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Partners in Pop: Charlotte Duo SOLIS Reflect On Being Companions In Life And Music

Jonathan Ryan Taylor
Charlotte electro-pop band SOLIS (comprised of husband-wife duo Leo and Kellie Solis).

SOLIS is more than just a band name for husband-wife duo Kellie and Leo Solis. To them, SOLIS is an electro-pop collection of sounds and stories about their relationship between themselves, their friends, and their Charlotte community.

"Honest communication is one of the biggest hurdles for us… staying on the same page, or finding out which page we’re on and if they’re even in the same book."
– Kellie Solis

Interview Highlights:

On the start of SOLIS as an electro-pop band:

Kellie Solis: Leo [Solis] recorded a couple of my singer-songwriter songs back when we were friends. We would meet up sometimes to work on lyrics and stuff. SOLIS didn’t come together as a band until a few years later.

Leo Solis: I think it was 2013 when we actually started recording stuff as SOLIS. It wasn’t long after we got married. We had a bedroom studio, and we recorded our first EP at home.

On describing SOLIS’ music:

Leo: It’s difficult because I don’t want to box our potential or our past into something that is limited in language. But we’re influenced by so much musically: Radiohead being one, Dr. Dre being another.

Kellie: The easiest way I’ve described it to people is an “electronic dark moody sadness… which you might like or it might put you to sleep.” And I think that would be a compliment [laughing].

On defining independent music:

Leo: For me, “indie” is how we do things. Kellie and I do everything, and we’re truly indie/independent. We don’t have a big budget, we don’t have big production or LED lights or stuff, but we include as many people as we can with the budget that we have.

Kellie: As far as it is for us, indie felt like a control of content… a control of whatever we wanted: the sound, the art, our shirts and album covers. One of the songs on the first album is titled “Control,” so it’s something I like [laughing].

On SOLIS being their last name and band name:

Leo: We had a hard time finding our identity within a band. We wrote a bunch of songs before we even had a band name. To some, it may seem like an easy route, “Oh, it’s just your last name.” But there is a deeper connection to it as a band name because we’re not just writing songs about bubblegum and puppies. These songs come from our day-to-day life, and the band name has a deeper connection to that music.

On SOLIS’ 2016 self-titled debut release:

Kellie: There’s not a lot of songs on that, but it covers a few different surfaces. I was dealing with a lot of personal, internal issues. In the song “Takes Time,” I was writing about taking time for yourself and how much time it takes from point A to point B in depression. A lot of the current issues going on in our lives, I wrote about on that record, like trouble with family and trouble in other relationships around us… and how it feels when you want to make change for other people and, as much as you wish you could, it’s not your job or place. So it’s about continuing to love and taking a look inside at what’s going on.

On founding Charlotte record label Four Finger Records:

Leo: We love going to shows, and we love supporting the local scene. In the last two years, one of my best friends [Jeremy Ryan Smith] and I started an indie label called Four Finger Records. A big part of what we wanted to contribute to the Charlotte music scene was a diversity in the label to help document what’s happening here. I wish we had something like that when SOLIS was first starting because we felt alone sometimes... like, “How do we captivate the Charlotte audience with a completely different sound?”

I just can’t believe I’m in the same room with these talented musicians, and it really is mind-boggling just how many incredible artists are in Charlotte. I think we’re at the cusp of something big. If craft beer can do it… musicians here can do it!

Kellie: We’ve always said there’s room for everybody and there’s no formula when it comes to Charlotte music. There’s room to see the best in each band, and that’s why we’re so passionate about it. We love discovering everybody’s uniqueness.

Music featured in this #WFAEAmplifier chat:

SOLIS - “Glow”
SOLIS - “Stay Young”
SOLIS - “Fire”
SOLIS - “Control”
SOLIS - “Takes Time”
SOLIS - “Veins”
SOLIS - “Open Door”

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Joni Deutsch is happy to call Charlotte home as WFAE's manager for on-demand content and audience engagement, where she's led the first Charlotte Podcast Festival (named one of the “best podcast conferences” by Buzzsprout) and helped produce such podcasts as FAQ City, SouthBound, Inside Politics, Work It and the Apple Podcast chart-topping series She Says. In addition to being an NPR Music contributor, Joni is also the creator and host of WFAE’s Charlotte music podcast Amplifier, named “Best Podcast” by Charlotte Magazine and honored for excellence in arts and music podcasting by the local Edward R. Murrow Awards and The Webby Awards (called “The Internet’s Highest Honor” by The New York Times).