This week we catch up with BBC Radio 1's Will Atkinson to talk about Ibiza, Tesco Club Cards and the future of trance music.
Hi Will, whereabouts are you right now and what's been happening?
Ola! I’m just back from the Balearic Islands. That wee special place they call Ibiza. Sitting in my living room, shivering, drowning myself in after-sun lotion and coffee.
You seem to have been spending quite a bit of time in Ibiza this summer? More so than usual?
I’ve literally been in and out all summer. I take holidays home to do the laundry! Yes I’ve been very fortunate to boast a solid string of Cream bookings this season. I’m very grateful to Nick and everyone else at Cream for getting me so involved in the brand this year. Hoping to build on that next year! I also have the Driftwood boat party - I think it may be sold out? Also, not forgetting my first ever performance under Josep (my progressive house moniker) - warming up for Above & Beyond once again at Cream Amnesia.
You are currently the only person on BBC Radio 1 regularly championing trance music. With its global popularity in general, are you surprised by this?
With a decent number of festival and festival stages starting to embrace trance, I still feel it is a total minority in the world of electronic dance music. It really is such a tiny market in comparison, so it doesn't surprise me that I’m the only fella giving it any proper airtime on BBC. That being said, I feel trance has become stuck in a rut and just hasn’t really developed or evolved into anything fresh over the last five years. A lot of tracks I hear now are exactly what I’d expect to hear five years ago, minus the dynamic and overall quality. I really have to dig, and dig fucking deep to find current trance music that would fit into my sets. Maybe my tastes are changing? I just struggle to find the character, emotion - the stuff that genuinely moves me - which trance is surely all about!? I’m currently fishing it out through a lot of techno which currently evokes the same feelings a lot of old “trance” used to. Until producers start taking risks, stop following trends and copping out with “follow ups”, trance will remain yesterday and therefore, essentially off those airwaves. That, I’m talking absolute bollocks.
You must get absolutely tons of music sent through, how do you aggregate the gold from the grime? Does anyone help you with this, ie downloading for?
I’ve actually stopped checking my old address. It was maybe at the 2-300 per week stage, and I was maybe digging out 10 fairly decent records which would no doubt be played twice then forgotten about. Just not really worth an afternoon spent with my head in my hands. I have a much tighter system and deal personally with labels and artists rather than holding out for a gem. I let John Askew do that part and he filters through maybe 50-80 hot records once a month from maybe 1000.
What’s been happening in the studio?
I’ve just wrapped up a new strobe lit, circus of a record. It’s based on my manager John trying to get hold of me. Let’s just say the theme’s a bit off the hook…. I’m also halfway through a full frontal, tear-jerking uplifter, which looks set to be up there with Numb The Pain. In Josep world, I have a collaboration with Grum forthcoming on Anjunabeats which we actually produced well over a year ago. However, due to our demanding tour schedule and sample issues, it’s taken the good part of this year to finish the record and have hooks sang again and them re-sampled. We’re both really excited about the release though and was definitely worth the legal minefield tread upon. On top of that, the usual mountain of unfinished projects, slowly getting themselves finished. Summer has wiped out a lot my studio time. The busiest of my career hands down. I can’t complain, but I’m looking forward to getting some solid weeks back into the studio come the end of summer. Oh, and my remix of my favourite trance track of all time, Dogzilla ‘Without You’ is scheduled for release in September which I’m buzzing about.
As a seasoned flyer, what’s the funniest thing you’ve witnessed on a plane this year?
I can’t answer that, as it would get me into a lot of trouble. But, the funniest thing I’ve witnessed in an airport is me trying to buy a traveller neck cushion with a Tesco Club Card. I was flying to Argentina after a night out in Glasgow’s infamous and notorious Sub Club. I don’t even own a Tesco Club Card!?
Josep is a name you have created for your more progressive material, care to share any news on this front?
As I mentioned, I’ve just wrapped up a record with one of my good mates, Graeme also known as Grum. So I’m fairly buzzing off that. Lot of good things being said about it in these early stages already. Also, just released a remix I completed with my dear friend Kane across the pond in L.A. It’s a track he scoped out last year. An amazing retro-wave sort of band. FM-84 - Running in The Night. That literally dropped last week so we’re both buzzing about that. I’ve also got a stack of original Josep material coming together and have just started officially remixing a certain Above & Beyond record - one of their biggest without a shadow of doubt.
Some people may argue that the trance industry can be overly serious at times, how do you cope with that side of things as well as trying to enjoy yourself along the way?
I try and steer clear of it at all costs. You are what you surround yourself with!
Which artists should be we be keeping an eye out for this autumn?
I’m absolutely digging what Shanti & Deedrah have being doing. I’ve been caning ‘Acid Guru’ pretty much every set since February. And their new one “Soaring with Angels. Stoneface & Terminal really upped their game. I’m playing all their stuff on BBC and in the clubs. Also Noble 6, Factor B, Gai Barone, Cold Blue and Chris Porter are all worth mentioning!
Finally, you are set to appear at Hard Trance Europe (HTE) in Milton Keynes on Friday 1st September alongside Mark EG and SH.O.K.K. Are you excited and what can we expect from WA on the night?
Should be good. You can expect to be aurally assaulted. Chances are I won’t even be sorry when I’m finished with you.
Catch Will Atkinson This Friday at Hard Trance Europe (HTE), Unit Nine, Milton Keynes
Event page: HERE
Listen to Will Atkinson on BBC Radio 1 each month - CLICK HERE