Arcadia's Pip Rush Jansen and Bertie Cole talk to eFestivals

BoomTown, Bestival, and plans for this summer, and beyond

published: Thu 10th May 2012

Orbital @ Arcadia

Thursday 9th to Sunday 12th August 2012
The Bowl, Matterley Estate, nr. Winchester, Hampshire, England MAP
£124, plus £5 eco bond deposit - SOLD OUT
daily capacity: 13000
last updated: Wed 8th Aug 2012

Pip Rush Jansen and Bertie Cole are the architects of late night venue Arcadia - the home of lights, flames, lasers, lightning, and more. eFestivals spoke to them after they have just got back from a recky of India.

Orbital @ Arcadia
So, Pip you're responsible for the Arcadia fields at festivals?
That's right yes, myself and Bertie. Bertie is with me now.

It's very impressive, and has been fantastic to watch it develop over the years at Glastonbury, what gave you the idea to do it in the first place?
I think it was in the early hours one morning at a festival, just looking a stage, all the fencing, and the security, and just thinking it was quite linear, and quite boring, with not much visual stuff going on, considering how great the music was and how creative that was. So, as we'd been doing structures and building sculptures before we thought we'd try and mix things up with the music.

How easy was it to get your ideas sold to festivals?
It was pretty hard in the beginning. We were quite lucky in that we the Mutoids (Mutoid Waste) let us into Glastonbury (Festival), into their fields to do it. We just then beg, borrowed, and stole, and got all our friends to do it anyway, and went all out with it, and it worked really well.

The first one that we made, was just an idea, we were a bit unsure about it. We thought it might just be an installation where people sit around and enjoy the music. I remember building all the wooden seating, and then one of the lads building it said "do you think people might dance on it", and I thought "well, we better make it strong enough in case they do". Then of course on the first night we had Aphex Twin, and Eat Static playing and we had around 4,000 people jumping up and down on it as soon as we switched it on. So, we thought, "That's obviously what it's made for."

It was quite a revolution for us, because we weren't really expecting the results that we had, and the whole journey really kicked into gear at that point and we realised, that there was some serious magic in what we were toying with.

Where do the ideas cone from that you've developed since then?
It's a big mish-mash of lots of people being involved and we spend a lot of time wandering around scrapyards and finding bits and pieces. What we find at scrapyards quite often inspires what we do. We moved down to Bristol a few years ago and there was a big circus scene in Bristol. We got inspired by a lot of that, and a lot of people came on board, and new things collaborated with us. Now, there's quite a few people on board and it's a case of just trying to merge people's ideas in together, and build a structure for everything to work off of.

You're at quite a few festivals this summer, you're doing quite a few with Glastonbury taking a year off.
We're hiring out our equipment to a few festivals. However, all our focus and energy is really going on BoomTown Fair and Bestival this year. They will be our full productions, where we bring more than just the structure, we bring all the magic, all the trimmings, and everything else. Then there's also a series of events in England, Europe, America, and possibly India that we hire our kit out to work for at their event.

How do you get all your kit transported to places like America and India?
Well, we've just come back from a two week recky of India where we were looking around all the ship scrapyards out there. There's a company over there that took us out, and they're really keen for us to build something out there in India. The festival scene is just starting to take off in India, they've got 25,000 people music festivals that are doubling in size each year.

They are from the outset pretty sterile, there's not mush in the way of that big interactive art in India anyway. So, as they've got some good bands, they wanted us to come out and make it a bit more exciting. We've had a really successful trip, we found loads of amazing stuff, and loads of people who can do anything and anything seems possible.

We're hoping to go out there again in September/October and do a three month trip out there and a big build.

That sounds amazing...
We're starting to get involved in the new culture, and collaborate with them, and we're really excited about some of the inspiration coming from that, and hoping to bring it back into Glastonbury the following year when it's back. Maybe we'll bring with us something from what we learn, and build, and who we meet out there, and bring it back to next year's Glastonbury.

You may struggle to bring a whole ship into Glastonbury, although people have brought boats onto the site before.
(Both laugh) Anything is possible.

Have you been part of BoomTown since its inception?
Yes, they're good friends of ours. So we've just been playing around there. Last year we were playing around and we brought the big six wheeled monster truck thing with a stage on it, and we just drove it around the festival playing music on it. Just for a laugh really, but it went down a storm. Then they got a bit bigger this year, and Glastonbury's not on, and we really wanted to support something that's grass roots and close to home.

It's grown out of Bristol, and that's where we are going to put our energy this year with the big stage, and it's a really exciting event and they have been very supportive.

That's the big spider that was at Glastonbury last year?
Yes, but we are taking that structure on to another level. We are changing it around, and we have some quite exciting modifications we are going to make to it. We've also got a new show, with new people in, and we've kind of gone down a more ravy route with the show this year. We went a bit more theatrical last year, which was a good experience, but didn't really work so well with a raving crowd. So, we're definitely going back to the party this year.

I hear you have the largest fire art in the world coming this year from Burning Man?
I think so, it's certainly the largest we've ever seen. There are two pieces coming over. One is a massive fireball, which is absolutely huge, that sends a big mushroom cloud up into the sky, that's been working out in the Nevada desert, at Burning Man for a while but nobody has ever done it in a festival environment. We're currently working on the logistics of that, and it will be at BoomTown and Bestival.

Then on a more creative tip, we are also bringing a fire tornado, which is a man made tornado created by lots of high powered wind generators, and then a bunch of guys in heat proof suits will walk into the tornado with hoses which are full of liquid and gas, and they light it and pump it into the tornado. As the heat and the tornado mix together they get faster and faster, and more rapid, and it looks really beautiful. It should be really exciting.

