NAS 10 Questions with Wilko Wilkes

[Interview Number 44]

This time, we get to know Wilko Wilkes. His track "Daddy Shark" is featured in the New Artist Spotlight Family of Playlists.

Link To New Artist Spotlight Playlists:

Okay, let’s get into the Ten questions for Wilko Wilkes!

𝟭. 𝗪𝗵𝗲𝗿𝗲 𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝗳𝗿𝗼𝗺 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝘄𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗶𝘀 𝘆𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗵𝗼𝗯𝗯𝘆? Thanks for having me! I'm from West Yorkshire in the UK, a beautiful part of the world with a lot of hills and green countryside. I'd say rapping and music is my main hobby but it's more of a mission or a pursuit. I try to keep my life varied and I enjoy listening to music, running, exercising, playing games, watching or playing sports, particularly football, boxing, tennis and snooker. I love reading about records and statistics in sport. I also enjoy cooking, juggling, trying new things, seeing and staying connected to friends, meeting new people, learning, reading, watching documentaries, creating content and dabbling with video editing, listening to various podcasts and taking some time to relax and reflect. I can be quite ambitious and I like to get things done so I'm usually spinning various plates at any one time and often stay up til the early hours chipping away at my never-ending to-do lists. Everything is organised though and I try to stay focused on finishing tasks, improving my knowledge and skills and prioritising things that will make me happy or help me progress to the next level. I'm satisfied with where my life is at but there's so much that I still want to do, I just wish there were 100 hours in every day!

𝟮. 𝗛𝗼𝘄 𝗱𝗶𝗱 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝗴𝗲𝘁 𝗶𝗻𝘁𝗼 𝗠𝘂𝘀𝗶𝗰/𝗠𝘂𝘀𝗶𝗰 𝗣𝗿𝗼𝗱𝘂𝗰𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻? I've always been into music, my parents are both music fans and as a child we always had CDs or the radio on at home, in the car, everywhere. My dad is a big fan of classic rock and prog rock, and my mum loves Elvis, Buddy Holly, and loads of music from the 50s, 60s and 70s so I got a good all-round music education.

I played piano as a child and got to grade 3 practical and theory and had phases with other instruments like euphonium, bass guitar and drums. I always loved lyrics and used to sing along, read the album sleeves to sing along and learn the lyrics and I'd sometimes transcribe them onto notepads from songs that I liked.

I listened to a lot of pop as a young child around the time of Spice Girls, Britney Spears and Vengaboys and as I moved into my teenage years and my tastes developed I got really into grunge, nu-metal, hip-hop and indie music. I love hearing powerful, raw and high-tempo music that speaks to my soul and gets my adrenaline pumping.

𝟯. 𝗪𝗵𝗼 𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝘆𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗯𝗶𝗴𝗴𝗲𝘀𝘁 𝗶𝗻𝗳𝗹𝘂𝗲𝗻𝗰𝗲𝘀?

How long have we got here? I have so many influences musically and could talk about this all day. I have an eclectic music taste so I take influence from many different genres. I love the raw vocal ability of Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam and Kurt Cobain of Nirvana. The songwriting talents of Pete Doherty from The Libertines. The unbelievable technical talent of prog rock, people like Rick Wakeman and Carl Palmer who have absolutely mastered their chosen instrument. The aggression of System of a Down, Korn and Slipknot. The fast flows of Eminem and Twista. Great hip-hop legends like Nas and Big Pun and the way they can deliver hard-hitting stories with an almost casual style because they're really on top of the beat. Acts like Kid Rock or Beastie Boys where it's just relentless energy. Amazing frontmen and women like Freddy Mercury or Stevie Nicks who just have you gripped. Bands with immense talent that also throw humour in there like The Darkness or Tenacious D. Classic bands who were cutting-edge like The Beatles, Abba or The Bee Gees. And loads of independent musicians and bands, one in particular called Psi-Phi who blew me away when I first saw them live. I really could go on all day but the key theme is that I love to see anyone who is going out there and performing with passion and conviction, giving it their all.

𝟰. 𝗪𝗵𝗲𝗻 𝗱𝗶𝗱 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝗯𝗲𝗴𝗶𝗻 𝗺𝗮𝗸𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗺𝘂𝘀𝗶𝗰? Throughout my life I've had times where I have written bits and pieces but I never had the staying-power or the confidence to battle through and finish anything. It was always something I wanted to do but it seemed unattainable because I lacked courage. In early 2019 me and a guitarist friend started jamming regularly, putting together some covers with me singing, and I was doing a bit of karaoke which I always loved as well, and I could feel that the spark was growing into a flame. In mid-2019 I was struggling mentally, took some time off work and started counselling, something I'd been missing out on for years and I would recommend to anyone.

The process really helped me to start re-framing my thinking and disregard the fear of what other people might think, or the feeling that I would in some way let myself down or not be good enough. It took practice but it helped massively in freeing me from the shackles of my own mind. As part of this process it came out that this was my deepest unfulfilled desire, to make music, to write my own stuff and to perform. The flame was now growing into a full-on bonfire and in late 2019 I formalised it as Wilko Wilkes and started writing regularly and putting a lot of my spare time into music.

Since then, I've learned so much and have been progressing all the time, bit by bit. I've picked up a lot of experience by doing things, working with other people, making mistakes and learning from them. The bonfire is now a raging inferno that is tearing through the metropolis of my mind and swallowing up everything in its path. There isn't a fire service on Earth that can stop me now.

