Indietracks is back this July for another weekend of pop music at a steam railway; and we’ll be there to enjoy one of the most enjoyable events in the music calendar. We caught up with one of the organisers, Beck Conway, to find out a bit more about the festival and what makes it so special.
So many small festivals come and go. How do you think you manage to stay successful?
B: We’re lucky to have an amazing community around Indietracks and people come back each year and also spread the word about us. We try not to stand still and the musical scope of the festival has evolved festival over the years to stay up-to-date with what’s happening in DIY indie/pop music.
The first time I ever heard of The Spook School was seeing them at Indietracks. This year they play one of their final shows. How does it feel to see a band go through their whole lifespan with the festival?
B: I feel like the Spook School are the beating heart of Indietracks – they’re so loved by everybody and it’s been fantastic to see them develop and become this incredibly important band since I first saw them opening up the main stage at Indietracks in 2012. I really don’t want them to leave us but I’m glad the festival and the Spooks get the chance to say goodbye to each other.
Out of the lesser-known acts playing this year, who is the one you’d pick to be a big name in 5 years?
B: I’d like to see so many of the bands playing this year have the chance to become big enough to make music full-time and get their songs out there. If I have to pick, I think Foundlings and L I P S are both new bands who make incredibly catchy, polished pop which is really radio friendly – Alvvays-esque. If a band was going to get huge on the back of their live shows – Kermes would take some beating. I saw them recently and Emily, the singer, hopped off the stage and wandered around the venue mid-set! I’ve seen Fresh quite a few times over the years and they’re really evolving into an incredible band that you can imagine following the same trajectory as Martha.
It you were invited to run a version of the festival in another country what would the dream country and venue be? Or wouldn’t work anywhere else?
B: The randomness of Indietracks taking place on a heritage railway is a huge part of its charm and we couldn’t (and wouldn’t want to) organise it without the Midland Railway. However, it would be amazing to have an Indietracks with guaranteed good weather! If we could find a heritage railway in Spain that can hold a music festival, perhaps we could collaborate with some of our Spanish pals to create Indietracks en Espana!
If you could only see bands on one stage (outdoor, shed, church or train) then which would you pick?
B: This is hard! On the indoor stage, it has to be the Spook School’s final Indietracks show. I don’t think there’s going to be a dry eye in the house! I’m really excited about seeing Child’s Pose and Current Affairs in the church – both are quite new bands with amazing releases under their belts already and are incredibly poppy but loud (my favourite combination!). I’m obsessed with Kero Kero Bonito at the moment and can’t wait to see them close the outdoor stage.
What is your favourite non-music related thing that everyone who visits the festival should make a point of seeing?
B: I really just love the way that the festival site looks when the sun goes down – the big sky, the lights illuminating the trains. It’s really magical to wander around at night. Riding on the steam train is also pretty cool and free for festival-goers!
If money was no obstacle who would you book?
B: Bikini Kill!
You said you had 500 applicants this year. You therefore can’t put everyone on. Have you ever rejected someone that you really wish you’d put on the bill?
B: All the time! Although we’re looking for bands that make music we love when we curate the festival, we also try to create a balanced line-up with different types of artists – louder bands, quieter bands, solo performers etc. We do make a mental note of bands that we like but don’t pick for one reason or another so we can come back to them in future. There are quite a few bands on the bill this year who have applied before but weren’t previously selected.
You don’t have to name names, but have you ever booked anyone that you’ve regretted putting on the bill?
B: No, I don’t think so. I can’t remember a time when I regretted booking a particular band – we do really agonise over who we want to book so it’d be unlikely we’d get it that wrong, I think.
A few years ago myself and some friends rode the miniature railway on the site. It appeared to be driven by J Mascis. Are you able to confirm or deny if he works for the railway?
B: I’m not able to confirm or deny this – you’ll have to conduct some further investigations this year.
For more information and to purchase tickets visit www.indietracks.co.uk.
Beck Conway was interviewed by Dorian Rogers