From coast to coast: More Amour’s transatlantic disco revolution
‘More love’ is the message as Artwork and Jon Solo use suitably classic synths and a no-nonsense-approach to share solid gold grooves across the pond
Artwork, real name Arthur, became well-known for co-running the pioneering dubstep record store Big Apple Records in Croydon. Since then, he’s produced numerous anthems under various aliases and established himself as a respected selector of authentic disco music. Jon Solo is a keyboardist who’s worked with the king of disco himself, Nile Rodgers, and Jeff Beck and has toured with the band, Imagination.
For these South Londoners and 23-year-long friends, the Covid-19 pandemic’s bittersweet offering of more than enough free time pushed them to finally form their collaborative moniker, More Amour (‘More Love’ in French).
They launched the record label Hi Quality Records Inc, on which they released their first two tracks, Nightshift and Don’t Look Down. April’s release, a two-track EP including Solar Flair and Heatwave, is another synth-smothered double dollop of moreish More Amour disco.
Their music is made mostly remotely. With Arthur once living in New York and now Amsterdam and Jon based near London, using tools such as Team Viewer, Audiomovers and Zoom, helps them make their sessions feel as free-flowing as they can.
“We try and stay as far away from one other as possible. That’s where the magic happens.” Jon jibes.
Joking aside, the separation does offer each their own personal space to work on the parts of projects that sit within their individual wheelhouses – Arthur on drums, Jon on keys – in their own time, literally. “When Arthur was in New York, it might be 2am here but then he’d still have a few hours in the tank, so I’d go to bed and he’d work on the track,” he says. “He’ll be like, ‘leave me for a while. I’m going to just really lock in the drums.’ I’d pick up in the morning and go, ‘ah, I see why he did that’.”
Arthur agrees: “If we get to a point where I’m like, ‘this bass just doesn’t work’ or ‘the groove’s not right’, I’ll need a couple of days to sit down and just wreck it all start again. Then, I’ll call Jon and go, ‘What do you think about this?’ And it’s like, ‘Okay, we’re back on.’”
More Amour’s brutal honesty with one other is a key driver for their razor-sharp creative process, they say, and if something’s “shit”, they’ll tell one another frankly and move onto the next idea.
“It saves us a huge amount of time,” Jon says, “because you don’t need to tiptoe around issues trying to find diplomatic ways of working around it. If Arthur says ‘that’s rubbish’, I’m totally fine with that because that’s just a step on the way to the next idea.”
Each track will start, Arthur tells us, like they’re choosing the next song in a DJ set. Tasks are generally shared, but once this simple idea is formed, Arthur will set a tempo and a vibe by creating a drum pattern. Then, Jon will lay down a bassline before they set off on their own journeys adding strings, keys and other elements.
While usually, Arthur works in a cave of impressive vintage synthesizers such as the Novation Nova and the Nord Lead 3 – Solar Flare’s main riff was played on an Oberheim OB-8, for example – after his recent Amsterdam move, Arthur’s “impressive collection of toys”, Jon calls them, are housed in bubblewrap in towers of boxes in the room next door. This has led to a DAW-based approach, leaning into virtual synths from the vast Roland Cloud library, which has in turn allowed for more experimentation with MIDI.
Jon will do some expert noodling on the keys and send his recordings to Arthur as MIDI, which means he can turn these into any sound he wants, from searing leads to booming basslines.
“Arthur uses Ableton Live and I tend to use Logic Pro,” Jon says. “Often, we’ll be building an Ableton session and I’ll still be working in Logic Pro throwing over either bounced-down audio or MIDI, depending on whether we’ve agreed on the sound. If it’s a solo or a synth line, then I’ll send off just MIDI, and then he can try out on a few of his toys.”
“When we’d get to a certain point, I’ll just ask him for all of the MIDI that he’s played,” Arthur adds, “and I’ll take one of the parts of a synth lead and turn that into a bass sound or completely change it up.”
“I’ll go away for a few days and Jon will come back and go ‘Where do you get that from? That’s wicked.’” He laughs.
Once all the hard work has been done by both remotely, a rendezvous occurs in the form of a final real-life session at the infamous Devon Analogue Studio in the UK. This complex, essentially an airbnb-cum-studio nestled in the countryside, has become a creative getaway hub for dance music’s best producers. Like kids in a sweetshop, it’s where More Amour get to crack open a few beers and have the most fun, hearing raw projects turn into polished tracks on the studio’s “thumping” HEDD Type 30 mk2 monitor system.
“No matter how good your home setup is…” Arthur says. “it’s one of the best studios in the world. you’ve got every single synth, the HEDD system, which feels like you’re in a club and you’ve got a Zahl AM1 desk.”
They tell us about how they split their time there into two halves, working on nearly finished projects for one, then coming up with fresh ideas for the other. Arthur excitedly praises the studio’s co-owner and in-house engineer, Tristan Grace, who swiftly handles the arduous tasks of patching cables, firing up synths, fixing gear and shifting gear about, so no creative momentum is lost.
The studio also has a pair of DJ decks, where the two can practice their live set. This set, successfully road-tested at Glastonbury, Printworks and Arthur’s own Arts House festival so far, is a hybrid of Arthur on CDJs and Jon playing live on the keys. Arthur does his thing – creating drum loops and overlaying sounds whole Jon noodles away into the ether, creating a set with a static live buzz.
This perfectly sums up the relationship between Artwork and Jon Solo, who arguably come from vastly different musical environments. Arthur comes from pure production – drum machines, sampling, DJing. Jon’s background includes being a touring keyboard player. Jon brings a musician’s perspective to their collaboration, while Arthur focuses on the technical aspects of production. The More Amour alias allows them to complement each other’s skills and create something unique and different from what either of them would create individually.
Here’s to more and more and more of More Amour.
Check out all More Amour’s music so far via Soundcloud.
Get the latest news, reviews and tutorials to your inbox.Subscribe