Festival special – artist interviews

Example, Clean Bandit, Saint Raymond, Finley Quaye, Bastille and more

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Who: Example

What festivals are you playing this year?
I’ve been announced for V, T In The Park, Kendal Calling and Bingley Music Live. I think there’s a few more to announce but as I move up the bill at festivals it means the exclusivity clauses kick in and I can play less and less each year. In Europe this year I’m doing about 20 festivals.

You smashed the festival scene last year. Are you going to do the same in 2014?
Of course! Why would I not? I always want to put on the best show possible. The set will be full of all the biggest anthems and bangers to date plus a load of new stuff from album 5 Live Life Living.

What were your festival highlights in 2013?
They were all good for different reasons. Clapham Common was a personal fave. Near where I went to school. Lots of friends and family there. There were lots of people asking: “Why is Example headlining a dance festival?” We sold it out and the show was an hour-long laser/fire/rave fest. Crowd ecstatic. Critics silenced.

Win tickets to see Example at Kendal Calling and Bingley Music Live in our 12 May issue

Best piece of festival advice
Same as always – take wet wipes.

What couldn’t you do without at festivals?
My friends. My wife. Have to mention her too!

You seem to switch between intimate gigs in smaller venues to large arenas and sell-out festivals. Is it about getting across the message to every audience?
The smaller venues tend to be one-offs – something unique and exciting. I get a buzz from all kinds of shows. In certain countries you play to 1,000 people and others it might be 50,000. I’m happiest when I’m on stage – whoever is watching.

What has your album got in store?
It’s an upbeat, euphoric, positive record. Back to back bangers. On some of the tracks there’s a real 1990s flavour.

What’s the one track guaranteed to make the crowd go off?
Pretty much the whole show is designed to make people bounce and go mental.

One track that would get Example dancing?
I don’t dance really. But today I’d go for Modjo and Lady (Hear Me Tonight).

Who: Eagulls (George Mitchell)
Where: Beacons Festival
Excited to see: I’m looking forward to seeing The Fall at Beacons Festival. I’m sure Mr Mark E Smith will be up to his usual tricks, which is always great to see and hear. I’m also looking forward to seeing Autobahn play Beacons and to hang around with them.
What is your best festival memory?
There’re too many really to say and also too many that we can’t say, but here are a few. Turning up to Lounge on the Farm Festival and them giving us one beer each and us playing to nobody – fond memories. Launching a heavy tent pole right into the middle of a camping site full of students – javelin gold medal achieved. A strange man once asked us to be his newborn’s godparents and play at the christening. He then went on to tell us about seeing God in a fire when on acid. He also stated that he missed the Sex Pistols in 1977 but got to see PIL upon his release from prison a few years later.
What’s your favourite thing about playing a festival?
My favourite part of playing a festival is knowing that there are going to be new people in the crowd that have not yet heard our music or seen us play live. Festivals give us the opportunity to play to these fresh ears whether they like it or not it.

Chantel McGregorWho: Chantel McGregor
Where: Burton Agnes Jazz and Blues Festival
Excited to see: I’m looking forward to seeing Lucy Marshall – she played with us at a show a while ago and she’s fantastic.
What is your best festival memory?
I’ve done so many wonderful festivals. It’s always great playing a festival where everyone is having a brilliant time, enjoying the music and relaxing with friends. I think one of my best festival memories so far was the first time I performed at Swing Wespelaar Festival in Belgium, a few years ago. It was so exciting to play to over 4,000 people who were all up for a fantastic time.
What’s your favourite thing about playing a festival?
I think the community feel that festivals have is wonderful, I find them really friendly and everyone’s there for the same reason – to have fun. Plus it’s lovely to see other bands play and catch up with friends.

Who: Clean Bandit (Grace Chatto)

“I headbanged so hard that my neck was sore for about a week afterwards.”
Twin Atlantic (Ross McNae), Leeds Festival

Where: Leeds Festival, Parklife
Excited to see: quite a few of our friends from the Black Butter Records family will be at Parklife, including Rudimental, Gorgon City and My Nu Leng, all of whom are definitely worth watching. MNEK and Javeon are both amazing vocalists we’ve worked with on our album – can’t wait to watch their live shows.
What is your best festival memory?
Seeing No Doubt when I was 16 at Glastonbury and crowd surfing! Gwen Stefani – hero – shed one beautiful tear during Don’t Speak and the whole affair was very emotional, in a good way.
What’s your favourite thing about playing a festival?
We love playing in the sunlight, which only tends to happen at festivals. Last year we performed at Unknown Festival in Croatia on the beach as the sun went down and it was so beautiful. Deep joy.

