Interview: Alex Trenchard (Standon Calling Organiser)

Interview: Alex Trenchard (Standon Calling Organiser)

This was a quickie interview with Standon Calling organiser Alex Trenchard. He’s a very nice chap and it’s quite interesting as a brief examination of the mind of a festival organiser.

Rivmixx:  Alright, now, what made you decide I’m gonna turn this from a birthday party into a festival?

Alex Trenchard:  “I never had any plans to build a festival. Every year we’ve just tried to organically improve on the year before. Whether that’s better music, bigger stages etc.”

R:  And then what makes you carry on doing it?

A.T:  “I like the experience of putting something on for people. It’s a passion. It’s a bit of an artistic outlet to some extent. And also because it’s for charity.”  [All Standon’s profits go to Phoenix Futures – a UK network of drug and alcohol abuse centres.]

R:  Does it take up your whole year?

A.T:  “Normally I won’t think about it until October, then we book acts from about January/Ferbruary.”

R:  Is it a bane or a bonus hosting it on your own land?

A.T:  “I think it’s a bonus for all reasons. Firstly, it feels like home – you know the land, you know the locals, the community.  It’s not like you’ve arrived from somewhere else to put on this big party which, sometimes, local communities can find scary. We get quite a lot of local interest. This year we had a party for them on Thursday night so they could come down and check it out.

“Secondly, from a financial perspective, it’s one less cost and we can then invest the money we save on that cost in a better experience for everyone and pay more attention to detail. That’s why – as a small festival – relative to other festivals, have a line-up similar to other larger festivals.”

R:  What are your hopes for the festival over the next few years?

A.T:  “My focus is on the atmosphere – how to grow it while at the same time remembering what this festival’s niche is. In some ways the bigger you get the more festivals there are and from my perspective I’m interesting in promoting the most experience I can, whilst doing something different. In this market that means doing something a little more intimate. I can see the festival growing to a certain extent, but I’m under no delusion that this will be a big festival. Financially that would be suicide.”

R:  You’ve got a really good reputation for booking up and coming bands. How do you keep on top of that?

A.T:  “It’s going out listening to bands and keeping your ear to the ground.  It’s talking a lot to people, and hearing what’s coming through. I try my best to see who is the genuine article and just cut through the crap really.

“I go out to quite a lot of gigs, less now because I’ve got an eight month kid. But it’s not just about who’s going to be big, it’s about what’s going to work best in the environment. This year we’ve got the Invisible and Friendly Fires who are both great festival bands.”

R:  Who have you most enjoyed/most looked forward to this year?

A.T:  “I loved Friendly Fires, they played two years ago and now they’ve come back this year and it’s just been a fantastic return.  Over the last few years they’ve really come on and blown up.  I’m really looking forward to Femi Kuti – that’s quite a coup – he’s a world music star in his own right. Also, tonight, Easy Star All Stars.”

R:  Who are your ideal bands for the future? Is there anyone you’ve got your eye on?

A.T:  “I really like Casiokids, they are playing this year, but I think that’s someone for next year and the year after.”

R:  What about fantasy bands?

A.T:  “I’d probably go for Bjork. In terms of atmosphere, stage presence, artistic ability, I think she’s amazing.”

Matt Parker

Written for Rivmixx

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