Prism is a new three-day, winter festival set to illuminate Sale Town Centre.
The festival includes a light trail throughout the town and combined arts performances including Surge 360, an indoor immersive dance piece where artist Tom Dale brings to life a duet between dancer and an animated light, and Sentinel, a multi-sensory performance of electronic music from composer, Richard Evans.
Carmel Thomason spoke to Richard to find out more about his inspiration behind the project.
Bands often produce and album and then take it on the road, but your album ‘Sentinel’ developed from your live performances. Can you talk us through how that happened for you?
Richard: “Sentinel was originally conceived back in 2016, mostly as a piece combining instrumental music with data visualisations around the climate emergency. At that point I hadn’t performed live for a long time so it was very much a return to the fray. It was first performed in 2017 for Manchester Science Festival, then went to other festivals around the country. During lockdown, I did more work on the songs as I wanted to put it all together in a recording. That’s when I started writing lyrics and singing, which changed the whole thing. The album came out in early 2022 and got some really nice reviews. This whole process has been quite organic, keeping it fresh from a creative standpoint as I’m not the sort of person who wants to do the same show now as in 2017”.
The album is a call to action around the climate emergency. How is that expressed in the album?
Richard: “I didn’t want to write polemical lyrics, so it’s more about what it’s like to experience this situation from a human standpoint. This is a scary time for lots of people for lots of reasons so the album and new EP are calls to positive action as much as anything – my view is if we give into despair in these distressing times, then we’re done”.
What was the inspiration behind the production for Prism?
Richard: “Because the visuals are projected onto the Waterside building itself, this totally changes the scale of the piece. It allows myself and the creative team to think much more expansively about how we present the visuals, the story we’re telling and the presentation of the music. Each of the songs are new versions created especially for this show and presented in a special audio mix. All of the visuals are new too, so for us, it’s really exciting and we hope the audience will enjoy it”.
How does the music combine with the lighting and visuals in the show?
Richard: “Everything is linked by a series of computers so it’s a grand technical exercise. As well as live synths and vocals, we use platforms including Ableton and Resolume. Our wonderful technical team – Joel, Tarrick and Hervé – make sure the machines all talk nicely to each other”.
What do you think this multisensory experience adds to the message of the album?
Richard: “Listening to an album and being at a live event are very different experiences, so to transition from one to the other means almost starting from scratch.
From a creative perspective, I’m very interested in total works of art – experiences that immerse the senses into a production. It pushes me as an artist to think in both sonic and visual terms. Although the subject matter is serious, we can’t forget that this is ultimately an entertainment experience and part of our role is to inspire and uplift people”.
How does it feel for you coming full circle back to the live experience with the album?
Richard: “I’m very grateful that there is still interest in this production after all this time. I’ve had space to refresh and reinterpret the songs for this festival, so it’s really enjoyable to create something bespoke for these shows”.
What do you hope people will take away from the show?
Richard: “That they’ve seen and heard something very different. That and the belief that we can change the world”.
Is there anything else you would like to say about Sentinel?
Richard: “I’m hugely grateful to Waterside for asking us to be part of this great festival and to the team at Things That Go On Things for putting it all together. We’re really looking forward to some special shows”.
SENTINEL is a free 20 minute show that will run each evening during the Prism festival using light and projections across the Sale Waterside building, to create an immersive, large-scale visual work. Catch it Thursday 23 November – Saturday 25 November / Thu 18:30. Fri & Sat 18:00 & 20:30.