- Mon, 2011-05-09 14:42
The news that Glade Festival 2010 was cancelled arrived just weeks after I Like Music sat down with festival director Nick Ladd for a lengthy chat. At the time of interview, there were no hints towards such a level of disruption and the subsequent cancellation of Glade came as a huge shock to all those that had supported the festival, both within its original home at Glastonbury and as an independent, electronic music festival in its own right since 2004.
Thankfully, 2011 marks the return of the Glade Festival, and according to their new site it's been 'Revolutionised. Stipped back to its shiny grass roots.' So without further hesitation, we caught up with festival director Ans to find out more - we chat about what happened last year, their new partnership with Secret Productions, advice for budding festival directors and what 2011 has in store.
"I Like Music because… it does something to me that nothing else can do.” Ans, Glade Festival
ILM: It's great to see Glade back in 2011 following the cancellation of the festival last year. What happened...?
Ans: I wasn’t actually involved last year. I was having a baby which was due in March and knew it would be way too hectic to try and do Glade as well, back then we were a small team, there were just four of us. They actually called me up and said “Ans, we’ve got some serious problems with how to pay for this event.”
ILM: Were they costs brought on by the local authorities?
Ans: I’m nervous now blaming Hampshire police. I think they were just doing what they do, but they were threatening to give us very, very high police costs. You know, tickets weren’t going quite as well as they used to, which in my opinion was to do with the venue, but my fellow directors will disagree (laughs)! You can never really know why, but we had increasing costs and unknowable costs imposed by the authorities. Our main problem is that the business is just The Glade. There’s not lots of other things that can kind of cover it and we're not individually rich! So…if something went really wrong and we lost lots of money it would probably be our houses which would have to go. We just felt that it wasn’t worth the risk. So we decided it was best to cancel it early rather than wait and see. If we’d have gone further we’d have spent more money, we’d have tried to get police costs down with legal expenses and we would have been in a much deeper hole than we were already in.
ILM: It must have been a hard decision?
Ans: It was AWFUL. But it was the right thing to do. I think if we were a bit younger with less to lose then we might have gone ‘fuck it’, (laughs) and hoped ticket sales could pick it up.
ILM: It seemed surprising for a festival that wasn't a start-up to have those costs suddenly imposed. Do you think the crowded festival market had any affect on their decision? Or the type of festival Glade is?
Ans: It doesn't help that electronic music has a stigma attached to it, which we can't do anything about, but really I think it’s a cross board problem with festivals in the UK - occasionally the local police force don’t want it to happen and they put pressure on it by suggesting that in order to make it safe from a crime and disorder perspective, that it needs lots of police - right or wrong as that might be. I don’t really want to say, because they can still make our lives difficult right now. Last year we were really upset by the whole thing and we wanted to blame the police, so we did and with justification. Now I regret that. Like anyone that you point fingers at, the next time round they can make it even harder for you. Having cancelled it and then blamed it on the police, the other problem is arriving at a new venue and them saying ‘why were the police so interested in your event? What kind of event is it? Blah, blah, blah, blah.’ Oh for god's sake! It’s just a lovely colourful festival!
ILM: Glade is now part of the Secret Productions family, the event group behind Secret Garden Party. How did you end up working with them?
Ans: After the cancellation there was a feeling that it was game over, but I didn’t want to give in! I’d just taken a year off and was ready to come back. Nick and myself began to look for a partner that could give us the backing we needed if we got into trouble. We had a few offers from more commercial companies. We went down quite a long way with one of them, Mama Group, but I just felt they didn’t understand the subtleties of the festival and what it is about. We decided to ask Secret Productions who we know very well. We set up our ticket agency G Tickets because we were annoyed with the share ticket agencies were getting, then we did Secret Garden Party’s tickets through that as well, so we knew them well.
ILM: They seem like a creative bunch. I was looking on their website, it seems the only holiday they take is to head off to Burning Man festival....
Ans: Yeah! I've been to Burning Man... The girl I’m marrying used to run Secret Productions too, now it’s run by her younger brother! So it’s very nice! I wasn’t expecting them to say yes when I rang them up, because of all the problems we’d had. Actually, they were very flattered that I’d asked! Nick Ladd is now running two festivals through Mama Group – High Voltage and Wilderness, so he’s done nicely out of all of it. And we’re with Secret. They work very differently to the way we used to, but they’re very creative and focused on doing a really good party. They’re a big team too, there’s fourteen of them, which is a joy! We only had four of us doing everything. So it’s really, really healthy.
