You’ll have psy-trance acts with very metal, rock guitars and big solos over tight 4/4 beats and synths, and you’ll have bands like Pendulum or The Prodigy which have turned into like a rock thing with electronics, this is sort of a mid-point, really.

RM: Yes, it’s a mid-point.  We’re not trying to make trance “okay” to like if you’re a rock fan.  If you don’t like trance, you’re probably not going to like this anyway.  We just wanted to do something exciting, a bit different. The trance scene just needed an injection of something.

BL: It’s just an amalgamation of the stuff we’re into, isn’t it? You can hear all the influences in there, all the bands me and Rich are into, like the The Cure, The Cult, Depeche Mode and then the kind of trance we like – big chord changes, and the BPM, we like it sort of… fast…

RM: Big hooks!

BL: You know, its like Rich’s whole Pure Trance thing, or my Beyond the Black Radio show – that kind of speed, that driving tempo.

RM: Much darker and harder.

Federation – New Religion (Exclusive Album Demo)

FTD: I saw someone point out recently on a forum that we’ve never heard something this dark and nasty from you before, Rich. It’s really a nice change!

RM: It’s sort of getting rid of some of my angst in a way!  But I’d never do this kind of thing if I wasn’t working with Ben.  The whole thing came about simply because, I think I just called you up one day and said, “Do you want to do something different?”

BL: Yeah, we had no idea what we were going to do really, we just sat down and were talking about bands we’re into, playing each of the music and drinking brandy, and…


BL: “Oh yeah, we should do this! Or something like this! Let’s do something dark and moody,” and the first thing we did was “Something to Dream About”, which was actually the least dark in many ways.

RM: We thought it was really dark at the time!

FTD: Really?  I thought it sounded so happy!

BL: The very first version we did was really, really minimal. No guitars. From there we went to “Synchronized”, which got a bit moodier. But we’re still developing our sound now really.

RM: Oh, definitely.

BL: I don’t think you should ever stop doing that.  We definitely feel that we’ve found the core of what we’re about now. Having Veraven involved, this new guitarist, he’s bringing out new chords structures, new riffs and the whole thing’s coming together.

RM: He does these HUGE riffs, simple things that you can really get your teeth into.

BL: At times it sounds almost like a David Lynch, blues, surf kind of thing, or even Chris Isaak (sings) “I wanna fall in love….”

FTD: In terms of timeline, when did you start writing these Federation tracks together?

RM: Early 2011?

BL: Yeah, about 2 years ago now.  We had a few demos.

RM: The thing that you have to remember is that we have to fit this in around everything else.  We’re not four 20-year-olds who don’t have jobs or anything –

FTD: Hey!

RM: Sorry! You know what I mean. I’ve got the whole Solarstone thing that keeps me busy.  We can’t just get together every night and then do gigs every weekend. Anything that we do, we want it to have a lot of impact. Our first gig was not going to be a warm-up gig in some small venue, it was going to be at a massive venue with a full house. We want to just come in and go, BANG!

FTD: So from the start, this was going to be its own project, not just some Solarstone & Ben Lost tracks?

RM: No no, it’s not like that at all. It’s completely separate. I try to keep the two things separate, Solarstone and Federation.

FTD: What about the name Federation, where did that come from?

BL: Rich?

RM: I remember I was having this conversation with Tim Stark about starting to do some harder stuff under another alias, because I wanted to do some slightly harder, darker stuff. I remember thinking I really like the word “Federation”, but it didn’t really suit what I was doing.  What I was doing ended up being called Smashing Atoms, I did three Smashing Atoms remixes, but I stopped doing that now. But when we started trying to think of a name, I just thought, “Federation”.  It just sounds really big, dark, and serious.

BL: Yeah, a one-word name, those are good. Also, the word Federation is like separate states, the meeting of ideas…

FTD: “federation – a group of states with a central government but independence in its internal affairs”

BL: Yeah, so it’s like, Rich is one state…

RM: Ben’s the other state!

FTD: You know what it is, it’s just you guys are taking over trance music.

RM: That’s kind of the point! United Nations of Trance.

Federation - RIch 1

FTD: Each of you runs your own very successful record label.  How did Federation end up on Perfecto Fluoro, one that neither of you operate?

RM: John Askew.  We sent John the first couple of tracks…

BL: I’d known John for years and I hadn’t spoken to him for a long time, and I read that he had joined Perfecto, so I sent him an e-mail like, “That’s awesome!  What’s the deal?” So we got chatting, I told him that me and Rich were starting this project, so I sent him some demos, and he really liked “Synchronized” straight away, so he said, “I want to sign this.”  It happened really quickly from there.  At that point, we only had a handful of demos.  We’d only been together a few months as Federation.

