Combining heavy drum and bass beats with powerful synths and emotive vocals to make colossal dancefloor tunes, Wilkinson is undeniably one of this decade’s biggest dance music stars.
Wilkinson’s extensive catalogue of releases spanning the last ten years displays his versatility as a producer, with an unrivalled number of huge commercial hits, as well as rave-ready bangers released on the massive RAM Records.
an unrivalled number of huge commercial hits, as well as rave-ready bangers released on the massive RAM Records
The London producer and DJ has achieved unprecedented success in that time, his debut album Lazers Not Included peaked at two on the UK Dance charts in 2013, before its successor Hypnotic reached pole position after its release four years later.
2019 has flown him all across the world, from South West stages including Tokyo World and Glastonbury, to the likes of Amnesia Ibiza, Czech Republic’s Let It Roll Festival and EDC Las Vegas – and with a mini tour of New Zealand coming up to bring in the New Year, Wilkinson is a truly global name.
it’s going to be good to be back in Bristol
Speaking to Nitelife ahead of his upcoming SWX show, Wilkinson tells us:‘2019 has been busy, like every year is at the moment, but it’s been amazing. I had a really busy summer, but it’s going to be good to be back in Bristol.
‘It’s been an amazing year for festivals especially, and I’ve managed to put out a decent amount of music as well, which I’m really happy with. It’s been a busy and productive year.’
I’ve managed to put out a decent amount of music as well, which I’m really happy with
2019 has seen a handful of big Wilkinson projects rear their head, most notably his ongoing collaboration with fellow producer and drum and bass pioneer Nicolaas Douwma, better known as Sub Focus.
The project has seen the two behemoths get in the studio together for a number of tracks including the recently released Illuminate, as well as semi-regularly playing special B2B sets in every corner of the globe – trust me, this project is only just getting started.
‘Me and Sub Focus started working on this project last year, we’ve just written some amazing music, I can’t go into too many details without revealing it, but a lot of great music is to come and I love working with him, he’s a big inspiration of mine.
‘I think for most people who make drum and bass, especially if you came into the scene at a similar sort of time that I did, Sub Focus is a big inspiration. He’s the top guy in the scene and his tunes are amazing. To be able to work with him and get in the studio with him on a regular basis is amazing and I’m really lucky to be able to do it.
He’s the top guy in the scene and his tunes are amazing
‘The first B2B we did was Mutiny festival last year, then Rampage and Glastonbury and they were all amazing, next year we’re definitely going to do more of those. We enjoy playing together and making music, so it’s a great collaborative project.
‘We just put out our first single a few months ago and we’re working on more stuff that I’m hoping will really surprise people.’
Of course, Wilkinson has been smashing his solo material and shows too. His most recent release, Machina, was dropped in October as part of UKF10, the label’s year-long celebration of bass music culture and ten years of UKF.
Described by themselves as ‘a whole year of appreciation for the artists, labels and DJs who have inspired us over the decade’, the RAM Records bass-smith lent his craft to the celebration with a gritty rollers-inspired track.
I’ve been trying to work with UKF for a while, they’ve supported me so much over the years
‘You know, I’ve been trying to work with UKF for a while, they’ve supported me so much over the years, since day one, really. I remember meeting the label’s founder Luke in the real early days.
‘It felt right to make a track and put it out on UKF for their UKF10 compilation. It’s quite a fresh track for me too. After I came back from Glastonbury I was feeling inspired, so I got into the studio and made the idea.
it’s something different, something for the dancefloor and something that takes me back to my roots
‘It’s got loads of samples from cars and engines, so it’s something different, something for the dancefloor and something that takes me back to my roots of the harder rollers I used to put out.’
Wilkinson DJ sets are heavy, high-octane, high-energy raves packed with a frantic mix of his own classic tunes and the best in contemporary DnB – but his stunning live show is what keeps the bar raised for his competitors.