ILM: And the ethos behind the event hasn't changed?
Ans: For me it’s all about being outdoors, listening to good tunes and dancing around without anyone trying to sell you things. I used to run nightclubs in the 90s then moved to South Africa for a bit in, got into trance and fell absolutely in love with it. I was there until about 2001, came back here and started getting into DJ-ing. There was quite a few illegal trance parties that happened around 2002 that were amazing… With Glade, we had a good bunch of people who came together and magic happened as a result. I think the same thing will happen this year - we’ve got a good bunch of people, very crazy people, who have come together. It feels like we're going to end up with something really special. It’s going to look fantastic when it’s all up.
ILM: It seems you had some problems with the site for 2011. What happened?
Ans: We recently had to move sites again. It’s been pretty stressful. We ran into similar problems...basically, it got into a group of people that there must be some reason why it was cancelled last year. It got to the stage where we just didn’t feel we could run the festival at that site…
ILM: And now you're at a site in Bedfordshire?
Ans: Yes…things work out! We’ve got a new site that’s much more beautiful! And it’s already got a liscense which is great for the event, so we don’t have to wait until the last minute to get the license. It’s a lovely parkland, old beautiful trees! We’re delighted! It’s a belter
ILM: What can we expect when we arrive? What's new for 2011?
Ans: Well...the Origin stage is still there but with a different structure. The Glade stage has a different structure, Overkill is still there, inSpiral is still there and the Rabbit Hole is going to be more like the Rabbit Hole at Glastonbury – an adventure down a hole! We’ve got these things called nanosystems, small little happenings which are not going to be that obvious to find – we’ve got a psytrance one with UK promoters in it ,which is going to be fun, we’ve got Bassment which is Beatz and Bobz and Biff, that’ll be breaks and dubstep and drum n bass. Then we’ve got Gouranga which is a London based, really cool techno night. Then ETA, housey, clubby stuff, they’re nutters! Then we have the dance off, which will be like a western saloon where you can have gun fights over a shot of Whiskey. Then there’s a laser dome, which has about fourteen lasers in it! There’s the time machine…so much...it’s going to be wicked! It’s only 5,000 people so it’s going to be like a mad crazy, culture of colour!
ILM: Looking back on your time with the festival, which have been some of the best moments?
Ans: Squarepusher. I think it was 2005 or 6, it was absolutely, mind blowingly good. Also when Richie Hawtin closed it. That was just wonderful.
ILM: I was there for the wet year... how was that from your perspective?
Ans: That was mental. Although there were times where I saw camaraderie amongst people that just blew my mind, you know, we were just so up against it, it was unbelievable.
ILM: Haha! Yes...I ignored the fact that my car was parked in one of the fields for the entire festival, I was so happy when I went back and found it hadn't sunk!
Ans: Yeah...haha! We had the tractors pulling people out of the mud in the car park. One thing I'll never forget was this chap sitting in this car that had been torn in half! The bonnet and everything was gone, just the back half was left, he was just sat in the front seat giggling… he was totally resigned to the fact that instead of pulling his car out the mud, the tractor had just snapped it in half, the guy didn’t care, he thought that it was hilarious! It was at that moment I thought ‘people are very cool’. Only in England…
ILM: Indeed. After everything that Glade has been through, what would be your advcie to people who want to set up and run their own festival?
Ans: Oh God! Never give up. Honestly, I’ve been doing what I’m doing for 20 years and for ten or tweleve of them I’ve been utterly broke, but I’ve just kind of battled on with it. You can’t do it unless you absolutely love it. Plus, you need that team around you. I’m just very lucky because I’ve met good people at the right time and it’s helped immensely. So yeah, get in with the right people (laughs), that’s good advice!
ILM: What can we expect for the future of the festival? Will there be a Glade 2012?
Ans: There will be…if we’ve got anything to do with it there will be. Like a football competition, you can’t think beyond the next game. The plan is not for it to grow loads but…I’d like it to get back to how it was in 2006. That one was just fantastic. It was 12,500 tickets. Sizable and it had such energy… But right now, the main thing is to make sure this year is a belter....