FTD: “Synchronized” released in May 2011, so not long after you guys started.

RM:  That’s when we brought in Bruce, the previous guitarist, and Sascha. Bruce had been playing on tour with Paul van Dyk, and Sascha was a mate of John’s from back in the day, I think. John basically put us in touch with them. I’d never met either of them before.

BL: I’d met Sascha years ago, actually. One messy weekend.

RM: We’re just a manufactured pop group!

FTD: Ben, this next one’s a question from one of your fans.  What inspired you to form a dance project with such a unique sound and approach to spirituality and philosophy?

BL: I enjoy exploring different perspectives and I like the lyrics to have enough space for the listener to build their own narrative around them, paint their own picture. There’s no overarching message. It’s like ice cream. There’s no “one true ice cream” – some people like chocolate because that’s all they’ve tried. But even the chocolate lovers have a favorite brand. I just like ice cream. Like many things, the meaning you derive from words, or pictures, will often say way more about you, the listener, than the writer. I’m generally inspired by whatever I’ve been reading, watching, or listening to at that time. I actually listen to A LOT of American talk radio: Mark Passio, Frater X, Larken Rose.

When we did “Something to Dream About”, some snake oil internet guru had sent this chain email thing around which I found interesting, so that kicked things off, lyrically.  As for “Sychronized”, I was reading Carl Jung’s Synchronicity book, so some of that came into play, and then words beget words beget words and it becomes something totally new, with all kinds of threads sown in.

RM: I think that’s one of the things that’s interesting about Federation, that the lyrics are quite deep and meaningful.  I love Ben’s lyrics, but sometimes I have to rein him in a little bit.

BL: Yeah, sometimes I just have too many words.  Then Rich pulls out the core message, as he sees it, and says, “Why don’t we just use this as the chorus?” and it goes down from 20 words to about 4 words.  It works really well in that sense.  It’s rare that you work with someone who you trust to play with your lyrics and stuff.  I’ve known Rich a long time, so I totally trust him.  It’s cool to have someone say, “Well, this will translate much better,” and then you end up with this little kernel of a message, which encapsulates the whole picture.

RM: I don’t really mind if the verses are quite wordy, as long as the choruses are very simple and to the point.

Federation – Black Tide (out now on Perfecto Fluoro)

FTD: Describe the Federation creative process from start to finish. What is each member’s role in the process?

BL: How it used to be is I’d have little riffs that I’d recorded on GarageBand at home, and I’d bring them into the studio with Rich.  We’d go through them and he’d be like, “That ones really good,” so we’d pull that out and then build something around it. Then Rich would change some notes and build some chords on top of it. Rich is amazing with melodies and harmonies, and the whole thing would be fleshed out around a simple little idea. Now, we’ve got Veraven on guitar and he’s been writing some riffs and it’s been a similar kind of thing. We’ll sit down and go through his ideas until something jumps out.

RM: It’s as simple as finding a hook and then building the track around it. For me, with my Solarstone stuff as well, it’s all about having a simple, catchy hook that works in its own right, and then producing it. We start off with a really simple hook, just a little melody on the guitar. I’ll hear something of Ben’s and think, “Oh, I’ll remember that,” just little riffs. It’s the same as how I make my own music. It’s all about starting off with a little idea. Once you’ve got a hook, the rest of it is just mechanics, really. We want it to be a bit harder, we want to be a bit more Balearic, we want it to have a big riff, etc. But as long as you’ve got that core melodic phrase, then the rest of it just builds. Once we’ve done that, I just take the role of the producer, really.

BL: Also, there’s got to be some compromise when things aren’t working. Like with “Quiero”, originally it was a track called “Phantom Limb”, and it had two full verses with loads of words. I’d recorded a really big bass guitar line in the original demo, but it got to the point where there was too much, and it didn’t work.  We tried to play around with all the ideas, and it just wasn’t happening.

RM: Then we went to the pub. We were working on the track and went to the pub, we got pissed, and when we got back, I think Ben just went (singing) “QUEIROOOOO” and then I said, “That’s it! That’s all you need!” and then he just went, “She got love,” and I said, “That’s all we need, we don’t need verses and choruses!” Just a line, sung over and over again.

BL: That’s all that track needed, it was just too wordy, and we’d been playing around with it for ages. Never be too precious, that’s the trick.

