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On Deck + Exclusive Mix: iLs

By ; March 25, 2013 at 9:26 AM 


Ilian Walker (aka UK producer iLs) grew up on a hippy commune and was exposed to music at an early age.   Hearing records like Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd and Never Mind the Bollocks by The Sex Pistols were part and parcel of his daily routine, and these records, among many others, were played daily in his home.  Picking up a guitar after hearing that Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones has learned the instrument in only two weeks, Walker joined quite a few different bands in high school but soon came to prefer the lone musician role after getting annoyed with unreliable bandmates.  With the introduction of samplers that made his homemade beats and recordings sound closer to studio-finished tracks, the birth of iLs was nearing fruition.  Releasing his early works on LTJ Buken’s  Good Looking imprint and eventually handling advert work for Mo’Wax, Walker became restless with all the long hours recording and seeing little in return.  But after getting with fellow DJ Adam Freeland and his upstart Marine Parade label, music from iLs finally began hitting the streets.  Walker eventually settled in with Distinctive Records, where he would go on to release five records and numerous singles.

In the lead-up to his latest release for Distinctive Records, the monolithic 33 RPM, Walker sat down and wrote about some of the tracks which have had an enormous influence over his own music.  Ranging from the first song he ever bought himself–Grandmaster Flash’s “The Message”–to politically charged rap (Public Enemy) to Drum & Bass forebears Origin Unknowm, the songs paint a very particular picture of how someone like Walker came to have his own unique take on the genres within which he works.  Check out his choices below in the latest installment of our On Deck series.  Walker has also been kind enough to create an exclusive mix for Beats Per Minute, which you can listen to and download below.

Listen to an exclusive 30-minute mix from iLs:

MP3: iLs – Exclusive mix for Beats Per Minute

Grandmaster Flash - The Message
Grandmaster Flash – “The Message”

The first record I bought was the album that had this and many other classic Grandmaster Flash & Furious Five tracks. The keyboards & production just sounded so good and cutting edge. There is still an ongoing debate about the keyboards used to make this track. The lyrics and subject matter were also something that many could identify with, but was not covered by traditional pop music of the time. it was a winning combination.

Public Enemy - Rebel Without A Pause
Public Enemy – “Rebel Without A Pause”

This really brought hip hop to my attention, the production was more complex and layered than a lot of other hip tracks of the time. It included the James Brown funky drummer beat that gave so much energy to a lot of tracks – so it saves me from having to list a James Brown track on this list ;). I used to wonder if this track would sound dated after a few years, it just felt so ahead of it’s time – the bass drum hits and mad hi hats motivated me to go to clubs just so I could hear this on a big system. I am glad that it still sounds amazing after all these years.

Rebel MC - Comin' On Strong
Rebel MC – “Comin’ On Strong”

The album ‘Black Meaning Good’ (source of this track) was ground breaking for me. You could hear people singing these tunes as they left pubs late at night in my area. Once again the production was inspiring – there were just so many samples that worked well together used on the album. I saw an interview that said it was all done on an Atari computer with an Akai sampler. This gave me a lot of hope – we had reached a point where people could make amazing and complex music at home without mad budgets and mega studios – it made me want a sampler. I feel that this was a very musical / lyrically based precursor to drum & bass. I only realized recently that the whole project was engineered by Aston (from Freestylers!).

Candi Staton - You Got The Love
Candi Station – “You Got The Love”

I have never been a huge fan of house music, but this track just touches most people. It was one of the early rave tracks that unified the ‘E’ generation. Highly emotive yet fiendishly simple in its construction. Genius.

Origin Unknown -31 Seconds
Origin Unknown – 31 Seconds (aka “Valley of the Shadows”)

This track helped me learn how to make D&B. All the source samples from this track were on a free CD given away with the 1st issue of Future Music magazine. I bought this magazine the same month I got my 1st sampler and remember using the free samples to make some tracks. I was trying to make some D&B but it wasn’t sounding quite right – I didn’t think the free samples were that good! Then this record came out a few months later, and I was like ‘wow’ – we both had that free sample CD and that’s how you have put the samples together to make an amazing track. I have never looked at samples in the same way. This tune is still a classic and exemplifies how to make something out of ‘nothing’.

Be sure to head over to the Distinctive Records website to pre-order a copy of 33 RPM from iLs. 

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