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Steven Wilson

Steven Wilson
Steven Wilson

Background and early years

Born Kingston Upon Thames, London, England (but brought up in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, England from the age of 6) Wilson discovered his love for music around the age of 8. It began one Christmas when his parents bought presents for each other in the form of LPs. His father and mother received Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon and Donna Summer’s Love to Love You Baby, respectively. The young Steven spent much of his childhood listening to these albums in Steven Wilson live with Porcupine Tree at "Arena", Poznan, Poland. "heavy rotation", as he once commented. Both LPs would influence his future song Background information writing. He claims " retrospect I can see Steven John Wilson Birth name how they are almost entirely responsible for the direction that my music has taken ever 3 November 1967 (1967-11-03) Born Kingston Upon Thames, England since." His interest in Pink Floyd led him towards experimental/psychedelic conceptual Progressive rock, progressive metal, Genre(s) progressive rock (as exemplified by Porcupsychedelic rock, experimental rock, art pine Tree and Blackfield), and Donna Sumrock, ambient, drone mer’s trance-inflected grooves inspired the Occupation(s) Musician, Songwriter, Producer initial musical approach of No-Man (Wilson’s long-running collaboration with fellow musiInstrument(s) Vocals, guitars, Bass, Piano/keyboards, Mellotron, Hammer dulcimer, Flute, cian and vocalist Tim Bowness), although the laptop computer band would later develop a more meditative and experimental Talk Talk-esque approach. 1987 - present Years active As a child, Steven was forced to learn the Porcupine Tree, No-Man, Incredible Associated guitar, but he did not enjoy it; his parents Expanding Mindfuck, Bass Communion, acts eventually stopped paying for lessons. Blackfield, Continuum, Anja Garbarek, Fish, Marillion, Opeth, Anathema, However, at the age of 11 Wilson rescued a Orphaned Land nylon string classical guitar from his attic and started to experiment with it; or in his Steven Wilson Headquarters Website own words, "...scraping microphones across the strings, feeding the resulting sound into Steven John Wilson (born 3 November overloaded reel to reel tape recorders and 1967) is a British musician, best known as producing a primitive form of multi-track rethe founder, lead guitarist, singer and songcording by bouncing between two cassette writer of progressive rock band Porcupine machines." At the age of twelve, his father, Tree. He is involved in many other bands and who is an electronic engineer, built him his musical projects both as musician and produfirst multi-track tape machine so he could becer (including No-Man, Blackfield and gin experiment with the possibilities of studio Ephrat) and also maintains a solo career. recording.[2] Wilson is a self-taught producer, audio engineer, guitar and keyboard player (among other musical instruments). He splits his living time between Tel Aviv, Israel and London, UK.[1]

Early bands
It didn’t take too long before he began to form bands with his friends from school and


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play live. However, the activity which kept him satisfied the most was that of experimenting with sounds and producing the recordings he made. Between the years 1983 and 1986 he began to record material for release. Some of those tapes have recently resurfaced due to the increasing popularity of Porcupine Tree. Wilson describes it as "...a bit like a painter having his nursery school paint blots on display..." One of these projects was the psychedelic duo Altamont (featuring a 15-year-old Wilson working with synth/electronics player Simon Vockings). Their one and only cassette album, Prayer for the Soul, featured lyrics by British psychedelic scenester Alan Duffy, whose work Wilson would later use for two Porcupine Tree songs: "This Long Silence" and "It Will Rain for a Million Years". Around the same time that Wilson was working as Altamont he was also in a teenaged progressive rock band called Karma, who played live around Hertfordshire and recorded two cassette albums, The Joke’s On You (1983) and The Last Man To Laugh (1985). These contained early versions of "Small Fish", "Nine Cats" and "The Joke’s On You", which were subsequently resurrected as Porcupine Tree songs. Up to this point Wilson’s diverse musical experiments contained avant-garde and industrial recordings, psychedelia and progressive rock. His next step was to form two more coherent and long-lasting projects: NoMan and Porcupine Tree. "There is a very thin line between an artist and a serial killer." —Steven Wilson[3]

