"Music is the most inspiring form of art": STEVEN WILSON

The name of Steven Wilson está escrito con letras de oro en la pared de los amantes de la música progresiva… Aunque a él no le guste mucho la definición.

Con un nuevo álbum bajo el brazo, ‘To The Bone’, we had the opportunity to speak with Wilson before his imminent return to Mexican lands where he will delight his thousands of national fans with three dates (the first in Mexico City is totally sold out).


You said that listening to "progress" has to be like watching a movie or reading one, that you cannot just read or see a small part to understand the whole concept. However, we live in a time when it is very difficult for someone to really hear more than a song. Do you think it's possible to go back to really paying attention to music?

There is no doubt that in the 21st century it is much more difficult to hook people with music on a deeper level, but that does not mean that there are not many people out there who appreciate an immersive approach. For example, people still watch movies and read novels, so I see no reason why they shouldn't also want to experience music as a coarser form of expression.

My audience is increasing all the time, so that tells me that there is still an audience looking for a more intense way to experience music.

Are we confusing the concept of progressive music? For example, let's say that an album has a thrash metal song, another hard rock, and some other “metal” things. That makes it immediately progressive for many people..

Para serte honesto, realmente no me importa definir las formas de la música de ésta forma, ¿qué importa? Creo que hay sólo dos tipos de música: Música que te gusta y música que no te gusta. La gente ha definido mi música como “progresiva”, pero yo nunca lo he hecho, pues hay muchos elementos en lo que hago como para darle una definición estricta. Además, una cosa que yo diría es que si llamas a lo que tú haces “progresivo” entonces ¡probablemente no lo es!

There are talks that shows these days are much more visual and that they are putting the music behind the show, the same public is looking for it, they like to be entertained "it doesn't really matter" how. Do you think that going visually over music affects the music itself?

I think that when done properly, music and image together can be the most powerful form of creative expression. The problem is how to do it so that both components work in sympathy with each other. I've seen live shows where the visuals are distracting and irrelevant and neither add to or enhance the music. I certainly hope this is not the case for my show, where you think a lot about what to do to make the images improve the songs.

Many of your fans are musicians or are very immersed in that spectrum. What would you say to them about being successful in music? You are someone who has raised the bar high regarding the required commitment.

I think it is quite simple, you must play music because you love to do it. In these days and in the era we live in, you cannot think of having an audience, because it has never been so difficult to enter the music industry. If you can find an audience for whatever you've created, that's already a bonus.

Nunca pensé en ser exitoso con lo que hago, simplemente he sido muy afortunado de que la música que he hecho en una forma muy egoísta, parece haber conectado con lo que tal vez no sea un público masivo, pero al menos es substancial. Pero yo empecé en tiempos donde era mucho más fácil vivir de la música, ahora es – debatiblemente – muchísimo más complicado competir para ser escuchado.

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You have faced frustration looking for a space in mainstream media, how have you handled that?

Although it might seem like a contradiction to my previous answer, of course I have had a natural inclination like many artists who want to share with as many people as possible. So, I continue to promote myself in any way I can.

Fortunately, in recent times the mainstream media has softened in some way with me, especially with the album. "To The Bone"And I'm getting more exposure in that area now, so that means more people are discovering my music, which is great.

I know that you particularly prefer to hire local musicians, but apart from that, what do you expect or are looking for from musicians who want to work with you?

It is very important when you are going to spend months of your life with someone, that you feel that you can get along with them, because it is like being with family especially when you go on tour. All my musicians are people who are genuinely my friends too. They are very committed to making the show as good as it can be, and to performing at the highest level. I'm not interested in hiring people who have a “do the job” session musician mentality, they have to be more than that.

It's been a while since you worked with characters like Opeth, will we see you producing again? What are the odds and what would it take for you to say "I want to work with a certain band"?

Ehm, well, production is very time consuming, to do it properly you are talking about two to three months of commitment to someone else's music, and I have decided for a long time that I want more commitment to my own music. Producing is fun but it's not something you need to do. I'm still involved in mixing, which is much less engagement, and that means I can still put my own ideas and personality into the music.

"Truth is an individual calculation, which means that we all have different perspectives, and not a singular truth, is there?" (Phrase in the song “To the bone”) Is the universal truth of the human being in self-destruction?

Not necessarily. I do not believe that the human race as a whole has that inclination because I certainly do not have it. However, I can certainly agree with you that there are too many people in the world who seem to have that self-destructive element and it is very sad. But again, if you're generalizing to the human race, then I can't say it's "true." Not as a universal truth for our species.

The Djent sub-genre, considered a branch of the progressive, is doing a very good job of attracting fans. Super talented musicians where you see 7/8/9/10 strings on guitar, incredible skills and things like that, have been very receptive to the digital age, a high percentage of their recordings use the “in the box” recording process. What is your perspective on that?

