First and foremost, it’s very unlikely that you’ll have heard of Eric Solomon. The Canadian artist briefly surfaced sometime between the late 2000s and early 2010s, most notably with the release of electro-pop single “A.L.L.” in 2010; I remember hearing that on constant rotation, here in Vancouver. At one point it even reached top 20 in the Billboard chart, in no small part thanks to an MTV appearance by Eric on defunct docu-drama The Youth Electric. Perhaps it would be a disservice to Eric Solomon’s musical abilities to focus on the trajectory of his (no longer) public image, but when you have a copy of his EP that no longer seems to exist on the Internet, you can’t help but wonder how someone who achieved a decent amount of radio play and publicity has, quite simply, disappeared from the Internet.
(In fact, “A.L.L.” wasn’t even the only song of Eric to have received radio play; I recall that “I Found Love” and “Lottery”, which both fall into the same stylistic vein, were both on air at some point. Strangely enough, the latter can now only be found in remixed versions.)
Search results reveal no social media presence, as well as few download or streaming links to his material — YouTube comes up with autofill results for song titles that lead to no actual video, and anything that does pop up on video sites is clearly an unofficial upload, from years after release. Nothing can be found on Discog either, with the exception of a collaborative single with Outwork called “How Does It Feel”. Searching for his Antarctica EP suggests that it was available on Amazon at one point, since it shows up as a discrete result, but is no longer there; my digital copy of the EP links to an empty MySpace profile as the original source. My Reality, an older funk release from Eric, has been unavailable for download since 2010 but can apparently still be bought as a used CD.
What makes Eric’s disappearance fascinating to me is not that he peaked with a passable one-hit wonder; it’s that he had a promising and diverse musical background which occasionally veered rather far from radio-standard electro-pop. In interviews that Eric participated in, it’s mentioned that he grew up in the war-torn African Congo and then became a travelling musician; a link from 2008 describes him as a multi-instrumentalist “child prodigy” who plays soul, funk, rock, and R&B. (Interestingly, this was also the year he released his “(4th) debut album”, My Reality.) Only two years later, he underwent multiple changes in sound, most notably with the release of 2010 EP Antarctica, which I believe precedes his radio break-out.
For me, Antarctica is a vision of what could have been, even as it has no actual tracklist or coherence. Break-out single “A.L.L.” doesn’t even do him justice; songs on Antarctica with less vocal production reveal just how soulful and elastic his voice can sound. The EP is a mish-mash of styles, ranging from art pop-adjacent to dance-y electronic rock to more standard pop fare; the best track on it is no doubt the minimalistic “Me and the World”, with its seductive sway and spotlight on Eric’s sultry vocals, though the title track puts up a solid fight with its burbling, icy synths and soaring vocal lines. “Me and the World” speaks of lurking shadows, being freed from mental obstacles; “I gotta get back to where I started, before it all got too complicated / Remove all these chains and break these walls until there’s nothing in the way between me and the world”, Eric sings with increasing vehemence, and the over-analyzer in me can’t help but think that the song expresses dual, possibly conflicting desires: to be out and visible in the world, but also to escape back into simpler times, before MTV drama and social media chaos.
One can only speculate on why Eric ultimately decided to settle on a more generic electro-pop sound; but the greater question is why, and how, he erased his music from the Internet. That he deleted his once-active social media accounts suggests a desire for privacy — understandable enough, given his portrayal as a controversial and assholish figure in The Youth Electric. However, to also remove the traces of his art seems to me a highly unusual decision, seeing as none of it was controversial or otherwise problematic. In an interview from 2010, he states “I think I’m here to do something authentic”; he “once made a comfortable living out of performing covers across Asia”, but eventually switched to original composition. That My Reality became inaccessible all the way back in 2010 or before, when he was still publicly active in music and had recently launched radio hits, hints at an inclination for re-invention that already existed then; perhaps, dissatisfied with his image as a pop creator but without any more desire to remain in the public eye, he decided to disappear altogether. I guess my continuing memory of him represents a failure of his vanishing act, but also the success of a little-known EP that has managed to keep my attention for a decade.