Sure to be a great addition to the Manchester electronic scene, the subliminal impulse organisation have organised a slew of events around Manchester’s Northern Quarter on the 5th and 6th of July. Before that, there’s a launch party this coming Thursday at Aatma, so we thought this would be a good time to catch up with the man behind (and in July also in front as his band Scissorgun support Wrangler) the scenes, Alan Hempsall.
First up Alan, could you tell us a bit about yourself?
I was born in Levenshulme in 1960. I went to the local primary and comp then shunned 6th form to go to Macclesfield Art College in 1977. Started playing in bands with mates I’d met in Levenshulme the same year. This was also the year I formed Crispy Ambulance.
What motivates you and inspires your music, art and events?
I’ve never understood what motivates me as regards creativity goes, it works by feel (subliminal?) and if I try to analyse it, I’m afraid it might leave me. Certainly, other people’s work inspires me greatly and it’s refreshing to find these things are still around if you look hard enough. There’s so much out there and you still have to work as hard as you ever did to find great art. I do draw influences from other artist’s work. I don’t think there’s any shame in saying that. I think that’s one of the great things about creativity, we keep cannibalising one another.
With Crispy Ambulance you certainly became a part of Manchester’s musical history and still push boundaries with the electro-industrial Scissorgun. What musical changes have you seen over the years in Manchester?
The main things that seem to have changed about music are the things that are influenced by the advent of the internet and smartphones. Those factors alone are so massive that people from any walk of life will say it. A lot of venues now operate on much more of a business footing, probably because they’ve had to in order to survive. All of which is fair enough. Clubs need to get smart to endure.
So, where you’d just be able to walk into the Band on the Wall and get a gig 40 years ago, nowadays that’s not quite so easy but it’s nice to see more people starting up their own nights in pop up venues. Seeing this trend gain traction in the last couple of years is one of the things that got me thinking about the festival. Up to now subliminal impulse have put on 8 multi media arts night in Manchester since 2015.
Tell us more about the subliminal impulse festival, including what made you decide to curate the event – it’s certainly created a bit of a stir with the announcement of the headline acts.
It’s fantastic to be working with CARTER TUTTI and Wrangler and we wouldn’t have a festival without that to start the ball rolling. But all of these DIY electronic nights cropping up all over the country made me realise that we could build a whole weekend around these two significant appearances. All the grass roots stuff in the satellite venues will be free admission and I like the inclusivity that that represents. I think it chimes with the times. I also like the counter-culture angle, that’s something we lost a bit in the nineties and noughties.
Being a musician, promoter and a festival curator are certainly very different beasts – how are you finding the role of coordinating such a large event, compared to your regular nights?
The variation between musician and curator is massive. Playing at your own night is fine, but there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it. The tricky bit is striking the right balance. Scissorgun will be supporting Wrangler but the festival isn’t about me. It’s about shining a light on all the people out there doing their own thing, unaware even of each other, but somehow on the same page. Needless to say, the nights where we’re booked to play a gig by a promoter are a breeze by comparison. As curator you suddenly have a duty of care to everything and everyone
Carter Tutti play Band on the Wall on the 5th of July, with Wrangler playing Soup Kitchen the following night. You can information on the other events which are free to attend on the subliminal impulse website, as well as Twitter and Facebook.