My Experience as a Supersonic Intern

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Being an intern with Capsule, and specifically Supersonic festival, for the past few months has been an utterly eye opening experience. Perhaps the most significant thing I have personally gained from my time with the fantastic team who curate and produce the festival, is a re-connection with the city I thought I was permanently detached from

I have to admit, and I am saying this as a Brummie (pretty much) born and bred, that I have often felt that the city has felt a bit stagnant in comparison to other British cultural heavyweights such as Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool. I now realise this was a result of nothing else but my own ignorance. I was so busy loving life up North (having lived in Manchester for the best part of four years), that the cornucopia of music and art events that myMidlands home had to offer went completely unnoticed. Whilst I had heard of Supersonic, initially back in 2010, I had unfortunately never made it down as I was out of the country on both occasions. I admired the line-up for being so completely and unbelievably fresh- I had not heard of 80% of the bands, yet I was intrigued by the opportunity to have my ears filled with new sounds, my eyes opened with new sights and my head bombarded with new ideas.

As soon I found out I was going to be a part of the core team in the lead up to Supersonic 2012, I was given tasks that ranged between compiling blog posts to putting together articles and interviews for the 16 page zine that was to be published a couple of weeks before the festival. It was great learning more about the bands that would be playing, delving in to their back catalogues online and more importantly learning from the Capsule team who are so gleamingly passionate about what they do and the music that they bring to their captive audience.

Throughout the duration of the festival, Kez (the other marketing intern) and myself were put in charge of the Box Office, a responsibility which meant a lot- it isn’t often that you are given the opportunity to take charge on something as an intern and it was a refreshing feeling to be completely trusted. Perhaps my favourite thing about sitting at the front line, as such, was seeing such an incredible array of facial hair; moustaches carefully grown into styles that mimicked everyone from Poirot to Borat and Dali to Hulk Hogan. And the beards! Well, let us just say that some had taken on a life of their own. Amazing.

Luckily there were no real hiccups this year at Box Office HQ. Our handy PDA’s ensured that mistakes could be kept at a minimum, and our amazing team of volunteers did a sterling job in helping us keep things running smoothly. Perhaps my favourite moment of the weekend was when a couple of rogues from a Digbeth zombie run ended up mistakenly in the festival- they were both dressed in bloodied, ripped get-ups and we assumed they had been part of a workshop or performance that we weren’t aware of. It was only when they noticed that the people around them weren’t trying to kill them that they realised they were in the wrong place. We took a look at their zombie map and sent them on their way.

I think the most surreal experience of the festival was driving Justice Yeldham over to Margaret Street for the ‘Art of Listening’ talk. I mean, what radio station do you put on for a man who plays a piece of glass?

Musically, my highlight of the weekend had to be Goat. I don’t think anyone could have helped but have left Gibb Street Warehouse with a smile after their completely bonkers and captivating performance. I found my feet jigging, my arms waggling and my head bobbing to a beat that if you were to close your eyes, would make you think you were on the tropical shores of Haiti. As I looked around I saw everyone else smiling around me because they could not help it- watching six Swedes stamp their feet, swish their hair and play their instruments wearing what can only be described as hats fit for gnomes is an unforgettable experience.

I must also note Hype Williams as being an act that I won’t be forgetting in a hurry- their stranger than fiction origins are matched by a feeling that they are attempting to plunge their audience into such a state of annihilation, so that they may be reborn in a state in which they will have forgotten how to breathe. At points during their performance I felt that the intake of oxygen had taken a serious backseat as I was so pre-occupied with what this insane bass was doing to my eardrums.

In conclusion, it has honestly been a truly great experience. An experience that I would 100% recommend to anyone who wants to work within the creative industry. The role is certainly hands-on; I have got involved in everything, from moving office furniture to artist liason to just generally engaging with the audience. Throughout the festival weekend you have to be ready for any situation, should it arise which is really a task in itself- it is surprising the questions that people come up with. The festival itself passed in a bit of a blur, but what cannot come into question is the fact that the team behind Supersonic are hugely dedicated to bringing fans of all things experimental a stellar line-up year on year. It is a rare thing for an intern to be so involved and to be made so welcome so I would urge anyone who is even contemplating applying to give it a go- there is nothing left to lose!

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Supersonic 2012 – Here’s To Another 10 Years!