RM: No, you can never think that just because you’ve written something that it’s got to stay in.  As we’re building a track, if we think something’s good, then if we come up with something that we think is better, we’ll just ditch the first thing and keep doing it like that.  When you’ve got a track that’s almost finished, then you go through it and go, “Okay, what doesn’t need to be there?” Just because something’s in there and it’s okay, it doesn’t necessarily need to stay.  We go through a procedure of adding things, and then through a procedure of subtracting things until we’ve taken away everything we can, but it is still sounds great.

FTD: I had a teacher once that told me everything you write is your baby, and sometimes you just have to be okay with killing your baby.

BL: Yeah, you have to live with them for a while as well, which makes it harder.  You know, we see each other once every six weeks or something, and we’ll come in and have this really intense period of writing and recording.

RM: It’s incredibly intense, it’s like when we get together for 2 or 3 days, we’ll normally write 2 or 3 songs, and then we’ll record one so that it sounds almost finished.  Then we’ll demo another 2, and then the next time we get together, we’ll finish one of the other ones and demo another couple.

BL: And in that time away, you’ll be living with it, living with the baby, and then you’ll be like, “Oh, I’m sorry…”

RM: “I’m going to have to kill you…”

BL: Just amputate some limbs, maybe have half a baby left…

Federation - Rich 2

FTD: Next question. Where the hell do you guys find your vocal samples?

RM: It’s just him!  He just watches loads of films and goes, “That’s good!”

BL: Well, I listen to a lot of talk radio and I watch a lot of documentaries. At one point I was reading a fair bit about Phillip K. Dick, and I was watching this documentary on him, and that’s where the “Black Tide” sample came from, and then “Something to Dream About” was from Twin Peaks. I’m a massive David Lynch / Twin Peaks fan and I was looking for something to use while we were in the studio, then found this clip with The Giant talking, and we were like, “Oh yeah!”  It’s one of those things, you can’t go around forever trying to find something on the fly. Sometimes it works and other times you’re just watching a film, like a new track we have contains this sample from a Lars Von Trier film called Antichrist, I was just watching it and I was like, “Whoa, that bit sounds incredible”. It’s a mixture of specifically trying to find something that works and at other times it just jumps out at you from whatever it is you’re watching or listening to.

FTD: Let’s talk some more about “Quiero”, which just released this past Monday. Whereas the previous Federation tracks had been in Rich’s signature Pure or Phuture styles, “Quiero” is quite different. How’d you get such a unique sound on the track?

RM: One of the interesting things about “Quiero” in terms of the production is that Ben’s got this mate called…

BL: Harry, from The War Rooms.

RM: He’s got all these old analog vintage compressors and shit, so we stripped the track down into stems, and we gave him all the stems.  He stuck it all through them.

BL: He’s got some really amazing old analogue Russian or German-equipment from, I think the 60’s or 70’s, I’d have to ask him what it’s called, but just running the stems through that vintage valve equipment gave it a lot of warmth.  Like, putting the acid through them gave it this extra power.

RM: Everything went through that process, and then we assembled it back together.  I think that’s one of the reasons “Quiero” sounds so much bigger and fatter.  We spent so much time on that.  Then, at the very last moment we slowed it down to 138.

BL: Yeah, it was 142 originally.

RM: We knew no DJs would play it!

BL: “Quiero” sounds fast at 138, so 142 was a bit… whoa!

FTD: On remix duties for “Quiero” is Future Disciple from Australia, who’s given it a tech-inspired spin with some Middle Eastern flair.  How’d you guys choose him for the remix?

RM: I just gave him a call!  He’d done the remix of “Fireisland” for Solarstone.  Dan’s a really sound guy, and I just said, “do you want to do this remix?”, and he agreed and that was it. When you want to get a remix of a track, there aren’t normally very many options in terms of who’s going to do it.  It really is a case of, “I’d like to get a remix of this track, and I think Future Disciple should do it.” I haven’t got like a big list or anything that I look at. We just want something that’s very different to the original but from someone that’s going to respect the original track, so it was a no-brainer, really.

FTD: Rich, you’re quite the singer yourself.  Can we expect to hear your voice on any of these Federation tracks?

RM: Um, I haven’t done any vocals yet. I’ve done some backing vocals. I’ve sung on a couple of Solarstone tracks, but the only reason I’ve done that is because they were really personal songs and I didn’t feel comfortable with anyone else singing them. I’ve got no intention of singing lead vocals on any Federation!

BL: It could be like a Martin Gore from Depeche Mode thing, he’d usually sing a song or two on each album. And sing a couple during their live sets, with his angel wings and bleach blond mop top.