It’s always an incredible spectacle when DJs bring their performances to life, with a full live band, guest vocalists and state of the art production – Wilkinson Live is absolutely no exception.
Fans at SW4 festival in London were treated to a brand-new show, All For You Live, when he took to the main stage this year, as well as a legendary appearance at O2 Academy Brixton in 2018, and now he’s preparing to roll out another one in the famous venue.
‘Brixton Academy is such an amazing venue that you can have a lot of fun with in terms of the production, so that’s something we’re getting our teeth into at the moment and tickets are flying out.
‘This year we just did one big show in the UK, that was SW4, but I love doing the live show, so next year we’re going to be touring it a little bit more. We’re not sure exactly where yet, but we’ll be announcing more shows next year.’
we’ll be announcing more shows next year
Taking such a vast amount of time to prepare and co-ordinate, Wilkinson Live doesn’t frequent stages nearly as often as the DJ set, but that’s part of what makes it so special.
‘Creating the live show is one of the hardest things I’ve done. Because its dance music, in order to make it into a live set up takes loads of work – working out how to get the drums to sound as good as they do on the original track, I’ve got a live guitarist, I play samples and keys myself, and we’ve got all the vocalists coming out too.
‘It’s not as easy as rolling everyone out on stage and winging it, you really have to put in a lot of work to get it to sound so good, because it’s such loud music, you know. But I think we’ve got it down to a T now.’
On stage Wilkinson is strictly business, pumping out show after show, face down into his CDJs or sample pads – it’s not in his nature to slack. Off stage though, his generic Twitter handle means he holds the mildly amusing accolade of being, probably, the only DJ who receives regular customer complaints and suggestions aimed at a high-street homeware chain.
The platinum-single selling artist has a lot of fun with his replies, fully embracing his mistaken identity and firing shots at their supermarket competitors.
Absolutely agree. I’m insisting ‘we’ as all nationwide stores and supermarkets make an immediate stand and change our policy on plastic. @asda I see you hiding! 🧐 ♻️♻️♻️♻️♻️♻️♻️♻️♻️♻️♻️♻️♻️♻️ https://t.co/eoMemAzfSV
— Wilkinson (@WilkinsonUK) October 24, 2019
Stifling a laugh, he told us: ‘Over the years I’ve had the most ridiculous tweets, but it is good fun. I don’t regret my Twitter handle at all, I love it, it’s my name, what can I say?’
For the younger generation of DnB and dance music fans it’s hard to imagine Wilkinson not being a household name. His platinum certified record Afterglow was released on RAM back in October 2013 and took the scene by storm immediately on release, peaking at 8 in the UK Singles Charts, before the release of Lazers Not Included compounded his success later that same month.
‘I definitely never expected this, it’s one of those things that just randomly happens. Obviously Afterglow did incredibly well, but I’ve always made a sound that lends itself to be played both in clubs and on the radio.
I’ve always made a sound that lends itself to be played both in clubs and on the radio
‘Every so often a tune just really connects with people. It just happened that Afterglow became one of those household songs. It’s mad, it gets played at weddings and all kinds of places – I’ve had requests from people to edit it for their first dance.
‘It’s great making music for the dancefloor, when you’re DJing and drop a big tune and it gets a mad reaction, but ultimately over time something new will come along and people will forget about that tune, unless it’s a real classic.
that’s what keeps us inspired as artists
‘With music that’s got good lyrics and a good vocalist, a song with an emotive melody to it, it connects to people on an emotional level and you hear these stories of how that tune has affected them or helps them in some way – that’s what keeps us inspired as artists.’
Now, the architect behind it all returns to SWX in Bristol this month for his last UK show of 2019, with the promise of big energy, heavy tunes and brand-new Wilkinson music.
‘It’s just a great venue man, definitely one of my favourites. I play quite heavy music so people can come and lose themselves – high energy drum and bass and loads of new music. It just goes off.’