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Guest Column – Black Grape to super weird substances: Kermit's confessions

Guest Column – Black Grape to super weird substances: Kermit's confessions
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The first Super Weird Substance compilation album is out this week (13 November). Put together by DJ Greg Wilson (who celebrates 40 years behind the decks next month), the record features several tracks recorded with former Black Grape co-frontman Kermit Leveridge. To mark their coloration, Kermit has written Q a guest column about how they came to work together.

I’ve known Greg for years and years, for most of my life really. I count him as proper family; he’s like a brother to me. We both believe in a cross-pollination of ideas, of everything being connected by the morphogenetic field. His kid is called Ché, mine’s called Fidel – that’s the kind of connectivity I’m talking about.

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I first met Greg when he was DJing Manchester in the early 80s. I’m sure he won’t mind me saying this but he needed weed so I sorted him out and from there, we got talking and found pretty quickly that we had lots of things in common. He’s quite a deep guy and I’m quite a deep guy as well. Before long, we were hanging out a lot and he started managing the breakdance crew I was in, Broken Glass. We made a record together called Style Of The Street (later sampled by The Prodigy on Girls from Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned); it was recorded for the Street Sounds UK Electro album. Greg produced the whole thing, working with musicians Andy Connell, from A Certain Ratio and Martin Jackson, who’d been in Magazine, and we ended up doing a few tracks for the album under different names.

When I started the Ruthless Rap Assassins, Greg really took us under his wing and helped us out. He’d stopped DJing and was producing a lot more. He was making tunes and running a record label (Murdertone) that released our records and got us signed to EMI. Drugs ended up taking over things and the Rap Assassins ceased to be, but we definitely left our mark.

Although I hadn’t hung out with Greg for a few years, when I got monitor mixes back of the first Black Grape record, he was the person I wanted to play it to. I value his opinion on music very highly – he’s an incredible barometer when it comes to sounds, production, songwriting. The fact he was blown away by it was very humbling. He’s always incredibly honest about things and it wasn’t a given that he’d be into it.

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More recently, I knew Greg wanted to start a label. It’s something we’ve talked about it for a long time. He wanted to start something that came with a whole philosophy behind it, something that was more than just a machine for putting out records. I’d started messing round doing tunes with Luke (aka EVM128) and from those tunes, we made the Blind Arcade mixtape in a Heath Robinson style out of 21 demos we’d recorded. The was the birth of Super Weird Substance.

A lot of the motivation behind the label is down to pure coincidence. It’s like the universe has made it happen. We’re strong believers in serendipity; we’re big readers of people like Robert Anton Wilson, Alan Moore, and more recently John Higgs. I’ve been a huge Alan Moore fan for most of my life as I’ve always read comics – the sleeve of the first Rap Assassins LP had comic references, including Watchmen and Killing Joke. All these years later, I’m putting records out on a label that’s taken its name from something Alan Moore said relating to quantum physics (“information is the super weird substance”).

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The two of us have always talked about linking cultures up, that’s the whole idea behind the Super Weird Happenings. The whole thing is an invitation to artists, musicians, sculptors, painters… bakers even! Anybody who creates – all artisans and space cadets and alchemists – we want to add them to this cultural pot. Me and Greg are both children of the 60s, we were both born when the original Happenings were taking place, when the Magic Bus was rolling. I think we’re both instilled with that ethic. And those things got us thinking – why aren’t people connecting these things now? Why are people going to clubs, getting blasted off their heads and going home with nothing but a hangover waiting to happen? Why not start nights early and put on poets and talks? Joe Strummer, who I was fortunate to call a friend, was a big one for lighting a fire, gathering people round, telling stories and playing songs. That was nothing new – it’s a universal idea, it’s what human beings have always done. And we’re carrying that tradition on. Everyone’s welcome!

Kermit Leveridge@KermitLeveridge

For more head to Superweirdsubstance.com.

Picture Anthony Mulryan 


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