Electric Sol is a project that combines retro funk and dance foundations with contemporary production and personable, relationship-based insight. Originally founded in 2016 as a solo effort by Phoenix, Arizona-based singer/songwriter Ed Sweet, the concept gradually grew into a band, which left its initial imprint with a fittingly nostalgic eponymous debut album. Most recently, as a quintet, the band marked the tail end of summer with their latest single, “I Think I’m Falling,” It is to be included on their upcoming EP, Accept Me, which releases tomorrow.
I caught up with Ed, who was open to discussing his formative years, the genesis of Electric Sol, as well as what he can glean from his time with the project thus far.
How’s everything with the band these days?
We’re doing pretty well. Here in Phoenix, things started opening up again in May but then closed down again in June. Backing up a little bit, when the pandemic started, I thought it would be a good opportunity to work on and write some new music. So, we began recording in the studio in April, and that was done somewhat independently since our producer for the EP is out in California. One of our band members, Lindsey Bair, has a studio here, so that’s where we did the vocals for all the songs. Then, maybe a month or two ago, we started doing rehearsals at my house to try to learn more stuff as a band. It’s been fun just to kind of relax. We’re not in a huge hurry to do shows, but we’re thinking November, December, or maybe early next year.
When it comes to the development of your influences, what was your upbringing like?
It’s interesting, because I was reading your bio on Music Existence, and I noticed some similarities with my upbringing. I also came from a family where music was a big part of my daily life. My parents weren’t professional musicians or anything, but they loved to sing. We had an organ in our living room that my sister got pretty good at. I tried taking lessons on it and couldn’t really vibe with any of the instructors, but I still sang a lot, either at park events in Chicago, where I grew up, or in talent shows at school. Fast-forwarding a little bit, I still liked music a lot as I got older, but didn’t end up really getting into one particular genre. I know, it’s weird (laughs). But where I went to high school, it was very mixed racially, so I was exposed to a lot of different influences in that way, too, which was cool.
In 2009, when Michael Jackson died, I remember that having a big impact on me, too. It was a very unexpected reaction from both myself and my family; we were all weeping. By listening to his music, I got into more 80s pop, and also new wave, dance, and techno. In our new EP, we aim to channel a lot of that stuff and take inspiration from that.
Your stuff definitely has a lot of those vintage pop vibes. Let’s talk more about that. Back in 2016, when you started Electric Sol, it was originally a solo project, is that right?
Yeah, at first, it was me, and a producer here in town. While I was doing some recording, I met Lindsey Bair through the friend of a mutual friend, and asked her if she could help me with vocal lessons, so we started working together. Eventually, she was like, “Hey, let’s put a band together,” so she became the heart and soul of the band, and the spark to get that started. That was in the middle of the first album. At the time, it was me, her, and her boyfriend, who’s the drummer, and then we found our bass player, Cody Hazelle, who’s still in our band. Now, there’s five of us: Me, Lindsey, Cody, this guy Eddie Rossi who plays guitar, and Robert Bates, who plays the drums. Our original drummer, Brian, Lindsey’s boyfriend, started focusing on other things, and couldn’t devote much time anymore to music, but he’s still part of the family, so it’s a great group of people.
When you put out that first album, how was the response?
It was pretty good. I must say that music was still kind of a hobby at this point, so our audience was mostly of close friends and family. Then, once the pandemic happened, that got me asking myself, “Why don’t you take this more seriously and start being more cohesive and thoughtful with what you’re doing?” But yeah, the early stuff was pretty well-received. We did shows around town to promote it – small venues, but they always sold out, so that was fun, and it definitely kept me going. I really hope we can get back to playing shows soon.
Do you miss playing live?
Oh, yeah, for sure, and that’s why we’re still rehearsing these days. So far, we’ve gotten together every two or three weeks. We’re learning new songs and figuring out what to include in sets. Over the next few weeks, we’re planning to do house shows in my backyard. Even though we can’t go to a bar, we can still be outside.
It seems like a nice workaround.
Yeah, exactly, and from there, we can live stream those shows. If you’re creative and somewhat technically proficient, you still have that opportunity to create those types of good experiences for people, and that’s what we’re trying to do.
For your new single, “I Think I’m Falling,” how did that come about?
That one came about last Christmas when I was in New Orleans. I was walking around the city, just listening to instrumental music, and I thought it would be a good process for me as a songwriter to see if that triggers an idea, like a vocal melody or a lyric line. The ideas actually started coming more once the pandemic hit when I was walking around my neighborhood in Phoenix. It all came together pretty quickly, and it was actually the first song we recorded for the EP. Our producer is this guy Dapo Torimiro, and we’ve been good friends for a while. He’s the real deal; he’s worked with a lot of big pop artists like John Legend, Justin Bieber, and Jordin Sparks. Since we had that friendship, especially after this whole thing turned everything upside down, I thought, “Why not ask him? The worst he could do is just say no,” but fortunately, he was like, “Yeah, let’s do it!” So, I sent him the reference tracks, and after spending a few days on them, he’d put everything together into a demo with the scratch vocals included, and then I’d go with Lindsey to record the real vocals. We started the EP in April and got everything ready by June, so it was a really quick turnaround. It was a good experience.
