With influences such as Aphex Twin, Flying Lotus and Sam Gellaitry; Dan J. Wilcox has a weighted discography ranging from ambient to bassline. His first release with us, 'Cactus' comes this September.
What is it that got into you into electronic music?
My earliest memory of electronic music was two main things my Dad introduced to me. Kraftwerks’ ‘Electric Café’ album and his Yamaha Portasound VSS-100, which I still have and use sometimes. The CD he had was the original release from the 80s and from the first ‘BOING, BOOM TSCHAK’, I was instantly hooked. I have never heard anything like it; it was so alien, different and even a bit scary - this only pulled me into deeper into the album hearing music that was so different from my surroundings on radio and TV at the time. The Yamaha Portasound is this little synth with built-in presets with no modifiable banks you’d find on a traditional synth. Its gimmick was that it can record half a second of audio, on four banks via the keyboard. My Dad showed me how Kraftwerk did it essentially - trying to copy the robot voices and playing in time with the track playing on my old, portable CD player! Ever since, I found myself discovering new sounds and artists whenever I asked my Dad for a recommendation like Yello, Art of Noise, Mike Oldfield and so much more.
I’m obsessed, till this day, how Electronic music can be different and completely unique having the ability to make music that hasn’t been done before or even possible because of traditional limitations in the foundation of music composition.
With a discography dating back 5 years, how do you feel your influences and styles have changed over time? Are there any things that have remained the same?
Five years is mental, damn. I definitely see a difference from what I make today but, at the same time, I try to expand my productions into every genre. I started off mainly doing ambient stuff using presets because it was easy to hold a chord for 10 min and call it a track. Ha. However, I got into Aphex Twin who is another major influence of, not only me but, electronic music in general. That dude is a genius - Simple as. However, I have noticed how much Hip - Hop I’ve been listening to in the past 5 years and how It’s becoming what pop music was in the 80s. Where kids can now make a track in their bedroom, upload for free and blow up overnight. The Internet has changed everything (including my own productions) and has now become this modern X - Factor and it’s scary how it’s constantly changing at this rapid pace.
How do you spark creativity when making music?
It’s spontaneous like most artists. It’s never planned or forced. I just make stuff that I think sounds good, polish to my best ability and put it out to show my mates. Listening to Music is probably the best way to get creative, however - it’s a little production tip I use by trying to create the sounds from my favourite artists by ear, but don’t do it too much because you’ll end up sounding like the original artist! I find the best bits by playing around on my own synths, chopping samples, mix loads of sound FX and blend them together to make something I love. However, it can be a curse to hear something amazing and make you want to give up producing and feel that you’ve been set back a couple of years. Shout out to Iglooghost ;)
It’s clear from your shows that you enjoy an emphasis on visual elements, what is it that interested you about video and is it something that you hope to explore more?
As William Basinski said, ‘with electronic music a lot of it is presentation’. From what I’ve realised with some of the most impactful pieces of electronic music is how connects to its own visual accompaniment. DJ sets and lighting technologies have been constantly evolving in the background which connotes to the whole idea of electronic music being futuristic. It’s another reason why I love this genre. I’ve been experimenting with projectors and some Max / MSP video plugins for Ableton to integrate visuals in my show but it really is another league that I’m still teaching myself how to use (College really helped out with this with my final project, which I should be sharing online very soon!). Apparently, LED Screens are the future of visual stuff for gigs, but at the moment I’m gonna stick to my bootleg, amazon projector for practice...
You have a performance lined up supporting Bristol duo Stanton Warriors at the Boileroom, what should people expect from your set?
Currently working on it right now. Trying to get a progressive sound throughout the duration from starting real slow then end on a 200 BPM high. The live synths will be returning to the rig and possibly some more live interactivity with the tracks I’ve got lined up. Really going to try to only use my tracks, that way it’d be all chopped and mixed differently together. It’s absolutely mad that I’m going to support these guys. Their remixes are really their strength because they can really flip a track and make it sound like one of their own. Hope the night goes well and there’s still loads of work to do.
You have two other aliases, Chilap, and Chief; do you find it helpful being able to separate your work between aliases?
Sort of. The Chilap and Chief stuff have been more exercises in classic Hip-hop beats, Dubstep and traditional house tracks for DJ sets. They were older aliases to sort and practise these genres out. Fortunately, these tracks are being resurrected on the ‘Dan J. Wilcox’ on all platforms including ‘Propaganda’ which was an old Chief LP that I have remastered and mixed together like a mixtape and a couple of Chilap beats will be making a come back on ‘Cuplaqwid’.
Are there any venues you hope to play someday?
Definitely. Most venues I dream of are the ones that are my favourites. The Barbican is somewhere I’d love to drown my sound mainly because of its wooden structure giving this distinct reverb. The Roundhouse is a fantastic venue as well for its size yet intimacy, seeing Sleaford Mods and Lemon Twigs were fantastic. There are still venues I still need to attend however like Brixton, Wembley, Jazz Cafe and Printworks where I’ll be seeing Aphex in September. Can’t wait!
What inspired the music for your upcoming release, 'Cactus'?
At the moment I’m obsessed with a guy named Matt Cutler (Lone) and his ‘Ambivert’ series of EPs which are Tech House focused. I love how progressive and subtle every bar is in all his stuff. Something I wanted to do for this release - house music with more character and variation… and also kinda atmospheric.