Intimate, brand-free, surrounded by idyllic Welsh woodlands and right by the Irish coast….Gottwood Festival has built a solid reputation amongst underground music lovers for showcasing progressive sounds within a spectacular environment. This year, however, they have surely surpassed themselves in lineup and production value, whilst still retaining the true Gottwood essence. Running between Thursday 20th and Sunday 23rd of June, this year’s lineup focuses on forward-thinking artists that defy genres, and many who are bringing their live shows, including Extrawelt (Live), Ben UFO, Move D, Bicep, Crazy P, Waze & Odyssey, Luke Vibert, Ejeca, Detroit Swindle (Live) and Tom Demac (Live). Intrigued to find out how such a lineup is curated, alongside all the other labels, collectives, and artists that have been brought in for this year’s festival, MEOKO caught up with the founders of Gottwood – Tom Carpenter, Digby Neill, and Tom Elkington – to get the lowdown on the Gottwood family, their end-of-show tradition, and how to win a lifetime of free entry to Gottwood! We’ve also sourced TWO FREE FESTIVAL TICKETS to give away to one lucky winner (see below).
Three years into a brand growing exponentially in reputation but thankfully remaining petite in size, what does year four hold for Gottwood that your team is particularly excited about?
Our favourite line up to date, some very cool new stage designs, longer music playing hours, new installations, visualisations and the eventual opening of new areas such as the lake stage!
Thrilled to see that you’ve given my favourite German producers and live performers Extrawelt top billing. What was it about these Cocoon-signed champions that made them your headliner of choice for this year?
Glad you love Extrawelt too! Basically it has been a main aim of ours since the beginning to eventually be able to book Extrawelt. I think we actually said that once we have booked them then we know we have made it! They are probably my favourite producers and also responsible for initially getting me into electronic music. Not just me either, the whole Gottwood crew are huge fans. It’s amazing that we could bring the label Traum over to host a stage with Wigflex, they are responsible for the releases of Extrawelt, Microtrauma, Ryan Davis, Max Cooper etc – so if you like your progressive techno – do not miss this!
Your latest line up announcement includes Urulu, Ejeca and Pedestrian. Great additions brought by Manchester club brand Drop The Mustard! Independent festivals are often evaluated by the spread of promoters they bring on board. Which ones have been there since the beginning? And who did you invite on board purely because of their musical ethos rather than a personal connection?
Yeah we are extremely happy with those additions. Drop The Mustard have been our cheeky “wildcard” we’ve brought in late the past two years. In the first year, Trouble Vision and Fresh Out of The Box (or Boxford) were our only promoters – but I guess that year was more of a big party in the woods rather than a festival!
Over the past few years we very much feel that Louche, Nixwax, Hypercolour, Tief, Hit & Run, Sound of C & Real Nice are firm members of the family. Everyone gets along and we all seem to be on the same wavelength as to what we want Gottwood to sound like. This year we’ve invited Traum, Futureboogie, Apogee, Wigflex, Jaunt, Wolf Music, Eton Messy and Cool Kids on board. Needless to say, with such brands lighting up the woods it would be very hard to imagine anything but pure party vibes throughout!
For a line up of that calibre and spread, £95 is quite the bargain by any electronic music lover’s estimation. What are the wisest choices you have to make as festival organisers that enable you to give your punters the best deal?
Our booking policy is an integral part to this. With us all being keen music enthusiasts we try and spot the next big artists before their fees get too big. Also a lot of artists much prefer to play more intimate festivals, especially in unique locations. A lot of our high profile artists come with the intention of playing and leaving the next day but end up staying for the whole weekend. The good reports then spread and we are now in the lucky position where the artists we would normally chase, find us first. Our promoters are also amazing at helping us out with bookings and agents and managers are very understanding of what we are trying to do, so it all helps!
Gottwood is widely reported to have the festival holy triumvirate of quality music, slick organisation, and a small but special crowd nailed. I would include a beautiful location in the second category, but how important was finding this rural Welsh site to the development of Gottwood?
Thanks very much for such kind words!! Yeah the site is a hugely important part of the festival. Not many festivals can boast a site within a forest, with grassy clearings, a lake and a campsite that is fifteen minutes walk from the sandy beaches of the Irish ocean from which you can see Ireland on a clear day! It’s not just these features, it’s as if the place was designed for a festival – the paths create a great flow through the different areas making it easy to explore.
I love that you reject “corporate-ness” as you call it, but still offer the luxury of easily hired Bell tents. What do you try to go for with Gottwood’s production aesthetic? From what I’ve seen it looks like the ultimately desirable combination between natural beauty and surreal installations…
When we say we reject corporate-ness this is because we don’t want big branding signs from sponsors completely ruining the beautiful backdrop that the site provides. Our idea of a festival is to make you feel like you are completely detached from regular 9 to 5 society and to put you inside the Gottwood bubble, which hopefully brings out the unrestricted self in all its glory!
Of course sponsorship is hugely beneficial, but only if it doesn’t take away from the experience.
Tell us the Gottwood owl origin story. There is obviously a lot to love about these nocturnal, pupil-dilated creatures, but how did the common strigidae become such a central part of your branding?
We are BIG on owls. If you ever see a good looking owl, please take a picture and send it over!!
It all started when our original graphic designer (Ocki Magill) was playing around with our logo – which eventually turned out to be an owl. There are a fair few Owls hanging out on the Gottwood site. Actually, if anyone actually snaps up a real live owl whilst at Gottwood then they can have free entry for life!
Every festival team I have encountered behind the scenes has their own end-of-show tradition. For example, last year I observed 200, four day sleep-deprived SGP production staff tearing into the leftover bar stock as if the Rapture was impending. How do the people behind Gottwood let loose once all the hard work (not including derigging) is over?
[laughs] Yeah I attended the Secret Garden Party staff party for a bit last year, very funny. I walked past Seth Troxler on my way out dressed as Woody from Toy Story, who was most definitely having a great time!
You know when it gets to the point when you are so overtired that everything becomes funny? Well tie that in with the overwhelming satisfaction of ten months work climaxing, and a lot of leftover booze, then you are left in a pretty ridiculous state. Last year ended up in a big party with the artists and crew on the Monday evening. It would be nice to plan a proper party, but to be honest I couldn’t think of anything worse to worry about after having minimal sleep for a week!
Finally, what would you tell the uninitiated who still remain on the fence about whether to take the plunge into the Welsh woods at the end of June?
Just do it!! Gottwood is as much about the experience as it is the music so it’s hard to explain that side of things, as you really have to be there! I imagine some people will be put off by the fact that is held in Anglesey. It is a lot easier to get to than people think. The train from London is direct and take 3.5 hrs and £58 with a Young Persons Railcard. If you book soon it is under £60 without a railcard! It’s 2hrs from Manchester & Liverpool, 2.5hrs from Leeds, 4 from Bristol. If you are looking to save money on fuel then check out GoCarShare as there are and will be plenty of people wanting to share journeys.
Aside of all of that travel talk, just get on down for four days of unpretentious dance music, in a beautiful setting with beautiful people. Don’t forget to bring your swimming attire….and most importantly don’t forget to buy a ticket – they won’t be around for much longer!
Words by Anna Herber
To be in with a chance of winning 2 x Gottwood Festival tickets all you have to do is send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject title ‘Got wood?’ and write the artist who you are most looking forward to seeing at the festival in the comments section below!
All entries must be recieved by 4pm on Monday 27th of May to be counted, and a winner will be picked randomly next Monday! Only a week to enter, good luck!
Gottwood Festival, 20 – 23 June 2013
Limited number of tickets left here
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