Steven Wilson
restricted himself to mixing for other artists in the last few years[4]. More recently Wilson has become known for his 5.1 Surround Sound mixes - the 2007 Porcupine Tree album Fear of a Blank Planet was nominated for a Grammy in the "Best Mix For Surround Sound" category[5]. The album was also voted #3 album of the year by Sound And Vision [6]. Wilson is currently working on several other surround sound projects, including remixing the King Crimson back catalogue [7]. Steven Wilson has recently begun to write reviews for the Mexican edition of the Rolling Stone magazine. They’re all translated to Spanish. Two reviews have been published so far: one for Radiohead’s In Rainbows and other for Murcof’s 2007 work, Cosmos.[8]

Group projects (and pseudonymous projects)
Porcupine Tree

Later years
During the late 90’s Wilson’s love of experimental, drone, and ambient music began to manifest itself in a series of new projects, notably Bass Communion and Incredible Expanding Mindfuck (also known as IEM). He also began to release a series of CD singles under his own name. Having established himself as a skilled producer with a very high standard of sound engineering, Wilson was invited to produce other artists, notably the Norwegian artist Anja Garbarek, and Swedish progressive-metal band Opeth. Though he claims to enjoy production more than anything else, with the demands of his own projects, he has mostly

Steven Wilson photo of 2007 Porcupine Tree started out as a duo of Wilson and his schoolfriend Malcolm Stocks (with


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Wilson providing the majority of the instrumentation and Stocks contributing mostly ideas, additional vocals and experimental guitar sounds). Wilson began experimenting by recording music in his home until he had the hunch it could become someway marketable. The material was subsequently compiled into three demo tapes (Tarquin’s Seaweed Farm, Love, Death & Mussolini and The Nostalgia Factory). For the first tape, he even wrote an inlay introduction to an obscure (imaginary) band called "The Porcupine Tree", suggesting the band met in the early ’70s at a rock festival, and they had been in and out of prison many times. The booklet also contained information about band’s obscure members like Sir Tarquin Underspoon and Timothy Tadpole-Jones, and crew members like Linton Samuel Dawson (if put into initials forming LSD). Wilson: "It was a bit of fun. But of course like anything that starts as a joke, people started to take it all seriously!"[9]. When Wilson signed to Delerium label, he selected what he considered the best tracks from these early tapes. All those songs were mastered and made up the Porcupine Tree’s first official studio album, On the Sunday of Life.... Quickly, Wilson would push his music towards a more contemporary area by releasing the single "Voyage 34", a thirty-minute long piece that could be described as a mixture of ambient, trance and psychedelia. This was done partly as an attempt to produce the longest single yet released, which it was until it was later exceeded by The Orb’s "Blue Room." With non-existent radio play "Voyage 34" still managed to enter the NME indie chart for six weeks and became an underground chill-out classic. [10] The second full-length album, Up the Downstair (though Wilson considers it the first ’proper’ PT album since it was made as such and not simply compiled), was released in 1993 and had a very good reception, praised by Melody Maker as "a psychedelic masterpiece... one of the albums of the year"[11]. This was the first album to include ex-Japan member, keyboardist Richard Barbieri and Australian bassist Colin Edwin. About the end of the year, Porcupine Tree became a full band for the first time with the inclusion of Chris Maitland on drums. Wilson continued exploring the ambient and trance grounds and issued The Sky Moves Sideways. It also entered the NME,

Steven Wilson
Melody Maker, and Music Week charts[10] and many fans started hailing them as the Pink Floyd of the nineties, something Wilson would reject: "I can’t help that. It’s true that during the period of ’The Sky Moves Sideways’, I had done a little too much of it in the sense of satisfying, in a way, the fans of Pink Floyd who were listening to us because that group doesn’t make albums any more. Moreover, I regret it"[9]. The band’s fourth work, Signify, included the first full-band compositions and performance, which resulted in less use of drum machines and a more full-band sound. It can be considered a departure from its predecessors for a more song-oriented style[12]. After the release of the live album Coma Divine concluded their deal with Delerium in 1997, the band moved to Snapper and issued two poppier albums, Stupid Dream in 1999 and Lightbulb Sun in 2000. Both were critical successes and only increased their popularity in the underground music scene. Two years would pass until their sixth studio album, and in the meantime the band switched labels again, this time signing to Lava, and drummer Chris Maitland was replaced by Gavin Harrison. Now with the support of a major label, In Absentia saw the light of day in 2002, featuring a heavier sound than all the group’s previous works. It charted in many European countries and remains one of the top-selling Porcupine Tree albums by now; it was also their first record to be released in 5.1 Surround Sound, in a special edition of 2004 that shortly after won the "Best Made-For-Surround Title" award for the Surround Music Awards 2004. Another two years elapsed before its follow-up, Deadwing, an ambitious and very cohesive record inspired by a film script by Steven Wilson and his friend Mike Bennion, was released in May 2005. This became the first Porcupine Tree album to chart the Billboard 200, entering at #132. The album was prizewinning for the "Album of the Year" award on the Classic Rock magazine awards[13] and its surround version received the "Best Made-For-Surround Title" once again[14]. Steven Wilson started writing Porcupine Tree’s next album in early 2006 in Tel Aviv, Israel, alongside work on the second album for his side-project Blackfield. Writing sessions finished in London, UK, in June 2006, then in August of the same year, the band


