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Interview: Wilkinson

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It’s been a whirlwind eighteen months for UK drum and bass producer Wilkinson.

2013 saw the release of his debut album Lazers Not Included through RAM Records, which spawned the massive hit ‘Afterglow’, as well as his second Top 40 single ‘Half Light’ featuring Tom Cane. Since then, Wilkinson has produced for artists such as Katy B and Wretch 32, and also embarked on a sold-out UK tour.

Wilkinson

“It’s pretty crazy,” says a rather dopey Wilkinson, currently looking out across Ibiza harbour. “It’s just been mad, and it’s still going.

“I never expected this to send me around the world.”

Following the success of Lazers Not Included, Wilkinson was originally to release Lazers Not Included 2.0, a new edition of his debut album which would feature six previously unheard songs. But having been writing new material since its release, this plan was scrapped in favour of putting out a whole new album. Now, says Wilkinson, reflecting on the events of the past year and a half, feels like the right time to release it.

“I feel like I’ve really found my sound. I’ve got a live band now, I’m looking forward to playing it all live.”

How, then, would he describe this sound?

“I’ve gone for the 90s way of doing the vocals – from the late 90s drum and bass, just the structures and sounds that are used. I’ve also loved using guitars on this album, so I’ve got that festival guitar sound on a lot of the tunes, and used that as an atmosphere in the background of the tunes.”

Festival guitar sound? Festival sound as in when everything’s distorted by the wind and you can barely hear anything? Guitar sound as in Slayer or as in 5 Seconds of Summer?

“It’s hard to describe the sound,” says Wilkinson, “but that’s really what I’m going for – that sort of rave-y vibe that works in festivals, something that works in summer. The majority of the stuff I’ve written has actually been in hot places, so it’s influenced by the summer.”

Sounds like Wilkinson has been rather enjoying his never-ending summer over the past two years.

The album’s sound, Wilkinson continues, is also influenced by the work of guest writers and vocalists. Rather than using big names, Wilkinson prefers to stick to upcoming artists.

“There’s a lot of new talent around, and it’s good to take advantage of that and find new singers who can bring something new.”

When working with a guest vocalist, Wilkinson explains that the creative process is collaborative, with the vocals often guiding the direction of the track.

“I like to get in the studio with the artists and just start from scratch. Sometimes they bring some lyrics that they’ve thought about, or we come up with a concept ourselves on the day. I usually just keep it simple – I don’t even write any beats, I just write some chords. You just work on getting the vocal down and the melody, and then when [the vocalist] leaves I have a think about where the song could go – what kind of sound it could be in, what’s the concept for it musically.

“The key moment is that moment when you’re in the studio for the first time with a new vocalist and you come up with that idea that sparks the rest of the creative process.”

In terms of who he would like to work with in the future, Wilkinson is quick to name The Prodigy, but the young producer also listens to a range of genres outside of electronic music.

“It’d be interesting to work with people from other genres – not electronic genres, more acoustic genres. I’ve always loved rock music, so that’d be the first genre I’d do. I’m a massive fan of hip hop too.”

This sounds promising, but at the moment, Wilkinson won’t be branching out into other genres.

“Really I’m sticking to my guns with writing drum and bass.

“I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing now because I love it – you get to travel the world and meet new people, promoters, fans, and make music at the same time, and it’s amazing.”

Speaking of travelling, Wilkinson is about to embark on a jam-packed festival season this summer, including Glastonbury, Croatia’s Hideout Festival, Belgium’s Pukkelpop, and Reading and Leeds. Clearly, Wilkinson relishes this jet-setting lifestyle, but what keeps him grounded when travelling the globe?

“I’ve got great friends and family around me, so they’ll always shut me down if I get too cocky!

“It’s a great life, but you don’t get it for free. You’ve got to put hard work into it, keep writing tunes and keep your name out there.”

Wilkinson plays festivals in the UK, US and Europe this summer. Check out the dates here.




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