RM: I just don’t think it’s going to happen.

BL: We’re going to do a duet at some point.

RM: Oh, fuck off!  My role in Federation is really in the background.  The way I see it, Sascha, Veraven, and Ben are like the performers, and I’m just the guy with all the machines.

BL: He’s a knob-twiddler, big on the knob circuit.

RM: To be honest, it’s nice not to be at the front, for a change.  When we did this first Federation gig, it was like, I looked up one time while I was twiddling my knobs, and I realized that nobody was looking at me at all!  But I thought, I quite liked it because it was no pressure at all.

FTD: Well, unless you press the wrong button, and all shit goes haywire…

BL: The stop button.

Federation - Ben + Bruce

FTD: With the last five Federation tracks, we’ve seen a gradual descent into darkness, if you will.  Can we expect to see that trend continue moving forward?

RM: Yeah, I think even though we both like the more Balearic goosebumps, pad trance, that’s not what Federation is about. Like I said earlier, we’re stripping it down. We just want it to be about what really, really works live. Real dark energy. I think it is going to continue getting darker.

BL: Definitely. “Black Tide” is a pretty dark track anyway, there’s a lot of those kinds of chord changes in the latest demos.

RM: Having said that, we’ve got a song called “Be There”, which has got this huge Ibiza kind of chord change, so…

BL: Even then, the verses are still really deep and moody, and it’s got this big, beautiful, Balearic chorus. The thing is, “dark” doesn’t necessarily mean you have to shut all that other stuff away.  Melancholic can be kind of uplifting and dark and beautiful, and we both love that stuff.  There’ll still be those really big ecstasy chord changes. It’s all relative.

FTD: Rich, 2012 was an extremely successful year for you, perhaps even your best. I’m sure you have even bigger plans for 2013.  How do you balance Federation with everything you do as Solarstone?

RM: To be honest, it’s not very difficult to balance it at the moment. I really gotta cross that bridge when I come to it. I see Federation as a side project, but one that I’m very passionate about, you know what I mean? The last year for Solarstone was definitely my biggest year. With the whole Pure Trance thing and the Pure Trance events, this year’s going to be incredibly busy as well.  I’m not the kind of person where, if I do something musical, I’m not just doing it for pleasure.  I’m serious about it. We’ll just see what happens.

FTD: Do you foresee Federation being a part of those Pure Trance events?

RM:  Totally different. I try hard to keep the two things separate simply because I want to keep on message. Federation and Pure Trance are very different. Having said that, I did the Pure mix of “Innocent Desire”, but that was kind of early on. I do see, though, as Federation develops, they are going to diverge. But I think that’s how it should be.

BL: The script will write itself, in that sense.

RM: Yeah, you can’t plan that. I’m just doing two things. It’s nice to have two things to do that are interesting and successful.

Federation – Be There (Exclusive Album Demo)

FTD: Trance listeners can be a bit picky at times, particularly with influences from non-dance genres and the use of male vocals.  Were you ever worried that the Federation project would be too experimental for your audience?

RM: No. You know what? I just make music that I really want to make, and if other people like as well, then that’s really great. But if you start making music being conscious of what people expect of you or what’s “cool”… I mean, this is the thing about Pure Trance. When I started the whole Pure Trance thing, I hated what everybody else was doing. I wanted to do something that I really believed in. It just so happened that there were loads of people around the world who also believed in that. It’s the same with Federation. We just want to do something we really believe in. If enough people out there feel as passionately about it as we do, then it’ll succeed. If no one likes it, then it won’t.

BL: As long as you stay true to the idea, keep building it and not deviate too far from what initially excited you about the idea, then you’ll naturally attract the people who are into what you’re doing. When you start trying to tailor your music to suit a genre, a niche, a set of people, then you’re not being true to the project. You’re not being faithful to the idea.

RM: If people don’t like male vocals, then they’re not going to like Federation.  We’re not trying to appeal to people that don’t like what we do. People listen to music that they like.  It’s like when you hear a trashy pop record, you’re like, “Fucking hell, I can’t believe this shit is in the charts!” But people don’t buy music and sing music that they’re told to like, they buy music and listen to music that they DO like.

So in my opinion, every type of electronic dance music is valid, and if one guy doesn’t like it, the next guy will. There’s no point in trying to follow fashion when it comes to music because the problem is you’re only going to be “cool” very, very briefly. Then you’re going to be uncool. But if you stick to your roots and stick to your guns, you’re going to find a loyal following who’ll always stay with you.