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released their first live DVD, titled Arriving Somewhere and started a tour between September and November to promote it, during which the first half of each show was made up of all-new material. When the tour concluded the band went to studio and finished recording and mastering and added the last touches to the album. In early January 2007, the band revealed the album title was going to be Fear of a Blank Planet (a deliberate reference to Public Enemy’s Fear of a Black Planet), and the concept was influenced by the Bret Easton Ellis novel Lunar Park. The album hit the shops on 16 April 2007 in Europe and April 24 in USA. The lyrics revolve around common 21st Century issues such as technology alienation, teen violence, prescription drugs and attention deficit disorder. “ I’m not really a big fan of trying to send messages within music. I always feel like the music should be like a mirror to what’s happening in the world at any given time; you hold it up and let people make up their own minds about what they see reflected back at them.
—Steven Wilson,[15]

Steven Wilson
Beginning with Flowermouth in 1994, they have worked with a very wide palette of sounds, and many guest musicians, blending balladry with both acoustic and electronic sounds. No-Man was the first Wilson project to achieve any degree of success, signing with UK independent label One Little Indian (the label of Björk, The Shamen and Skunk Anansie among others), and releasing a string of critically acclaimed singles. However, although the band still continues to produce material, they never achieved the commercial success of Porcupine Tree.

In 1996 came the first in a series of albums by I.E.M. (The Incredible Expanding Mindfuck, a name which had also been considered for Porcupine Tree in its infancy), dedicated to exploring Wilson’s love of krautrock and experimental rock music. Initially Wilson had planned for the project to be anonymous, but then label Delerium Records published a song on their Pick N Mix compilation with the composition credited to "Steven Wilson" and so attempts to pass off the project in this way were abandoned[17]. The project released 2 more albums Arcadia Son, and IEM Have Come For Your Children, both in 2001. Since then the project appears to be dormant.


Fear of a Blank Planet resulted in the most successful album to date in terms of market and sales, and also received the most favourable reviews of the band’s whole career. It entered the Billboard 200 at #59, and charted in almost all European countries, peaking at #31 in the UK. It was nominated for a US Grammy, and won several polls as the best album of the year (e.g. Classic Rock magazine, Aardshock, The Netherlands). In July 2007 the Nil Recurring EP was released, containing other material that hadn’t made it onto the album for one reason or another. At a European show in August 2008, Wilson said that Porcupine Tree is beginning work on material for their next album with an eye toward a release in 2009[16].

Bass Communion
In 1998 Wilson launched another solo project Bass Communion, dedicated to recordings in an ambient, drone, and/or electronic vein. The atmosphere of the music has tended towards the dark and melancholic, but expressed with an almost Zen-like beauty. More recently Wilson has also started working with a guitar and laptop configuration to create fuzzy power drones. So far there have been several full length Bass Communion CDs, vinyl LPs, and singles, many of them issued in handmade or limited editions (which sell out very quickly) in elaborate packaging. Bass Communion has collaborated with many leading experimental musicians such as Muslimgauze, Robert Fripp, VidnaObmana (on the ongoing Continuum project), Jonathan Coleclough, Colin Potter, Andrew Liles, and several others.

No-Man is Wilson’s long term collaboration with singer Tim Bowness. Influenced by everything from ambient music to hip-hop, their early singles and albums were a mixture of dance beats and lush orchestrations. However, after a few years the duo started to create more textural and experimental music, most comparable with later Talk Talk.


