Steven John Wilson (born November 3, 1967) is the lead guitarist/singer/songwriter and the founder of progressive rock band Porcupine Tree. Wilson is also a self-taught producer, audio engineer, guitar and keyboard player (among other musical instruments).
Born in Kingston Upon Thames, Surrey, England, but from the age of 6, brought up in Hempstead, Hertfordshire, England, Wilson discovered his love for music around the age of 8. It began one Christmas when his parents bought presents for each other in the form of LPs. His father and mother received Pink Floyd's "Dark Side Of The Moon" and Donna Summer's "Love To Love You Baby", respectively. The young Steven spent much of his childhood listening to these albums in "heavy rotation", as he once commented. Both LPs would influence his future songwriting. He claims "...in retrospect I can see how they are almost entirerly responsible for the direction that my music has taken ever since." With Pink Floyd leaning him towards experimental/psychedelic conceptual progressive rock (as exemplified by Porcupine Tree and Blackfield), and Donna Summer with her trance-inflected grooves (which No-Man, Wilson's long-running collaboration with fellow musician and vocalist Tim Bowness initially adopted as its musical approach. Subequently, the band's sound evolved and pursued a more meditative and experimental Talk Talk-esque approach).
As a child, Steven was forced to learn the guitar, but he did not enjoy it; his parents stopped paying for lessons. However, aged 11, Wilson rescued a nylon string classical guitar from his attic and started to experiment with it; or in his own words, "...scraping microphones across the strings, feeding the resulting sound into overloaded reel to reel tape recorders and producing a primitive form of multi-track recording by bouncing between two cassette machines." At the age of twelve, his father who is an electronic engineer, built him his first multi-track tape machine so he could begin experimenting with the possibilities of studio recording.
It didn't take too long before he began to form bands with his friends from school and play live. However, the thing which kept him truly satisfied was experimenting with sounds and producing the recordings he made.
Between the years 1984 and 1986 he recorded material with underground bands Altamont and Karma. Some of those tapes have recently resurfaced due to the increasing popularity of Porcupine Tree. Wilson describes it as "...a bit like a painter having his nursery school paint blots on display..."
He was only 15 years old when he recorded a tape as Altamont, called "Prayer for the Soul". This particular work includes lyrics by Alan Duffy which Wilson later used for two Porcupine Tree songs: "The Long Silence" and "It Will Rain for a Million Years".
Around the same time he played as Altamont he was also in a band called Karma, which recorded two tapes: "The Joke's on You" (1983) and "The Last Man to Laugh" (1985), which contained the original versions of songs later used by Porcupine Tree, "Small Fish" and "Nine Cats" and "The Joke's On You", the latter of which can be found on the Staircase Infinities mini-EP.
Up to this point Wilson's diverse musical experiments contained avant-garde industrial, psychedelia (with Altamont) and progressive rock (with Karma). Steven's next step was forming two bands: No-Man and Porcupine Tree.
During the late 90's Wilson's love of experimental, drone, and ambient music began to manifest itself in a series of new projects, notably Bass Communion and Incredible Expanding Mindfuck also known as IEM. He also began to release a series of CD singles under his own name.
Later on, Wilson became known for the high standard of his production and was invited to produce other artists, notably the Norwegian artist Anja Garbarek, and Swedish progressive-metal band Opeth. Though he claims to enjoy production more than anything else, with the demands of his own projects, he has mostly restricted himself to mixing for other artists in the last few years.
More recently Wilson has become known for his 5.1 Surround Sound mixes- the 2007 Porcupine Tree album "Fear of a Blank Planet" was nominated for a Grammy in the "Best Mix For Surround Sound" category. The album was also voted #3 album of the year by Sound And Vision. Wilson is now rumored to be working on several other surround sound projects, including remixing the King Crimson back catalogue.
Steven Wilson has recently began to write reviews for the Mexican edition of the Rolling Stone magazine. They're all translated to Spanish. Two reviews have been published so far: one for Radiohead's "In Rainbows" and other for Murcof 2007 work, Cosmos.