BL:  I think Federation’s also one of those bands you either love or hate, and I know it’s a bit cliché to say that. I think what we’re doing now has the potential to be a cult kind of thing, and the people who’ll be into it will be really, really into it. The people who don’t get it, that’s fine, there’s other stuff they can listen to.

Federation - Bruce

FTD: You mentioned performing “Jump the Next Train” earlier. Have you considered updating the track, perhaps with a Federation remix?

RM: We don’t do Federation remixes! “Jump the Next Train” is a song me and Ben wrote, it’s something that I play in my Solarstone sets sometimes, and it’s something that we might do again.  But we’ve talked about doing other cover versions, haven’t we?

BL: Yeah, definitely. Like how the Pet Shop Boys did Elvis, or Johnny Cash did Nine Inch Nails – covering something that’s from a totally different genre that you make your own. This is a conversation we often have. We’ll be sitting in a pub, and a track will start playing and it’s like, “This would be a really good cover!” Something totally out there. But we’re not quite set on anything yet. As far as “Jump the Next Train” goes though, when we did the live version with the massive acid –

RM: They loved it!

BL: I want to do that again because it works so well and people know it, but as far as releasing anything, I don’t think that’ll happen, at least not for a while anyway.

RM: We wouldn’t do that, no.

FTD: So then the Haris C remix from ASOT550 is a definite no?

RM: What, to be released?  Well, the thing is “Jump the Next Train” is a Young Parisians track, not a Federation track. It might get released eventually, but when Haris did the mix, he said, “I want to do a mix of Jump the Next Train”, and I said, “Fine, but it’s not going to be released, I just want to have it for my sets.” If people want to hear the Haris C remix of “Jump the Next Train”, they can come to one of my gigs!

FTD: I know I know, I already knew the answer, but some of the readers were asking!

RM: I think it’s cool to have something that’s special for my sets. If I released that, then it wouldn’t be special anymore. He did a remix of “Solarcoaster” as well (Haris C).

FTD: Well, those are all the questions I had. Anything else you want to add before we close?

RM: One of the things I love about Federation is that it’s not just about the music.  The band’s also got a real image thing going on.  You’ve got the imagery, the Federation logo, the moth logo, and all of that.  When you’re into a band, you want all of that.  You don’t want just some guys in the studio.  You fall in love with the whole package, don’t you?

BL: One of the first bands I was really into as a teenager – Therapy? – had this really easy-to-draw logo that everyone would draw on their school bags. Same with L7, NIN, or Nirvana – most great bands have a whole, you know…

RM: Mystique! Ben posts all these little videos, music, philosophy, extracts of lyrics, etc. on the fan page.  If you’re a band in this day and age, you need to do that.

BL: By sharing your influences, you’re fleshing out your identity, to a point. People can hear where you’re coming from. My favorite bands have always done that: create a world that you can dive into. You become part of it. I love it when people send me stuff, like music videos or artwork, and I’ll get really into it, and that then bleeds into Federation. It becomes like an interactive thing, where I’m drawing on the influences of fans, friends. Like, the guy who made the Federation logo and the moth, was the singer from a metal band called The Boy Will Drown. He’d design their t-shirts, logos, etc. and Harry (War Rooms) suggested we get him to do something for Federation. So I got in touch with him and he was into it.

RM: Another reason that Federation stands out so much in terms of electronic dance music is because electronic dance music is so fucking sterile! It’s so fucking clean and nice, and everyone’s so obsessed with their careers. Nobody wants to say anything that’s controversial. We just want to inject some spunk into it!

BL: I don’t want to speak on behalf of other artists in the genre, because I can’t, but my impression is that there aren’t many outside influences creeping into their work, a willingness to push themselves into alien territory. Maybe this will be our downfall, maybe this scene is like that for a reason. Personally, I’d rather fail than play along.

A big thanks to Rich and Ben for joining us for this interview. Look out for their album and live gigs coming in 2013. As promised, here’s the first look at the music video for “Quiero”, which is available now for purchase via Beatport on Perfecto Fluoro.

To stay up to date with all our trance news, reviews, interviews, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Filmed Live at the Opera House, Bournemouth UK
Directed by Amir Abassi

Tagged , , , , , , ,

5 thoughts on “INTERVIEW: Solarstone & Ben Lost on Federation, the 21st Century Trance Band

  1. Fantastic interview, really looking forward to the album and seeing the live show! Samples here sound great!

  2. PS. as far as Federation covers go, perhaps Garbage – Only Happy When it Rains would work well?

  3. Big thanks for an amazing interview, at least it introduced me to the Federation project! “Quiero” is massive, love the mixture of moods and genres.

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