Next weekend (20-22 July) free music festival Tramlines will pull together the best of international, national and local talent in Sheffield for a three-day musical extravaganza. With We Are Scientists and Roots Manuva topping the bill, Sarah Nulty director of the nearly four-years-old festival spoke to Q about its move away from pop, the line-up and much more.
How are the preparations for this year's festival going?
"It's always, always a bit manic in the last week. You think you've got loads of time and then suddenly it's a week away, but yeah I think we're pretty organised this year. We're in year four so it's definitely getting easier. In year one it was a real mad dash but we're getting more and more organised each year. But every year you get to the last week and go oh my god, we still haven't done that."
What sort of things have you realised you haven't done at the last-minute this year?
"We're launching an app for the first time this year and we only decided we were doing that in the last few weeks so it has been a mad dash to try and get the app sorted. It's all coming together but what we do every year is add something to challenge ourselves, so we decide 'oh yeah that was easy last year, we knew what we were doing', and then we throw something else in right at the last minute."
What acts on the bill are you most proud of booking this year?
"You know what, the whole line-up this year, I think is the best line-up we've had. We've moved away from a pop line-up to booking more credible artists. The Saturday with Roots Manuva I'm particularly excited about, I think that will be amazing, and on the Sunday we've got We Are Scientists headlining. Then for some of the bands on the main-stage lower down the bill, there's Little Comets and Beth Jeans Houghton playing on the Sunday as well."
So what has changed at the festival this year? You just mentioned moving away from the pop festival's pop element?
"This year there is no Hallam FM stage on the Saturday because it was starting to become really hard to control the numbers for a free event. The kind of audience that likes pop is way more huge than the audience that like more leftfield music. Every year Hallam FM support us a lot, they're amazing, but they were just booking these kinds of acts that if it carried on we wouldn't have been able to cope, so it was really for safety reasons, to just try and calm the numbers down a bit. It's also good to move away into music that we probably as a team are more into."
How do you think the lack of pop will impact on the festival?
"We weren't sure how people would react, but I think generally it's been positive. Obviously the young kids that were into it were a bit disappointed but we've still tried to make the line-up accessible for them. People like Ms Dynamite still have really big pop appeal, but a lot of people are really pleased that we've added a different line-up."
Who else are you looking forward to seeing this year?
"For me personally there are a couple of up and coming artists I'm really looking forward to. There's a group called AlunaGeorge and also a singer called Lulu James; both of them are just starting to be on everyone's radar at the moment. They're the kind of bookings that you get where you catch an act quite early, and that's what I'm particularly looking forward to."
Have you managed to 'sneak' any personal favourites onto the bill?
[Laughs] "Yeah my guilty pleasure is Ms Dynamite. I try to get her on the bill as much as possible, so she's supporting Roots Manuva on the main stage! I suppose that would be my one influence of trying to get someone that I like."
If you could book anyone at last minute for the festival who would it be?
"If it was an endless pot of money, I'd say Prince. Realistically...[long pause] I'd say Patrick Wolf."
If you could book anyone for next year's Tramlines who would you book?
"Oooh... Blondie, but to be honest they're probably way out of our price range. Always worth a try though."
Can you recommend to us one non-musical thing from this year's festival?
"We've got street theatre happening for the first time. So in an area of the city centre called Tudor Square we're programming eight hours of street theatre on the Saturday and Sunday. It's going to be people like the Granny Turismo that you see wandering around Glastonbury, who're really funny. I've seen them at a couple of events, but we've never gone into that kind of thing before so I'm really looking forward to that."
What's the latest travel advice for the festival?
"We're closing a lot more roads this year so people at the festival should take notice of the road closures, and just get down early as usual. Obviously, because there's no tickets, it's first come first served so the earlier you get here the better. Don't let the rain put you off!"
As a free event, how sustainable is the festival for future years?
"I have no idea. I have to say it's getting really, really hard at the moment; it's getting harder. I know it's hard for everyone out there at the moment trying to sell tickets but it's just as hard to try and raise the revenue. Our sponsors are amazing with the way they're helping us, but if we lose our sponsors I'm not sure who that next big sponsor for the festival would be. We want to keep it going and we want to keep it free but it is getting hard. This year we're selling the programme, trying to find ways of getting revenue from people who come to the festival but without actually charging them for a ticket. That's also why we've introduced the app at £1."
Nicola Allen @nicolalovesyou
For more on Tramlines, including the full line-up, head to Tramlines.org.uk.
11:11 AM | 13/07/2012
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