electric fields festival

IT takes courage to fly in the face of those that wish for you to accept the status quo as it is and create something entirely of your own devising.

Too many original thoughts and concepts are immediately quashed by outside forces or seemingly unavoidable obstacles, impeding progress and leaving the big dreams that are created in the mind to stay there as unfulfilled desires.

This is not a description which applies to Nick Roberts, the organiser of Scottish boutique festival Electric Fields and a man that saw a glaring gap in the market and was compelled to not simply commentate on it but do something about it.

Speaking on-site as festival preparations get into full swing ahead of this weekend’s event, Roberts cleared up exactly what led to the inception of what is fast becoming one of Britain’s most revered rising festivals.

“It was born of my brother and I going to a lot of festivals outwith Scotland, some down south and others abroad, events like Primavera and what have you. We thought something like that was missing from this country so we thought that we’d give it a bash and have a bit of a party. Since then it’s grown arms and legs. Obviously it was a one-day event over the past couple of years and we’ve had some really great bands playing and good people but it’s just been a natural progression to expand to two days and get bigger bands involved.

With bands ranging from Primal Scream, Everything Everything and The Charlatans to Scotland’s hottest breakout talent such as Baby Strange, WHITE, The Van T’s and more all preparing to descend upon the festival this weekend, it seems that the festival’s ethos of being ’boutique, homegrown and independent’ is one which attracts a broad spectrum of both artists and music lovers alike.

A belief system which is hardwired into both the festival and Roberts’ personal outlook on its business model, it is one which was carefully developed over time.

“Those three words were ones that just kept coming back to us” he says, “it totally sums it up”. My brother and I went to school five minutes away from where the festival is held (Drumlanrig Castle in Dumfries) so it’s great to be doing something back here in a place that we’ve got a connection with. The boutique element encapsulates what we’re about but I don’t necessarily think that it’s the commercial aspect (of bigger festivals) that is the devil or anything like that. We’re working with bigger partners this year such as Red Bull and Heineken this year but it’s more that they’re buying into what we’re doing as opposed to wanting to change anything.”

Despite the fact that he was aware of the lack of a festival of this ilk in Scotland after making trips to further flung lands for his own revelry, Nick insists that he’s still been taken aback by the immediacy with which the festival began to take off.

“it totally surprised us that people wanted to come in and work with us so quickly. Although when it comes to other people wanting to do this kind of event then that doesn’t surprise me as it’s a great thing to do and I’m really proud of the line-up we’ve got and the people that are involved so I think it speaks for itself in that sense.”

In terms of the decision to take the festival from a one-day event to two entire days of great music, he sees it as a logical next step to meet the continued success.

“I think we just wanted to experiment with it apart from anything else. We’ve had a really good day in the first couple of years and we wanted to just grow it slowly and be confident in what we’re doing so two successful years under our belt meant that it just made sense. It allows you to be more creative as you’ve got a bit more time in your hands. It’s a massive year for us and it’s almost like we’re doing it for the first time all over again. It’s quite cool for us to be able to have all of this to show for it.”

Known for its ability to provide a platform for artists that may not yet be household names but have all the talent and drive to become one if they’re allotted the proper nurturing and ability to communicate to a wider audience, Nick sees it as integral to what to do.

“Totally,” he says assertively, “It’s at the core of what we do. Scotland as well know has got a phenomenal set of band and new amazing bands are coming through consistently so how lucky are we to be at the center of what we do. Then we’ve also got bands like The Twilight Sad, Steve Mason and Primal Scream so it’s almost like a kind of high school dynamic where we’ve got the first years just starting out and then all the way up to the sixth years and then the graduates (laughs)”.

Whilst it’s undoubtedly going to be a strenuous weekend for those at the helm of the event, Nick remains optimistic that he’ll be able to catch some of the amazing groups that populate the line-up.

“I’ll be mad busy but I’ll absolutely be checking out some really good bands. It’s literally crammed with acts that I want to see so I’m lucky in the sense that whenever I’ve got a free moment I’ll just be able to stand in front of any stage and delighted with what’s there. Ovbviously there’s a couple that I really want to see, Songhoy Blues will be really interesting and a lot of others. Sneaky Pete’s dance tent just has my name written all over it basically so hopefully I’ll be able to get in there at some point too.”

With so much going well for the festival as it joins the the elite crop of unique and unconstrained festivals that have began to gain some real acclaim, what does Nick see in its future?

“Keeping it as independent as possible, I think that’s the key. We just want to be able to carry on with the ethos that we set out a few years ago. I think audiences have got so many things now to look at so many options every weekend in the UK and abroad so it’s about sticking with what you intended to do so that your original audience and new people really have something to buy into. i think a lot of the issue at the moment is that something’s great and then it changes; maybe it gets bought over or something, and a person’s favourite festival is no longer their favourite festival so it’s about how we keep ourselves true to what we want to do.”

Unafraid to continue to declare themselves as a  different entity and a festival for music fans to invest in, we can only hope that Electric Fields continues to go from strength to strength as it enters an exciting new era this Friday.

With only the very last tier of tickets available, those looking to attend Electric Fields can do so by  visiting http://electricfieldsfestival.com/tickets/