It reminds me of the Pyramid Stage having a fireball fired from it...
That was Archaos in the nineties. That was pretty incredible, but this will be a bigger scale than that, a bit more American scale. There's going to be shockwave that's going to travel quite a long way.

Orbital @ Arcadia
BoomTown will have the spider, and it's an Arcadia spectacular which means it's us and our circus crew doing a very music orientated show on our stage, and that's the highest level of our collaboration with our stage and our equipment.

And at Bestival?

At Bestival we are calling the 'Mechanical Cabaret' and we're bringing in the American artwork, and also bringing in an amazing guy from France (Orgue A Fue) who has a fire organ, which is quite an amazing piece, and some crazy circus guys from Germany who are going to be riding motorbikes up high wires, and they have a 56 metre sway pole as well, which is the highest sway pole in Europe. This guy rides his motorbike up a guy wire into the sky and then climbs up onto this pole and does his performance 56 metres above the crowd. We are really excited about.

Bestival will see a big mishmash of people from all over the globe coming together.

Some of the line-up has been announced for your BoomTown stage such as Stanton Warriors, Plump DJs, and Krafty Kuts. Will there be music over all four days?
We're running on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and we are mostly a night time rave arena, and I think we finish a bit earlier on the Sunday night.

We are doing the Arcadia spectacular show on those three nights as well sometime around midnight, something like that.

So how much of what you'll be showcasing at BoomTown and Bestival will be featured At Glastonbury next year?
We'll probably use all of the things we're doing this year at Glastonbury, and also some more. We're also hoping, which is part of the reason for going to India and out to America, that we will find more people with similar ideas who want to collaborate with us.

You said that you had been to Burning Man, what was that like?
We went the year just gone, it was quite incredible actually. It's a completely different take on a festival. It's much more about the arts and the visual stuff, than it is about the music, although there is some music there. It's incredible in the sense that everything that goes on at the festival is put on by the people who go to the festival for free, and there's no money there whatsoever so you can't even buy a drink. But at the same time, you get given food and drink all weekend.

It's on a huge scale, the site is absolutely massive. We were very lucky we got lent an art car whilst we were out there, and we were driving way out into the desert in the middle of nowhere with a soundsystem on the back and having a really good time.

It was incredible. You can walk out into the desert and suddenly a triple story boat built off an articulated lorry will drive passed you, pick you up and you can have a bit of a party whilst it drives somewhere else and drops you off. It's really just totally different, it's fantastic.

around the festival site (Arcadia)

Now in its fourth year the BoomTown Fair 2012 will offer an array of music, theatre, comedy and art and will take place at Matterley Bowl, nr. Winchester, Hampshire, from Thursday 9th until Sunday 12th August 2012.

BoomTown offers a weekend of cabaret, gypsy, folk, reggae, dub and more within the confines of a whole 'pop up' town. Organisers have revealed that next year the site layout is having a complete overhaul and everything is being upgraded, adapted and expanded. Although the city walls are expanding the actual town population will stay at 13,000.

With the mothership Arcadia crash landing on site, strange creatures infesting the surrounding woodlands and mutated vehicles patrolling the landscape, this year the aliens will be walking among the crowds.

This year the monstrous mechanical beast known as the Arcadia Spectacular takes over a whole area of downtown BoomTown! The area will feature the Arcadia Spectacular show offering a flame filled fusion of post apocalyptic huge moving sculptures, pyrotechnics, light and laser extravaganzas, aerial trapeze shows and live acts and DJs pumped through a gargantuan Soundsystem with Sci-Fi, flame throwing, smoke blasting exclusively designed sets.

The line-up features Alborosie, Reel Big Fish, Caravan Palace, Natty, Dirtyphonics, Jack Beats, The Beat, Dub Pistols, The Beat, Pronghorn, Skatalites, Tanya Stephens, Asian Dub Foundation, Balkan Beat Box, The Slackers, Gappy Ranks, Jah Shaka, David Rodigan, Zion Train, Stanton Warriors, Kill The Noise, Caspa, Movits, Dunkelbunt, Babyhead, The Urban Voodoo Machine, The Meteors, Batmobile, Mad Sin, Molotov Jukebox, The Filiments, Macka B, Trojan Sound System, South Rakkas Crew, Blak Twang, Mungos Hi Fi, Channel One, The Heatwave, General Levy, Lady Chan, MC Soom T, Stanton Warriors, DJ Hype, Breakage, 16bit, Benny Page, Marcus Visionary, Roska, The Nextmen, Plump DJs, Krafty Kuts, RackNRuin, Foamo, Far Too Loud, Engine-Earz, Dub Phizix, Tomb Crew, Freestylers, Dub Mafia, Slamboree, The Slackers, Gadjo, Sick Note, Sonic Boom Six, Swing Zazou, Gypsy Hill, Bush Chemists, Serial Killaz, Laid Blak, Jaya the Cat, The BaRLey Mob, Demolition Man, Chris Liberator b2b with Dave The Drummer, Shy FX, JFB, Ed Solo, and SL2, with more acts to be announced.

Tickets are priced at £124 plus a £5 eco bond deposit (part of the new 'keep the town tidy' scheme). Teen tickets (13-17 years inc) were priced at £75 + £5 refundable eco bond deposit and have SOLD OUT, a child ticket (6-12 years inc) is priced at £10, and under 6's can attend for free (but must register). Car parking passes are priced at £15, a campervan/caravan pass is priced at £40. Coach and ticket deals are also available.

To buy tickets, click here.
interview by: Scott Williams

Thursday 9th to Sunday 12th August 2012
The Bowl, Matterley Estate, nr. Winchester, Hampshire, England MAP
£124, plus £5 eco bond deposit - SOLD OUT
daily capacity: 13000
last updated: Wed 8th Aug 2012

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