In order to transiently escape from the impending doom of dissertation and essay deadlines, the CUB team have decided to start planning for this year’s festival season. While sifting through the heterogeneous array of British summer festivals, the Isle of Wight Festival immediately struck us by virtue of its particularly impressive and diverse line-up. The festival organiser, John Giddings, was kind enough to take some time out his relentlessly busy schedule and answer a few of our questions. Cheers John!
From a quick glance at the line-up, it’s clear there’s an expansive range of musical eras and genres represented over the weekend. How important is a diverse lineup?
It is the most important as it needs to appeal to all generations – past, present and future. If someone is in the charts that doesn’t mean they are capable to perform in front of 55,000 people, so I like to make sure that I combine acts who appeal to all different genres and ages.
The first night of the Main Stage acts certainly kicks off with a bang. Is there a masterplan behind having Calvin Harris and Biffy Clyro as double headliners on the Friday night?
Sort of, the idea was to have rock and dance on the same night. Previously we have had The Prodigy and Faithless and that was one of the best Friday nights since the Festival started, so I thought it would be great to do this again.
Significantly, Red Hot Chili Peppers’ only UK and Ireland tour date is in their huge headline slot on the Saturday of the festival. What was the reaction like after they were announced as part the line-up?
The reaction from festivalgoers has been incredible and I am sure their show will go down in Isle of Wight Festival history as a performance not to be missed. I have no doubt that people will be talking about it for years to come. The Isle of Wight Festival is the only place you will see the band in the UK this year, Saturday day tickets have already sold out such has been the demand.
The Big Top stage on Sunday seems to be where it’s at if you want to be introduced to a wide array of new music, featuring a number of exciting breakthrough bands from recent years, including Amber Run and Swim Deep just to name a few. How do you go about handpicking these upcoming bands to play at the festival?
I go and see them in clubs up and down the country, read NME and talk to young people. The Big Top on Sunday is about up and coming acts, whilst the Main Stage is more relaxed in the day on Sunday as people like to take it easy after a great weekend.
Naturally, it must be an extremely hectic weekend for you. Do you get many opportunities to watch bands in the brief intermissions between rushing around and ensuring everything is going to plan?
Yes I watch lots of moments but never get the chance to watch the whole show apart from Lana Del Ray and Ellie Goulding when I watched the whole thing as I think they are brilliant!
How would you describe the prevailing atmosphere and spirit of the festival, and does it vary from year to year?
There is always a slight difference depending on who you book. Enjoyment, satisfaction, shared enjoyment of music and a sense of discovery.
After booking bands, do you release them on the line-up immediately or do you like to keep the festival fans in a healthy bit of suspense?
I like to announce as we go along instead of waiting as I like to judge individual reactions.
If you could form a supergroup to headline next year’s festival, who would be in it?
Liam Gallagher, Jimmy Page, Manny, Zak Starkey and Chris Martin on keyboard.
Finally, the British music festival offers the perfect environment for people to express their eccentricities, and just generally allows them to indulge in unabashed weirdness. What is the most entertainingly surreal thing you’ve witnessed in the festival’s history?
Man in a gold onesie being carried aloft by a sea of people during Spandau Ballet.