Artistry is a remarkable gift in itself, but when you can produce, write, and grow your own business, it’s often a recipe for success. This is what multi-Grammy nominated producer Bryan Wilson, aka Boom Dice, is accomplishing.
It’s no surprise he has a credible reputation, including Grammy nominations for his work on Sofi Tukker’s 2015 hit, “Drinkee” and her 2018 album Treehouse, at the 59th and 61st annual Grammy Awards. He also won a Brit Award in the “Album of the Year” category for his work on the Mercury Prize-nominated album “Gang Signs and Prayer.” As of this year, his music has received another Grammy nomination for Jay Electronica’s, A Written Testimony, in the “Best Rap Album” category.
Not only does he produce award-winning and nominated songs, but he also has other notable accolades to his name. With a passion for mentoring younger musicians, he established his own label, “Boom Dice Presents.” This was ultimately created from his passions taken to action to execute business strategies to create flourishing releases under the label.
“Embers” is one of the many new hits from Boom Dice so far this year, and I believe listeners will find this euphoric pop track as a memorable anthem with a lot to offer, much like his previous hits.
We got the chance to talk to Wilson about all of this and more.
I see that you are a producer, artist, and songwriter yourself. How did your passion for mentoring younger musicians develop, and your label, Boom Dice Presents’, come about?
It kind of came out of necessity in the fact that everywhere I turned within the industry, there were people that didn’t know what they were doing, how to achieve certain things, or were lacking the insight into why they were doing it. Really important factors that just were never an issue for me, and it blew my mind that people were putting hope in front of an action plan. As if someone was going to come and scoop them up to do everything for them. I have drive and passion behind what I do and a need to excel, and I couldn’t understand why that attitude was not prevalent in so many people I met along the way. It was as if there were problems getting through gatekeepers with this attitude, which prevented people from even getting to the point of working. Big waste of time essentially. I wanted to mitigate that for myself.
That didn’t seem to matter whether I was in NY, LA, Toronto, London or anywhere else. The aim behind these writing sessions was just to write for the sake of it. Of course practice makes perfect, but I didn’t like being at the whim of non-driven artists/teams who may or may not do something with the banger we just created. So I decided from that point on, I will only spend my time helping the talents that I believe have the drive, and desire to learn to be the best they can be. It turns out my experience meant I am a pretty good mentor and good at breaking down reasons behind certain moves in addition to providing solutions on how to best push yourself.
The sales aspect of being an artist is huge. The Boom Dice Presents label and artist showcase platform was created to provide a solution for this problem I encountered everywhere. So I went away and started to learn all the things I never cared about before as a behind the scenes producer, mixer, writer, and engineer, like distribution deals, label deals, marketing, press, radio campaigns, etc… so that I could be the one with the plan and offer solutions to artists and teams who didn’t have one. So I guess you say it was a natural evolution to expand the arsenal of services I offer within the music business.
We couldn’t help but notice you share the same name as The Beach Boys legend himself. As a musician and producer, have you found it to be endearing or annoying? Neither? And is that what inspired you to go by Boom Dice?
My normal name has been great for my industry of course, and was a total fluke on the part of my parents. They weren’t particularly into The Beach Boys so it wasn’t intentional to name me after Brian Wilson. It turned out to be useful in people remembering the name when I started working professionally, though. I have heard pretty much all types of jokes in the studio about it, and I would say the best one came from an assistant I had one time. This assistant had to take my number down to call me for something outside of the studio and so when I gave it to him, he said with a serious face; “When you get calls, do you make sure your phone is set to give you ‘Good Vibrations’”?
That was probably the most clever and unexpected delivery of a Beach Boys reference I have had. The name Boom Dice was actually just a social media handle I had since I was a teenager. I really can’t remember the specific reasons behind it, but I suspect if I think back to that time, I was really into Cypress Hill and so their Temple Of Boom album might have factored into it. But maybe not! In either case, it seems to be another name or alias that people latch onto which serves me perfectly.
On your newest single, “Embers,” you feature R&B artist, Sola. What inspired you to work with and feature her as the vocalist?
Her management hit me up to work on something with her, and when I heard her voice, I thought it was great. I had a version of this beat that I thought would fit the attitude perfectly and the collaboration took place remotely since it was during lockdown, and she was up in Manchester while I was in London.
