The Man, the Myth, the Legend. We spoke to Glasgowbury founder, Paddy Glasgow (see the connection?) about a lot of things. You should just read the interview ..
► Since Glasgowbury has started, it has gone from strength to strength and expanded greatly, truly living up to the slogan ‘Small but MASSIVE’. What do you believe the reasons for this growth are?
Paddy Glasgow: As a festival, Glasgowbury has had a very natural growth. The intentions were never to grow too big that it would become faceless and lose its touch with the people. Each year since 2000 we’ve programmed a line-up that we feel reflects the success of the local music culture and are delighted that thousands of people now want to come and celebrate that with us. Glasgowbury’s growth is down to the success of the music being made from these shores and from the fans that go to the gigs and buy and listen to the music all year round – it’s very much a people’s festival and it’s the people that keep Glasgowbury alive. And we don’t have intentions of growing into a huge style event – we aim to keep it small but massive. And while we might be small, we hope to make a massive impact.
► Which Glasgowbury has been your favourite so far and why?
It really is impossible to say. Every year of the festival has produced some standout moments from having The Undertones headline in 2003, having Neil Fallon from Clutch play in 2006, giving General Fiasco their first ever gig in 2007 after hearing early demos, offering Ash their first NI headline festival show to watching the massive rise of And So I Watch You From Afar after they headlined in 2009. And there are bands and acts every year that really use the opportunity to go all out and showcase themselves as best they can and there are always some tricks and surprises in store – so I’m looking forward to seeing what 2012 has in store.
► For someone who has never experienced the buzz of Glasgowbury, what would you say are the top three features of Glasgowbury?
The setting is quite spectacular – the festival takes place on Eagle’s Rock, which is quite literally on the side of a mountain and provides an epic backdrop to hold a festival where people can really get away from it all and experience a whole new culture. The music is why the festival happens and is the main feature of the event. People laughed earlier when we put local bands on big stages but now it’s ‘cool’ to celebrate local talent, something we’ve been doing for over a decade. So hopefully we’ve worked some way in changing people’s perceptions of what is a fantastic local music culture. And the people – there is a wonderful collection of people who come to the festival to hear new music, to meet new friends and to have an experience like no other and there’s a spirit and vibe that runs through Glasgowbury which the people can really connect with.
► Each year you receive a huge number of submissions to perform. Having to hand-pick these bands from a diverse and ever expanding Northern Irish Music Scene, what are the main factors you consider before deciding whether to select a band for a Glasgowbury appearance?
People mightn’t believe it, but choosing the festival line-up each year is one of the hardest jobs. We have only a limited number of spaces to offer with a huge amount of submissions from quality acts – many of who deserve the chance but unfortunately we can’t accommodate them all. But ultimately it all comes down to the music – and we try to program a festival full of styles with something to suit everyone and unfortunately that means having to make some hard decisions at times. But we hope that those who don’t make it one year aren’t discouraged to submit again and try the following. Any maybe some year we’ll put on a ten day festival and accommodate them all!
► Why did you decide to start ‘Glasgowbury’ all those years ago?
Both my family and a friend’s had been affected by the loss of loved ones and in the hope of raising some money for a local charity, I decided, as a musician myself, to organize a gig. I invited friends in bands along with others out promoting themselves to a gig in our back yard which was attended by about 80 people. The name arose from a passing joke and just happened to stick. The following year those people and more asked if we were running it again as they felt it could offer a great platform to play to new audiences. And every year since the festival has grown bit by bit, becoming more professionally run with each passing year to the stage you see us at today. After a few years of the festival I started to get more heavily involved in the community with music tutoring and programmes and eventually the G Sessions and Rural Key Music Project – things which, along with the festival, cemented together a not-for-profit organisation known as Glasgowbury. Today we’ve a recognized charity with year round arts activities delivered on the ground in rural areas – growing far beyond the festival.
► With so many killer bands on the bill this year, such as The Japanese Popstars, Fighting with Wire, Therapy? and Mojo Fury, how do you decide who gets to headline the festival?
Like choosing the overall line-up, choosing the headliner is equally difficult. We’ve been trying to get Therapy? to play at the festival for a few years however and with their new album just out the time was definitely right for them to headline Glasgowbury. But as you’ll see, every year’s headliner differs in style and even stature. We like to put on a celebration of the best in homegrown talent and although legends like Therapy? are capping it off this year, 2013’s could just as easily be a band about to break through such as ASIWYFA in 2009 or Cashier No 9 last year.
► With recent cuts to BBC Introducing and other vital avenues for Northern Irish acts, Glasgowbury is a truly fantastic opportunity for upcoming acts to showcase their music to a large number of people – which acts have caught your attention so far in 2012?
With cuts across Radio 1 Introducing and venues, it’s essential more than ever that the platform that is Glasgowbury, which highlights all that is positive and diverse in the musical landscape of NI, stays alive and well. And as for bands that have caught my eye, well that would be a great dissatisfaction to the rest of the acts spread throughout the bill. But there is a new wave of young acts out there that I feel will want to leave a strong impression. Everyone seems to raise their game at the festival and that leads to many magical musical moments all over the stages at Glasgowbury.
► With so many stages featuring both music and comedy do you ever worry that there is perhaps too much going on and that people are going to have to make some hard choices over who they want to see?
Over the last few years people have said there are a lot of clashes between the bands they want to see but to me that’s not a negative – it’s a positive. It’s positive because it shows that there is a lot of exciting talent out there that people want to go and see, which is inevitably going to cause some clashes on their wish-list. I’d be more worried if fans were bored and had too much time on their hands between acts. But hopefully with the range of acts on show there is something that really will suit everyone and that everyone can take something special away from the event.
► We have seen local show ‘Gifted Live’ predominantly an Irish bands only show, have Scottish indie band ‘The View’ take part in their latest event. Are you ever tempted to add some bands from further afield or will Glasgowbury always be an Irish music festival at heart?
It’s something we get asked quite a lot, and it’s difficult to say we never will because we get so many requests from acts right across the UK who would really appreciate the opportunity to play at the event. On the other hand the quality and quantity of acts from these shores is incredibly vibrant and it would be hard to overlook that. It’s a decision that would be dictated by fans of the festival ultimately, but either way the programmed line-up would still be as strong as ever.
► Are there other projects in the coming up in the pipeline for the Glasgowbury?
Glasgowbury is an ever-evolving organisation and we have many aspirations over the coming years. Away from the festival it’s been a long-standing goal of mine to open a music and arts space in Draperstown; a place where we can house all of our projects from and where we can boost the creative industries as a whole. That’s something that’s in the pipeline and which I hope will become a reality soon. Away from that we will continue to programme the Glasgowbury Music Festival alongside the G Sessions and our tutoring and dance classes while keeping the ‘Small But Massive’ ethos at the heart of everything we do.