In 2006, with Dave Taylor inundated with work under his Solid Groove and Switch alter egos, Lewis crossed the Atlantic to work with Houston-based producer Albert Castillo (himself no stranger to crossover success working under the guises of Mynt and Al B. Rich). Together the last 18months have seen them carve a niche reworking R&B hits into dancefloor anthems with huge acclaim for the likes of Rihanna, Justin Timberlake, Diddy, Danity Kane, Musiq Soulchild and Kelly Rowland.
2007 in particular was a very good year for the duo with #1 remixes on both sides of the Atlantic. In the UK Audio Fraud’s version of ‘Ride Like The Wind’ topped the club charts, while in the US they enjoyed a Billboard Dance #1 with their mix of Rihanna’s ‘Don’t Stop The Music’. Their Solitaire remix of Musiq Soulchild’s ‘Teach Me’ was also the most played record on the Music Choice Dance Channel for 6 weeks running.
But it’s not all R&B makeovers that Solitaire have found acclaim with: Mick Jagger’s ‘80s unearthing of ‘Charmed Life’, rockers Paramore with ‘Misery Business’ and Man Parrish’s seminal electro classic ‘Hip-Hop (Be-Bop)’ a trio of releases to bear their name. Add restylings for powerhouse divas Jocelyn Brown (‘Believe’), Christina Aguilera (‘Tell Me’) and Sabrina Johnson (‘What Hope Have I’), and the commercial kitsch of ‘Blurred’ by Pianoman, and variety is very much a ool in their arsenal. As to their own recordings, a new Solitaire single, ‘B.I.T.C.H’, feature the mighty vocal prowess of Shena is currently gaining pre-release support from Judge Jules, Pete Tong, Young Punx, StoneBridge, and the Freemasons. A second single is already complete, as are songs with the in demand Chris Willis, and vocalist Kate Smith (under the name NY-Lon Lewis previously worked with the UK-based vocalist on the single ‘When You Love Someone’).
As to the men behind Solitaire, Lewis Dene has been at the cutting edge of dance music for almost two decades. A respected DJ for many years, he’s played across three continents spinning at Erick Morillo’s Subliminal night in New York, MTV’s Dance Zone party in Sweden, London’s Ministry of Sound and Australia’s prestigious 2 Tribes dance music festival alongside the likes of the Prodigy, Armand Van Helden and Grandmaster Flash. With a background in radio, having initially started as a presenter on the now infamous pirate station LWR in the ‘80s, he went on to produce shows on BBC Radio 1 for Danny Rampling, Pete Tong and Judge Jules, as well as hosting his on Ministry of Sound Radio and Trust the DJ.
Lewis’ background also includes music journalism – currently he writes for DJ mag, Update, and M8 magazine, and the BBC and Beatport websites. Pre-Solitaire he has recorded under a handful of monikers over the years, Pump Friction his most successful reaching the coveted #1 slot on the Billboard Dance chart with ‘That Sound’, and hit remixes for the likes of Robin S, Mantronix, Alexia, Joi Cardwell and Grandmaster Flash. Lewis would again top the American Dance Charts as principle remixer on Duncan Sheik’s ‘On A High’ under his progressive guise of Westway.
Although a few years his junior, Albert Castillo’s musical pedigree is equally impressive. Some may recognize him as half of the hot New York dance production team Al B. Rich, others may be more familiar with his work as producer and member of the chart-topping group Mynt. And even if you don’t recognise his name, it’s more than likely that you’ve enjoyed his work and danced to his beats. Over 10 years of professional music production will make an experienced producer, but it’s the passion, creativity and sheer natural talent that have kept Albert constantly evolving and continually reaping the rewards.
A self-taught pianist he also plays synthesizers, guitar and drums, and in his early twenties put this talent to use writing, producing and arranging international Latin dance act Moenia’s first Mexican album; it went gold. This in turn led to remixes for Gloria Estefan, Brian McKnight, Jocelyn Enriquez, Vanessa Williams and Boys II Men. A move to New York and a dream job with Tommy Boy Records marked a new chapter in his career; hooking up with fellow Texas-native Rich Pangilinan (also known as the Riddler on Sirius radio and WKTU) the two became Al B. Rich and further remixes for an A-list of artists followed including Christina Aguilera, Janet Jackson, Mary J. Blige, Dido, Pink, Joss Stone and Kelly Clarkson. 2004 also saw their Mynt project debut with the acclaimed Hot 100 crossover, ‘How Did You Know?’ which became the most-played song on the nation’s biggest dance station, WKTU.