Julio Acconci breaks into a wide smile and sits back in his chair to consider the nature of the Asian entertainment industry. For the past seven years or so, the Macau-raised musician and his twin brother, Dino, have plied their trade as rock-pop outfit Soler, a multi-cultural musical oddity in a region where studio-shined pop dominates the charts and the airwaves. As a band, Soler have not shied away from putting in the hard yards, playing live wherever they could to build up their reputation and fan base. As individuals, the brothers say they have always tried to put their music first, even though the modern-day demands of the business are such that every artist must try to spread their talents as far and wide as possible. Call it the nature of the beast. And that's what has brought a smile to Julio's face as he looks across to his brother and begins to talk about how they have started to learn how to play the industry at its own game. 'It was important from the start for us to establish ourselves as musicians first. It's only now that we have done that, we are trying to expand. All these years we have held back on other sides of what the entertainment industry has become today,' he says. 'There's a misconception that the artist is just there to do what he's told, at least in this region. The last thing most people want to deal with is an artist who thinks. But we have recently started taking care of our own projects and that has made us think: 'Do we see ourselves simply as artists or part of a wider industry?' 'There are many different things we can explore and these days you have to branch out in terms of your talents. But we want to do things on our own terms.' The flyers sitting in front of us on the coffee table are a case in point. Soler are fronting the campaign for Motorola's MotoActv fitness tracker/MP3 player and the images we are looking at - as well as those being broadcast in the ad campaign - were designed by the pair. The past 12 months have seen them branch out into soundtracks, having worked on the Taiwanese film Young Dudes, which played at the Hong Kong International Film Festival and opened the Taipei Golden Horse Fantastic Film Festival. They also have a deal with Diesel clothing as they look to expand the Soler 'brand'. There have also been parts in four films - the Taiwanese actioner Black & White, Hong Kong director Jeff Lau's East Meets West 2011, the Macau-produced Love in the City, and the Hong Kong adaptation of Cantonese stage comedy MicroSex Office - to keep the brothers busy. As artists, Julio says, they enjoy a sense of freedom based on their growing knowledge of how the industry works, the success they have shared, and life lessons learned from a court case that saw them sued for breach of contract. 'I think it has been more a case of learning how to speak our minds, which comes with experience I suppose. And we are constantly learning about the industry,' says Julio. 'It's a lot freer, as the platform these days is not so restricted. That allows you to explore a lot more, of course. Artists these days are expected to do more than just the one thing anyway. That's not a new thing, even though some people might think it is. 'In the early days of Hollywood, for example, artists were asked to do a whole lot more than just act. And the technology that is around today is something that really helps. You can do anything - or at least try - and people really expect more from you.' Working on the Young Dudes soundtrack was another way the pair were able to explore other options available to them. 'We have both acted before, of course, and have found that acting has helped us as performers on stage,' says Dino. 'But what was exciting with the soundtrack was that the director [Chen Yin-jung] didn't want a film score as such, or to use established songs and have me rework them for the film. She just wanted little pieces of music, mini-songs, 20 seconds here or 30 seconds there. It was a new challenge for me and a really fun thing to do. We ended up writing about nine songs for the film. This is a part of the industry that we would really like to continue to explore.' It's another direction for Soler and they have more in store before the year is out on the music front, too, having headed back into the studio with drummer Donald Ashley, of the ground-breaking 1980s group Chyna. 'I think there is just so much music around today and it's being used so much that nothing much really seems to stick in your head, to become the sort of soundtrack of one period of your life,' says Dino. 'So we are looking to expand our sound and working with Donald Ashley is doing that. He is teaching us so much and we are really honoured to be working with him.' Ashley has been off the scene for some years after injuring his back during martial arts training, says Julio, and the brothers jumped at the chance to work with him, with a Soler 'trio' album set for release by the end of the year. 'He's like a sifu of the drums,' says Julio. 'He has still been teaching, but it's taken him seven years to get well enough to really play again. He has so much energy and artist frustration that has built up, it is really something to see. It's just a joy to watch him play. 'We like to think that we've made a little mark, a little scratch on the music scene and now we would like to go past that, to be more than just a band from Hong Kong or from Macau,' says Julio.