Bibio

Stephen James Wilkinson (born 4 December 1978),[1] better known as Bibio, is an English musician and producer. He is known for a distinct analog lo-fi sound, and for working in a diverse range of genres, beginning in folktronica and ambient and later stretching to include instrumental hip hop, indie pop, electronica, soul, funk, and alternative R&B.

For the fly genus, see Bibio (fly).

Bibio
Birth name Stephen James Wilkinson
Born (1978-12-04) 4 December 1978 (age 43)
Origin West Midlands, England
Genres Folktronica, indie pop, indie rock, ambient
Occupation(s)
Instruments
Years active 2005–present
Labels
Associated acts Boards of Canada, Letherette, Olivier St.Louis, SK Dreams
Website bibio.co
Musical artist

He currently releases music on Warp Records,[2] and previously released on Mush Records.

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A resident of Wolverhampton in the West Midlands, England, Wilkinson developed a passion for experimental music during his time at Middlesex University in London from 1999 to 2003, where he studied “sonic arts”. His earliest songs were mainly layered guitar compositions inspired by Steve Reich‘s Electric Counterpoint, one of his earliest being “Cantaloup Carousel”, which was originally recorded in 1999 at his university residence. His recording equipment at the time consisted of a “plastic” microphone, a budget sampler, cassette deck, and a portable MiniDisc recorder.[3]

Listening to music on Warp Records in 2000 led him to experiment with programming virtual synthesizers in SuperCollider, which he was introduced to via his university classes. His discovery of Nick Drake and The Incredible String Band in 2001 also encouraged him to try fingerpicking and alternative guitar tunings, which “opened up new avenues of melodic expression and serendipity” and “made playing guitar feel fresh and exciting again”. Wilkinson credits these “happy days of discovery” at university with helping develop his signature lo-fi sound.[3]

Upon graduating, Wilkinson left London and returned to Wolverhampton, setting up a recording space in the spare bedroom of his girlfriend’s parents’ house.[3] He worked part time while recording music, and was briefly a lecturer at Stafford College teaching Music Technology.[4]

After sharing his collection of recordings with Marcus Eoin of Boards of Canada, Eoin recommended Bibio to American indie label Mush Records, who signed Wilkinson in 2004.[5] He adopted the name “Bibio” from the name of a black-and-red artificial fly his father used on fly-fishing trips for trout in Wales.[6] Wilkinson’s university recordings from 1999 to 2003 formed the basis of his debut album fi, released in February 2005.[7] Sophomore album Hand Cranked was released March 2006, and continued in a similar style, seeking to emulate the sound of mechanical music boxes using antique instruments.[8][9][10]

Bibio’s output on Mush Records mostly consisted of instrumental compositions, centered around looped guitar melodies, ambient field recordings, found sounds, tape distortion and manipulation, and gentle synth drones. Only occasional songs featured vocals (“Mr. and Mrs. Compost”, “Great Are The Piths”, “Abberiw”, and “Flesh Rots, Pips Sown”). Bibio occasionally worked with Letherette during this time, after Wilkinson met Richard Roberts working at the same pub as him. They began a short lived project called SK Dreams, Roberts co-wrote and co-produced several Bibio songs, and the three along with Matt Cutler started a record label named Artists’ Valley, which released a limited 7-inch Bibio single “Shelia Sets Sail” in 2005.[11][12]

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