By Ollie Jelley 2013 (c)

Interview: ArcTanGent Festival

By Ollie Jelley 2013 (c)

It’s great to see ArcTanGent returning for a second year. Seems to suggest that your debut was a success. Looking back, are you happy with how it all went?

We couldn’t have been happier to be honest. Everything ran to plan and it made all the hard work in the two and a half years leading up to the festival worth it. The festival goers were true music fans, literally sprinting between stages to go from one band to the next and everyone was really friendly. We were also shortlisted for 3 UK festival awards and won one, so yes, looking back, definitely happy with how it went! 

Are there any major differences between this year and last year?

I guess the biggest difference is our line up, last year we only booked bands from the UK but this year we have bands from Europe, the USA and Japan. The site remains mostly the same, although we have moved the PX3 stage closer into the middle of the site and we’ve expanded a bar. 

It’s a big line up this year: Mono, This Will Destroy You, God Is An Astronaut…did last year leave you with any distinctive thoughts on how you wanted this year’s line up to shape up?

All three of the ArcTanGent organisers are into their music, so we’re often sharing new discovery of bands. We knew that we wanted to book some bands from overseas and of course we have a dream line up in mind but it’s all down to negotiation and availability. This year we’re super stoked with our line up and the fans seem to be happy too! We certainly have some key bands in mind for future years too.

Assembling the line-up seems like a tough task. I’ve been to several festivals where I feel exhausted by the thematic repetition – the same sounds and band setups showing up again and again – and yet cohesion is crucial. How easy is it to catch the balance, and how did this influence the process of assembling this year’s lineup?

Listening to the fans is key. We’re often asking what music people are listening to, we spend the time listening to recommendations and then book accordingly. By the very nature of post-rock, math-rock, noise-rock there tends to be plenty of variety to chose from. We’ll also book bands that don’t squarely fit in a genre making the line-up even more diverse.

Whenever I attend a great festival, I’m always reminded of how the lineup counts for nothing if the atmosphere isn’t right. How does ArcTanGent cultivate that warmth and energy flow that really gives a good festival its pulse?

The atmosphere comes from a number of sources. Firstly, we try and share as much information as we can prior to the festival to get people excited so when people arrive they are all geared up ready for a great weekend. The design of the site definitely impacts on atmosphere…we have purposely designed the site to make sure people can camp not too far from their cars (for ease of set up) and we allow people to camp right in front of the main stage if they want to! Ensuring that we have good quality food and drink at affordable prices makes for a better atmosphere, as people don’t feel ripped off. Also, when you put 5000 people in a field who all love the same or similar types of music, they’re super stoked to be able to turn to anyone and have a discussion about music. It’s almost like a long lost family all brought together in the same place at the same time!

Sound quality is another maker or breaker, particularly when your festival comprises music of such intricacy and sonic depth. How much time was invested in optimising the sonic experience, in terms of stage acoustics/speakers/inter-stage bleed etc?

We work with a team of people that we know and trust to make sure the sound at ArcTanGent is the best it can be. The sound quality is something they pride themselves on so its in their personal interest to make the sound good for each and every person on the site, and of course, make sure the bands are happy. Our site is designed to help keep enough space between stages but at the same time make them easily accessible. We also stagger our bands to ensure that there is not sound bleed from one stage into another and negatively affecting the sound. 

The festival is billed as “the UK’s only festival dedicated to the very best music from the worlds of math-rock, post-rock and noise rock”. In your opinion, is there anything distinctive – in terms of listener experience or root ideology, perhaps – that brings these types of music together? 

Certainly a lust for the more complicated rhythms and time signatures brings a lot of fans of this music together; fans want to listen to musicians pushing boundaries and producing new, exciting, experimental mind-opening music. When asked to describe the music at ArcTanGent, we often refer to it as “music for beard strokers”… 

There are three ArcTanGent organisers. Are you all interested in similar sounds, or does the line up represent a blend of your individual interests? Do each of you gravitate toward a different aspect of the lineup?

We all have our own individual musical taste but an area in which this crosses over is in the post-rock/math-rock genre, hence ArcTanGent! Undoubtedly we all have our own areas of the line up we prefer, and we tend to shout out about our must see bands in the lead up to the festival, it’s quite interesting to see how varied these recommendations are. That said, I don’t think there’s a single band on the bill that we’re not looking forward to having at ArcTanGent, the difficulty is trying to see them all!

Food and drink always forms a big part of my own festival experience. What can I expect from ArcTanGent? And on a personal side note, how’s the festival for Vegan options? 

All of our food and drink are, where possible, locally sourced. We pride ourselves on the quality and affordability of the food and drink we provide. There’s a huge range of options for everyone’s taste, and there are a handful of options for vegans too. There is a great burrito stand called Smokin’ Hot Tamales (where the veggie burrito has cactus in it, crazy!), Glastonbury Wood Fired Pizza (try The Comforter, beans and Worcester sauce on a margarita, amazing!), Split Screen Ice Cream (ice cream from a VW Campervan, literally the coolest thing in town!), the farmers run a food stand as well where you can eat a beef or lamb burger for animals born and breed on the land, it doesn’t get much fresher than there! There are several other food options too. With regards to drink, there is a range of lagers and ales on offer…we’re also going to be serving White Russian Circles (see what we did there?!)

 

ArcTanGent website – http://www.arctangent.co.uk