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It’s hard to believe that almost two weeks have passed since we were all frantically rushing around the Custard Factory, putting the final touches to the various wild man posters around the site and screwing in the last few records to the Vinyl Rally’s MDF floor before hordes of music fans rushed in to bask in the eclectic and adventurous sounds that Capsule had loving curated this year – and what a lineup it was! There was truly something for everyone, as Friday ran the gamut between JK Flesh’s absolutely punishing industrial dub, the surreal electronica of the Small But Hard showcase, the free-wheeling cosmic riffery of Hey Colossus, the toy tinkering soundscapes of Modified Toy Orchestra, and of course, the triumphant return of drum’n’bass dark lords PCM to the Supersonic stage.

Saturday brought even more surprises, from the gentle folk strains of Dylan Carlson’s new material to the unholy combination of Merzbow and Oxbow’s Eugene and Niko, a full-on audio explosion that wiped clean the mental state of everyone in attendance. I also have to give praise to the incredible drummer that accompanied Masami Akita’s astonishing feedback theatrics, augmenting the sonic devastation with some jazzy splashes, tribal belligerence and even some well timed blastbeats without ever failing by the wayside of Akita’s incendiary slabs of twsited sonic debri, which is no mean feat! A rare UK showing from Bohren & der Club of Gore was utterly captivating, enveloping the Boxxed venue in a dense, melancholy atmosphere and transporting the audience into the starkest of film noir settings for the entire duration of their set.

Meanwhile, Drunk In Hell’s molasses thick sludge onslaught and Zeni Geva’s vitally intricate sonic attack provided a satisfying ammount of musical filth to wallow in, forcing heads to bang and mosh pits to errupt. Zeni Geva may only exist as a two-piece now, but that hasn’t hindered KK Null and Yoshida’s fury at all, with Null especially firing off an arsenal of bewildering noise outbursts alongside his standard riff warfare via a series of baffling pedals. The icing on the cake was undoubtedly the astonishing avant-electronica of Hype Williams; bathing the entire Warehouse in a thick, eerie fog, the enigmatic duo proceeded to fuse together dub, noise, jazz, musique concrete, electro and garage influences into an uncategorizable and unforgettable performance. As Copeland’s beautiful tones danced across the bizarre volley of sounds emanating from Blunt’s corner of the stage, in which gullet-rattling dub basslines collided with squealing trumpets and reverb drenched car alarms, it was hard to shake the feeling that we were witnessing something of a musical revolution!

In keeping with Supersonic’s inclusive ethos, even youngsters were catered for with this year’s kid’s gigs, in which we bore witness to the heartwarming sight of a room full of children grooving along to the expansive psych voyages of Flower/Corsano Duo – and who knows? In 10 years time, some of these children may be taking to our stages themselves to blow your mind with their sonic wares…

Sunday boasted perhaps one of the most spectacular running orders in Supersonic’s illustrious history, with all manner of heavy weights awaiting today’s eager audience. Gnod’s triumphant set in Boxxed was astonishing, the over-powering throb of their sublimely heavy krautrock-isms gradually reconfiguring the pulse of each listener, unwittingly tuning into their psyche and forcing them headfirst into a cosmic thrill ride the likes of which would make even Timothy Leary baulk at the sheer intensity of it all. Elsewhere, Justice Yeldham revealed to us all the mind mangling sounds that lay dormant in a single piece of glass, Lash Frenzy created an imposing and lucid arena in which achieve total sensory overload, and the mighty Ufomammut invited us to accompany them on a voyage deep into the heart of their latest two-record opus, ‘ORO’. Once these guys peak there’s no force in the universe that can restrain them, and the riffs are flowing thick and fast (or should that be slow?) tonight. Whilst both the ‘ORO’ records are impressive in their own right, combined they are a true force to behold, and to witness this incredible odyssey in the flesh is an awesome experience!

A tough act to follow indeed, but mysterious Swedish voodoo merchants Goat were more than up to the challenge. Taking to the stage in colourful robes, ritualistic gaments and erm, a golden robot mask, the band’s vibrant psych-rock/afro-beat concoction instantly whipped the crowd into a frenzy. Racing through all of their ‘World Music’ debut (including instant classics like ‘Goatman’, ‘Let It Bleed’ and ‘Run To Your Mama’) but allowing their songs a bit more room to breathe, the Swedes kicked out the jams with an infectious energy and by the time the extended version of ‘Det som aldrig förändras / Diarabi’ brought their revelatory set to a close, you’d be hard pushed to find a single member of the audience who wasn’t sporting an enormous ear-to-ear grin. Incredible!

