IN THE WOODS FESTIVAL 2014
By Kate Prendergast
In the Woods Festival has been going since 2006 and last year was my first taste of this unique boutique festival in the Kentish woodlands. Hosted by the Laurel Collective and organised with friends Tim Adam-Smith and Will Brown and compered by X-FM’s John Kennedy who dashes between the Quarry (main stage) and the Laurel (upcoming new music stage).
ITW Festival definitely seems bigger and better this year, festival-goers from up and down the country arrived in their droves. With over 7,000 likes on their facebook page and having won‘Best Independent Festival’ at the AIM awards this festival isn’t going to stay a secret for much longer and this year tickets sold out in record time. I was really excited to be going back again to check out a plethora of new musical talent.
When we arrived on Friday afternoon we pitched up and headed down to the Quarry to see the incredible Laura Marling perform. Wandering through the beautifully lit woods, splashed with every colour of flowers you can imagine, hidden little dens and chill out areas along the way. As we headed to the main stage the tangible anticipation was electrifying through the fresh newbies and the seasoned festival-goers.
Laura Marling’s set was jam-packed with the ITW crowd and her set was full of an eclectic mix of her material. The crowd listened intently to her melodic, poetic tunes and they really opened up and started dancing when Laura started playing ‘Ghosts’ followed by Laura commenting on how strong the Biddenden cider is down here!
Saturday we set off to the Quarry to check out Kyan, the 24 year old from Cambridge played a mesmerising set. Kyan and his keyboard captured the crowds and he really demonstrated maturity in his song writing and stage presence. His song ‘Bad Science’ was a synthy pop sound laced with soul and sensuality, it was by far one of his tunes that you can practically hear in the charts. His silky tones echoed through the whimsical woods and were most apparent in poetic songs such as ‘Rosetta’. He played his brand new song ‘Stockholm’ for the first time after learning it less than a week ago. He has been supporting London Grammar on tour this summer and ‘Stockholm’ is a love song about being hurt, running away from love and always coming back until you “let me go”. He played ‘Shuttle’ a ballad that showed off his amazing vocal range, the experience and depth in his vocal tones is simple stunning. He finished the set with ‘Wire on the Fences’ an uptempo beat song that got the crowd swaying in the woods. You can also hear his song ‘Taken the City’ in the opening credits for the new series of Ripper Street.
At the Laurel stage we gathered to listen to Ichi who arrived on stage in the most bizarre way; on a pair of stilts and playing a harmonica, it was certainly an entrance. The one-man band from Japan combines handmade instruments with his steel-drum and ping-pong balls galore! His instrumental set was something that I’ve never seen before and I think if he had played later in the day the crowd would have been more responsive. He was good fun to see at a festival and is anything but boring, so if you have a penchant for the unusual and quirky musical style, then you will love this man.
Swedish rockers Francobollo played the Quarry and encouraged some ‘free hugging’ with their hippy retro beats that went down a treat with the crowd. There grungy pop sound has picked up a dedicated fan base and this will no doubt increase after their set at ITW. Standout songs include ‘Basketball’ and ‘Hot Cars’ mixing a splash of Nirvana with LCD Soundsystem this energetic electro group are set for big things.
Trudie Dawn Smith played at the Laurel and attracted a large crowd, she played her upbeat synthy soulful sounds, and showcased her amazing vocal range, with her London accent spattered throughout her songs. The most catchy song of her set was ‘No Pop’ with hints of Laura Mvula and definitely a song I can hear on the radio.
Kent band, Slaves played a set at the Laurel and I might be biased but they really were the most energetic performers at the stage all day. Laurie Vincent (guitar, vocals) and Isaac Holman (vocals, drums) have had a busy summer playing the likes of Reading and Leeds but they still had an abundance of energy left to impress the large crowd gathered at the stage. The standout song of their set was 15 second wonder Girl Fight’ short but definitely a sweet treat as the back-story of the song is the lads walking out of Royal Express Kebab in Tunbridge Wells and throwing their kebabs down for the girl fight!
I managed to catch up with London based dance trio Years & Years consisting of Brit Emre Turkmen, Aussie Mikey Goldsworthy and Brit Actor Olly Alexander.
How did you guys get together?
Mikey: “I started with a friend who I met at a protest and I wanted to get a guitarist so I applied online and Emre applied, we met up and got really drunk and started talking about our love for Radiohead. A few months later I went to a dinner party and met Olly through a friend of mine and he begged to join and he came over the next day. This was back in 2010 and we’ve gone through a few formations and now it’s been us 3 for a year!”
Were do you get your inspiration?
Olly: “Musically the stuff that I listened to when growing up like Jeff Buckley and Stevie Wonder. I also get really inspired by my favourite authors, I really love Margaret Atwood and love Dr. Seuss, we all love Dr. Seuss!”
