Kermit Leveridge Interview
WRITTEN BY JOSH RAY – NOVEMBER 2014
Although you’re probably most familiar with him through his work with Shaun Ryder in Black Grape, Kermit Leveridge’s genius runs far deeper than those contagiously wacky pop hits. Having cemented the foundations of the UK’s electro scene in the early 1980s with Broken Glass, Kermit continued to innovate in the 1990s with the Ruthless Rap Assassins – an outfit Roots Manuva pins at the “roots of grime.”
After his hedonism took him to the very fringes of existence, Kermit needed time away from music but he continued to write during this introspective period. Upon meeting Bristol born bass producer Luke Evermean AKA EVM-128 it soon became clear it was time to return.
The pieces of Blind Arcade started falling together and after taking the project to DJ Greg Wilson, the Super Weird Substance label was formed and the three of them quickly set about making a mixtape. The resulting Blind Arcade Meets Super Weird Substance in the Morphogenetic Field spread organically over the summer, paving the way perfectly for an autumn UK tour, which will be taking over the Baltic Triangle’s Constellations and the Observatory for a full twelve hours on 18th October.
WHERE DID THE IDEA FOR BLIND ARCADE COME FROM?
There was never an initial idea for Blind Arcade – me and Luke were just getting stoned and making tunes together. Then and few people heard them and were going “shit, they’re really good!” We did a few more and then I started listening to it and seeing the response from people and thinking “hmm…”
And I got in touch with Greg but he was double busy at the time and it took him a while to get back to me actually but when he got the time to sit down and listen he was like “yeah, I’m in! They’re really good.” It’s nice to be working with Greg again though – I like Greg. We have a really good understanding and friendship and respect for each other. That goes a long way.
YOU TWO GO WAY BACK. DO YOU REMEMBER WHEN YOU FIRST MET HIM?
He was a DJ when I used to go to the clubs. He was a top DJ man, and we just got talking, we got chatting about stuff and we just got on. He started managing the breakdance crew Broken Glass and then a few years later I sent him some stuff from the Rap Assassins and he was like “yeah man, this is really good.” I trust Greg; he’s straight and honest with me. He’s a good barometer for what’s good from me. I know if Greg’s digging it, I’m right.
WHEN YOU SENT GREG THE DEMOS TO PUT TOGETHER THE MIXTAPE, HE WAS CLEARLY INFLUENCED A LOT BY JOHN HIGG’S BOOK ABOUT THE KLF. HAVE YOU READ IT YOURSELF?
Haha yeah! We passed it around; I read it, Luke read it – everybody connected with it and interpreted it. It’s like with this mixtape as well it’s by serendipity not design – things have just appeared as they have done. The way it all came together it was just like magic really.
THERE’S A LOT OF SYMBOLISM IN THE MIXTAPE. ONE OF THE THINGS THAT JUMPS OUT IS THE SAMPLE TAKEN FROM DONNIE DARKO. DO YOU BELIEVE DESTRUCTION IS A FORM OF CREATION?
Well it is; I had to destroy myself to become the person I am now. I understand that concept completely. I was dead twice – how much more can you destroy something! You have to break things to make things – you have to. That’s one thing I’ve learned in life.
DO YOU THINK YOU LEARNED A LOT ABOUT YOURSELF DURING THAT PERIOD?
Oh yeah! I know who I am now. I never used to know… I was a lot of different people to a lot of different people. It was when I made a decision to stop lying and doing certain things that everything just became easier. I just realised “wow, it doesn’t need to be like that!”
I took it to the fringes; to the edges; to the margins. A lot of writers and musicians and artists, we tend to do that; push things to the edges. We’ve got to stand on the edge and glimpse into the abyss. We want to do that, we want to gain more knowledge; that muse; the inspiration – whatever you want to call it.
YOUR POEM LIES AND OTHER FOOLS PROVIDES A HARROWING INSIGHT INTO THAT DARKER PERIOD. DO YOU THINK YOU NEEDED TO RELEASE A 7″ AS A KIND OF CATHARSIS TO LET YOU MOVE ON WITH BLIND ARCADE?
Well yeah, that’s what it was. It was like a full stop on everything before. Fresh new page – bang! I’m not that crack-smoking heroin-injecting monster that I used to be. I could have been a bitter, twisted horrible person but I don’t want to be like that. I can’t rely on anyone else for my happiness and the thing that makes me happy is to make music and to write. So I’m going to do the best that I can at these things – to feed my soul. And if I can feed other people’s souls while I’m doing it that’s a bonus.
ALTHOUGH YOU DREW A LINE UNDER THAT TIME WITH THE POEM, YOU STILL CONTINUE TO EXPLORE DARKER TERRITORY WITH THE FOOTPRINT. CAN YOU RELL US A LITTLE ABOUT THE PROJECT?
It’s totally different from Blind Arcade. People are going to be very surprised – after the things in Blind Arcade and then hearing that. It’s a lot darker; it’s the flipside of the Blind Arcade stuff. The Footprint is very heavy thought. It’s a very heavy thought that stops you and stuns you and blows your mind.
AFTER YOU FINISH THE AUTUMN YOUR, WHAT’S ON THE HORIZON FOR BLIND ARCADE?
Straight after we’ll be in the studio. Me and Luke work pretty quickly together so we’ve got a load of tracks backed up that are really good and we did a couple of new ones in Manchester and they went down a storm.
We want people to come to these events and go away glowing and feeling good you know. It’s all about love man, there’s enough shit going on in the world.