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.

Interview & Mix : Daniel T (Cosmic Kids)

Check out Daniel T’s first bit of solo output in the form of a lovely chilled mix and a free download whilst getting to know him a little better below…

Growing up, what kind of music was being played around the house? Did you parents introduce you to any records that you consider influential?
Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation, The Cars Greatest Hits, and Paul Simon’s Graceland stand out to me when I look back to my early childhood. Those albums really resonated with me for some reason. It totally makes sense if you look at my record collection today.

What did you consider to be your first real true introduction to dance music / electronic music?
I went through a long “drum machines have no soul” phase in middle school and high school. I was pretty fixated on classic rock for a long time. I remember taking a liking to The Chemical Brothers and Massive Attack later on in high school, but I don’t think I understood dance music until The DFA came around. The things those guys were doing in the early 2000s completely changed everything for me.

Did you have many friends into the same music when you were first getting into dance music? Or were you kind of on your own until you met like-minded people through DJing?
Ron, the other guy in Cosmic Kids, was always introducing me to great music, and still does to this day. I 100% credit him with turning me on to dance music. My other close friend Aaron Castle was into a lot of the same stuff as well. Aaron and I carpooled to Santa Monica College, so we’d listen to KCRW and whatever new DFA music was out that month (and other music in that vein).

You weren’t living super close to the city when you were first getting started, but were you driving out to a lot of shows and parties when you became old enough? Do you remember any parties or sets in particular around that era that really blew you away?
Going to parties in general blew me away because I never did any of that in high-school, so once I got a taste of the LA music scene, I was pretty hooked. I was really blown away when I went to the afterparty for Franz Ferdinand’s first show in Los Angeles. They were DJing off their iPods. At the time I had no standard for DJing or warehouse parties, so I just thought the entire experience was mesmerizing. That was only 10 years ago, so that shows you how new I am to all of this.

Name five records that never left your bag when you were first playing regularly around LA.
At first, we didn’t have many records, so Ron and I shared our collections. I remember us playing these a lot early on.
In Flagranti – Genital Blue Room
Dance Reaction – Disco Train (Morgan Geist Caboose Mix)
Black Leotard Front – Casual Friday
Chic – Dance, Dance, Dance
Gwen Guthrie – Seventh Heaven

And how about five current records that you’re rinsing at the moment?
The Shunters – Since Morning
Hidden Fees – So What
Guillaume Des Bois – La Symphonie Des Rues
Will Powers – Adventures in Success
Phill & Friends Band – This Man

Most people know you for your work as Cosmic Kids, and now for the first time you’re releasing stuff by yourself in addition to your music with Ron. How would you consider your solo efforts different than your previous releases with Cosmic Kids? Does your solo project aim for a slightly alternative vibe than what most people expect from you?
With Cosmic Kids, Ron and I were always evolving. I don’t think that project ever had a definitive sound because we were always trying new things and learning along the way. For example I think our first single “Reginald’s Groove” sounds almost nothing like our Giselle Remix. I like that about Cosmic Kids, and I think its just the way Ron and I tend to work together. My solo stuff is a bit more focused. I’m deliberately using the same drums and synthesizers on a lot of my new material. I like the idea of limiting myself to specific sounds to create a more cohesive set of music; for the time being at least.

Tell me a bit about where you’re finding yourself musically these days. You’ve always maintained a specific vibe, but I feel like your selections and productions have matured in a new direction over the last couple years. What could this be a result of?
I’ve been bitten by the world music bug pretty hard. I don’t really like using the term “world music,” but that’s how they file it in the record stores, so I’m just going to roll with it. I’m not entirely sure what it’s a result of, but I think it has to with a personal backlash against rigid, stiff music. So much of the music I grew up loving, rhythmically chugs along like a train. By no means am I hating on chuggy music, I just think I needed to loosen up a bit. Some of the wonkiest stuff I have ever heard happens in African and Brazilian music, and that is inspiring to me because it is so counter-intuitive to my ears and body. I can’t seem to get enough of it lately.

“Resonant Places” is your new mixtape, which is almost entirely made up of your own material. Tell me a bit about the process of creating this and what you were setting out to achieve with this project. How long did it take?
I really want this mix to show people what I am all about as a producer and as a DJ. This is the music I’m interested in making right now and these are the labels and projects I’m currently working with. To tie everything together, I’ve mixed in records that I’m really digging lately. A normal DJ mix might take me a few hours to put together, but this one took me quite a bit longer because I chose to create some of the songs as I went along. The first track for example was designed to start the mix off. I tend to take my time making tracks, so I’d say it probably took me about a month to get this thing wrapped.

resonant places

The artwork really stands out as well, what’s the story behind it and does it reflect a certain era of music that you consider special? Or was it totally random?
The art was designed by my very talented friend, Evan Stalker. To be completely honest with you, it was designed for another producer, but was rejected. Haha. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure I guess. I love it because it reminds me of album artwork I noticed in my parents’ CD collection when I was little. There was this common trend of the artwork itself being in its own window, separate from the musician’s name and title. It’s kind of like they were saying “Here’s some music for you, and as an added bonus, here’s a pretty picture. Enjoy!”

A few of the tracks included in the mix aren’t yours though. Some are new and a few are from the past – you’ve been collecting records for many years now but how do you keep it fresh and stay motivated to continue doing so?
The key to keeping it fresh is to never worry about keeping it fresh. I do my best to only buy records that elicit a strong emotional or physical response from me. If I hear something and my first thought is “I must have this. I need to play it in my sets and hear it one thousand more times,” then I know its worthy of being purchased. I stay motivated to continue to collect because it has become an uncontrollable addiction, so I don’t really have much of a choice at this point.

Describe the perfect setting in which we should listen to this mix for the first time.
Its really hard for me to say. I think it depends on the person. I’m in my car a lot, so I tend to design my mixes for long drives, but my hope is that the mix works in many different settings.

Are any of these tracks seeing an official release anytime in the near future?
The Michael David tune is coming out soon on a new label I’m starting with Cooper Saver (aka you) called Distant Works. The Gravura edit will be released very soon on a label I run with my Tony Adams called Chit Chat Records. The Cosmic Kids rmix of Silva just came out this month. Other than that, the original tracks have no home yet.

Where can we find you online? is the best place to find me.
There you can find links to all my other internet stuffs.

Interview by Cooper Saver