40 Questions: Will Atkinson | Soundspace

40 Questions: Will Atkinson

40 Questions: Will Atkinson

Will Atkinson has been a seminal piece of the puzzle for Scottish trance music over the years, releasing his music on top labels like Subculture, Vandit, and Kearnage Records, as well as previously holding down a residency for BBC Radio 1.

Most recently, Atkinson returned to Dutch imprint Black Hole Recordings for the release of his debut artist album, Last King Of Scotland. The 17-track record welcomes collaborations with JES, Paul Van Dyk and Cari Golden and reaches across multiple subgenres of trance.

Closing out the year, we welcome the Glasgow-native to our 40 Questions series, where he mentions everything from Ewan McGregor and Newcastle United to the talent of James Holden and Argentinian afterparties. Read the full piece below!

01. Where are you right now and what are you doing?

Right now I’m sitting in my studio, situated just over the river in sunny Govan, Glasgow. Putting the finishing touches on my single of the year. A 145bpm heart racing affair. A record etched in hope, but at the same time, quite unforgiving and could save you a trip to the dentist because it will remove most of your teeth – that’s on the house.

It’s called The Last Rave On Earth. It’s relentless. I’m also finishing about my 4th interview of the day. Saved the best till last!

02. What year were you born?

1990.

03. Do you have a nickname?

Most call me Will. Some call me Big Bill. And Waltzy to my closest boys from back in Orkney.

04. What’s the coolest thing in your house?

Probably my fridge.

05. How would you describe yourself?

Fruity.

06. Worst experience as a DJ?

Probably missing about 8 flights home from Ibiza when I was supposed to be going home to Glasgow to get ready for an Argentina tour. I had to skip the Glasgow part because I kept falling asleep on the train from Manchester – I kept missing my stops – back and forth.

In the end I had to go straight to Heathrow – still clad in trunks, flip flops and a bag full of sand. Flew to Buenos Aires and somehow went straight to the festival and had one of the best gigs ever. I was 25. There’s no way I could be going about my business like that now. Absolute scandal.

07. Best experience as a DJ?

September 19th, 2019 – Mexico City. Anywhere in Mexico City. There is something about South America. The hot blooded, carnival like atmosphere. I played Mexico City with my manager John Askew – we were closing the second stage.

Although it was the second stage of the festival, it was still a decent sized stage. To be honest, I was a bit disappointed at the turn out. Maybe 300 people max? In a club, that looks good but in an open park, it doesn’t. John started his set and I’ll never forget what I saw. Hundreds of people running down to our stage. They must have left the main arena – which probably held 20k people – the place started to fill.

By the time I came on to perform my closing set, there must have been 10k people in front of me. I started my set with an edit I made of an old techno track: Cave – Carnival which has a huge carnival style drum solo. To hear this on a massive sound system, the place went bananas. I’ve got goosebumps right now talking about it. Then my first track kicked in – Heavy Gear – and I thought the stage was going to collapse.

It sounded like Javier Hernandez scoring in the 93rd minute in a world cup final. Every kick, every riff, every time I raised my hands – screams, shouts, chants. It’s the most insane atmosphere I’ve ever experienced not only as a DJ, but as a human being. That night changed my life. I can’t wait to get back.

08. Favourite record label?

I’m loving Victims Helpline at the minute.

09. What’s your biggest weakness?

My left hand.

10. First record you ever paid for?

If we’re talking any format, Paul Johnson – Get Get Down on cassette tape straight out of Woolies (RIP). If we’re literally talking vinyl, Roger Sanchez – Another Chance from HMV Doncaster.

11. What’s your morning routine?

Nothing fancy to be honest. I usually start my day with a HIIT workout and or gym session. The rest falls into place after that.

12. Your dream collaboration?

I’d love to spend a day in the studio with James Holden. He’s wired up to another planet. His circuit bending techniques are out of hand – he could literally throw a bin at the wall and make it sound like an imploding blackhole. He’s one of the most innovative artists out there. And if I could tie down Alison Goldfrapp on vocals, that would be like a dream record!

13. Tell us something we shouldn’t know about you?

I can click pretty much every bone in my body.

