Via Leaving Records “Sam Wilkes answers a few questions from Leaving Records
labelmate Carlos Niño, on his debut full-length WILKES
Listening to WILKES numerous times, considering
what I might write about it for a Press Release, (which I
agreed to do because I’m a fan of his Music and his
collaborations with Sam Gendel and Louis Cole / Knower,)
I was growing in enthusiasm, looking forward to my
next radio show or DJ set including the song “Today”
so I could hear it bump in a nice system. I was hyped
the more I took in this 6 song offering. I thought to ask
Sam about his new record and use his answers as aid
to illustrate some of my feelings, but when I read his
reply I thought you should too. It’s so descriptive
and visual, perfect to pull from and quote.
What does your last name Wilkes mean?
I actually just found that It means Wolf in Lithuanian. Which is
crazy because It was changed from Wolff to Wilkes upon immigration
to the U.S. due to fear of a Judaic last name inhibiting my families
ability to get work here. My heritage is a mix of Romanian, Russian,
Polish, Liuthanian, and Austrian/German I believe.
What does your last name Wilkes mean to you?
It’s vast. It provokes a different sentiment in me in different situations.
I.e my dad’s side of the family is one, while my immediate family is another, and within my musical community in Los Angeles and elsewhere it’s also another. The latter is the sentiment I’m really coming from on this record. Myself within the context of my beautiful community. This record does not exist without that community.
My friend and collaborator, Sam Gendel calls me Wilkes and our friendship and musical relationship began to take a new form when I started to record him playing these songs of mine. Sam and my other dearest friends beginning to call me “Wilkes” (especially with humor) more and more coincided with a new era for me, which was the start of this record/chapter.
What does your new record WILKES mean to you?
It is the first part of a two part chapter.
It’s the product of realizing that I HAD to make my own art, instead of just working with/for other projects (as I had done up until this point). Upon jumping into that pool and then swimming on my own for the first time, I realized that I could compose and produce the music that I want to hear; which I got VERY excited about. I have a pretty belligerent need to create and once I began, working on my own music became a daily necessity for fulfillment and to deal with what I was going through at the time.
I expressed this through composition, production, sonics, and creating and curating an environment for Sam Gendel’s, Brian Green’s, Louis Cole’s, and Christian Euman’s genius to be heard and featured (i.e featuring personal cornerstones of that community I was talking about.)
this, rather than, say, making music for the sake of making a “bass record”, was the outlet I needed; it wasn’t really an option, this was just the vehicle for my observations, experience, philosophy, love . . .
It’s a snapshot, one that I worked so hard on, of who and where I was from 2015-2017.
Do you have visions about how this record may affect people?
I can’t really articulate it.
I think Sam Gendel is the greatest saxophone player alive.
I hope it makes some people feel that way too. This music was made to be played by him.
What were your biggest inspirations while making this record?
Rahsaan Roland Kirk
James “J Dilla” Yancey
Rudy Van Gelder
What are your biggest general inspirations?
This is infinite but, a short list:
My whole family
Rainer Maria Rilke
and From my childhood –
The Grateful Dead
How would you describe the sound of your Bass,
what do you see / envision when you’re playing?
I would describe the sound of my bass as: Sam Wilkes.
For seeing and envisioning, It depends on the feeling I’m trying to express.
Sometimes it’s just colors or an image, but something I’ve gone back to a
bit for whatever reason in some sessions as of late is the feeling of seeing
fireworks and having a hot dog on the fourth of July as a kid, knowing that
I didn’t have to go to school the next day because it was summer and I was free, and just being happy and excited and full of love for my family and my best friends (kind of like that scene in that movie “The Sandlot”), and the feeling of knowing that I could go home and play or listen to CDs in my room and dance.”