Artist To Artist: Greg Wilson & Kermit
Greg Wilson and Kermit Leveridge should, as we like to say in showbiz, require no introduction. Wilson is one of the UKs most passionate authorities on DJing, famed for his edits, his sets, and his meticulously researched articles on dance music history. Kermit has been in and out of the charts in a number of guises, from his pioneering work with Ruthless Rap Assassins, to his stint as Black Grape's resident foil to Shaun Ryder's vocal chaos, to his current position as frontman of Blind Arcade. Together they are running the Super Weird Happening parties, a showcase for the heady brewed soul stew of Blind Arcade, presented alongside a mind expanding program of art, debates, talks and Wilson's inimitable DJing. The 5th of the Super Weird Happenings takes place on November 1st, you can find details for all events at the bottom of this piece.
Wilson recently bought his compilation skills to bear on the Blind Arcade back catalogue, creating an album length mix that has been soundtracking life in the Ransom Note office since we first heard it – press play and read his head to head with Kermit below;
GW – Where are you from, where are you now?
K – I’m from Moss Side in Manchester but I rest my bones in sleepy Chester now.
You have so many outlets these days but tell us about the Blind Arcade and its influences?
Everything I’ve ever heard is an influence in regard to Blind Arcade, from those old school big productions like Earth Wind and Fire to really sparse stuff like Robert Johnson. If I’m feeling it then it’s right.
Tell us about EVM128 and the creative process between the two of you with Blind Arcade?
It happened quiet organically I met Luke (EVM128) through a friend and we just hit it off. We dug a lot of the same stuff and we came up with a tune the first hour of meeting. We just fused.
Ruthless Rap Assassins are cited as part of the roots of grime. Would you agree this was a fair analysis and do you have any connection with grime / bass / dub step?
The RRA where just 3 youths living and trying to find some kind of sense and coherence in the chaos around us. It’s nice to be remembered as the roots of grime, and thinking on it a bit its probably true hahahahhah.
"I needed to recreate myself, unlearn all the things I’d learnt, and become somebody else.” Who are you now?
I’m the person I need to be right now.
Tell us about Footprint. Any plans to work with any more people with this.?
The Footprint is a lot darker than Blind Arcade. The plan is to get other vocalist to do my poems / lyrics. I’ve got a great selection of heads that have agreed to come down and do their thing on it. It’s done in collaboration with Ollie Miles who is EVM128’s stepdad. He’s like some mad alchemist in his studio tucked away mixing the most excellent martinis.
Not to dig too far into your past but how do you feel creatively now in relation to back in Black Grape days?
If I had put more effort into Black Grape and hadn't been such a prick, who can say what would have been. But that was a journey I had to take, and it lead me right here to this place with a beautiful wife and baby and true friends.
Why does addiction often goes hand in hand with music and the creative process?
I suppose any sacrament can be abused sometimes. It’s all about perception at the end of it all – how far are you willing to go. Some of us have to go to the abyss to be explorers of the fringes and the margins, the folds and the cracks, that are so abundant in reality. It’s how we cope.
Tell me about your collaboration with illustrator Mal Earl?
Mal Earl is drawing the graphic novel ‘Lies And Other Fools’, which is based upon a poem I wrote about my heroin addiction. We put out a 7” that Howard Marks narrated earlier in the year. Mal’s style lends itself perfectly to the clammy skinned feel of the piece. I get so excited when he sends me fresh pages – Mal is my droog.
5 tracks that inspired Blind Arcade:
Nina Simone ‘I Got Life’
Gilbert O'Sullivan ‘Nothing Rhymed’
Edith Piaf ‘Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien’
Earth Wind and Fire ‘Shining Star’
Tell us about the Super Weird Happenings gigs.
They’re 8 hour events with live music, DJ’s, art, debate and more – a little festival in itself.
Where next for Kermit?
To the shop for Rizla and Red Stripe.
Which song do you wish you had written?
‘Many Rivers To Cross’.
If your sound was a visual thing, what would it look like?
A 12 dimensional fluid.
What are you obsessed with at the moment?
Are you a kick drum, hi hat or a snare? And why?
I’m the sticks man.
And some Qs from us…
How did you meet Greg and how did the mixtape come about?
I’ve known Greg for over 30 years. He managed the RRA and he’s like a brother to me, so when we had enough tracks to move forward with, it was a no brainer asking Greg if he was interested in producing and working with us. He has awesome ideas and he listens, and he’s fucking Greg Wilson fer christ sake.
Greg has done a very good job of embracing new forms of media in the second phase of his career. Do you engage with social media etc?
I do, but it’s all pick up and throw away – nothing is really retained. I use technology like tablets and smartphones, but I still write my words on paper. It makes me feel connected to the multiverse
What is a Blind Arcade?
In regards to the band it means nothing is what it seems
Super Weird Happening is taking place at the following venues and dates;
Gorilla, 54-56 Whitworth St W, Manchester M1 5WW – Saturday 20th September
Guest speaker: Lemn Sissay
In conjunction with El Diablo's Social Club
8pm – 4am – £10 advance tickets here
SW3G, 100 Eastvale Pl, Glasgow G3 8QG – Friday 26th September
Guest speaker: Steve Mason
In Conjunction with Melting Pot
7pm – 3am £12 advance
The Island, Nelson St, Bristol BS1 2LE – Friday 3rd October
Guest speaker: TBC
In conjunction with The Island
8pm – 4am
Constellations, 39 Greenland Street, Liverpool, L1 0BS – Saturday 18th October
Guest speaker: John Higgs
In conjunction with Oxjam / Freeze
4pm – 4am
Oslo, 1a Amhurst Rd, London E8 1LL – Saturday 1st November
Guest speaker: TBC
In conjunction with Heavenly
8pm – 3am