Festival Focus – Indietracks Interview: “We want to have as diverse a line-up as possible.”

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It’s beyond any shadow of doubt that the Indietracks Festival is a highlight of each and every year. If you’re fond of the pages of Overblown or any other like-minded music site you should be there. The 2017 edition will see a congregation of the most Overblown writers in the same place at the same time that there’s ever been, that’s five of us. Perhaps we’re best avoided (although we might just have some signed records to give away at the fest) but you can’t avoid the magnificent line up of bands gracing the various stages on offer. Martha, Joanna Gruesome, Cowtown, The Pooches, Suggested Friends, Peaness, TeenCanteen, Shopping…I could go on and on but it’s just too exciting. We caught up with the squad of angels who make the whole thing happen. Here’s what’s what:

Overblown: We understand you’ve said goodbye to some previous Indietracks organisers and hello to some new ones. How much of a challenge is it to attract volunteers given the amount of hard work required to pull the festival together? Are there ever any worries about how a new team will fit together given the success achieved by the previous team?

Andy Hudson: We’ve been running since 2007, so we’ve had quite a few changes on the organising team over the eleven years so far. The first festival was organised by Stuart Mackay, who worked on the railway restoring steam trains, along with some friends, Emma and Daniel. After they left a few years later, we had a new team, which included Alice, Marianthi and Ian, who stepped down last year after doing a great job.

And now we’ve been joined by Beck, Emma and Jasmine, who have picked things up amazingly. They contacted me and Nat out of the blue last year to ask if we’d like any help, so we didn’t really have any trouble looking for new people! We were always really confident with them, as some of them are involved in the Cambridge Indiepop Alldayer and we’ve known Emma for a while through bands that have played at Indietracks, including Mammoth Penguins and Standard Fare. They’re so hard-working and positive and we knew after one phone call that it would work really well!

Jasmine Allen: All of us newbies are big fans of Indietracks and the achievements of the previous team. More than anything we wanted to ensure the festival kept on contributing to the DIY scene and providing a fantastic experience to the Indietrackscrowd – both old and new. Thankfully we’ve all been getting on so far! We are actually recruiting volunteer stewards and stage assistants for the weekend itself at the moment – so there’s still time to help out and get involved – go to our news page [http://www.indietracks.co.uk/news] to find out more.

Overblown: With the new team in place, and having just celebrated the 10th anniversary of indietracks in 2016 are things likely to change much? Is there a new approach in place or any surprises in store for festival goers?

Jasmine: We hope that the heart of the festival will remain the same, and our approach to stages, booking bands and workshops is the same. This year there may be a couple of surprises – all will become clear!

Overblown: How easy (or otherwise) has it been to pull this year’s line up together? Any acts you really wanted that weren’t available?

Andy: It’s takes a lot of time and perseverance, but it’s also very exciting and it’s such a nice feeling when it all starts to come together in the spring. We were so happy when our three main headliners – The Wedding Present, Cate Le Bon and Martha all confirmed – and elsewhere on the bill I think we’ve managed to get a really nice mix of familiar names like Joanna Gruesome, The Tuts and The Wave Pictures, alongside and exciting new bands like Personal Best, Shopping and Peaness.

There are always acts that we invite but it doesn’t quite work out (in spite of trying!), for example because of timings and bands’ other touring commitments. We can’t really identify them here though, as it’s not really fair, but we will keep trying them in future years. It took several years to books bands like The Pastels, Saint Etienne and The Go! Team and often it’s just a case of timing.

Overblown: What are your personal highlights of this year’s line up going to be?

Beck Conway: I’m really looking forward to seeing Martha headline on the Friday night – they’re hugely popular with the Indietracks crowd so the atmosphere is going to be amazing! There are so many other bands that I’m excited about too, like Peaness and Cola Jet Set.

Emma Kupa: So many bands I can’t wait to see! The Hearing is an act I saw in Stockholm a few years ago and I was blown away. I can’t wait to see them play Indietracks, and The Tuts are always great fun.

Jasmine: From the old favourites Kid Canaveral and The Wave Pictures, but also looking forward to Suggested Friends, The Hayman Kupa Band, and I hope I will get to see Pillow Queens and Crumbs for the first time… I could go on because this year’s line up is great and I’m worried how I’m going to see them all!
Andy: I think Joanna Gruesome and The Wedding Present will be really spectacular, and I’m also really excited about some bands that haven’t played before, especially Cate Le Bon, Shopping and Monkey Swallows The Universe.

Nat Hudson: I’m really looking forward to the returns of TeenCanteen, TheTuts and Model Village, as well as a final band that we haven’t announced yet!

Overblown: We’d imagine that much of the Indietracks’ audience return on a fairly regular basis. How difficult is it to attract new customers to this festival?

Andy: I think we’re trying to create a festival that’s attractive to people that came along in the early years and is also appealing to new people. We’re quite lucky in that new bands keep appearing that help us achieve this. For example, when we started in 2007, bands like Allo Darlin’, The Pains of Being Pure At Heart and Joanna Gruesome didn’t exist, and they’re really the heartbeat of the festival and attract new people each year. As long as amazing new bands keep emerging, I hope we can keep running a great festival.

Overblown: What’s the most difficult thing about putting Indietracks together? Similarly, what’s the most rewarding part of the experience?

Andy: I find Indietracks really enjoyable, and to be honest the Midland Railway and our stage suppliers do most of the hard work in preparing the steam railway site for a festival. We do the fun bit, which is booking bands and spreading the word! I am always really conscious though that we need to make the best decisions possible with our budget and make sure we raise a good amount of money for the railway. We also try really hard to get a good balance of bands that our audience will enjoy, with hopefully a few surprises to keep things exciting.

Emma: The most difficult thing is when we don’t get to book a band we wanted. The most rewarding thing for me is booking the smaller bands who may not get to play that many festivals but who we know will be a great addition to the line up.

Overblown: Over the last few years many festivals have faced criticism for the lack of diversity in their line-ups, particularly in relation to female artists. This hasn’t ever been a criticism that could be aimed at Indietracks but is it something you are aware of and deliberately try to address or do you simply benefit to the natural diversity of the genre of music you attract to the festival?

Jasmine: Yes, it’s something we are definitely aware of and we want to have as diverse a line-up as possible, including in relation to gender, race, ethnicity, age, LGBT+ and other groups. It’s so important to our team and I think it’s also really important to our audience and the artists that come and play at Indietracks. We’re always keen to listen to ideas that can help us improve in future.

Indietracks takes place from 28th to 30th July at the Midland Railway in Butterly, Derbyshire. Grab your tickets here (earlybird prices until 14th May)

Treat your heart to this amazing Indietracks 2017 playlist on Spotify

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