The skilfully programmed Green Man Festival in Wales, which this year featured the likes of James Blake, Wild Beasts, Belle and Sebastian, Laura Marling, Battles, and Warpaint, along with an inspiring amount of new music on the Green Man Rising stage, is in its 14th year. A team from Help Musicians UK is recently back after 6 days there speaking to the performers and taking in the music.
The festival, set in the stunning surrounds of the Brecon Beacons, is usually dominated by folk, electronic, indie and world sounds - but you can pretty much find any style of music, from the retro-rock of White Denim on the main stage to reggae dub-step at 2am in morning in the Chai Wallahs dance tent. It has something for everyone.
We attended Green Man with the main intention of talking to the musicians performing and asking them about their experiences of playing festivals and what it means for them and their careers. Our chill-out space backstage near the Green Man Rising Stage was a perfect place for bands to drop by, chat and relax post-show.
We spoke with a diverse mix of artists spanning those just starting out to established acts. These included: British/ Nigerian producer Tony Njoku, winner of the Green Man Rising competition who opened the main stage on Friday afternoon; four-piece 'Cymrucana' band Climbing Trees from Pontypridd, South Wales; new female trio Paradisia from London; and Thursday headliners Wild Beasts who have been going strong for 10 years now and have five albums and a Mercury Nomination under their belt.We spoke to them about the benefits of playing festivals and what it means to them.
Wild Beasts frontman Hayden Thorpe said ‘Green Man has always backed us from the start – you don’t forget that. It has pride of place for us. This is our third time playing here and this year they offered us a headline slot’.
We also spoke to artists about the challenges of playing festivals. We discovered that for many small or unsigned bands, getting to a festival (especially those in more remote locations like Green Man) can be a logistical and financial challenge.
Paradisa lead vocalist Sophie-Rose said ‘There are six musicians in our band, including 3 session players who we needed to pay. It’s really difficult to cover all your costs when playing a festival…we had to rent a van and have spent over £500 in total getting here. But the exposure has been fantastic. The Rising Stage is very important for new music - it’s a bit like BBC introducing and is a great platform for us’.
Help Musicians UK will be doing more research and work with festivals over the next few months and into next year, with the aim of shaping a support offer for musicians playing festivals.
Thank you to Green Man Festival for hosting us and for putting on such an amazing show.