2000 Trees Festival – An Interview

Another festival hits the South West this month but this one’s a little different to the more mainstream ones we’re used to seeing and going to. The 2000 Trees Festival is a non-commercial, environmentally focussed and all about the music. I’ve been speaking with one of the organisers, James, who’s told me a bit about why they decided to set up this festival:

There are a few reasons for starting the Fest:

  1. All 6 organisers have been going to the Reading Festival for the past 9 years. We’ve been growing increasingly disillusioned with the spiralling ticket prices, terrible & expensive food and drink, in your face corporate sponsorship, huge increases in audience numbers etc. So the general feeling amongst us was that festivals could be so much better than this and the focus needed to be put back on the audience rather than a pursuit of profits at all costs.
  2. It was around this time that we discovered the fantastic Truck Festival (a bit like a village fair but with lots of booze!!) and the totally amazing Y-Not Festival in Derbyshire (which aims to highlight the amazing new band scene in the UK). We now have close links with both of these festivals. Basically, they taught us how to make festivals small and cool and fun and cheap….!
  3. The environment is something that is very close to my heart (I am one of the 3% of UK citizens who have pledged to give up flying), so I’m constantly looking for ways to promote green issues, particularly climate change. I see Two Thousand Trees as being able to do this to a new audience – i.e. we are not your average hippy green festival but rather will appeal to people who perhaps don’t know about all the issues associated with climate change.

The first thing we did was make a list of everything we love and hate about the various festivals we’ve been to. So we tried to keep the things we loved and avoid the things we hated….simple! After that we called on our friends at Y-Not and Truck for advice on making the perfect festival. We are so excited for people to see what it is going to be like!

Any of us who have organised anything have come up against problems and things we’ve had to overcome so organising a festival must have had its fair share of problems…

Two things spring to mind regarding this:

1. Booking bands:As a first year festival it’s extremely difficult to convince agents that you are for real at first and the only way that we managed to book great bands like Frank Turner and INME was through constant persistence. My experience with agents has been less than pleasurable – it seems they are intent on sucking the soul from the music industry. I’ve got my little black book though and in years to come I look forward to them chasing us around….only kidding!! Saying that though a shout out should go to Rose Kemp and Brian James Gang’s agents because they are top people.

2. Getting the license:
I think we kind of scared the council at first as they thought the next Glastonbury was on its way to the beautiful Cotswolds!! We won them over with our professional approach I think and now we have an excellent working relationship.

Next up I grilled James about the ticket prices…at only £37 for weekend camping tickets they are a bargain by any festival goers standards! But how have they done it?

Simple really, we are not about making huge profits – other festivals could charge a lot less if they wanted too but their one aim is profit maximisation. We are a reaction to this – determined to provide a great fest experience at reasonable prices.

I also asked about how they chose the lesser known bands who will be playing the festival

We recently had a Battle of the Bands in Cheltenham and the 4 finalists have all made it onto the bill. A special mention should go to the winners Hesters Way. We’ve discovered some fantastic unsigned bands out there.

Finally we spoke about the lows, and the highs of organising the festival and if there are plans to make this a regular date on the festival calendar…

The Ugly has to be music agents!! – I’ve taken the odd barrage of abuse from them but have learnt to stand my ground!

The biggest highlight was just sitting down and saying to ourselves, “Right, I’m organising a festival – what do I want from a perfect festival and how can I make it the best festival possible?” This includes everything the bands, caterers and location, it was like playing a virtual reality computer game…”Fantasy Festival”!!

If I had to pick one individual moment of excitement it was when we confirmed Frank Turner as our Friday night headliner. I was at home on my own and am not embarrassed to admit that I put his album on full blast and sang every word at the top of my lungs!! When you see him headline our Friday night you’ll know why! He’s amazing.

More than anything you have to learn to things earlier so its not a mad rush at then end.

2000 Trees Festival is happening the 13th and 14th of July in the Cotswolds and has a great line-up! And at the bargain price will be worth every penny. For more info:
http://twothousandtreesfestival.co.uk
www.myspace.com/twothousandtreesfestival

Published: Bristol Rocks (July 2007)

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