LightNight artist profile: Super Sonic Assembly

The theme for this year's LightNight festival is 'Time', so we asked some of the commissioned artists how they've responded to the brief. DJ Greg Wilson of The Super Sonic Assembly tells us what he'd put in a time capsule

Feature by The Skinny North | 10 May 2017
  • Greg Wilson

Liverpool's annual late-night culture crawl, LightNight this year invites artists to respond to the word 'Time' in unlimited ways – covering everything from the city's past, present and future to the influence of time on art, science and philosophy.

Alongside the hundreds of free events across town on 19 May, with galleries, museums and art spaces throwing open their doors until late, LightNight also makes a number of commissions each year – and the eight new works for 2017 range from a light installation accompanied by music from Arvo Pärt to an audiovisual piece that the audience can control through data from their brainwaves and heartbeats. 

Community choir facilitator Tracey Carmen is working with DJ Greg Wilson to host a huge vocal jam celebrating "the basic human joys of singing and dancing... bringing people together within the spirit of connectivity and communion."

The Skinny: Please can you tell us a little bit about your practice, and how your project for LightNight continues/relates to it?

Greg Wilson: When it all comes down to it, it's about the basic human joys of singing and dancing, which is at the basis of what both Tracey and I do but from different directions. The Super Sonic Assembly has enabled us to bring together my own work as a DJ and Tracey's work with VOX as a vocal coach, workshop leader and community choir facilitator.

The event follows on from VOX's 'Big Sing Ting' event at the Town Hall in Liverpool last year and a couple of other LightNight events at the Liverpool Museum and the Metropolitan Cathedral. All of the VOX events in the past have included a level of interactivity and this one won't be any different; the audience will be encouraged to get involved in the singing and also to put forward ideas that will form the basis of an improvised jam.

In terms of how it follows on from my work, I've played a couple of unforgettable gigs at Liverpool's Bombed Out Church but we're taking it to another level here inside the vastness of the Cathedral. Bringing both mine and Tracey's work together in such an inspirational space and with so many people is bound to create a unique and special vibe, hopefully bringing together people within the spirit of connectivity and communion.

"Music acts as a virtual time machine"

How does your work for LightNight respond to the festival's theme, 'Time'?

The Super Sonic Assembly responds to the theme of time with music. Tracey was recently telling me part of our brain is specifically reserved for music and it's linked with long term memory, so in effect music acts as a virtual time machine, evoking memories of the past. Starting with the youngest choirs singing songs from the 2000s, each choir will take on the music of a decade, going all the way back to the 40s with Night & Days singing music from that era. Through my DJ work I see myself as building bridges between the past and present via the re-edits movement that reinvigorates older tracks for modern dancefloors.

Given the ultimatum, would you travel backwards or forwards in time?

The passage of time has always been an area of intrigue for us and Alan Moore has recently put forward some interesting ideas in his Jerusalem novel. He views the passage of time as an illusion, arguing that all time exists simultaneously. He compares it to a film reel, which exists all at once but as it's passed over the light source (our consciousness) it gives the false perception of passing by. In this philosophy, the concept of reincarnation wouldn't be a linear thing but instead a complete replay of your life from start to finish – so you'd better make it a good one!

To what time would you go, and why?

I'd go to 1967, making sure to take in the Stax Volt Tour in the UK and the Monterey Pop Festival in California – the precursor to Woodstock.

What one item would you put in a time capsule?

I'd put Alan Moore & Joe Brown's Mandrillifesto 7" single in the time capsule as it captures a moment in time both personally and in the wider world.

What else are you working on at the moment?

We're still recovering from putting together the 14 Hour Super Weird Happening at The Florrie in Liverpool on April Fools' Day but we're keeping busy with new recording projects for Super Weird Substance with Kermit Leveridge, The Reynolds and The Reverend Cleve Freckleton. Cleve will be vibing things up in his own inimitable way at the Cathedral on LightNight. Tracey has plenty more work coming up with VOX and I've got overseas dates plus a busy festival schedule ahead of me in the summer.

The Super Sonic Assembly, Liverpool Cathedral, 6.45-8.30pm choirs, 8.45-11pm Greg Wilson DJ set, part of LightNight Liverpool, 19 May