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Steven Wilson
long time collaborator Danish photographer Lasse Hoile. Both editions are exclusive to A standard retail CD version (also including the 5.1 DVD-A) was released on 9 March 2009.[18] "Sometimes you have to confront your own patterns and expectations of yourself and do away with things that you enjoy doing in order to move forward and keep evolving as a musician. That’s exactly the definition of the word progressive of course." —Steven Wilson[19]

Steven Wilson during a Blackfield performance at New York, in 2005

Current activity
Steven has also signed on to produce the next album of Israeli progressive metal band, Orphaned Land. During the Porcupine Tree tour, in the fall of 2007, with Anathema as the support band, it was announced that Steven will mix their new album, Horizons. Work on this album will start "late spring/ early winter 2008."

In 2001 Wilson met and began to collaborate with Israeli rock star Aviv Geffen, with whom he created the band Blackfield. Since then the duo have released two highly acclaimed albums of what they refer to as "melodic and melancholic rock". The albums spawned several hits, notably "Blackfield", "Pain" and "Once". The band has toured several times, and a live DVD of their show in New York was released in 2007.

• He produced and contributed backing vocals, guitar and keyboards for Opeth on the albums Blackwater Park, Deliverance, and Damnation. • Has collaborated on many projects with Belgian experimental musician Dirk Serries of VidnaObmana and Fear Falls Burning, most notably on their collaboration project Continuum which has so far released 2 albums. • Has also worked with OSI, Marillion, JBK, Paatos, Theo Travis, Yoko Ono, Fish, Cipher and Anja Garbarek. • He is featured on the latest Fovea Hex EP "Allure" (Part 3 of the "Neither Speak Nor Remain Silent" trilogy of EP’s) on bass guitar. The EP was released in April 2007 through Die-Stadt Musik. • He made a guest appearance on Dream Theater’s newest album, Systematic Chaos on the song "Repentance", as one of several musical guests recorded apologizing to important people in their lives for wrongdoings in the past. • Wilson did an interview with German musician and composer Klaus Schulze, one of the responsibles of the Krautrock movement, that will be featured as bonus

Solo career
Cover Versions
In 2003 Wilson started to release a series of two track CD singles under his own name, each one featuring a cover version and an original SW song. The choice of cover versions was unpredictable, with the first 5 featuring songs by Canadian singer Alanis Morissette, Swedish pop group Abba, UK rock band The Cure, Scottish songwriter Momus and Prince. He has also released some of his experiments in electronic music as a CD and 2LP set called "Unreleased Electronic Music". These are released on his own Headphone Dust label.

In November 2008 Wilson released his first official solo album, Insurgentes, recorded all over the world between January-August, as a double CD plus a DVD-A (limited to 3,000 copies) and a 4 x 10 inch vinyl version (limited to 1,000 copies), both with hardback book featuring the images of acclaimed and


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material in Schulze’s first Live DVD, Rheingold[20]. • Currently, he is planning to record a collaborative album with Swedish band Opeth’s singer, guitarist and composer Mikael Åkerfeldt, which will also involve Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy. According to his MySpace page this is "not looking very likely for a long time". • He will be producing and will play keyboards on the next album of Israeli band Orphaned Land, titled The Never Ending Way of ORWarriOr.

Steven Wilson
childhood, where he remembers: "I always had a problem wearing shoes and I’ve always gone around with bare feet"[21]. He also adds that another factor on performing barefoot is the advantage it gives in operating his diverse guitar pedals[22]. Wilson: "I’ve stepped on nails, screws, drawing pins, stubbed my toe, I’ve come off stage with blood just coming out… I mean, I’ve had it all mate, but to be honest, nothing’s going to stop me."[21] He uses a carpet on stage to keep his feet protected.

Recording studio
• • • • • • • • PowerMac G5 running Logic 7 Digidesign Mix TDM system Apple EXS24 virtual sampler Apogee Trak2 Mic Pre Amp/A-D converter Neumann U87 microphone Line 6 Pod + DL4 Delay Paul Reed Smith guitars Fender Telecaster

