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On the road… with Mark Richards

The high life: Mark and his DJ partner, James, flew into Vegas on a private jet

One half of DJ duo Solardo talks to about chilling in LA, a scary flight from Chicago and sleeping in a squat in Ibiza

What is your favourite on-the-road moment?

In May this year we toured Asia and then flew straight to the US so we were absolutely shattered. We didn’t even know it was going to happen but for our EDC Vegas show we flew in on a private jet and then on a helicopter. It was one of those moments where I realised how the past 15 years of hard work was finally starting to pay off. I’ve toured America in economy almost all my life, slept in squats and generally scraped by, so this was a real emotional and surreal moment that will stay with me forever.

Favourite city?

As a musician from the UK, every time I do a gig in Los Angeles I feel like I’ve made it. I don’t party as much anymore, so I love walking in the hills around the Hollywood sign and going to Manhattan Beach, which is about 45 minutes out of Hollywood and is beautiful and laid-back with just a few scattered bars and restaurants. Venice Beach is nice but it can feel a little bit edgy there — I prefer a much more chilled-out environment these days.

Favourite places: The Hollywood hills and Manhattan Beach (below)

When have you been most frightened while travelling?

On a flight home from Chicago one of the plane’s engines packed up and we had to make an emergency landing. We knew something was going on but all of the crew were really calm, which gave us a weird reassurance — they were clearly playing it down. When we made the emergency landing, my first thought was one of panic at missing my connecting flight but then I realised that this was quite a big deal and how bad the outcome could have been. Incidentally, I did miss my connecting flight; a massive storm came in and I ended up stranded at the airport for 48 hours.

Top gift: Mark was given an Argentina strip

What is the best souvenir you’ve come home with?

I used to collect basketball jerseys from all the places I went to — I’ve got at least 20 from everywhere across America: Phoenix, New York, Denver, Chicago, New Orleans… I did a gig in Argentina recently and the promoter gave me an Argentina football top, which is cool, and I also got one from a local football team in Peru.

What have you ever taken from a hotel room?

I regularly take pillows and slippers, especially if I’ve got a long drive ahead. I always clear out the mini bar and attempt to check out without telling the hotel. Most times I notice a ridiculously expensive debit from our business account but sometimes I get away with it — it’s worth the risk.

Going walkies: Hotel slippers come in handy

Worst meal you’ve had abroad?

In Nagoya on the main island of Japan, I was offered chicken brains on cocktail sticks, which, thankfully, I recognised and declined. And in Budapest, recently, I ordered the local recommendation, which is a whole chicken, but it came with all of its organs intact — I don’t eat fish, eggs or organs, so that was a no-go.

Strangest place you’ve spent the night?

After playing at Café Mambo in Ibiza for Radio 1 Weekend last summer, I wandered off drunk to find a hotel I’d booked last minute but when I arrived I’d accidentally booked the wrong date and there were no other rooms available. A random guy recognised me on the street and offered me a room but he turned out to be a drug dealer who took me back to a dodgy squat with a mattress on the floor. I pulled my hoody right up over my face, fell asleep hoping for the best and bolted straight out as soon as I woke up. I’d won awards that season for best breakthrough DJ, so one minute I’m thinking I’ve made it in life and the next thing I’m in a crack house trying to sleep on the floor.

Have you ever come close to being arrested?

I haven’t but I bet James [Eliot, the other half of Solardo] has — I’m the sensible one nowadays. I used to stay out partying but I’ve just had a baby girl so it’s hard work if I stay out now. I’ve tried but I’ve learned my lesson.

Next up: Solardo are playing at Hi Ibiza until the end of September

Where are you going next?

We’re in Ibiza for the month. I’ve got a villa there, so I can be with my family and Dave my dog.

Solardo play Hi Ibiza alongside Eric Prydz every Tuesday until Sept 25,