Solate began at Macalester College, during the freshman orientation. Maya Vilaplana and Joel Mandella found themselves sitting next to each other, not knowing anybody, and bonded quickly over Melody Gardot covers. Over four years of late-night collaborations (hence the band’s name), they developed a set of strikingly beautiful and hope-inspiring original songs, many of which are still in Solate’s repertoire.
Upon their arrival in the Bay Area, Maya met Marissa Bergmann while working at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. On the first day they met, Marissa waited several hours to say, “Do we know each other from somewhere?” Maya replied with a sigh of relief, “I’m so glad you said something. I wasn’t sure if I should say it, but I’ve been thinking the same thing.” They quickly recounted their life trajectories and found no overlap. It was just one of those magical feelings. The two started harmonizing and singing together soon after, bringing joy to the high school students they worked with in the after school art-as-activism program.
Bassist Kevin Goldberg entered the picture when he was sharing a bill with them at a downtown Oakland restaurant. Within days, Kevin and Joel were hashing out new re-harmonizations and crafting rhythmic basslines to make the grooves pop. The four finally met each other as a full ensemble onstage at Amnesia in San Francisco, and the magic was palpable from the get-go. Marissa remembers turning around on stage and having her first introduction with Kevin before playing the set. It has been one lovely adventure ever since.
Solate went on to play at many local spots in San Francisco and Oakland, from coffee shops to bars to restaurants. One of the favorite spots on the rotation was the Rite Spot in San Francisco’s Mission District, which came to feel a lot like home time after time with Maya’s grandparents gazing lovingly from two tables away, friends new and old sitting at the bar swooning and grooving, the lovely host Ginger smiling at the bar who kept inviting us back, and one especially memorable night when Maya’s dad shouted “Muy bonita! Muy bonita!” after every song.
Today, Solate can be described as an indie-soul band getting ready to release their first full album titled, “Like A River Does,” a gentle nod to Melody Gardot, whose music Maya and Joel had initially bonded over. As the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival so eloquently wrote: “The Bay Area has a way of transforming familiar elements into strikingly original new sounds, and the quartet Solate embodies the best of this alchemical reaction. Built upon the graceful guitar work of Joel Mandella and interlocking bass lines of Kevin Goldberg, Solate features the translucent vocals of Maya Vilaplana and luscious harmonies of Marissa Bergmann. Flowing with the crisp and inviting momentum of an alpine stream, but charged with the sultry heat of a Caribbean sunset, Solate creates an indie-soul sound that feels reassuringly familiar and tantalizingly enigmatic.”