We’re racing up to the dawn of Alt-fest 2014, so we spoke Dominic D-Void, festival organiser about the inspirations and motivations behind the great independent extravaganza.
Words: Jamie Kinman / Daniel Fletcher
S] Can you remember the moment where you decided to bring this all together and set up a festival?
D] “I can, I was on holiday in Majorca. Missy and I, who’s my wife and co-organiser of Alt-fest, we’d had lots and lots of sangria so we were a little bit pissed and we were talking about our club and we had one of those ‘what if?’ moments, wouldn’t it be great if we could do this massive festival and it stemmed from there.”
S] So what have been the biggest challenges for you guys since that day in Majorca?
D] “It’s been a kind of process of time really, we started literally with a blank page but we knew we wanted to get all the different alternative culture and genres involved. There’s been multiple challenges along the way, if you want to run a festival the first thing you’ve got to do is find a site which involves many, many meetings with different venues and locations. We booked a location which was going to be in Kent that went into *recedership*? We then had to find a new home. It’s a journey really, you get to one point or challenge but generally the answers are usually there, by networking we found a guy called Ollie, who’s now a director in Alt-fest and runs his own festivals, so he had experience in all sorts of different areas and had his own bunch of contacts.”
S] What’re your hopes for Alt-fest, have you thought about the future and where you want it to go?
D] “We’ve always intended for Alt-fest to be an annual event, with a crowd led ethos leading into 2015 and beyond, which means after 2014 we can go back to the people who came and find out what they liked, find out what they didn’t like or things they felt we didn’t do well enough and we could improve upon. There are many, many areas that could potentially come into the festival, other genres, be it more punk, rockabilly, all kinds of other artistic stuff that could be brought in so I think there’s a view point that we’ll learn from this year and improve on it each year. In answer to your question, we’re already thinking about bookings for next year, we’ve started building a website for next year because we’re going to put tickets on sale during the festival for next year.”
S] What were the biggest challenges and best moments of the selection process when deciding the line-up for the festival?
D] “I think the biggest challenge was when we went out and said we wanted to actively promote up-and-coming bands, and unlike a lot of festivals we wanted to put on a good cross section of new bands that maybe weren’t given the opportunity to play big festivals. Last time we counted we had over 3,500 bands applying to play, so that was a big challenge, the volume of bands wanting to be on the bill vs. the amount of slots that were there.”
S] Have you been pleased with how the artists, big or small, have got involved and supporting the cause?
D] “Yeah, it’s quite exciting, it was tough in the beginning because the music industry and the bands were not used to this approach, so it was a bit of a culture shock for them. Once the process gets going, people start to get it and it was particularly encouraging with somebody like Manson. When we were going through the booking process, we said we wanted to announce something on Christmas day and we were talking to his [Manson] management about recording a video message. They thought it’s not something he’d normally do, but once Manson got hold of the potential booking, he was really into the crowd based ethos, by the fans vibe. He then got behind it and we got an e-mail with his video and picked up that he’d been out to dinner with record labels, talking at great length about how excited he was for Alt-fest. Once he did it, then it kind of snowballs and I think for next year it will be even easier.”
S] How’s it been for you finding the right people to support what you’re doing?
D] “It’s been an ongoing and exciting process. As you meet and network with more people you meet more and more people. We wanted to surround ourselves with individual members of the team that were fully experienced in running large events and festivals. At a very early stage we partnered up with SWG – South West group – who does ten to fourteen of the stages at Glastonbury. The team is really quite massive now and every part of it is somebody that has a proven recorded in delivering excellence in their area of speciality, whether it’s security, traffic management, bar providers or health and safety. We wanted to surround ourselves with experienced festival veterans to make sure that we deliver a quality, safe event and that we look after the bands and the production and sound are good. It’s been a big ol’ process.”
S] After working in the scene for years, hosting club nights amongst all sorts of things, what have you learned about yourself?
D] “I think I’m quite stubborn, a lot of people have said I’ve got rather large cahoonas and I don’t let big challenges put me off.”
S] What’s your experience been like with using crowd funding to support your festival?
D] “Funnily enough when we were having our sangria we were inspired from something else that was crowd funded and we took inspiration from that. Because the crowd funding g aspect had not really been used successfully in a festival context before, we’ve had other festivals come to us that want to go down the crowd funding route, to do this or that, to raise a certain amount of finance and we have had people come to us to learn from the pitfalls, our experiences and we’re always quite open and wanting to do anything that helps other people out.”