Mikey: “It’s good to draw your inspirations from other things, I went to the orchestra the other day and you find inspiration through that, it doesn’t have to be the same genre.”
Olly: “I think if you find anyone amazing in their field it’s inspiring!”
How would you describe your music?
Emre: “We’re very electronic and we like to make people dance and quite poppy and also Olly’s got quite a soulful voice!”
Olly: “So we’re electric dance pop soul!”
What’s the story with hearing Olly singing in the shower?
Mikey: “I stayed over and heard him in the shower.
Olly: “What can I say I had great acoustics!”
What have been your best festivals this year?
Olly: “We just played in Poland last weekend, it was amazing, one of the best shows we’ve played, Secret Garden Party was really fun and Latitude, it’s been a good summer festival experience. We’ve got Bestival lined up, we’ve never been, then a festival in Germany and then we head on tour with Clean Bandit.”
What do you think of ITW?
Olly: “We just got here but it’s magical!”
Emre: “I can’t wait for it to be dark and imagine it’s truly amazing at night time!”
What’s your next single?
Olly: “We have a new single that’s going to be out at the beginning of November, it’s called ‘Desire’ and we’ll be playing it tonight!”
Later that evening Years & Years played the standout set of the festival, they got the crowd jamming and jumping, completely owned the stage with their sensual ecletro tunes. They had so much energy bouncing off the stage and they were truly overwhelmed with the buzzing crowd. They did a mash up of Sean Paul and Blu Cantrell ‘Breath’ that was epic. They closed with their new single ‘Desire’ a tune I cannot get out of my head and they captivated the crowd. Years & Years are definitely going to be the next big band, so go check them out.
I caught up with Glass Animals lead singer Dave Bayley and newest bandmate Ed Irwin-Singer.
How are you finding ITW festival?
Dave: “We got here about 3 hours ago, we’ve done a bit of exploring, listened to some bands, I heard a band soundchecking Gengahr they sounded cool.”
So you guys have known each other since you were 14 back at school, were you in different bands before Glass Animals?
Dave: “None of us have been in other bands before this, this is our first band! We properly formed about 2 years ago and put our music online about 3 and a half years ago, they were basically demos I’d done in my garden shed and I told these guys I was in a band! We very quickly realised we were all in different cities and so we waited a bit until now!”
Where do you draw inspiration from?
Dave: “All over the place, as a group we draw inspiration from everything, I listen to a lot of cramp rock, soul, Nina Simone, Otis Redding and a bit of D’Angelo!
Ed: “I feel like the music that gets made by us is a combination of every experience that we’ve ever had.”
Dave: “There’s a common thread in our music, we all grew up going to see live bands together.”
What were you standout gigs when you were growing up?
Dave: “I remember watching LCD Soundsystem at Reading and thinking this is one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen! Ed introduced us to Artic Monkeys when they were in their early days, we watched them in Oxford and we were like this is nuts!”
What’s the music scene like in Oxford?
Dave: “It’s changed a bit since we were younger, it’s dwindled. When we were younger there was lots, Foals had just started and they were playing every other week to intimate crowds and there was a lot of energy going on. There was a venue called the Zodiac that was partly run by Radiohead and Supergrass and they were booking lots of cool bands, local bands, but that eventually went under. You don’t really have that new band thing in Oxford, you have to head to London.”
How has your summer been, best festivals?
Dave and Ed: “There have been so many, they’ve all been really good.”
Dave: “The big ones are really fun but these little ones are amazing and they have a really nice vibe, really intimate. It’s pretty stunning here and very magical vibes tonight!”
What’s your next single?
Dave: “Our album came out in June, that’s been a good ride. Our next single release is ‘Hazey’ and that’s coming out really soon.”
You’ve got your North American tour soon? Where are you most looking forward to going on the tour?
Dave: “I’m looking forward to all of it, I haven’t been to most of the places. We’ll get to see a bit of the city. There are different types of crowds, last night we played Dimensions music festival which is a dance festival, we played late at night so we lifted the tempos and the base and everyone was dancing. Then you play more serious gigs and everyone is listening all intently and it’s magical and heart-warming!”
This year’s secret headliner was Sheffield DJ, Toddla T (real name Thomas Mackenzie Bell) he was given the name Toddla T by the older Sheffield DJs who influenced him on the music scene. His carnival style DJ set was the perfect end to a magical weekend of new music in the mystical woods.Other bands to check out from the festival are Febueder, Shopping, Temple Songs, Jack Garratt and Kate Tempest. One of the best things about ITW is that you are at an intimate boutique festival and you really are seeing the next big bands, so expect to see bands from this years line up at Glastonbury, Latitude and many other festivals next year. Well done to the organisers for hosting another epic weekend.