The dust has settled on Eagle’s Rock possibly for the last time, but it’s not the end for the Small but MASSIVE team. Thirteen years after organising Northern Ireland’s largest independent festival, Paddy Glasgow finally got the credit he deserved and was awarded the title of UK Promoter of the Year. As he leaves the Glasgowbury Music festival behind and throws himself into the new Creative Hub, both Stella and him are excited for the future.
►After thirteen years what was the main reason to leave Eagle’s Rock behind to start Glasgowbury’s Creative Hub?
It was a case of coming to a crossroads; the two services became very demanding. A lot of people thought that Glasgowbury was a big ship but it was really only Stella and myself. I have been trying to get a building in our local area for ten years, it wasn’t like I woke up one morning and decided to do this. We haven’t even officially opened our doors and were already open 80 hours a week. I think for a small rural area, the demand for the things were doing right now is amazing to be honest. We started the festival when there was a need, as there was no other green field festival in NI and we needed to provide a platform for artists to play. So what that lead to 13 years later is a festival that has been recognised as a multi-award winner. It’s strange that the year that we park it; I become UK Promoter of the Year. That sent out a message that we had done it right, and if we can put the same effort, same commitment, same thinking and delivery into the Creative Hub it will be a very worthwhile venture.
►You made the statement “look out for a small but massive stage near you”, after the announcement of the end of Glasgowbury. Can you give us an incline into when and where?
I still say that statement, I am a live music individual and I like things that are live – especially music. I think that’s something I will return to, but in what format I’m not sure. I’m working with that, but at the same time it will be the same format to take NI music and put it into a field and deliver it in a different way. Unlike the festival, Small but MASSIVE as an identity will not disappear. Being a creative person sometimes you have to make decisions, and from the outside world they may seem like crazy decisions.
►Who is the Glasgowbury hub mainly aimed at?
We have recognised that one thing that rural areas don’t have is the commitment to young creative people that want to do different things. These are identities that you wouldn’t find outside of the two main cities. On one side it will be community arts driven, but on the other side at businesses. To be seen as an enterprising centre, we want people to come in with creative ideas, we want to help nurture them and we want to help them develop it and get it to market. We have a grounded atmosphere, instead of being global centric, we are people centric. If you look at the festival and how we started there was no template to follow, we had to learn over thirteen years how to make the delivery slicker, sharper, neater and at the end we had done that. When we delivered the festival it was great everybody had a good time, what we’re finding now that every single hour we are helping an individual make a change. When you look at it that way, there’s already been hundreds of individuals in this building that have been helped by what we do and we have only been in a short time. When you add it up there will be more people affected by the Creative Hub than there would be with the festival.
►Can you tell us a bit about the Glasgowbury Hub and what programmes will run?
We started with drums and guitar and now it’s a brushstroke of every kind of instrument, we have seen a need for local people both young and old that want to get involved in the arts and music. In the wide range of programmes what we are doing is taking what we learnt at the festival and putting it inside a building and passing on the information and knowledge. Our Sound Advice Project takes a look at the back of the stage for the people who are interested in sound and setting up stages. Rural Key gives young musicians a step up the musical ladder with intensive workshops covering all aspects of the music industry. We have had acts such as Silhouette, Building Pictures and Pretty Child Backfire and The Q that is now Wood Burning Savages. The 6pack club, I initiated this, it’s not a pile of muscles but a humorous take on that you came for 6 weeks and every week you took a tin of beer, its now turned into a massive carryout.
The most popular one at the moment is Rhythm and Blues; a programme that is for everyone. Being a social entrepreneur I want to make a change for the people, I don’t like that a lot of the time creativity is only accessible to people who can afford it. It is ten weeks of lessons and it costs £1 per week & we supply the guitars. We put out a call for all the guitars lying in attics, got them fixed up and now we are able to give the kids a guitar for ten weeks. I think that with the likes of rhythm and blues it proves that we believe that creativity should be there for one and all, and that the rural people should have the same access to it as the city people. We have programmes yet to come include the digital story-telling world of apps and gaming. We have a line of professional people that have came through us and have approached us to come back and do workshops which is really humbling for me. The most creative ideas come from young individuals, we give them a chance to develop them. It’s a hell of a lot of programmes but we have always been doing them. We will put the same effort into this building and the programmes as we did with Glasgowbury and once we get it as slick as the festival was then we will have a very efficient and sustainable building.
❝ If I had of presented this idea before, to take the small but MASSIVE stage and plant it somewhere, they would have thought who is this crazy man from the hills ❞
►G-Sessions were a huge part of the build up the festival, I guess what everyone wants to know will they return?
