Philippe Cohen Solal has been reinventing traditional musical styles since the latter part of the 20th century. A French producer, composer, DJ, and co-founder of the electronic tango group Gotan Project, he began his career performing with several Parisian bands and working as a DJ at popular local radio stations like 95.2 FM and Skyrock before co-founding the Latin music-inspired groups Boyz from Brazil and Gotan Project in the late '90s. This Frenchman's experiments with American country music began in 2004, when Solal took a course in bluegrass at Maryville College in Tennessee to improve his flatpicking guitar technique. Experimenting with country music and bluegrass was just a small leap from Gotan Project in Solal's eyes. He had already brought the traditional tango music of Argentina to a new generation by fusing the rhythms with electronic beats; now he wanted to move on to American roots music.
Under the name $olal, Philippe Cohen Solal embarked on an independent project to explore the music of the South. $olal veered away from his former electronic tendencies to create pure bluegrass on his first album under this new name, $olal Presents: The Moonshine Sessions. For the Moonshine Sessions album, which was recorded completely in Tennessee, he enlisted the help of Bucky Baxter and soon word spread, leading to the involvement of Ronnie Bowman, Melonie Cannon, and Jim Lauderdale as well. The album, which was released in 2007, is stripped of the dance beats found in the work Solal produced as a DJ and with Gotan Project. Originally, he intended to add electronic elements to the album, but the new elements just didn't fit. Instead, Solal experimented with adding sounds of Tennessee -- crickets, rumbling trucks, and snippets of conversation. ~ Celeste Rhoads, Rovi