Since releasing his debut album Lazers Not Included and its hit single ‘Afterglow’ back in 2013, Wilkinson has toured across the globe with his exciting brand of dancefloor-ready Drum & Bass. With the follow-up album on the way in 2016 and lead single ‘Flatline’ featuring Wretch 32 just out, we caught up with the producer/DJ to find out a bit more about it…
Tell us a bit about how the collaboration with Wretch 32 come about?
I’ve always been into his stuff. He’s got an ear for a really good song and he’s such a great lyricist. I’m very inspired by the way people work and when you see someone like Wretch in the studio with the way he was writing and the energy I was getting off him it was amazing. ‘Flatline’ was originally a Hip Hop track and I’ve always been into Hip Hop. It was a massive influence for me growing up and I got into Drum & Bass through the breakbeats and the similarities there, but I love the pace of D&B and I feel like Wretch gets that as well. So it was just about merging two worlds together – mine and his – and I’m a little bit ignorant of his world, so it was good to get in there and learn from each other. His wordplay and the stories he writes about are amazing and it just came together. That song has taken two years and we’ve been working on other songs and I’ve been writing beats for him. It’s good to finally finish this one though. I’m really pleased with it. We had a nice time in Las Vegas together working on the video so it seemed like the right time to put it out.
It’s not the first time you’ve worked with a Grime artist though as P Money featured on your debut album ‘Lazers Not Included’…
The thing I like about UK artists and Grime in particular is the speed, aggression and the pace of all the lyrics. It feels like I’m doing the British thing with D&B and it’s nice to work with another British genre rather than getting an American rapper on it.
‘Flatline’ is the lead single from your forthcoming project and as the last album did so well, are you hoping to exceed what you’ve achieved before or do you not think about things like that?
I’m always pushing myself to be better. But one of the interesting things is that when I put out my first album I was still very much an underground artist. That only changed when ‘Afterglow’ came out, which was a week before the album came out. So it’s cool because I’ve gained a lot of fans from that track that didn’t know me before and I’ve also got all the fans before that, be it a lot less who are really into their D&B and what I was doing, so it’s interesting now that songs come out on their own and it’s all about one song rather than a single having to include two songs. I’ve just done a tour which sold out because of all these new fans and if I’d tried to do that before my first album I wouldn’t have been able to do it. So it’s gonna be interesting to put out an album and have a much larger fanbase able to consume it and shout about it. I’m really excited about that and for me the challenge is not having too many vocal songs, even though that’s my passion. I want to write an album that people can listen to in the car or chilling in the sun, but with enough agginess to work in a club.
Chase & Status are other Drum & Bass stars who have worked with artists outside of the genre, so do you feel that you’re leading that crossover with them?
I’ve always been one to stick with D&B and I’ve never jumped on any other genres, but I take inspiration from other genres and try and merge that with D&B and bring it up to the 174bpm tempo. When Dubstep blew up, a lot of people started changing their sound and making a lot of 140bpm stuff, but I live at that D&B tempo and I wanna keep it that way. Of course with an album I might step into other tempos a little bit for a couple of tracks, but predominantly it’s just about D&B for me and if you can bring in ideas from other genres and cultures then I think that’s a beautiful thing to try and do.
With the album due out later this year, have you got a name for it yet?
No not yet. We’ve been throwing names and album artwork about for a while now. I’ve toured the world and gained a lot more knowledge. I’ve played in places from Sao Paulo and New Zealand to New York and Eastern Europe and each place is culturally so different. They receive the music in a different way too and that’s what has inspired this album. Gaining knowledge and meeting all these different people, finding out what they’re into and what they like about my music. The album title and the concept is about that world of knowledge that I’ve acquired, which is why I couldn’t find a name for it. I wanna represent that and I don’t wanna just call it ‘Lazers Not Included’ or something like that [laughs]. For me, back then my first album was saying that we don’t have to use screechy, crazy sounds all the time to make an album and get it to cut across into clubs. If you’ve got a powerful vocal that people can respond to on a dancefloor, that’s as important as the bassline. So this one will be a little bit different.
For anyone who isn’t so familiar with your music, how would you describe what they’re likely to hear on this new record?
I’ve had the opportunity to write a whole record this time whereas before it was more of a compilation of songs that I’d been making over the last few years. But this is a record from start to finish. It’s a journey through how I’ve developed over the last three years. Musically, there’s gonna be a bit for everyone. There’ll be vocal songs in there, but of course there’s gonna be club bangers that will go off on the dancefloor and they’ll be the powerful ones at 2am. It’s about connecting them all and telling a story and I see it as much more of a record than my debut.
We’ve mentioned that Wretch is set to feature on the album but can we look forward to hearing collaborations with anyone else?
Yeah I’m working on a track with Professor Green and also my girlfriend Shannon Saunders, which is cool cos we can get in the studio and really connect on that personal level. When you work with an artist for the first time, you don’t know each other that well so you don’t know what you can say, but with your girlfriend you can really talk about it and get it perfect, so that’s been really nice. There’s very much a family feel to it because I haven’t got anyone on there who isn’t a friend or connected on a personal level as well as a professional level. There’s still a bit to go though so there may be a few more names coming through. Watch this space.