G sessions is a gig a lot of people are familiar with and they haven’t went away; they will return. For me the G-Sessions are going on tour, but at the minute we are working on getting our licence for this building so the G-Sessions will ideally be in this venue. It may well happen that they will return to the new underground, we will just have to see if it works. Many years ago we started youth gigs and because they were in the bar they weren’t sending out the right message, I think now where we are at is the ideal venue to start a type of G-Youth Session. We have individuals that are very keen to run gigs, there is a few people I think have the potential to do it, and when they do, I want to be there to guide them to do it right.
►In that case are you in a position to tell us anything about the G-Session tour?
G-Session, will be a venue tour, small but MASSIVE stage as an entity if it clicks with the arenas. It won’t be inside-inside but something that has been developed, and that’s quite cool. If I had of presented this idea before, to take the small but MASSIVE stage and plant it somewhere, they would have thought who is this crazy man from the hills. But after the award it means that once you go forward with a plan there is no worry if I’ll be fit to run it and deliver it. I will take NI music into new platforms, into new arenas and stages, where at? I can’t really say at the minute but what I will say is it won’t be this summer it will be the year after that hopefully. Once I get this place grounded I’ll dip my foot into somewhere else. It’s not about us trying to go in and trying to be almighty, our remit was about NI music. What we have now is certain individual bands that came through us, who are out and around and who are willing to come and join me in my mad adventures. I need to be really savvy to say are you out on tour, its not made up, I have already spoken to certain individuals about this, how would it look, why would they come and help? Maybe because we were there for them on the hill and that is exciting for us.
For me I love live music, open air even better, so where’s small but MASSIVE going? It needs to go to new fresh air, that is where it lies. It is something that might be another crazy idea like a festival on top of a hill, and that worked so I don’t see why it won’t work somewhere else.
►What’s going to happen at the launch later this month?
The launch will be kind of a soft launch, there is still work to be done to the building. We are inviting certain individuals from business, government and people who have backed us over the years and I suppose it will give us the opportunity to tell our story. Everyone that I speak to say fair play running the festival but that’s a fair amount of programmes you run underneath, you usually do a festival for festival sake, it’s nothing about artist development, and opportunities. When we started first it was just the festival then it was the G-Session, but everything that Glasgowbury has put out there, we have seen the need for it. Hopefully after the launch all the guests will understand this and support us in our venture.
►How did it feel to end Glasgowbury on high by winning promoter of the year?
When you are up against promoters like AEG, the Isle of Wight team, and Rob De Bank from Best Festival you never would have thought they would have give it to an unsigned promoter. They did though and the word coming back is that, they wouldn’t have put on a festival to the standard that we did in a professional arena to unsigned music; it shows the standard of music that our country can produce. It is up to me now, from them recognising where I got to, to get the message across and open up path ways for bands that wouldn’t have been open before, to get on certain festivals in the UK and this will open new entities and new platforms for NI Music. What came out of the festival was 13 years of contacts, 13 years of people knowing who we were, definitely after winning that award most festivals in England know who I am. This is an award that Glastonbury got the previous year, it is not small for us. As our logo stands, we may be small but we make a MASSIVE impact in our local area.
►Finally with so many other local festivals announcing their line-ups are you not tempted to reverse your decision and stage Glasgowbury 2014?
To be honest I haven’t had time to look at them, but with Glasgowbury we always took risks. I’m going back to when ASIWYFA headlined, the media had a thing about that, a band with no singer can’t headline, and look at them now! Other festivals should take more chances. I used to walk around the office as if it was the festival with all these different decks and cd players. It was as if I was walking past the festival tents, what would I want to hear? We had our demo community which was a very elusive secret entity. We had a model that moved in a certain shape, we were able to put on two days and keep it strong. I think that sometimes in arena festivals they think the more you put on the better it will be. People say to me you put two really good bands on at the same time; that was a message to me that the scene was strong.
►Is the scene as strong now?
I don’t know but that’s a question a lot of people will ask me. If you look at Glasgowbury over the periods of its years, there was a lot of duplication on the line-ups. People noticed that; is that because they are the best bands? I don’t know but it worked. No one has ever asked me how I programmed the festival, it is important that there is a mix of everything. As a festival organiser it is a very dangerous thing to organise the line-up for yourself, that way you’ll just die a death, that’s the secret ingredient. I wish them all well, certain events have rung me and I have given them bits and pieces, but as for their line-ups I’m not involved. It is interesting for me where line-ups come out of, there was a band who played our main stage and they came back and told me that gave them the confidence to go play other stages across the UK; if your event can do that then you are onto a winner.