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Exclusive interview - Will Atkinson

Following on from his debut Radio 1 show, we had a chat with a good friend of the studio and the man of the moment, Will Atkinson.

An artist who needs no introduction, Will’s been absolutely smashing it recently and has earned his place as one of the top dogs in dance music. The launch of his Radio 1 Residency got some phenomenal feedback online and he’s been a regular name on some of the biggest line ups worldwide. Check out the interview below for Will’s thoughts on the current trance scene, what to expect from his residency, what was going through his head when he made ‘Pat Butcher’ and much more!

Whose music are you listening to at the moment?

Outside the studio I’m really digging a lot of the deeper sounds at the moment. I’m listening to guys like KiNK, Vince Watson, James Holden and Nathan Fake. Also taking a lot of inspiration from Trip Hop as ever… Dabrye, Dilla etc have always influenced me with their drum and FX programming.

How did you first get involved in trance music?

I first stumbled upon Trance through Judge Jules’ Radio 1 Show and a series of Gatecrasher Global System CD adverts. Both showcasing Trance. It was infectious.

What were you mixing on at the time?

My first pair of decks were one of those all in one CD numbers. Probably more suitable for a wedding DJ more than anything. No pitch but still crossfader and Eqs. My first pair of proper vinyl decks were one of the Home mix numbers straight out of Littlewoods. Belt driven bangers which I had to sometimes manually keep the record up to speed – halfway through a mix at  a school disco being one of the best/worst examples.

What are your thoughts on the current trance scene, particularly the wave of Scottish tech trance that’s been coming through in the past few years?

The sooner we breakaway from the Trance “scene” the better. There is no Trance “scene” in Scotland. But there is still a “scene” for Dance music. We need to bring it all together and start labelling it as Underground Dance Music rather than Trance. Lets cross borders and start making cool hypnotic Trance music with groove. Rather than all this head banging 138 pish. It really is horrible to listen too! That same old tinny piercing Kick drum. Simple loops and on the beat snares. It makes me sick listening to it. Oh and let’s throw an Acid line in there cause that’s what everyone else does. Nah. How about you go lock yourself in a dark room and listen to Paul van Dyk and Paul Oakenfold mixes circa 97-01. Then you’ll feel what Trance is all about. It used to be so real!

Who are some of your favourite DJs to see play live and why?

Eric Prydz and Sven Vath. Both very different Djs but both know how to tell a story. Both know how to build up to a very special moment. Which is achieved just as much by playing the filler records along with the big ones. There is something primal when I’m losing it to these 2 DJs. I feel they strip back all the fancy lights, confetti etc and bring you to a place where dancing is the only things that matters. They both play from the soul.

Have there been any gigs you’ve played that were particularly important or significant to you?

Mexico is an amazing place to play. Along with Argentina and anything around that region. Any gig I land there I know it’s going to be special times.

It seems like the sky is the limit for you at the moment after being announced as a resident on Radio 1. How did you enjoy the first show?

Obviously this has always been the original dream since day 1. So to go and achieve that and land my own Radio 1 show is really overwhelming for me. The buzz hearing myself through those amazing BBC valve compressors… How the music sounded, and generally how it was received was really incredible. Reading so much amazingly positive feedback, comments, texts, calls, emails etc was really quite emotional actually.

What does it mean to you to fill the shoes of legends such as Pete Tong, Eddie Halliwell and Judge Jules?

I looked up to all these guys at least at some stage of my career. Its an honour to join the club as if it were. But now I want to build my own legacy and be remembered for who I am and what I’m doing. This is my story now and I hope people feel the direction I’m taking it.

What can we expect from you over the coming year both on the new show and production-wise?

The plan is to bring music back under one roof. I want Techno Djs playing my records. House Djs playing my records. Trance and commercial Djs etc. I’m sick of the divide and I want to smash down these boundaries. I want Dance music to be received by everyone and destroy the snobbery and cliques that exist.  Someone has to do it. And BBC Radio 1 is the perfect platform to push out the concept.

Finally… I need to mention a tune that’s been doing the damage in your live sets and on the dance charts….What was going on in your head when you created ‘Pat Butcher’?

Tocadisco – Smoke & Mirrors is just blowing apart clubs and festivals. Everywhere I play it people literally lose their shit. Including me. There’s not been a record like these which I get that “first play” buzz every time I play it. Pat Butcher is also another example of one of these. What was going through my head? I probably can’t answer that to be honest.

Will will be hosting his residency on the first Thursday of the month on BBC radio 1 for the next 6 months. You can catch his first show here:

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