The Djent was interesting for a very short period of time but now it has become very boring. The musical vocabulary of the genre is always the same and I don't hear enough in the way of experimenting with different sounds and textures. It seems that these are young people exploring musical rhythms as mathematical equations. Meshuggah said almost everything that could be said about this style 20 years ago and now even they are doing the same song over and over again.


“Sí te la pasas definiendo a tu música como ‘progresivo’, lo más seguro es que no lo sea…”


Will the digital age ever end?

The digital age is here to stay. I have grown up with the digital age and love many of the things it has brought into my life and the process of creating and making music. But there are also wonderful things about the old analogue ways of doing things. I like to combine the best of both worlds and create something that is both organic and futuristic at the same time. I don't like being nostalgic for no reason, but at the same time I don't like a lot of modern pop that sounds, literally written by a computer.

If you could attend a concert by any band from the past, which one would it be? Could it be XTC? I know you don't like going to concerts, as is.

I would have loved to see some of the bands in the early seventies that were combining songs, psychedelic music, improvisation and interesting space, for example Hawkind, Tangerine Dream, or Pink Floyd in the era of Syd Barret and right after that. It is very special music for me, and I could imagine that live this music must have blown minds.

You're a movie fan, Mexico has been making some noise at the Oscars lately, have you seen any of the winning films by Del Toro, Iñarritu, Arvizu or any Mexican film?

Of course! I am a staunch fan of cinema and I think that Mexican directors are now some of the best in contemporary cinema. I haven't seen Del Toro's last movie yet, but I've been a fan of his movies like Chronos, The Pan's Labyrinth. I also believe that "Love Dogs”By Iñarritu and“Children of Men"By Cuarón, they are incredible films.

You have contributed to the creation of a video game through your music, a cinematic game to be precise, how about making a movie?

That is something that is definitely one of my unfulfilled ambitions. Having made the computer video game was a step towards that, but in fact I would love to work with a director to create a script for an imaginative movie. I hope that there is some young director who is about to start his career and is looking for a musical collaborator to work for the long term, in the same way that Nolan always works with Hans Zimmer, or Tim Burton with Danny Elfman. I keep my fingers crossed for one day to pass.

Have you considered writing a book about the endless things that keep music alive?

Sí, se me han acercado algunas ocasiones recientemente para escribir un libro de mis ideas en la música. Así que no diré mucho más al respecto ahora, excepto que es algo que pasará en algún momento…

Storm Corrosion, any chance of having it back?

I hope so! We had fun making that recording and we are both incredibly proud of the record, especially since what we created is the last thing people expected of us. And I think if we do another one it will be completely different again, I can't say how but I know that when Mike and I are together we challenge each other to do different and crazy things.

Vivimos tiempos muy distintos a los que bandas como The Beatles hicieron lo que hicieron, produjeron mucha música e hicieron esa música algo inmortal. Es fácil hacer música, pero hacerla relevante es algo distinto… ¿Crees que alguien podría hacerlo de nuevo o al menos acercarse a eso en estos tiempos?

No, I think it is impossible. The musical vocabulary has been established for quite some time. The golden age of innovation in rock is completely over. It hurts me that I was not part of that generation, but there is nothing I can do about it. In any case, I think it is possible to make music that uses the current existing language and that the personality of the creation makes it something fresh again, that is what it is about now.

¿Qué piensas del plagio, tanto del intencional como la llamada “inspiración”…

We are going to say that all the music we make now has as a reference to something that was done in the past and even if we try it is really impossible to avoid. You could say that everything has been plagiarized from somewhere, and perhaps it has always been this way. For example, The Beatles copied recordings of American rock and roll, Led Zepellin copied Chicago “blouses”, the same with the Rolling Stones. So plagiarism has always been an important part of rock. I steal a lot myself.

I think we are always in need of a revolution, a world revolution. Do you see it coming? Do you think we need it?

I think it's already happening. Revolution or evolution, there is no doubt that it happens in almost every aspect of our lives, although it is not always for the best.

Is music the most inspiring form of art?

Sí, sin duda. La musica puede ser la más grande forma de arte, y la razón que yo estoy en esto, es porque requiere de la colaboración tanto de quien lo crea, como de quien lo recibe. Con el cine y la literatura todo se te explica, entiendes por lo que pasan los personajes, entiendes lo que están pensando y lo que están diciendo. Con la música no siempre es tan obvio, así que una de las hermosas cosas al respecto es que el escucha puede interpretar la música a través del prisma de su propia experiencia. Es algo maravilloso que no estoy seguro que otro tipo de arte pueda comparársele…