Wilkinson In The Studio

Wilkinson is back on RAM Records with his single, Every Time / Overdose. Discover how he makes tunes in the studio in this interview…

How do approach starting a new tune? Do you have a standard workflow of building beats/bass first, or focus on another part to begin with?
I usually come up with an idea of the type of tune I want to make. Then I’ll try and find some samples from music that I want to take inspiration from. For example a garage accapella / sample or a sample from an old Motown record. Then I lay some beats down.

Do you usually wait until you’re in the right state of mind before starting a track or do you just sit down and see what comes out?
I feel inspired to make tunes all the time. Whether it be the morning after a gig or when I’m on my way home after a night out on the shandies and WKD. If I’m having a bad day and can’t think of anything I will just jump on the decks for four or five hours and then usually feel inspired again.

Does your approach differ depending on which genre you are making?
Not really, I’ve recently written a garage track. I didn’t plan to make a garage tune I just found a vocal I really liked and it didn’t quite work at 174bpm. I’m never afraid of making a tune in a different tempo as I’m working on my album now and that will allow for some other genres in there. If a good idea doesn’t work at 174bpm there’s no point in throwing it away.

Out of the tracks you do start, how many get finished? How many get released?
Every thing that I have finished at the moment myself and Andy are playing in our sets. If it passes the road test and the punters like it then it gets released. Some tunes I may hold back for the album project, some tunes will work well as a single.

What time of day do you work best?
I work 9am – 8pm Monday to Friday at my studio. I’ve had to treat it like a job so that I can stay disciplined. It’s easy to bum around when you’re a producer. Especially if you know you’ve got a backlog of releases lined up. I like to keep myself in check and carry on making more and more music.

What do you do when you’re not feeling inspired?
Make a tune usually.

Where is your studio set up and what does is consist of? Do you use any hardware or are you software only?
My studio is in south west London. I use an Apple iMac with Logic 9. I’ve got a s*** load of plugins I like to use. I’ll use a variety of kitchen utensils when necessary. I’ve got some outboard gear, a Roland 303, some keyboards, pads, distortion pedals, a ring modulator, all going in through a nice compressor.

What’s your most used plugin and what makes it so essential?
I have an effects plugin I use a lot in all my bass sounds. But other than that, mostly standard Logic plugins. I love the Rob Papen stuff as well.

Are you the sort that likes to use old vinyl to get snippets of atmos, FX, melodies, etc or do you use synths mainly for your sounds?
I use a bit of both. I love the idea of sampling from vinyl, and when I’m feeling really inspired I will. All my bass sounds I make in synths, usually a couple of different synths. Pads I’ll try and sample so you get all the crusty distortion and vinyl crackle like in Moonwalker.

How much of your sounds come from random samples, i.e. stuff you’ve recorded yourself etc, rather than sample packs?
The majority of stuff I sample comes from stuff I’ve recorded. Some effects I might take from sample packs but when it comes to sounds and melodies I think it’s always good to find obscure samples.

There was a video on YouTube showing how you made a bassline from a food blender. How important do you think it is to create your own sounds and what other unusual items have you created sounds from?
It depends on how far you want to take your tunes. I like my tunes to have a story behind them and I will make sure that every tune I make has something individual about it that I have never made before and will never make again. That way I think your music has a longer shelf life. There is more throwaway music out there now than ever before so I really want to do something different and individual with not only the sound of my music but the way I go about making it.

What’s the coolest bit of kit you’ve got and do you actually use it much?
Boss pitch shifter.

What’s the best piece of equipment you’ve ever used?
Braun blender.

Which sequencer do you use and why?
Logic because it’s made by Apple.

Any new studio technology or gear you’re liking at the moment?
I don’t really keep up to date with new stuff, I make do with what I’ve got because I know how to use it.

What’s your monitoring situation like?
Mackie HR824’s and the speakers in my car.

Any advice you can give us regarding mixdowns?
Mastering engineers can’t polish a turd. So make it the best you can before you send it to get mastered. Also reference to other tunes you like.

What production technique do you think is really overused / annoying?
Massive – Brutal Electro, over compressed drums that sound like they were made in a toilet. Basically people who can’t be assed to learn a synth so they just use the raw presets. I could give you a list of about 50 tunes and name the presets. They just all sound the same.

What do you know now that you wish you had known when you started out?
There are a lot of assholes in the music industry. Especially a couple of guys from Denmark who nearly made me give up when I was a kid trying to release stuff.

Tell us a bit more about how you created the tracks on your new single…
Moonwalker and Samurai were quite filthy songs so I needed to write something for the ladies in order to prevent my fan base from becoming a sausage fest, that’s when I wrote Every Time. I wrote Overdose for the blokes.

Would you ever like to make your own sample pack?
Maybe if I get the time… Volume 1 – Sounds of the Kitchen, Volume 2 – Sounds of the Bedroom ft. Megan Fox, Volume 3 – Sounds of the Toilet. I could go on…

Got any other releases in the pipeline you can tell us about?
Yes, the AA side of Cyantific’s forthcoming single on Ram which I have collaborated with him on. My next solo single is forthcoming in the autumn, which you will already be able to hear myself and Andy playing in our sets. My album next year.

Anything else you’d like to tell us about?
Not that I can think of apart from get yourself down to the next Ram @ Fabric.