See also: Porcupine Tree discography

[1] "Porcupine Tree frontman enjoys life in Israel - Israel Culture, Ynetnews". 2006-05-04. articles/0,7340,L-3246992,00.html. Retrieved on 2008-04-14. [2] "Porcupine Tree". Free Williamsburg. september_2002/porcupine.html. Retrieved on 2008-04-13. [3] "V-PT-Exclusive-Interview with Steven Wilson" (PDF). Voyage PT. 2007-11-13. Retrieved on 2008-05-01. [4] "Guest Appearances - Steven Wilson Headquarters". guest.cfm. Retrieved on 2008-04-06. [5] "" - 50th Annual GRAMMY Nominations List"". 2007-12-06. GRAMMY_Awards/50th_Show/ list.aspx#28. Retrieved on 2007-12-06. [6] ""Top 10 DVDs and CDs of 2007"". Sound and Vision. features/2679/top-10-dvds-and-cdsof-2007.html. Retrieved on 2008-03-26. [7] "" Ptree in Action, Crimson in Surround! "". blog/2008/01/scoop-ptree-in.html. Retrieved on 2008-03-25.

On stage
• AlumiSonic Ultra 1100 guitar • Paul Reed Smith Custom 22 guitars, Singlecut and Modern Eagle • Babicz Acoustic Guitars and Octane Acoustic/Electric • Gibson Les Paul • Wah-wah and volume pedals • Bad Cat two tone distortion • BOSS distortion • Carl Martin compressor • TC G-System effects processor • Bad Cat Lynx Head amplifier with 4x12 matching Cabinet • Bad Cat Hot Cat amplifier with 4x12 matching Cabinet • ESP Stratocaster (used onstage up until the In Absentia tour, where he switched to Paul Reed Smith guitars.) • BOSS DD-20 delay and RT-20 rotary twin pedal effects

Barefoot performance
For live shows Wilson plays with bare feet. This particular custom goes back to his early


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[8] "No Fear of a Blank Planet" (PDF). Voyage PT. 2007-11-13. Retrieved on 2008-04-24. [9] ^ "DPRP - Counting Out Time". The Dutch Progressive Rock Page. index.php?i=1999_01. Retrieved on 2008-03-01. [10] ^ "Porcupine Tree Biography". background.cfm. Retrieved on 2007-05-15. [11] "Porcupine Tree’s Digital Releases". Snapper Music. porcupinetree/. Retrieved on 2008-02-02. [12] ""Porcupine Tree (Review/Interview)". Aural Innovations. July 1999. issue7/ptree03.html. Retrieved on 2008-04-03. [13] "Steven Wilson -The Complete Discography (6th Edition), p. 111" (PDF). Retrieved on November 2005. [14] ""Surround Expo 2005"". 2005-12-15. awards.shtml. Retrieved on 2005-12-15. [15] ""Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree, April 2007 posts on Progressive Rock Forum by". forum_posts.asp?TID=37160&FID=47. Retrieved on 2007-04-22. [16] "New Porcupine Tree Album in 2009". 2008-10-20.

Steven Wilson
10/new-porcupine-tree-albumin-2009.html. Retrieved on 2008-11-22. [17] "" Porcupine Tree Interviews: Record Collector November 1996 Issue 207 "". background.interviews.cfm?press=1471#i. Retrieved on 2008-03-25. [18] [1]Kscope. Retrieved on 2008-10-31. [19] ""Interview with Steven Wilson at ProgArchives Forum"". 2007-04. forum_posts.asp?TID=37160&FID=47. Retrieved on 2007-05-08. [20] - Klaus Schulze Rheingold DVD. Rheingold DVD’s MySpace (2008-09-11). Retrieved on 2008-10-07. [21] ^ ""Interview: Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree)". Rock Eyez. 2005-05-12. Retrieved on 2008-03-10. [22] ""Specials - Steve Wilson Interview"". The Dutch Progressive Rock Page. porcupinetree/index.html. Retrieved on 2008-03-10.

See also
• List of hammered dulcimer players

External links
Steven Wilson Headquarters Steven Wilson’s Complete Discography Steven Wilson at The Seaweed Farm - Steven Wilson related news • Aural Innovations Review/Interview • • • •

Retrieved from "" Categories: 1967 births, Living people, English songwriters, English male singers, English guitarists, English bass guitarists, English keyboardists, Hammered dulcimer players, English record producers, Audio engineers, Porcupine Tree, Lead guitarists, English multiinstrumentalists This page was last modified on 17 May 2009, at 08:07 (UTC). All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License. (See Copyrights for details.) Wikipedia® is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., a U.S. registered 501(c)(3) taxdeductible nonprofit charity. Privacy policy About Wikipedia Disclaimers


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