Jean-Xavier Boucherat on the most cleverly named festival since Rockness, Doune the Rabbit Hole
Jamie Murray is one of the names behind a somewhat curious event that took place near the sleepy burgh of Doune last summer. I wasn’t there, but apparently, in what was an all-together phenomenal coincidence, a sizeable number of campers (including something like half the population of Woodlands) adorned in flowers, rubbish hats and rain macs quietly and politely descended along the same riverbank. Once there, they spent a pleasant day or two indulging in a number of sonic-based treats and psychedelic treasures, courtesy of a number of bands that also happened to be in the vicinity. They say the whole thing made for a bewitching, somewhat bewildering experience.
Turns out the whole thing was orchestrated, and what’s more, it’s going to happen again. The punderfully named ‘Doune the Rabbit Hole’ has just announced the first names for its June 2011 line-up, featuring names like Alasdair Roberts, Rise Kagona, Remember Remember, RM Hubbert and Dam Mantle. You’re either excited, or joyless. We went to talk to Jamie about the joys and terrors of putting on your own festival.
The line-ups just been announced, are you pleased with it? Who are you particularly excited about?
We’ve given people a taster of what’s to come but you can expect a lot more! That said, I’m really excited about seeing The Vaselines at Doune, and Mike Heron will be fantastic! Some great ones to watch are Rudi Zygadlo, Remember Remember and Trembling Bells but to be entirely honest picking a select few is somewhat arbitrary as I’m excited about every single one of the acts to tell you the truth!
Stylistically, have you tried to keep the music consistent? Or is it more an open to anything approach?
It’s never good to keep everything too consistent because then you end up with a long weekend of samey-same-samery and that can get boring so we’ve kept it pretty varied with great talent from lots of different platforms: folk, psychedelic, garage, reggae, electro-synth-pop-clamour-glam-superflava-pornowave and some other great fluff.
A big portion of the line-up is Glasgow-based talent – is this just because there’s quite a bit coming out of glasgow, or is there another reason?
We’ve got a lot of music from Glasgow, the reason being that we’re based here and there’s alot of good stuff going on. It’s great to be in a city with so much happening art-wise! We’ve also brought bands from further afield as well – people like Colorama and Blurt as well as Frank Fairfield who’s coming over from the States (what a Banjo genius he is!).
Apart from the music, what excites you most about the festival?
We’ve got a few brilliant non-musical acts joining us as well from comedy and dance to film to workshops and lots of stuff for kids too but the atmosphere is something pretty special in itself. Another thing that’s pretty important to us is the consequences of the festival – not alot of people are aware of this but we’re actually not-for-profit. Any of the funds raised from our events will go towards setting up workshops, evening classes and outreach programs to teach people how to paint, play an instrument, write poetry or anything creative really.
Tell us how DTRH came about. What was the trickiest part in setting it up? (I’m assuming it was a fairly DIY operation).
I suppose it came about almost entirely by mistake, myself and a few friends were just thinking about the idea of starting a festival. We realised that we always make grandiose and magical plans but never actually do anything about them and with this one we just decided to go for it and do the worrying later. So yes, incredibly D.I.Y, and I’m not about to tell you any of it’s easy! We learnt a lot of lessons from the first festival last year. The hardest part is probably dealing with the red tape that goes along with this kind of thing – health and safety and risk assessments and bla bla bla grumble grumble grumble. There’s just so much bureaucracy involved!
In relation to this question, why Doune?
We have a friend with some land just outside Doune and we knew that he would be very open to the idea, so we went to look at it and it turned out to be beautiful and perfect for a festival: A medieval walled garden for the main arena, a river running by the campsite, beautiful woodland, and the backdrop of Doune Castle. It’s stunning! We couldn’t be happier with the location.
Would you like to see the festival grow in the upcoming years or are you happy with it’s current size?
We don’t want or need to get too big. The great thing about a small festival is that you get a fantastically close community develop over the weekend and with that comes a really friendly atmosphere that’s unique and quite unrivalled really.
How do you feel the environment for independent festivals is in general?
Great – people are starting to realise that huge, corporate festivals only really provide an ugly, commercialised kind of entertainment which feeds off a mundane lack of creativity and the odd desire for some people to have their critical ability flagellated into submission by mainstream media. Smaller, independent festivals show people that there is true, original creative talent out there and it doesn’t have to sound like X-Factor to be exciting.
Do you want to help out at DTRH this year? Of course you do you kind, gentle soul! You can email Jamie at Jamie@dounetherabbithole.co.uk, but no band requests! Jamie is up to his neck in them and doesn’t need that kind of stress!