Wilkinson: Under The Influence

Wilkinson: Under The Influence

Unless you’ve been working in a nunnery or you’ve sadly gone deaf this summer, there is no way you could’ve missed Wilkinson’s latest rave trumpet Automatic. A sizzled slab of high speed rave that tips more than just a polite nod at The Prodigy, it’s been the ultimate festival weapon for all the biggest DJs. Out this week it comes complete with Hands Up! a wonked out halfstep bass romp that, we can exclusively reveal, was written under the influence!

We can also reveal that Mr Wilkinson has also got some rather big collabos lined up, he’s working on his debut album and he switched from being a drummer to being a producer because he wanted the spotlight to himself. Erm… kind of.

Wanna know more? Then read on. But first, let’s remind ourselves just how wicked Automatic is…

Prodigy fan eh?

“Yeah of course! Even before I got into drum & bass I was fan of them. So I’m doing my album at the moment and it seemed appropriate to name check them. Childhood inspirations are a very subconscious thing. I was into different things from my early teens to my late teens but there’s some sort of consistency through them. Writing an album is a time to explore them.”

Some stuff is subliminal, other things are a homage. Automatic is a homage…

“Definitely. It was very fun to make too. I’ve been building it since late last year. There’s been so many different versions. I write something, then refine it down. I like my tracks to be simple; easy to remember and not full of things that have no reason to be there and clog up the mix. If you put too much stuff in it then you lose the concept. Every tune has to have a concept. Otherwise it’s a struggle. Sitting in the studio and having no idea what to write.”

Setting limitations often forces creativity.

“Yeah. Sometimes people ask how I can go from writing a track like Tonight to a track like Automatic. That’s purely because I don’t think it’s right to write the same variations of just one tune. It’s boring! I’ve wanted to set my stall out as a producer. I want to show myself as a versatile producer with an interest in varied sounds. I hope it introduces me well and sets things up nicely for the album. From Moonwalker to Automatic I think I’ve represented myself well.”

How have you developed as a producer since Moonwalker?

“I learn with every track. Especially mixdown wise. It take me a long time to finish a tune so by the time I’m happy with it and Andy C and everyone at the label are happy with it, I’ve already written it off in my head. I wouldn’t return to any of my singles. I’m happy with them. Yeah sometimes I think ‘oh I should’ve compressed that snare a bit more’ but it doesn’t matter. Times change; listen to drum & bass that’s about eight or so years old and it’s a completely different production standard. Things evolve, music evolves, but we still love the classics. You can’t go back in time!”

Let’s chat Hands Up!

“I actually wrote it on the way back from a big tour in New Zealand with a lot of multi genre guys. I just wanted a bit of fun, really. I actually started writing it on the plane having taken a few valium. I got straight off the plane and into the studio and carried on writing it. It’s different for me. It’s very Marmite, some people love it, others hate it. I’ve played it pretty safe before so I wanted to try something a bit different. I’m happy with it, it’s had a great response.”

Did the valium affect the writing process?

“Quite possibly! It’s funny, the track was originally going to be called Oceana, a club I used to go to as a kid. I thought it would be fun to do a quirky little beat with sample that you’d hear in that club. It’s a bit weird, I’m sure it was inspired. To me there’s a real hip-hop feel to the drums.”

You are a drummer aren’t you?

“Yeah I used to be in various jazz bands and rock bands and from there I got into music production. I wanted to get involved in songwriting but a drummer doesn’t really do that. Except for Dave Grohl. I thought there were too many people in a band so I got into something I could do myself and write myself. Now I’m writing tunes for pop artists, doing stuff for Island Records and a lot of additional production. It’s funny, I do my drum & bass, which is my passion, but then I’m doing all this extra stuff. It’s very gratifying that labels like Island and Universal have taken notice of what I’m doing and asking me to work with them.”

Who are you producing for?

“A lot of up and coming artists. I can’t really say who. I’ve had a great breakthrough with this new singer, she’s so talented. She’s going to be really big. I’ve been inspired by hip-hop and worked with a few artists…. Some of them might pop up on the album. It’s been great to break up my album process and single writing to work with these people. It’s very exciting and you learn a lot from them; they come from a completely different angle and use melody differently. It’s inspiring.”

A totally different sense of perspective. Cool. Now then, I want an exclusive please. Tell us something we don’t know.

“Well I haven’t told anyone about the valium thing before…”

That is wicked a story, but…. More please!

“P Money is going to feature on my album. That’s pretty cool. It’s great to work with him and I’m really pleased how it’s all come together.”

Nice. Got a date for the album release?

“Probably March next year. Hopefully!”

Can’t wait. Cheers!

Automatic/Hands Up! is out now on Ram. Listen and download right here.



Drum&BassArena Editor: Dave Jenkins has documented beats for over 15 years working with the likes of UKF, Mixmag, DJ Mag, iDJ, Bandcamp, Resident Advisor, Radio 1 Xtra and many more.