Super Weird Happenings with Greg Wilson and Kermit Leveridge

Autumn deepens and something super weird is afoot.

Dance music Hall-of-Famer Greg Wilson and Kermit Leveridge, of Black Grape and Madchester fame, have formed a new musical alliance. Their aim: to challenge the conventions of a typical club night.

These Super Weird Happenings have been cropping up across some of the UK’s most prominent cities and Kermit’s new band Blind Arcade will be giving a live performance on the night along with some super special guest speakers.

The penultimate of the five ‘happenings’ will occur on the 18th October at Liverpool’s Constellations,  with author John Higgs as guest speaker. The final ‘happening’ takes place on the 1st November at Oslo in East London. Lloyd Bradley one of the country’s most prominent writers on black music features as guest speaker to wrap things up.

We managed to grab some precious time with Greg and Kermit to find out what we can expect at these Happenings.

So let’s start right at the beginning. Did you both always want to work in music?

Greg:  Since 1975 I’ve found myself working as a DJ in clubs and I have been involved in music related projects ever since. It wasn’t a case of choosing this path, the path chose me. To be honest, If I didn’t work in music  I’d Probably struggle to make ends meet, let alone find meaning in my life.

Kermit: Yeah I’m the same really. Music and dance have always been such a huge passion for me too. I think that had I not got involved in music, I would have tried my hand at becoming a writer.

What can we expect from a Super Weird Happenings event?

G: A free-flowing gathering in a creative space, which takes in talk, art, live performance, and DJ’s. Something we hope will entertain, amuse and inspire. It’s pretty much a mix between order and chaos, the balance between these giving each night its own unique identity, no two the same.

K: We liked the idea of a multi-media event, something that included a variety of creative aspects. The term ‘Happening’ relates back to the often spontaneous arts events of the 60’s, so we wanted to evoke some of that energy.

Would you say that the current UK clubbing scene lacks a bit of this energy?

K: More the culture than the scene as such. On the surface we live in an era of TV talent shows, corporate events and hipster posturing, where, more often than not, it’s a case of style over substance. We just want to connect to the ethos of expressive eras like the psychedelic 60’s and the acid house 80’s, where people broke the mould and re-wrote the rulebook.

G: Yeah, I mean I believe that the technical has been dominant in recent times and that there’s a need for a shift back to the emotional, especially given the turmoil and austerity of the age we’re living in – a more human touch is needed as the antidote.

The ‘scene’, wherever it is, boils down to passionate individuals enthusing others, and, by nature, is constantly changing, everything cyclic. You look at the history of music and you’ll find that this is always the case. For example, the whole Motown sound of Detroit couldn’t have happened without the vision of an individual, Berry Gordy. We assume that all these great Soul artists just happened to pop up in the same city at the same time, often within a few blocks of each other, but there were other extremely talented artists in other cities who never got a break because there wasn’t a Berry Gordy to knit the whole concept together.

K: I think with the club scene it’s about the promoters, with the support of the right DJ’s, of course, who, by perhaps taking risks others wouldn’t, create the next phase.

I think predictions are for someone younger than us, someone fresh and energised by new ideas. All I know, as previously stated, is that we’re entering a new cycle, and I believe this will be more about the emotional – more heart than head.

Did this ethos contribute to the creation of your new label Super Weird Substance?

G: Totally. The idea of the ‘fools leap’ is a central tenet for us. As the comic writer Alan Moore put it; 

“Quitting my day job and starting my life as a writer was a tremendous risk. It was a fool’s leap, a shot in the dark, but anything of any value in our lives – whether that be a career, a work of art, a relationship – will always start with such a leap. And in order to be able to make it you have to put aside the fear of failing and the desire of succeeding.”

I suppose the ethos is to do with stepping out of the comfort zone and taking a chance.

So what’s the plan after your five shows across the UK?

G: Well in addition to releasing music on the Super Weird Substance label, we’d like to continue to hold one-off Happenings in interesting spaces, whilst taking the event into festivals next summer. 

So let’s talk music. What tune would you play to help you reflect on life?

G: Perhaps ‘Time’ by Pink Floyd, with its theme of mortality, especially the lines; “The sun is the same in a relative way but you’re older, Shorter of breath and one day closer to death”. These words, of course, resonate each time you hear them because of the truth they embody – the more so the older you get.

K: ‘Many Rivers To Cross’ by Jimmy Cliff’.

The sun is shining, life is good. What tune do you listen to whilst you strut down the street?

G: ‘Sun Is Shining’ by Bob Marley & The Wailers’, of course.

K: Cody ChestnuTT ”Til I Met Thee’

What is you stone-cold guaranteed booty-shaker anthem?

G: James Brown ‘Get Up I Feel Like Being A Sex Machine’

K: ‘One Nation Under A Groove by Funkadelic…

Or Richie Spice ‘Youths Dem Cold’.

And finally gents, what will your epitaph read?

K: ‘You have to do what you have to do  for you’.

G: It’s got to be ‘One more tune’.

We’ll be at the final Super Weird Happening in London on the 1st November. We’ll be sure to give you a full run down of the strange goings on. If you want to check it out for yourself info on the next Super Weird Happening events are below:

Constellations, -39 Greenland Street, Liverpool, L1 0BS

Saturday 18th October – buy tickets here

In conjunction with Oxjam / Freeze

Oslo, 1a Amhurst Rd, London E8 1LL

Saturday 1st November – buy tickets here

In conjunction with Heavenly.

Featured image from left to right: EVM 128 (Blind Arcade), Greg Wilson and Kermit Leveridge. Photography by Elspeth Moore.