NZ's Sola Rosa heading "Back to You" in London - interview with Andrew Spraggon   6 Jul 2017

Charlotte Everett

Sola Rosa Soundsystem heads back to London with a show on 27 July – NZNewsUK London Editor Charlotte Everett caught up with Andrew Spraggon. 

We're also giving away free tickets - visit our Competitions page for more details.

Kia Ora Andrew, it’s great to speak to you again. Coming up to 20 years in the industry now: 7 full-length albums, 4 EPs, many collaborations and world tours... How does it all feel?

Kia Ora, yeah likewise. Nearly 20 years, crazy huh?! It’s been a crazy ride, that's for sure. To answer your question – it feels good. We’ve really started to make some inroads in to the UK festival market and have played quite a few club shows as well. This will be our fourth visit and this tour sees us playing festivals such as Nozstock, Kendal Calling, Secret Garden Party and a return show at Green Man Festival in Wales. Really looking forward to escaping the NZ winter to be honest, if only for a few weeks.

Looking back, what are some of the highlights for you?

I love touring. I love the simplicity of being on the road, nothing on your mind but the daily task at hand. We’ve played at so many venues and festivals it’s hard to recall any favourites. Back in 2011 we did a crazy tour through the EU and USA that saw us on the road for over 2 months. Pretty mad! It’s also hard to pick album highlights, as usually the recording highlights are the ones I’m having right now. Recording the new material is exciting for me right now. There’s some really great collabs with some incredible UK singers in particular.

You’ve never been boxed into one particular genre. How would you describe Sola Rosa’s sound in your own words?

I’m pretty much influenced by all kinds of music and I feel that's represented in the Sola Rosa sound. I mostly listen to beats type music and neo-soul. I like anything that has a funk edge to it.  You can kind of hear the influences on each album I reckon. The Magnetics album was very much a neo-soul phase. Get It Together, I was listening to reggae, hip-hop, soul, and Latin even. I just make music that moves me at the time; I don't like to stay in one place.

You have a couple of new tracks out – ‘So Fly’ featuring British singer Kevin Mark Trail, and ‘Back to You’ featuring Noah Slee. How did those tracks come about, and what inspired them?

So Fly was actually a track that was unfinished around the same time I made Magnetics. There are always tracks that never make the cut for whatever reason. I really liked it but it just wasn't its time to leave the coop. I played it to Kevin sometime post Magnetics and he really dug it, and that was that. Kevin is so great to work with, a real pro in the studio and on stage.

Back To You was recorded way back around 2015. I’d worked with Noah on Magnetics and he was so incredible to collab with that I really wanted to work with him again. He was over from Oz where he was based at the time, for a wedding in Christchurch. I organised to fly him up and we spent a couple of days in the studio.

I really can’t say what the inspiration was for either track, I don't have any particular motivation for tracks – they just evolve naturally.

You’re still based in Auckland. How have you found it managing an international career while still living the Kiwi dream back home?

It’s not easy, I can’t lie. I’m totally self-managed right now so I spend way more time than I want to managing Sola Rosa. It's a full time job in itself. I have a whole new appreciation for managers, well at least the good ones. I know what’s involved and it's a thankless job. In saying that, at least I know that tasks are getting completed. I also have two kids so my life is kind of mental right now. Still I like to keep busy, I go a bit nuts when things slow right down. I’m getting better at balancing things and knowing when to take time out, albeit watching a movie on the couch with my kids or something simple like that. A music career is all consuming but really rewarding in so many ways.

You’ll be back in London later this month. How do you find the fans here, and what can they expect from the show this time?

I love London. I had this image of it in my younger days as a grey, dark and miserable place – I don't know why, I just did. But after spending a decent amount of time there, I love it. I love the English sense of humour and down to earth nature of Londoners.

As far as the fans, we get quite a few expats to the London shows, which is cool. The vibe is really good and it’s good to connect with Kiwis so far from home. 

This tour sees us performing as a sound system, so it's me with a heap of technology and singers Kevin Mark Trail (The Streets, Nathan Haines) and Rachel Huggins (DJ Vadim). There’s an intimacy with the sound system set as a three piece, yet still a real strong energy to the shows. Kevin is a great performer and connects with the audience so well. I haven’t worked with Rachel before but I’ve heard great things, and she goes way back with Kevin and it’s always best when singers have that history.

What’s next for Sola Rosa?

I’m just working on an EP that due out for release later this year. I’m also working on the next album due out later in 2018. It’s been pretty full on with work on the two projects as well as this UK tour. There’s also a bunch of NZ shows when I get home but my focus right now is on the tour.

I’m really looking forward to 2018. There’s also talk of a North American tour so yeah, there’s certainly no slowing down. My job at the end of the day is music, and music has always been my life, so this is exactly where I hoped I’d be as a young kid with big dreams – so I can’t complain.


Spacific Music presents Sola Rosa Sound System at Hoxton Square Bar and Kitchen on July 27, from 8pm. Tickets are £8 + booking fee from Music Glue.

Visit our Competitions page for your chance to win free tickets.

About the interviewer:

Charlotte Everett has been contributing to NZNewsUK as a columnist and journalist since 2011, and currently serves as London Editor – a post she has held since mid-2013. She has been based in London since mid-2007 and is an active member of London’s Kiwi community. She has a broad writing portfolio, including music/entertainment, theatre reviews, travel, rugby, Kiwi success, vegan food, and WW100/ANZAC. She is also an experienced freelance tour guide, and leads city walks across London and Oxford several times a week. You can follow her on Twitter or Facebook

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