Afterglow is not only an anthem but also a fantastic music video. To start this conversation, let’s talk about Wilkinson’s authentic style. Drum and bass is almost always about the instruments and the conductor (the DJ); vocals take a bit of a back seat, chipping in to complement the mix as and when commanded.
Wilkinson, however, has heavy drum and bass that stand as a constant on the left and right, with piercing vocals parting them like Moses and the Red Sea. He uses catchy keyboard melodies that blend majors and minors and really scratchy snares that sound like live, natural snare sounds, under a sonic microscope.
As the last beat echoes away the next beat just catches its tail. Another example of this is Saunders, which again has those penetrating, triple layer vocals with an interesting addition of the acoustic guitar.
Another technique Wilkinson uses in many of his songs is the ‘outside of the club’ sound. In Afterglow, the hardest punch of the song creeps up unexpectedly and explodes into chaotic passion as the first chorus arrives. I have to admit, I was nearly brought to tears, seeing this song live at Leeds.
While the point of dance music is often to become so emotionally disconnected you can dance without caring, Wilkinson’s music is so emotive, that if you didn’t dance you would probably suffer a mental breakdown!
Tove Lo’s style has some inherent similarities musically, however, her music isn’t quite as light in feel, and covers darker subjects in a more obvious way. Habits for example, is clearly sad and heavy, whereas Wilkinson’s musical expression is more of an explosion and you just don’t have time to identify what he is making you feel.
His sound has come a long way since 2013, where we see more backseat vocals and heavy 80’s style synths.
We see this in the likes of Higher, for example, but time has evolved his style into a combination of the two in his latest single Take It Up. We hear the robotic 80’s effects on the vocals, but they still stand in the middle of the sound. Your heart will beat to the dangerous levels that drum and bass will take you to, and you will feel like you are jumping off a cliff – much like the man in the video.
To achieve this phenomenal reaction after hours working in the studio is impressive. But to do it live is even more so.
I ran to the BBC 1 tent when I heard the all too recognisable sound of Sweet Lies to see a crowd of thousands of people in broad daylight, jumping up and down like it was a midnight rave and singing the lines with all the power and dedication of Celtic fans going wild as they won this weekend’s Old Firm clash.
Wilkinson brought an amazing live interpretation of drum and bass with first class vocalists, guitarist and bravest of all, the live drummer who further demonstrated the skill required to create electronic music.
The biggest challenge a musician will have is to write music that actually means something to people. Fans don’t remember the lines because they’re catchy, or because they have been played on supermarket radio like a broken record for weeks; they know the words because they know you, because they have your songs on their playlist.
They accompany you in experimentation and watch you play in the rain. Wilkinson is a household name not only in the UK but also across the globe and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future. Check out his upcoming dates here.
Twitter: @WilkinsonUK; @ToveLo
Insta: @Wilkinsonuk; @tovelo