Solardrive [iTunes link] is the project of producer, artist and actor Balthazar Getty. Getty has been making music for over 25 years, including wearing the production and DJ hat in the indie rock outfit Ringside, whose first album came out on Geffen in 2005. The Solardrive project started when Getty was gifted a Pro-Tools rig by his wife and his friend Joaquin Phoenix, and holed up for three weeks in his pool home studio and roped in a slew of friends to stop by and record.
This is not your typical "actor making music" shill. Getty doesn't take on the role of the front man but is behind the board as the producer and main creative engineer driving the project.
Whoever happened to be hanging out at Getty's house that day was asked to contribute to the album so the guests on the record range from Ozomatli vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Asdri Sierra, Mother Tongue bassist David Gould and Rain Phoenix (yes, Joaquin's sister).
The self-titled record came out April 23 via his own PURPLEHAUS Records, which is named for his favorite color Purple and his favorite band Bauhaus. Cool, right?
All of the above are reasons we invited Getty to Take Aim. He got a different set of questions, though, since the project requires some elucidation. It's our column and we'll ask what we want to.
Your's is an organic way to make music -- what is the chief reward? Biggest difficulty?
The biggest reward is that you get to do what you want to do. I make the records I want to listen to. I have been signed to a major and that's about making a hit and everyone's opinion about whether or not it's a hit. If you do it indie, you do it from the heart. There is more truth there. I put out records I enjoy. Everyone wants a hit, don't get me wrong. That is not the objective -- to fit into a template. It's about making records. I hope others share my taste.
You're not beholden to anyone, either.
It's liberating. We made the Solardrive record and it happened organically. We weren't trying to fit a genre. It happened over a few weeks. Whoever was at the house jumped on a song and I had a body of work.
Pick one song -- give us an inside look at the process.
One story that's unique is the only song I didn't have a hand in writing, other than music, is "Monster," with Rain Phoenix, which is a great, haunting ballad. Her brother is Joaquin, who is a friend of mine. I was working on a beat, at his house, with drums and keys and all this cool stuff. He said he thought his sister had this vocal that might work well. We imported an a capella track of a song she had recorded. We took a vocal, which is the amazing thing about working in Pro-Tools, imported into the session I was working on and it aligned seamlessly, in pitch, in time, like serendipity. You could not plan it to line up like that, and have it be in the right key. It's bizarre. It was amazing. People are digging that song.
Anyone say "no" when you asked them to record or is everyone you hang out with similarly minded?
Most of the people I collaborated with thus far have been great friends or great friends of friends, people who share an aesthetic and passion for this type of music.
What's your future in music?
I want to work with big artists and all types of artists. I would love to produce and write for all types of genres. That's a great pleasure, to collaborate. I look forward to that. In terms of the label, do it yourself. Come up with a vision and a plan and see it out. We've been lucky. We have a hip-hop project The Wow, which we will put out, and Ringside, my original project from back in '06 and '07, which was signed to Interscope. It's exciting.