Tell us about the creative process you went through while creating “Embers,” and the story behind it.
I connected Sola to a longtime friend Hamish Barnes from a band I used to work with called Arthur Beatrice. He jumped on board to help write it with Sola in the summer of 2020. I went to Canada for half the year to get away from the craziness and just relax since I had gone through hell with a “mystery” disease earlier in the year. Before I left London, I sent them the beat and made sure they got acquainted with each other and left them to it! They would update me with voice notes or Zoom calls or just little experimental nuggets of the song that I would then give feedback on and encouragement. Once I finally got back to London at the start of 2021, I ended up changing the beat to suit the vibe and mood of what was written, and the current version was born! Totally remote, and we haven’t even met each other yet. This feels like the new way of connecting with artists though and I think it actually has its benefits.
“Embers” is certainly an electronic pop anthem. Is this the typical style of music you create, and is it important to you to branch out and experiment with various genres?
As Bryan Wilson behind the scenes, I have formed my career by being able to work with a rapper one day, then do dance music the next, and bands in between for example. My hunger for learning different roles in the studio meant that I was able to get great experiences doing all sorts of different genres and projects successfully. This keeps it fresh for me and allows me to branch off into whatever I want which is great. I wanted to maintain that reputation under the ‘Boom Dice’ name.
The producer these days in most cases is as important to the equation as the artist or the release itself. So I thought why not showcase what I can do in a more forward approach and make different types of music. I might do a dance track as one release, or a trap R&B style jam next, just whatever I think is good and will connect with people. I want to help be the example that you don’t need to conform to one thing in order for marketing to be able to “understand” how to promote you. You can carve your own path and do it your way.
Was anyone else involved in writing or recording the recent single?
Hamish Barnes co-wrote the lyrics with Sola. I made the beat and produced/mixed the track and sent it to Mike Hillier at Metropolis Mastering in London for the final touch. Sola recorded her own vocals up in Manchester so there were not very many people involved in this one.
Who have been some of your favorite collaborators on recent projects you’ve worked on, and who might you like to collaborate with next?
Every track and campaign is totally different! That is the beauty of Boom Dice Presents as a label and artist showcase platform. It not only gives me the opportunity to work across multiple genres, it also gives artists an opportunity to demonstrate that they can do other things outside of their artist project or comfort zone.
I can’t say specifically that one collaboration is better than the other, but I love the fact that each single requires a new approach with marketing and who we target out there as listeners and fans of the song. I would love to start collaborating with bigger artists as “Boom Dice” and either provide beats for groups like Migos or even work on big pop jams with Dua Lipa. Typical answers of course but my goal posts don’t usually involve needing to work with specific artists. There is a lot more red tape up at the top along with pitfalls of people in positions of power with the wrong attitudes, which I don’t like in my circle, but have successfully navigated for the benefit of my career and progress. I just like to be honest.
What was it like receiving your first Grammy nomination for mixing Sofi Tukker’s dance classic, “Drinkee,” at the 59th annual Grammy Awards?
You can’t beat the feeling of the first time. It was very unusual. I was actually in a session with an artist named Arrow Benjamin, and I think it was about midnight when I had an email from Sofi Tukker’s manager just saying “Congratulations you’re Grammy nominated”. The context was strange to me because I didn’t even realize the project was put forward for consideration, or that the announcements on nominees were even happening. It wasn’t something I paid much attention to. So when I actually went to L.A for the ceremony and after party, and really soaked it all in, it was basically over as quick as it came! But definitely a goal of mine for many years, and I didn’t expect it to come as fast as it did but no complaints obviously!
What are your plans for any future releases, and are there any plans of hitting the road and touring?
I have about five different singles with different artists in the works that I am excited about. There will be music videos, full blown artist launches and campaigns, and so definitely watch out for that. I am working on a special NFT too, which I hope will become an interesting experiment for the industry and where this tech can go. I also have plans to have a “Boom Dice Presents” showcase at some point in the future when live music returns to normal. I want that to be a showcase of the artists on the singles and to really demonstrate what it is we are doing out there. So while I may not necessarily perform myself, I can’t rule it out when I get excited about what we are building here.