We spoke to Simon Singleton, our Music Editor at FRUKT London, about the debut of his own music festival 'Shake The High Road' happening this bank holiday weekend May 27th.
What was the inspiration to start your own festival?
I’ve lived in the area a long time and seen many of the changes happening with Leytonstone High Road being transformed and new people moving in to the area. When the Red Lion re-opened the Ballroom last year offering a major music venue on the High Road, it was the catalyst to get going and make the festival happen! And then I started speaking to other local music spots too like Luna Lounge and All You Read Is Love, and they loved the idea, so before I knew it I had SHAKE THE HIGH ROAD!
What’s the overall vibe you’re going for?
It’s a mixed selection of new music, and the overall experience is the key element, rather than one specific artist or venue. One wristband allows you to move around the different venues so we hope that ‘long day out’ vibe is what really makes it special. Although there are plenty of amazing bands and DJs so it’s definitely going to be a real party too! And kids can attend in the main venue until 9pm too as long as accompanied by an adult so want it to feel open to families too.
What made you think of holding the festival in Leytonstone?
It’s a great place to live with a brilliant community spirit. There’re plenty of people in the area who love new music and art, and there’s a real spirit of supporting local events via very active Facebook groups. E11 might not be Dalston or Peckham and doesn’t have music venues on every corner like they do but it’s a wonderful part of London to live in and I hope this festival really gets local people excited.
Are there any other festivals you can liken it to?
Sea Change in Totnes, Devon which launched last year was a real influence and inspiration. A very well curated line-up across various lovely, distinct venues – I loved the atmosphere. And some of the other inner-city, multi-venue ones like Stag & Dagger in London/Glasgow, and Simple Things in Bristol are very cool, bigger versions of what I’m trying to achieve.
The line-up is looking pretty awesome, what was the approach to booking these acts?
Thanks! It’s featuring a mix of some headline draws like Brassroots playing a special brass band set of Prince classics, Mystery Jets DJ set (just before they play a few dates at Alexandra Palace), Woman’s Hour, Dele Sosimi Afrobeat Quintet, and Raf Daddy (from The 2 Bears) and Bullion DJing, as well as some great upcoming acts I know are fantastic performers, like major new reggae act Kioko, Hermigervill (a brilliant live electronic disco act from Iceland) and a great dream-pop band called Wydest. And lots of great DJs I know can craft a brilliant atmosphere.
How do you curate a festival that’s spread over a few venues? Are you going to have a different sound at each one?
Not really - each one won’t be anchored to a strict sound as otherwise you’d end up with guitar music fans in one, dance music fans in another etc, and it wouldn’t work properly. The main venue is much larger than the others so naturally has the biggest draws, but I like the fact the other two venues will have lots of really exciting buzzy new acts.
You also mentioned some other potential acts in the pipeline, are there are any more details about that?
We’ve just announced Woman’s Hour’s comeback show. They haven’t played London in a few years since packing out Village Underground so really pleased to have them, and they’re a local band too! Plus we’ve one headline DJ to announce later in April and lots of fantastic recent live additions like Snapped Ankles (who dress up as trees (for real!) and make truly energised post-punk that’s pretty incredible live). And we’re announcing the DJ stage very soon with people playing vinyl sets all day – plenty of funk, soul, reggae and everything in between.
(Women's Hour playing at Village Underground. Credit: Carolina Faruolo http://www.cfaruolo.com/sets/recent_gigs/womans_hour_at_village_underground/)
What’s been the biggest challenge so far?
Finding the right big name acts is always a challenge in a summer absolutely packed out with festivals. And there is inevitable logistical hurdles you continue to come across in any live event. But it’s all good!
What’s been the most exciting/satisfying bit to get right so far?
Feeling the line-up really come together is great and seeing the initial response from the people of Leytonstone when we posted on local message boards was great. And with our main launch to press and print this week, I’m excited to see the next wave of interest.
What’s the end goal for Shake The High Road?
I really want to make it a yearly event and potentially make it even bigger and better each time, finding new venues and bringing ever more acts to the area. But for now, just making this first event as memorable and successful as possible is the only goal.
Tickets for Shake The High Road on May Bank Holiday weekend are on sale here.