Who: Saint Raymond
Where: Dot to Dot, Kendal Calling
Excited to see: both festivals have great line-ups with a few people I am quite excited to see: Amber Run, Example and loads more.
What is your best festival memory?
Hard to choose between Reading and Leeds last year – both were insane. I also loved Splendour festival last year in Nottingham as that is my hometown and it’s always great getting to play for a home crowd. Just the turn-out alone for both those festivals were a bit crazy.

What’s your favourite thing about playing a festival?

Just seeing everyone having a good time and enjoying the music. It’s a cliché but it really is the best thing to witness. It’s also cool to get to play at the same festivals as some of my favourite bands and getting to check them out too.

Who: Polly and the Billets Doux
Where: Burton Agnes Jazz and Blues Festival
Excited to see: I love to dance so I am really looking forward to King Pleasure and the Biscuit Boys. Chantel McGregor sounds like she is going to be nothing short of incredible and I am excited to hear what she is like, but I must say that I am massively intrigued by Watching the Detectives with the Give A Little Love Jazz Orchestra and Alan Barnes. A musical collaboration celebrating two of the world’s greatest fictional detectives, Sherlock Holmes and Columbo. I pretty much own nearly every episode of Columbo made.
What is your best festival memory?

“It was an incredible feeling being soaked to the bone and just dancing non-stop.”
Ella Eyre, Kendal Calling

When I was 13 my friend Ellen and I bunked school and got a lift to Glastonbury Festival as it was free to go in for under 14s. My brother gave me £20, and we had the time of our lives. It was beautifully hot and we just watched everything, danced all day and night and had an incredible time. Being my first ever festival experience it was certainly unforgettable. I was totally bowled over and as I had always wanted to be a singer. I was utterly determined to play Glastonbury after that. So I guess our first Glastonbury performance and indeed the drive there (we listened to MGMT and all danced about in the van flinging our arms about) was so exciting and a great memory.
What’s your favourite thing about playing a festival?
My favourite thing about playing a festival is the atmosphere and the great outdoors. I love mud. I love being outdoors and I love music. It wins on all accounts. Also everyone seems open to experiencing and exploring new music. I adore happening upon bands I might not have otherwise encountered and also meeting other musicians. We met one of my all time heroes, Richard Thompson, at the Larmer Tree festival last year and swapped albums with him. It was truly great.

Finley-Quaye 2Who: Finley Quaye
Where: Africa Oye
Excited to see: Jupiter Bokondji
What is your best festival memory?
It’s been such a long time since we played a proper festival – it’s been 10-15 years. Even then when we did that, we were more often than not paid peanuts and were told to forget about the money and think of the exposure we were getting. I played Exit and was the first British artist to play a festival in Serbia – we were second from top on the bill. I played Rockit Festival in Hong Kong in 2003 and was the first British artist to play a major festival in Hong Kong ever.
What’s your favourite thing about playing a festival?
The fresh air, sunshine and rain and the sheer fact everybody is so chilled and relaxed. It’s also a great chance or opportunity to catch up with other artists and to hear what hey have been up to creatively.

Who: Bastille (Dan Smith)
Where: Parklife
Excited to see: I’m looking forward to seeing Sam Smith this summer. His vocals are almost unbelievable live. I’m really excited about seeing Bondax’s live show for the first time. Likewise for Kendrick Lamar. Snoop Dogg should be fun too.
What is your best festival memory?
Probably the first time I went to Glastonbury when Jay Z walked out on stage with an electric guitar playing Wonderwall as a massive fuck you to all the people who dared to suggest he wasn’t an appropriate headliner. My mates and I were at the font getting crushed up against the barrier and it was such an awesome set.
What’s your favourite thing about playing a festival?
It’s a really nice opportunity to check out all the bands that we haven’t been able to catch live yet. It’s also good to play a whole bunch of our songs to people who may have only heard one or two.

Who: Greg Russell and Ciaran Alger
Where: Beverley Folk Festival
Excited to see: (Greg) We’re lucky to be playing at loads of festivals with great line-ups so there’s certainly a few people I’m already looking forward to seeing. Lau are amazing, to name just one. One of the best things about festivals though is almost always leaving with new music – artistes you hadn’t seen before. I’m sure this year will be exactly the same.
(Ciaran) Whilst I’m really looking forward to acts like Le Vent Du Nord and Lau, I’m incredibly excited to be in the same concert as Chas and Dave. I can’t say I’m particularly familiar with their music, but I know how legendary they are. It’ll definitely be a new experience.

