Archive for May, 2007

If Everybody Had An Ocean: Tate St Ives

May 27, 2007

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Haymarket Hotel, London

May 20, 2007

Peter Gabriel

May 13, 2007

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Rob Da Bank – Bestival organiser

May 13, 2007

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Emily Eavis – Glastonbury organiser

May 13, 2007

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Sam Killcoyne – Underage Festival organiser

May 13, 2007

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Photo: Alicia Canter

Having been turned away from a gig for being underage, most teenagers would scuttle home in shame and take to drinking cider in their local bus shelter. But when Sam Killcoyne was barred from a Buzzcocks show on his 14th birthday, it fired him up to start his own live music and DJ night exclusively for under-18s. It’s held once a month at the Coronet Theatre in London’s Elephant and Castle and punters, club owner and organiser Killcoyne all agree that the Underage Club has proved a phenomenal success. So much so that this summer will see the first underage music festival, in London’s Victoria Park.

The theme will be ‘psychedelic village fete’, complete with a ceilidh, bunting, hay bales, hog roast, tombola, fairground, arcade games and a line-up that features Patrick Wolf, Mystery Jets, I Was a Cub Scout and Pull Tiger Tail. But why would under-18s want to go to an underage festival instead of, say, Glastonbury or Reading? Isn’t it a bit, well, uncool to be hanging around with other kids? ‘There will probably be a few little knobheads who think it’s uncool,’ says Killcoyne, still only 15. ‘But it’s about the music, not about being cool. If you’ve got 150 quid in your bank, you can go to Glastonbury, but otherwise there’s no chance. A lot of people have never been to a festival before and maybe can’t afford to go to one.’

With tickets at just £20, the original plan was to include all under-18s (at the club night, 10-year-olds rub shoulders with 17-year-olds), but the licence restricts sales to 14- to 18-year-olds only. ‘We were pissed off,’ says Killcoyne. ‘We tried so hard to do it for all ages but were told by the police it would be too dangerous.’ At least he has his wish that no parents will be allowed in. ‘They get a creche,’ he says. ‘They can sit down and wait if they want.’

Killcoyne has music in the blood: his father, Barry Smith, formed electro-indie band Add N to (X) in the early Nineties and now, in between running the Horseglue record label and store, helps his son with the Underage venture. ‘Dad helps out with the managers, because managers can be dickheads. I do all the creative stuff like flyers and choosing the bands,’ says Killcoyne, who receives £50 a month for his efforts. He plays down the influence of Add N to (X). All he remembers, he says, is his dad being away on tour a lot, though he admits he ‘only got into really good music when I was 14 and my dad introduced me to Rhys and Faris from the Horrors’.

This particular festival organiser is not generally a fan of festivals. ‘I can’t stand them. Glastonbury was hell. Basement Jaxx and the Killers played but they were both rubbish. I underestimated how muddy it was going to be and I didn’t bring any welly boots. The whole toilet thing really pissed me off. They make me feel sick.’

Tickets to the Underage festival are selling well. As for the future, Killcoyne says enticingly that he has a really bizarre plan, but won’t discuss it. He has already chosen a successor to run Underage, which he will give up when he leaves school, because running an underage night when he is no longer underage ‘would be weird’. The heir to the throne is Chazzer, a 12-year-old friend. ‘I’m not sure what his real name is, but he’s really into his music,’ says Killcoyne approvingly.

This interview first appeared in Observer Review’s Festival special

Freddie Fellowes – Secret Garden Party organiser

May 13, 2007

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Freddie Fellowes (centre) and Secret Garden party organisers at the Burning Man Festival Nevada desert September 2006

There’s a rumour doing the rounds on the internet that Lord Frederick Windsor, Prince William’s cousin, is the brains of the Secret Garden Party. ‘I love that one. It’s brilliant. I don’t know how they got that impression,’ chuckles Freddie, the real organiser. Yet the rumour is not that far-fetched.

Freddie refuses to give his surname, but a trawl of press cuttings reveals that he is one Freddie Fellowes and that a first name is not the only thing he has in common with Windsor. Fellowes, 29, was in the year above Lord Windsor at Eton and, on the death of his father John Ailwyn Fellowes, 4th Baron de Ramsey, will inherit a baronetcy and £35m.

Three years ago, he used a nest-egg left to him in his grandfather’s will to fund the first Secret Garden Party, which ’caused a few raised eyebrows’ in the family. Influenced by free rave parties, Fellowes dreamt of inspiring people and creating a space where they could play and interact, with music secondary in importance. ‘This is more than just a concert or a weekend of people getting trashed in a field together,’ he explains.

There is no VIP area at the Secret Garden Party so, after being booted out of the dressing room, performers (who have in the past included Regina Spektor and Desmond Dekker) can either mix with the punters or leave. ‘You are only as good as the people who come to your party,’ says Fellowes. ‘A lot of our crew and guest list are fun, party people, so it would be a waste to have them all backstage, keeping each other amused.’

Fellowes says that he and a friend stumbled on the venue for the Secret Garden Party, the grounds of a Georgian stately home on the Abbots Ripton estate in Cambridgeshire, as part of a job sourcing party venues for Red Bull, although it’s more likely that they just asked his father, who owns the estate.

Now in its fourth year, the Secret Garden Party remains resolutely anti-corporate (Fellowes recently turned down a generous offer for sponsorship from Budweiser because he ‘doesn’t like their beer’).

When it comes to the festival’s finances, Fellowes is somewhat hazy. ‘For the first two years, we broke our budget by five figures. Last year was the first year we broke even – we’re still not quite sure to what degree. We could have made 10 grand or 500, but we certainly got ourselves in the black.’

Not all of Fellowes’s flock are ecstatic about the parties; last year’s was almost called off after people complained that the sound travelled to villages eight miles away. Luckily for Fellowes and the 6,000 people who had bought tickets, a licence was granted the day before the festival was due to start.

Faced with problems like this, what makes Fellowes carry on? ‘A couple of years ago, we got an email from a girl who, four months before the Secret Garden Party, had been in an accident and ended up in a wheelchair, having lost the use of her legs. She said she didn’t think she could ever enjoy life again but that coming to the Secret Garden Party turned everything around for her and completely changed her outlook on life.’

And while it may seem frivolous, Fellowes is serious about his commitment to throwing the perfect party: ‘We aim the event towards getting as many people to meet as possible. What you remember about a party is the people you meet. That’s where the magic is, not seeing the most amazing band in the world.’

This piece first appeared in Observer Review’s Festival special

Gormley statues

May 6, 2007


Photo: Jim Dyson/Getty images

All Tomorrow’s Parties: Curated by Dirty Three 27-29 April

May 2, 2007


Photo by Daryl Waller