Get the low-down on Wilkinson's latest single 'Flatline' with Wretch 32 in this exclusive interview.
Read more music features.
There's very few people in bass music, or particularly drum & bass, that can successfully attract the mainstream audiences and stay true to the roots of the scene that got them to where they are now. But one artist that has managed to do this, in our opinion, is Wilkinson. After huge underground success with tracks like 'Moonwalker', 'Every Time', 'Tonight' and 'Automatic', all perfectly encapsulating his ability to both rock the dancefloor and get you singing along, Wilksinon unleashed his debut LP.
Lazers Not Included saw a further development of his more accessible sounds but with a far more mature approach to the rave-catered bangers. His major hit, 'Afterglow', now has an incredible 47 million plays on his Vevo and his releases of 2015, including his collaboration with TC on 'Hit The Floor' and 'Dirty Love', featuring the vocals of Talay Riley, all showed he's continuing to evolve whilst staying fully connected to both the more mainstream and underground styles.
Now, as we approach the summer of 2016, Wilkinson has unveiled a sure-to-be hit with one of the UK's most prolific rappers - Wretch 32. With a new album in the pipeline and a slew of shows on the horizon, we managed to grab 20 minutes of Wilkinson's time to chat about the new single, filming in Las Vegas and what other projects, away from drum & bass, he's most excited about.
First off, how's 2016 been so far? You're touring at the moment, have there been any highlights?
Yeah it's been crazy really, we've played some amazing places like New York, Porta Rico, all around Australia and a few other places. It's just been great to travel around. I'm enjoying playing the live show to new crowds and I'm managing to find some time to actually explore the places I'm visiting more than usual and taking in the culture. It's been a great year so far.
Your single 'Flatline' with Wretch 32 is out, he's an artist you've worked with before in the studio, how is he to work with?
He's a really inspirational person to work with if I'm honest. I've worked with a lot of people over the past three or four years but he's an amazing person to be in the studio with. We really vibe off of each other which is so important in collaborations and he'll just be pacing around the studio as I'm playing around with the beat and he'll be spitting bars and really trying to do the beat justice. He's got a real talent as a lyricist, his word play and way with words is so on point - quality guy with an amazing team around him as well.
The video for 'Flatline' is now released. How was the filming for that?
It was amazing, we went out to Las Vegas which is just an incredible place. We went to the north of Vegas to lesser known areas, away from the strip, and we even went to the place where they decommission all of the old lights. Its great because we're not known out there and it was just really good fun filming the video, enjoying Vegas but also being approached by people who have no idea who we are and asking what we're doing. Another great experience.
Your second album is on the horizon. Can we have any details on that yet?
If I'm honest I'm still keeping my cards close to my chest on this one. I've got a load of tracks and I'm now at the point where I'm just putting together the final tracklist - which is a good point to be at. It's always a challenge though because the album is almost three years of work in total so there's some tunes that I made way back at the start that I've listened to far too many times, so I'm really biased towards my new material. Really excited to get it out there though.
You tend to work with a lot of lesser-known vocalists and artists. How do you go about choosing them?
I'm not really one to just contact the biggest artist of the moment or anything like that. What I love about working with new people, that maybe aren't as well known, is you can be really taken back by their talent when they lay down some vocals for you. It makes it so much more fresh and exciting for me. It's also great to introduce them to my audience and hopefully help them to grow as artists more. I love discovering new artists so working with some of them is a pleasure for me.
You've developed your live show considerably over the past couple of years. How much involvement do you have in that? It must be very different to the continuous DJ sets.
It's a really cool experience with the live show because it's constantly evolving and changing. I've got an incredible team backing me up, setting up the shows and the people that travel with me are seriously creative minds. So when we're on the tour buses or whatever, we still have conversations about how we can continue to develop. I also have a lot of people around me that you can gain a lot of inspiration from when you're writing new material and stuff so I love the live show element. Don't get me wrong though, I still love DJing, they're just totally different experiences.
Are there any lessons you learnt from the your debut album, Lazers Not Included, that you've taken onto this one?
That's quite a tricky question, I'm not really sure if I'm honest. I started writing this one immediately after the debut album so it's been a very gradual learning process really. What it did show me was you should always make a diverse collection of tracks. Lazers Not Included did so much for me as an artist and I put everything into it, I just hope I do that project justice by following up with something that's of the same quality.
What other projects have you got coming up? You tend to work with a lot of artists behind the scenes.
One project I'm putting a lot of time and energy into is Shannon Saunder's album who's my girlfriend. It means a great deal to be able to work with her on her own projects and it just means so much more than any other collaboration, so that's a big one for me. I've also got some stuff lined up with Katie B on her latest project, Wretch a little bit more and Pro Green.
I love working with different people because it gives me an opportunity to step away from drum & bass for a bit and gain some creative inspiration from other genres, which is so important if your own work is going to be varied. I'm also in the really fortunate position where I've got a lot of friends in the industry and I can work with people I really get along with. It just means the final product is so much better and really means something to you.
Where else can we catch you playing over the summer?
God, there's so many to remember but a handful are Wireless, V Festival, I'm back in Ibiza, Boardmasters and I'm taking my live show to a couple of festivals including NASS. I'm going to be really busy and playing all over the place so there's plenty of places you can catch me!
Finally, it's a big year for drum & bass albums, any you're particularly looking forward to?
It felt like last year was a lot of talk of albums, as artists and labels revealed they were working on them, and now we're getting to hear them which is really exciting. I guess some big ones for me would be Delta Heavy's, which is out now, I'm playing a few shows with them at the moment as well and they're great guys that put a lot of hard work into what they do.
Calyx & Teebee's will be a big one, then you have people like Netsky and Chase & Status, so should be an exciting year. What I love about years where there are a lot of different albums is that it usually presents a new sound or style that starts a new sub-genre and evolution for the scene in general. I can't wait to hear what people have been up to!