The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website

News

Blackout Series: More Details On Anonymous Gigs In The Dark
Luke Turner , May 4th, 2011 13:35

We speak to curator Sam Potter. Will the shows cause synaesthesia?

The other week we told you about an intriguing new series of gigs that'll take place in pitch darkness, with the audience having no idea who the performer is until they can divine their identity from the sound pulsating through the blackness. The first one takes place next Thursday, May 12th at the Apiary Gallery in Hackney, and we're very excited about who the first artist is. We dropped the event curator Sam Potter a line to ask him about the thinking behind the series:

Sam Potter: I really liked the idea of setting up a space that exists between the stage and the studio, a place where artists can try out new ideas without the fear of alienating fans or it going wrong. If you don't try new things, new things won't happen. I also liked the idea of stripping the music down to it's purest form, not distracted by the other senses people can hear music as it was intended, the picture the audience form in their head is all down to their own interpretation. There's also the lucky dip element where you could be watching one of your favourite bands but the only way you can tell is by how much you know and love their music already.

What were you looking for in the artists you chose?

SP: This is the perfect arena to try stuff artists wouldn't usually dare so having a desire to make something new is important. Also musicality is essential, having the intention to be forward thinking and the skill to make it sound amazing is what great artists do, if it was just self-indulgent mush the idea would fall flat on it's face. The artists chosen are putting on a show for the audience, so also working within the space and with the theme is important.

Will the audience ever know who they've seen?

SP: We will never let people know, it's all down to how keen people's ears are.

Would you say that in some way this is a response to the way culture is going, with short attention spans and instant gratification?

SP: It's more of a backlash to the way we consume music, musicians have to consider pleasing every sense to get a perception of themselves across which I find really intriguing. It's almost as if musicians have to create a whole story around themselves, a pallet of colours they use, a bank of imagery they reference, an era of literature they borrow from, by limiting the amount of tools a band can use to present themselves the band can portray a truer picture of themselves.

Do you hope that the gigs in darkness will bring the audience deeper into the experience? Does it mean there's a breaking down of barriers?

SP: Hopefully! The potential for where the night could actually take people is really exciting. People working with perception like Professor Beau Lotto have discovered that before each sense is registered it informs all of the other ones to complete an overall picture, so if people are using only their ears and the music is conjuring up strong themes in peoples imagination, there could be a chance of inducing synaesthesia. This overlapping of the senses would be perfect, imagine smelling honey is a singer's voice.

If you love our features, news and reviews, please support what we do with a one-off or regular donation. Year-on-year, our corporate advertising is down by around 90% - a figure that threatens to sink The Quietus. Hit this link to find out more and keep on Black Sky Thinking.