FIVE QUESTIONS FOR HUGH WILKINSON
One of the UK’s top percussionists, Hugh Wilkinson has performed on some of the finest film soundtracks in recent years, including Ant Man, Shazam, Downton Abbey and The Bad Guys and many more. As a highly sought after session musician and soloist, he has become a regular on the London music scene, which has seen him garner recognition for his virtuosic playing and broad range of styles. After recently recording the new Bowed Metals sample library with Sonixinema, we sat down to have a chat with Hugh about everything music!
Tell us about your early years and what drove you to become a percussionist
HW: I had loads of energy as a 7 year old kid and the drums seemed like a good outlet! I started out playing drum kit and orchestral percussion. I was 15 when I bought my first pair of congas and fell in love with Afro-Cuban and then Brazilian percussion. The endless possibilities of what you can do with sound and rhythm have kept me excited and engaged ever since.
How did you break into the London session scene, and what is one of your favourite memories from a score that you've played on?
HW: Studying percussion at music college and making contacts in London was a great start. I got to sit in and watch sessions with my kit teacher Ralph Salmins which was a real eye opener. I did my first pro session for a pop singer when I was 22. It was a Motown style track and I played tambourine and timpani. I still remember the buzz when I heard myself played back ‘inside’ the track in the control room.
I don’t have a specific favourite memory but I always enjoy working with composers who give you some space to get involved in the creative process. I have that kind of relationship with the film and TV composer Harry Escott who I have worked with for over 20 years. He’s a fantastic musician and is always open to new ideas (studio time permitting!)
Tell us about how you got involved with Sonixinema and how you went about creating the library?
HW: During lockdown 1.0 my home recording studio became busier than ever. So many people with projects that couldn’t be finished or even started in the bigger studios. Louis and I connected over email and started discussing what I might be able to offer for a Sonixinema sample library.
I’ve got a huge array of percussion instruments which would take months to record! Louis was keen to explore bowed metal sounds so we narrowed the list down to vibraphone, crotales, cymbals and waterphone for this library. Optimum mic positioning and dynamic control were high on the priority list for the sessions.
What do you think people will discover with Bowed Metals that they won't find in other sample libraries?
HW: To my knowledge, there aren't many sample libraries out there that explore extended techniques and alternative methods of playing percussion. I think this is one thing that Sonixinema have done better than any other developer with their wonderful Experiments Series. They've taken a deep dive into exploring the sounds that most people don't even know they can get out of percussion, and to me it's really exciting to show people what is possible.
Bowed Metals is interesting because we're taking essentially a selection of tonal instruments and playing them with a large bow - the type you would use on a Cello or Double Bass. This produces long, sustained and ethereal sounds. The vibraphone and crotales sound beautiful and delicate, the Waterphone sounds totally out of this world and the Cymbals have this amazing raw, sharp quality to them that really cuts through the mix. I think people are going to love exploring it.
What was the last piece of music that you heard that you think everyone reading this should check out?
HW: Larry Goldings - “Earthshine”. An album of 19 short pieces recorded during lockdown by a phenomenal musician.
For more information about Hugh, visit www.hughwilkinson.com