That’s really cool, and it seems similar with another song on the EP, “Accept Me.” In general, the EP flows with these different thematic angles of relationships. What did you do in terms of channeling those experiences?
Well, it’s a similar process to “I Think I’m Falling” – just walking around and feeling what comes to mind. At one point, I remember posting a carousel of photos to Instagram that had fragments of the lyrics I was writing. Then, I got a message from a friend of mine saying, “Dude, are you okay,” because looking back, I guess the lyrics I happened to post were really negative – all about breakups and bad things (laughs)! And when I got back to him, I was like, “Ah, I guess I should write happier songs and focus on more positive lyrics.” It was a conscious effort not to be a downer, but especially with all the bad stuff happening in the world right now.
In a way, “Accept Me” is a positive song, even though it’s not necessarily about something positive. It seemed like a lot of people in my life were talking about complicated relationships they have with their parents, where the parents would act very hypocritically toward them. As a writer, I tend to be very observant about what people around me are saying, and my observations just happen to come out in lyric form. So, the song is about experiencing that hardship and dealing with the horrors of it, but through a position of strength. Thematically, I think we wanted to keep this EP very positive and upbeat.
When certain things happen to you, do you feel compelled to immediately write about how they affect you, or does it take time to process them?
It definitely takes time; sometimes, that could mean years (laughs). That’s a good question. I don’t think there’s been an instance where I’d write about something right then and there. There are certain things I’d need to filter through first.
Based on how much experience you have with those instances, do you feel like you’ve gotten better at expressing yourself?
Yeah, I think so. I also notice in your bio that you’ve done copy editing, and I’m a freelance copywriter myself – mainly advertising, and not too much editorial work. But I’ve always been a writer in some form, so I’ve definitely become more confident in my ability to write lyrics and compose music. You always find new ways to express an idea. Sometimes, I’d look back at my older stuff and think, “Why did I write that?” But in general, I just do the best I can.
Working with Dapo, has that relationship gotten better as well?
Yeah! Like I mentioned before, we were always friends. He’s the boyfriend of a really good friend of mine who I knew from here, and she met him once she moved to California and then introduced us to one another. He’s just a super sweet guy, really fun, and easy to get along with, and we’d go to where he is and visit him on occasion, so I definitely consider him a friend.
Once we had the pandemic, along with the social unrest from the George Floyd incident, and the Black Lives Matter protests, it affected Dapo really hard, since he’s from Nigeria. Everything going on at that moment felt very weird. I was just sort of paralyzed by the whole thing. I didn’t exactly know what to say to him, but I figured he needed some time for himself, so I gave him that space. I think I learned a lot about myself during that time, like what I should have done differently, and we were able to work through it. Even though giving Dapo space seemed like the right thing to do, in hindsight, I think he needed more than that – like actual encouragement and a discussion, or simply asking him how he’s doing, which I fell short on. I let him know how I felt about that, and apologized to him. He was very gracious and accepted my apology, and that definitely brought us closer together, for sure.
It’s good that you were able to have that conversation, especially during such a controversial time.
Yeah, because it seems like if you don’t share an opinion right away as this is happening, you’d just get canceled. It’s really sad how the world is now. In order for people to learn and grow, they have to have a conversation with someone without being judgmental. So, with Dapo, I was grateful that we were able to work everything out.
Overall, what have you learned about yourself, both as a musician and a person?
Wow, that’s a good one! I learned the importance of having a solid team around you – the people who are great to work with and are enthusiastic about what you’re doing. That take things up a notch, for sure. I’ve also learned that the business side of music can actually be a lot of fun. I’m not a computer scientist, but I seem to have become a nerd with the whole Spotify analytics thing (laughs). It’s amazing how that whole algorithm works, and how the organization has changed the way music is consumed and distributed. That’s the game people need to play today, so it’s been a really interesting experience, watching how it works and participating in it. I do writing for AI tech companies, so I’m peripherally around this kind of thing a lot, and now with our music, I’m directly immersed in it. It’s a different perspective for me, which is cool. I think I’ve also learned just to be more open with my writing. I’m touching on things that other people are interested in hearing about, so I’ve gotten more authentic, whether I’m writing through a personal or observational perspective, and have maybe gone a bit deeper than I’m used to, and more meaningful. Before that, I’d just be like, “Hey, here’s a song, let’s produce it!” But now, I’m a bit more critical about how I express my ideas. I’ve actually been writing more and producing less, so I think that’s become a good way to be more selective (laughs). Sometimes inspiration may leave for a while, but you’ve got to take it once it comes.
Lastly, anything you’d like to say to your fans?
I think it’s so great when people respond to our music. I’ve been meeting people from all around the world! Through Spotify, you can find out which playlists your songs are on. I found out that this guy from Mexico City had the song “Accept Me” on a playlist, and with some investigative work, I was able to find him on Facebook and tell him how honored we were. The same thing happened with a woman from Ukraine; she found out about our music and became a fan, so we have these connections. We’re super accessible, and super appreciative of anyone who listens to our songs. We hope our fans keep listening, and any feedback is welcome.
Electric Sol Socials: