The best festivals always seem to have a quality that’s not always easy to put your finger on. Indietracks is certainly unique given it’s railway setting which is entirely charming and no shortage of great fun. It consistently offers a top quality line-up year after year. It’s satisfyingly small in scale. There’s often owls and a steamroller crushing cans which is far more entertaining that you could possibly imagine. However, whilst all these elements add up to the thrill of an Indietracks weekend I think the real magic lies simply in the nature of the crowd. There’s never any hassle, nobody cares who’s cool or not. It’s simply warmth and friendliness and it’s crystal clear that everyone loves their music. It’d be near impossible to not make new friends. It’s definitely impossible to not find new music to love.
Ahead of the 2018 edition we asked a few questions to event organisers Nat Hudson, Jasmine Allen and Beck Conway. Some questions are serious, some not so.
Overblown: How important is the railway setting to the festival? If you lifted the stages and bands and stuck them in a random field elsewhere how different do you think the festival would feel?
Beck: It wouldn’t be Indietracks unless the entire audience turned sideways and waved at a passing train when watching bands on the main stage! Seriously though, the railway really is an important background to the festival – it’s so surreal to be surrounded by steam trains for three days and the site does contribute massively to the festival’s unique atmosphere. A festival in a field just wouldn’t feel the same!
Nat: It just wouldn’t be Indietracks if it wasn’t held at the Midland Railway. The railway team took a risk on us back in 2007 by letting us hold a festival there, and have stuck by us ever since. Their volunteers are just as much a part of the festival as the bands that play every year, and the festival literally wouldn’t happen without them. On top of that, it’s just such a beautiful setting, and the combination of music and steam trains is just perfect – I can’t imagine a more perfect setting for our little festival.
Overblown: Who excites you the most in the 2018 music line up?
Beck: I’ve been wanting to see Anna Burch since I first heard her last year and I’m really looking forward to seeing Onsind play as a full band. There are so many amazing bands I’m excited to be seeing for the first time as well – Life Model, Strange New Places, Worst Place, Just Blankets. Too many to pick just one!
Nat: There are just too many to mention! I’m looking forward to seeing Girl Ray and Sacred Paws, and I’m sure British Sea Power are going to put on an amazing visual spectacle too!
Overblown: After a lot of changes in the volunteer team a couple of years ago has it all settled down again?
Nat: We’re so lucky that Beck, Emma and Jas came on board a couple of years ago – they’ve brought a huge amount of ideas, enthusiasm and experience with them, and have really helped to invigorate the festival!
Beck: We’ve been working together now for just under two years and I think we’ve got a good understanding of how the team fits together. I feel like this lineup is one of the best that Indietracks have ever put together so hopefully that’s testament to how settled we feel as an organising team.
Overblown: Without fail every year the festival is hugely popular amongst the DIY music community. It seems to be pretty much universally loved. How successful is it in terms of helping the Railway Trust?
Beck: We raise a lot of money for the railway and, importantly, bring a new audience to enjoy an amazing bit of industrial heritage. The volunteers are so passionate about the site – it’s contagious! Don’t forget to visit the museum over the weekend!
Overblown: In terms of scale and musical scope can you ever see the festival expanding or is the general feeling that it’s just right the way it is?
Beck: We like it the size it is – big enough to attract big name headliners but small enough that it feels like a real community.
Nat: I couldn’t agree more. We’re at maximum capacity anyway for the site (1500 people) but in any case it really does just feel like the perfect size. We’re small but perfectly formed 😊
Overblown: It’s 7pm on Friday 27th July. The Lovely Eggs private jet has landed in Derby, Connecticut instead of Derby, England. Indietracks organisers have to immediately form an impromptu covers band and headline their own festival. Who would play what and what songs would you cover?
Beck: I think the other organisers are more musical than me but I’m happy to lead a Just Joans singalong!
Nat: Haha! I think we’d have to leave the majority of it to Andy, Emma and Jas, but I’d be happy to chip in on the tambourine or glockenspiel!
Overblown: Would you rather be on a 12 hour train journey with no music or a 12 hour megabus journey with a banging playlist?
Jas: Party bus!
Beck: Good question! If I was with friends I’d say the party bus but if I was on my own I think it’d be the train. I got stuck on a broken down train for 8 hours recently (nothing to do with Indietracks, I should add) and it wasn’t as awful as you’d think!
Nat: I’ve got a toddler, so probably the broken down train with a good book and no parental responsibilities. I never get chance to read at the moment!
Overblown: The constant nightmare of train toilets. Would you rather be the person sitting on the loo or the person standing outside looking in when the door randomly opens?
Jas: Definitely looking in, at least you can turn away.
Beck: Neither, few things are as grim as a train toilet!
Nat: Even the thought of this is making me feel ill.
Overblown: A band you absolutely didn’t want at the festival gets booked because you were outvoted by other organisers. Would you rather they played great leaving a happy crowd or that they totally sucked and were extremely obnoxious just so you could smugly say ‘I told you so’?
Jas: Pretty sure we would all rather the crowd were happy!
Beck: Definitely a happy crowd! We’re putting the festival on for everybody, not just ourselves!
Nat: A happy crowd – always!
Overblown: That’s Glastonbury on the phone. They want Indietracks festival to take place in one of their side fields as part of their massive festival. Would you do it?
Jas: Why not? We could curate a stage, but it wouldn’t be the same without the railway setting…
Beck: No! I’m not a big fan of huge gigs or festivals. I love how so many people at Indietracks become friends by the end of the weekend and I don’t think that would be possible if it was much bigger.
Nat: I’d be happy to hold some kind of Indietracks stage or gathering, but we’d still want to hold our main festival at the usual time and place!
Overblown: Kylie offers to headline the festival but is only willing to play ‘The Locomotion’ for an hour and a half. Would you say yes?
Jas: Yes and we’d build her a podium by the can crusher for her 1.5 hr performance
Beck: Of course!
Nat: Kylie at Indietracks would be amazing, whatever she played!
Overblown: Should you start including a clause when booking bands that means they have to cover Soul Asylum’s ‘Runaway Train’ when they play?
Beck: Hahaha! We’d rather not make the contracts more complicated!
Overblown: Which one of the organising team will be Sandy to my Danny for the Grease Megamix at Ruby Waters Karaoke?
Jas: I’ll do it and i know all the words, but you might have to out up with me singing danny’s part as well
Beck: Not me, I’m afraid. I’ll probably have lost my voice by 9pm (it’s an Indietracks tradition)!
Indietracks Festival takes place at the Midland Railway Trust from Fri 27th to Sunday 29th July 2018. Tickets are ridiculously affordable and you can get them here.
The Indietracks Charity Compilation album featuring most of the 2018 line-up is amazing. Go treat yourself to it here.