Finally, the Oxbow Orchestra provided an enthralling end to this year’s celebrations, reinterpreting some of their classic songs and even treating us to some choice cuts from their upcoming full-length ‘The Thin Black Duke’. Their performance was at once intimate and gripping, but without losing any of the potent intensity that has made the band such a force to be reckoned with over the years. This was due to be Supersonic 2012’s final performance, but it seems you, the audience, had other ideas, as an impromptu and sublimely hypnotic drum circle erupted in the beer tent just outside. As the ringing in our ears began to subside, the communal and strangely rhythmic clinking of pint glasses against benches and a sea of warm smiles was a perfect finish to this year’s festival.

Of course, I’m only scratching the surface of Supersonic 2012 here; beyond the numerous delights of this year’s musical lineup, there was a whole plethora of extra-curricular activities. The sight of a fresh-faced individual feverishly clutching at a copy of their own recently pressed Kim Gordon collab on their way back from the Reverse Karaoke installation become a pleasingly common sight over the weekend, and the procession of startingly costumed members of the Outcrowd throughout the festival site on Sunday was a source of much ceremonial excitement. The ear mutilating sounds of Lucas Abela’s Vinyl Rally were a definite highlight, featuring one of Lucas’ most ambitious track layouts to date. Volunteers hastily scrambled alongside the track as Lucas himself sat within the makeshift nerve centre of the rally, tinkering away whilst the assembled throng routinely found themselves astonished by the sheer spectacle of it all.

And of course, there’s the massive contribution that you yourselves paid to the festival, by arriving in your dozens and flooding the Custard Factory with enthusiasm, joy and good vibes. This year’s edition of the festival was one of the finest of the past 10 years, a truly excellent way to celebrate a decade of passionate experimental arts programming – here’s to another ten years!

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Hype Williams

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“We don’t know who they are, or how many of them there are, because articles about them are generally accompanied by celebrity photo montages, or by a shot of them with a T-shirt pulled over their heads. Enigmatic and elusive, they may have named themselves after the US video director because they enjoy his work, or it may be a wry comment on something or other. We have seen them spoken of as an “18-year ‘relay project'” in which members pass on the baton one to another once their endeavours are complete. We really haven’t a clue.

Hype Williams take elements from the past and turn them into something new. You’ve heard that said of many artists before, right? This time it’s true. We like to let our imaginations run riot and think of them as a latterday Throbbing Gristle, a bunch of art terrorists doing abusive, subversive things to mainstream pop culture from the margins.” The Guardian

http://www.myspace.com/hypheewilliams

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Line up announcement: Merzbow, Hype Williams, Jarboe and many many more

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We’re thrilled to announce a whole host of exciting artists to the 10th anniversary festival. Supersonic favourite Merzbow will perform a solo set as well as the ever changing Jarboe, Italian psych metal group Ufomammut and one of the most exciting live acts around at the moment – the inimitable Hype Williams.

Also added to the line up is Doomsday Student (born from the ashes of Arab on Radar), Norway’s Stian Westerhus, noise legend Kevin Drumm and Birmingham’s finest PCM. Add to that the frantic Clifford Torus, the ethereal sounds of SWLLWS and the crushing Mothertrucker along with electroacoustic artist Thomas Ankersmit, psych band Hookworms and noise rockers Hey Colossus!

We’re also excited to invite back the filth of Drunk in Hell, and special appearance from KK Null and Ruins Alone. To keep you dancing all weekend we’ve got Australia’s My Disco and the kraut/electronica duo Warm Digits and for those calmer moments, the gorgeous, stripped back songs of Richard Dawson.

Believe it or not, there are still some more very special additions to add to their already mega tenth birthday line up which we shall unveil soon, as well as more information about the art exhibits and film programme which is still taking shape behind the scenes. But for now, please enjoy this Supersonic Festival mixtape, featuring a selection of the line up so far, for your listening pleasure. Please feel free to host this on your site and help us to spread the word.

As a reminder, here is a list of the line up as it stands; Body/Head/Bohren Und Der Club Of Gore/Carlton Melton/Clifford Torus/Dope Body/Drunk In Hell/ Dylan Carlson/Flower-Corsano/Goat/Hey Colossus/Hookworms/Hype Williams/Jarboe/JK Flesh/Kevin Drumm/KK Null/Lichens/Merzbow/My Disco/PCM/Rangda/Richard Dawson/Ruins Alone/Sir Richard Bishop/Six Organs Of Admittance/Small But Hard showcase/Stian Westerhus/SWLLWS/Thomas Ankersmit/Tim Hecker/Ufomammut/Warm Digits / Mothertrucker / Zeni Geva.

Go HERE for ticket info
Go HERE for line up info

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