𝟱. 𝗪𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝘆𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗴𝗼𝗮𝗹𝘀 𝗶𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗺𝘂𝘀𝗶𝗰 𝗶𝗻𝗱𝘂𝘀𝘁𝗿𝘆? My main goals have never changed since the start - I want to perform live to a high standard with a catalogue of tracks that I'm proud of. My initial benchmark has always been to get to ten tracks but without compromising on quality. I'm getting there now and can taste it and I'm brimming with excitement to take my rap to the streets. I'll be buying an amp soon and getting out to perform and have the time of my life. After I've cut my teeth I'd like to get gigs, I can't look too far ahead though and just have to concentrate on getting one thing done at a time and the rest will take care of itself. You never know what life is going to throw at you so my main goal is to enjoy myself with it all, work hard at it and see what opportunities come up. Music will always be a big part of my life and I hope to do this for a long time so I’m looking forward to seeing where it takes me.

𝟲. 𝗜𝗳 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝗰𝗼𝘂𝗹𝗱 𝗰𝗵𝗼𝗼𝘀𝗲 𝗮 𝗹𝗼𝗰𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝘁𝗼 𝗽𝗲𝗿𝗳𝗼𝗿𝗺 𝘄𝗵𝗲𝗿𝗲 𝘄𝗼𝘂𝗹𝗱 𝗶𝘁 𝗯𝗲? If I had to pick one I’d have to say St James’ Park, a 52,000 capacity stadium which is home to the mighty Newcastle United. There’s plenty of other places though and to be honest I’ll be happy to play anywhere. There’s a few different towns I want to go busking in, I’m looking forward to performing in Leeds City Centre, Bradford, Bingley and I’m going to rock up in Menston, the quiet village where I grew up, which should be good fun. Whether it’s in front of a large crowd or just a couple of people I’ll be giving it my all and savouring the moment.

𝟳. 𝗪𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗶𝘀 𝘆𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗮𝗹𝗹 𝘁𝗶𝗺𝗲 𝗳𝗮𝘃𝗼𝘂𝗿𝗶𝘁𝗲 𝘀𝗼𝗻𝗴? Wow there are so many…if I had to pick there’s a few like Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon and Garfunkel which is just a songwriting masterpiece and so emotive. I’ve been listening to Estranged by Guns N Roses a lot recently, again an epic song and instrumentally just brilliant. The unplugged version of Porch by Pearl Jam is up there too and a few Tenacious D songs which are great for singing along. After that it has to be anything by Wilko Wilkes.

𝟴. 𝗠𝗼𝘀𝘁 𝗲𝗺𝗯𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗮𝘀𝘀𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗺𝗼𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁? Most embarrassing moment…there’s been a few! But these days I’m not really embarrassed by anything, things happen and you’ve just got to get over them! A funny one was when I’d just started running, winter drew in and it was getting cold and I was still wearing shorts out, but my extremities were getting quite cold. I decided to put a thermal sock around my “meat and two veg” before I went out, to stop the frostbite. I thought it was a genius idea and I set off, a few miles in I ran past a woman who looked towards my groin area and started laughing, nothing unusual about that or me, but when I looked down I realised the end of the sock was dangling out the bottom of my shorts. Unsurprisingly I ditched that strategy.

𝟵. 𝗣𝗿𝗼𝘂𝗱𝗲𝘀𝘁 𝗔𝗰𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗽𝗹𝗶𝘀𝗵𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁?

Another tough one! I think just doing this music journey could be my proudest accomplishment. For me it symbolises a lot more than just making some songs. I didn’t do brilliantly in school and I dropped out of uni, then I got sacked from various jobs and ran up quite a bit of debt to the point where I had to move back home and live with my parents for a couple of years to try to get solvent again. It took me years to get to the point where I had £0 in my account but I did it, and along the way I’ve got into a settled situation with my life where I’ve got a good job, a great wife, a house, a cat and other things that bring me peace. It’s having that solid foundation to my life which has enabled me to focus and put time into music.

I used to be a very disorganised person and it’s been a really tough ride with some dark periods, and very difficult at times to break a lot of habits and constantly refine and improve what I’m doing day to day. I’ve addressed my mental health and my mindset which was always fragile, and still is at times, but I’ve become more resilient and level-headed under pressure. I used to have a lot of bravado but a real lack of self-belief, now I’m older and wiser and am confident in my character and my abilities without feeling the need to show off. I’m still at the beginning in terms of my music and I’m just proud that I have started, and then released five singles with more planned, done some commissions, radio interviews and other cool things that would previously have seemed pie in the sky, too hard or too much effort. Whatever happens next I can be proud of how far I’ve come.

𝟭𝟬. 𝗪𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗮𝗿𝘁𝗶𝘀𝘁 𝘄𝗼𝘂𝗹𝗱 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝘄𝗮𝗻𝘁 𝘁𝗼 𝗰𝗼𝗹𝗹𝗮𝗯 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝗶𝗳 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝗰𝗼𝘂𝗹𝗱 𝗰𝗵𝗼𝗼𝘀𝗲?  My dream collaboration would be to do a world tour with Jack Black duetting Wilko Wilkes originals, Tenacious D songs and a few covers, with Alan Shearer alongside us dancing with maracas like Bez from the Happy Mondays. If I keep my head down and get a bit of luck along the way I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

"Daddy Shark" on Spotify

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