Q&A with Capsule, organisers of Supersonic Festival
Supersonic Festival returns to the Custard Factory in Digbeth, Birmingham, from the October 19 to 21
Offering a autumnal feast of irresistible experimental music, compelling multidisciplinary arts including a wealth of special exhibitions, performance, installation and screening events over the course of the weekend. 2012 mark’s Supersonic’s tenth anniversary, and the details released so far suggest this could be an extremely special year.
We spoke to Supersonic organizers Capsule to hear about this year’s events, some reflections on the festival’s remarkable history and some hints for the future.
Supersonic 2012 is the festival’s tenth birthday party, congratulations! The line-up and multimedia events around the festival are looking characteristically intriguing. Are there any highlights you are particularly excited about this year?
Obviously I’m biased and am pretty excited about all of our line up but some of the key highlights this year include a special collaboration of the unique and unpredictable guitar pairing of the iconic Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth and free-noise guitarist Bill Nace. Together, they are known as BODY/HEAD.
The Oxbow Orchestra, expect strings, woodwinds, brass, operatic backing vocals and classically contained renderings of the Oxbow songbook. A screening of Jeremy Dellers ‘The Bruce Lacey Experience’. A large-scale installation combining sound art, video art and kinetic sculpture, Vinyl Rally an immersive participatory play-set playing off vinyl fetishism, video arcade mystique and the machismo of motor sports in a video game played within a real world setting!
We’re also delighted to be bringing psychedelic rock band, Goat to the UK for the first time. In addition we have a few surprises in store to help mark our 10th year celebrations.
Ten years of adventurous music is a massive achievement, especially considering how other festivals have run into trouble this year. What’s the secret of Supersonic’s success?
I suppose we’ve never sat on our laurels and are always trying to push ourselves to provide the best experience we can for both fans and artists alike. We’ve built a reputation based on attention to detail and I think it’s the added extras like the real ale bars, the friendly atmosphere that our audience go away having experienced as well as the live performances.
In addition we try to put completely unique line ups together so that coming to Supersonic you’ll be introduced to some brand new artists that you hadn’t previously known about, but go away loving them. In terms of success we work incredibly hard to make the festival happen and have amazing support from loyal fans and an incredible team of volunteers and staff that all believe in what we’re trying to achieve.
What for you have been the standout events and achievements of Supersonic over the years?
Well we started out as a one-day event not really knowing what we were doing, and now ten years later the festival has grown with a worldwide reputation so that is really exciting for us. There have been so many amazing performances but LCD Sound System, followed by Coil performing over the pool at the Custard Factory in our first year was quite an achievement. Monotonix played a pretty amazing set causing an absolute frenzy of sweat and Speedos.
Also hosting early performances by artists that then go on to really build their reputation and audience always feels like an achievement for us and that we have in some small way helped them on their journey. In other ways, having our audience travel from all over the globe is equally satisfying – knowing that they are making the journey as they won’t experience this kind of event anywhere else in the world.
Supersonic always presents an astonishing list of performances, exhibitions, film, multimedia events – how do you go about curating such a diverse and stimulating programme?
We spend a lot of time researching potential artists taking advice from knowledgeable folks and asking our audience to recommend artists. We then piece the programme together slowly but surely, carefully thinking about how one performance moves to the next and how the event builds up over the day.
In addition I think that we programme from our own position of being fans of not only music but also creative practice and look to show the relationship between illustration, film, performance and music. The festival aims to celebrate and showcase independent culture and over one weekend bring a global community together to share that passion and innovation.
Can you provide a taste of what to expect from Supersonic 2013?
Gosh that seems a long way off, but what I will say is that we are seeing having reached 10 years as a good opportunity to re-imagine what the festival might be like in the future and what format it might take, even reconsidering the location. So coming to this year’s festival may well be the last time it happens in its current shape.
Supersonic Festival 19 – 21 October 2012
Custard Factory, Digbeth, Birmingham, UK
For info and tickets checkout: www.supersonicfestival.com