14. Who’s your biggest inspiration outside of music?

Nostalgia & pain.

15. And in the industry?

I don’t really take inspiration from any individual. More the era of trance & techno circa 2001-2004.

16. Ever smoked?

Sometimes in snow, but never inhale.

17. Ever done drugs?

I’m no grass!

18. What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?

I’ve had some amazing gifts, especially this year. My mate bought me a 10ft square plot of land in Glencoe. Officially making me Laird Will Atkinson. I’m sitting next to the official certificate right now. Another mate got my album pressed onto acetate and framed. Both blew me away. So thoughtful.

Probably my favourite gift though I received for my 30th birthday from my best mate James, who I’ve known since I was like 5. It was basically a walkthrough of our friendship. Mapped out into different eras equipped with a soundtrack (tracklist) that runs chronologically from then to now. Everything from Craig David to Chemical Brothers. Basically our best memories time stamped with our favourite music around at that time. I can’t put a price on that!

19. And the best gift you’ve ever given?

For James’ 21st, I made him a mash up using 3 of his and my all time favourite tracks. Pryda – Melo, Pete Heller – Big Love & Empire Of The Sun – Walking On A Dream. I burnt it on CD. At his party, I waited till we’d had a few drinks. Then pulled out the CD. He stuck it on and we basically cried for 6 or so minutes straight haha.

20. What’s the coolest place you’ve ever been to?

Sandkey – Clearwater, Florida. A wee hidden gem, tucked around the upper west coast. Not far from Tampa, but enough to be on it’s own away from the hustle and bustle. It doesn’t feel part of America. It’s peaceful. Amazing sunsets, diners, beaches. It’s like a little Utopian town from the 80s.

40 Questions: Will Atkinson

21. And one place you want to visit?

The Philippines look incredible. Or Maldives!

22. If you weren’t in the music industry, what would you be doing?

Plastering a wall.

23. Worst job you’ve ever had?

Putting the papers together at a local newspaper factory. I won’t name them because they still give me coverage. Me and my mate James got so sick of it, in the end we decided to rob the drinks cabinet (1L bottle of Cointreau) – effectively handing in our resignation. That was the last shift we ever worked there.

24. Favourite record right now?

Jesse Bru – Life’s Alright.

25. And the best record ever made?

Don Maclean – American Pie.

26. One thing you couldn’t live without?

Fresh socks.

27. Your favourite food?

Dads homemade Chilli.

28. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?

Plantfood.

29. Who would you want to play you in a movie?

Ewan McGregor – sprawled over a car bonnet!

30. What’s something you’re passionate about besides music?

Newcastle United.

31. Favourite club you’ve played at?

The Arches, Glasgow.

32. Favourite festival you’ve played at?

A State Of Trance, Mexico City, September 2019. You already know the story!

33. Craziest story of being on the road?

Probably ending up in the back of a van after a gig in Argentina. Being driven through the back streets of Mar Del Plata. Coming to a stop, and seeing the driver take out a machete and a balaclava. Placing it on the dashboard (I was assured this was “just in case” as we were driving through a ghetto) – then to be surrounded by about 15 cars – at this point I thought we’d been set up. Then realising these were actually ravers tailing us. I ended up inside a cottage with about 50 people, in the middle of a forest Djing for about 10 hours.

34. Weirdest request as a DJ?

The odd wedding request. Nothing too jilted.

35. If you had one superpower what would it be?

Cliche quote man. The ability to come out with any cliche phrase at any given moment. The money I could make. I could be the in-house ghost “quote” engineer for every Influencer out there.

36. Late sleeper or early riser?

Early riser.

37. Strangest video you’ve watched on YouTube?

David Firth – Sock Six. Go watch it.

38. The top thing on your bucket list?

Play the piano to a decent standard one day.

39. Most memorable moment of your life so far?

Landing a show on BBC Radio 1. That was always my original dream – since I was about 8 years old. To actually accomplish that, everything else now is a bonus for me.

40. Will you ever be done with music?

I’ve not even started!

Will Atkinson’s debut album Last King Of Scotland is out now on Black Hole Recordings.

Photo Credit: Andy Cawley