“Most folk festivals have such a variety on offer, you never know what you’re going to discover.”
Ciaran Alger, Beverley Folk Festival

What is your best festival memory?
Greg: I think my best festival memory is the whole summer of 2013. We did over 20 festivals in that summer, which was a real breakthrough year for us. Some were huge, some were small but they were all just so much fun. There were also particular running jokes/themes throughout that summer. Notably Ciaran having numerous disasters with the three different tents he used to camp in.
Ciaran: My best festival memory has to be playing at Fairport’s Cropredy Convention last year. Playing in front of about 10,000 people is something that I won’t get to do too often. There is no feeling like it, and that was perhaps the most enjoyable performance I have ever done. I just love festivals in general – the atmosphere and the amount of friendly people make them very special experiences.
What’s your favourite thing about playing a festival?
Greg: Each festival is a little holiday. You meet new people and catch up with and bump into old friends. They have such a friendly atmosphere as everyone is just there to enjoy the music and have a good time. There’s often a little bit of admin to do when we first turn up at a festival, signing in, checking sound check times and other suchlike but after that it’s just endless fun.
Ciaran: My favourite thing about playing a festival is having the time to relax and what so many other great acts between our own performances. Most Folk festivals have such a variety on offer, which makes the festival experience even more exciting because you never know what you’re going to discover. A great example of this is The Den at Cambridge Folk Festival- a stage for acts of all kinds hidden away in the shade. It’s an incredible venue.
The Marmozets, photographed in East London 29/1/14

Who: Marmozets
Where: Slam Dunk
Excited to see: Royal Blood are always great to watch. We’ve seen them a couple of times and have slayed it both times.
What is your best festival memory?
Either playing Leeds and Reading or Download in 2012. It was such an honour to play at such an early stage in our career.
What’s your favourite thing about playing a festival?
The fact that there’re so many bands playing and you can just wander into a tent not knowing a band and leave with a new favourite.

Who: John Hegley (comedian)
Where: Beverley Folk Festival
Excited to see: always good to be one of the crowd at a Billy Bragg gig singing ‘I’m not looking for a New England’, even if I am.
What is your best festival memory?
Poetry festival. Medellin, Columbia. The overall love of words that these folk have is more than inspiring. Every event was full. When I attempted my abysmal Spanish, they were rapturous. A particular beautifulness was the mental hospital performance, where people from the city sat on the grass beside the patients.
What’s your favourite thing about playing a festival?
Festival people open out and the common experience of the goings-on bites, unites and loosens.

Who: Shed Seven
Where: Bingley Music Live
Excited to see: I will be checking out as many acts as I can while we are there.
What is your best festival memory?
There’s been a few bizzare memories from festivals, like getting a lift back to a hotel on my own in the middle of the night and being banned from looking at dizzy rascal, but my fave time was Benicassim in Spain in ‘96. Sun, drink and the same bill as the Stone Roses.
What’s your favourite thing about playing a festival?
I enjoy trying to win people over who perhaps don’t know us and are casually walking past to see someone else.
Jupiter 2

Who: Jupiter & Okwess International
Where: Africa Oye
What is your best festival memory?
I’ve played in so many festivals but one of the best was maybe during the journey of Africa Express when we played at Granary Square in London – we had performing with us Paul McCartney, John Paul Jones and Damon Albarn, and, in front of us, 5,000 of the hottest, happiest people in the audience. It was huge.
What’s your favourite thing about playing a festival?
I like to surprise the audiences that don’t know my music. UK people are very curious, open minded and demanding in terms of music. It’s a big pleasure to play for them.

Who: Idlewild
Where: Musicport
Excited to see: top of the list has to be the Crazy World of Arthur Brown. I love a bit of psychedelia and this guy is a legend.
What is your best festival memory?
There are so many, to be honest. From a punter’s perspective it was probably Reading ‘93 purely because I was there with so many good friends and saw some great bands. One of those perfect festival experiences – musical highlight being Pavement on the main stage in the afternoon.
As a musician I say Connect Festival in 2007. We headlined the second stage overlooking Inverary Castle. It was one of those few festival gigs where everything went well. Probably due to waking everyone up with a soundcheck at 7:30 in the morning. Sorry…
What’s your favourite thing about playing a festival?
Playing is usually the stressful bit with no soundcheck and playing to a crowd who maybe don’t know your songs but the best thing is seeing and meeting other bands and often catching up with people you haven’t seen for a long time.

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