Emily Eavis chats exclusively to eFestivals

Glastonbury Festival organiser interview

published: Mon 2nd Mar 2015

Emily Eavis

Wednesday 24th to Sunday 28th June 2015
Worthy Farm, Pilton, Shepton Mallet, Somerset, BA4 4AZ, England MAP
£220 (secured with a deposit) - SOLD OUT
daily capacity: 198000
last updated: Thu 18th Jun 2015

Emily Eavis, the daughter of farmer and Glastonbury Festival founder Michael Eavis is co-organiser of the annual event alongside her father. I got the opportunity to have a quick chat with Emily about how plans for this year are progressing. She talks about the headliners, the ticket sales, championing new music, female acts on the line-up, layout changes, and more.

Firstly, if I can get this out the way, you've told people already that it's not AC/DC or Adele headlining, we've published that it's going to be Coldplay, can you tell us if we're wrong?

It's not Coldplay, this is the first year that most of the rumours are wrong. Normally, there's someone in there who's right, this has been our best year for secrets. Once we got Foos out the way, the rest are secret, it's great that it's like that, isn't it?! Everyone has said it's someone, but sorry about that, it's not Coldplay.

One time Michael said we had three headliners back in October, when he came back into the kitchen, I said "who do you think we've got?" We were laughing, what he does is ask, "Tell me we've got enough headliners to carry on for a few years." And I say, "yeah, yeah, don't worry we've got enough." He then asks if I'm sure, and I say yes, and then he does an interview and says, "We've got three headliners." It wasn't that he was lying it just that he was saying we've got enough headliners to run, and then it became three confirmed, and at that point it was a bit early.

I think we're pretty much there now with the whole line-up, it's usual to have it done by early March. We usually announce around the same time each year. When you're doing the deals, particularly with the bigger bands, and they say they're coming over to do a big show, or event, or something, that they're getting paid lots of money for. Quite often, they will just want to announce that first, just so they can sell tickets, and we've already sold out. It makes sense then, and works for everyone, to hold off announcing anything until spring.

The Festival is still selling out really quickly, does that still surprise you?

Yes! It's always just amazing to be honest. It's quite stressful. It's stressful for us because I want it to be as smooth as possible, I can't bear people being let down by the system. It is running quite well, it's either going to sell out so quickly that people are going to complain that it's too quick or that it's too slow. Unfortunately, with that many people at the moment, we have about 2 million people registered, not that everyone of them is trying to get tickets, but there's no way of doing it, that isn't going to let down a few people unfortunately. There's nothing you can do about that.

The last few years you've been selling coach tickets early, you wouldn't consider putting more of those on sale?

Yes, we've actually done more coach tickets this year in total. We are going really big on coaches, and we plan to keep extending the green traveller offers. But, we have to do it quite gradually, so that we don't just suddenly have half the people arriving on coach tickets.

Do you ever envisage a situation where you might be doing that many?

Probably not half, but we certainly have more people go by coach than any other event, and we actively encourage public transport and also bikes. We've got a brilliant photo of the cycle park, and there's just rows and rows and rows of bikes, and it's brilliant to know that so many people make their way bike.

You are very good at championing new music at Glastonbury, is that something you actively encourage?

We spend quite a lot of time trying to find the right new bands. I suppose because we champion so many new bands, and because there's so much on here, we do spend a lot of time on it. To me the exciting thing, and I love all the Pyramid, and Other, West Holts, and all the rest of it, but the stuff that I really love is just the new bands element because it's really exciting. Especially seeing a band jump from John Peel, to Other, to Pyramid, or from Acoustic, or Avalon to Park, or whatever. You see them work their way up, like Coldplay in 99.

That's what Glastonbury has always done, and that's part of the appeal of why people like me keep going back is to see a band that could potentially one day headline the festival on a tiny little stage.

Yes, exactly, like Florence, she started on the smaller stage, and now she's worthy of the headliner slot. I think she's great, I can't give anything away. She's not going to be headlining, but she could be.

How do you go about finding the acts? Last year you were saying about Courtney Barnett before anyone knew who she was.

Nick, my husband, and I try and cover most of the ground, in listening to lots of radio, and speaking to lots of people who go to gigs. We've got a guy who goes to a lot of gigs, who just reports about everything, because obviously we're not in London, and not going to loads of gigs. Bristol has a lot of gigs, and we do try to go to as many as we can in Bristol but, this guy Joe, is working for the Festival now, and he's just brilliant, he's at gigs every single night of the week. We rely on lots of different people feeding back to us about everything, plus listening to everything ourselves, and trying to get a full picture of what's going on. With Courtney Barnett someone sent us the link to her, and we listened to it, and I just really loved that record, we played it all the time, and I really love her new stuff as well. I think she will be back this year, but I'm not entirely sure what slot she's going to be in yet, but she'll definitely be there.

The two acts we're talking about are both female artists, Glastonbury's quite good at promoting female artists, is that something you consciously do?

Yes, yes, every day, because if you don't watch it, it would be mostly blokes. You look at the amount of bands about, and for me it's a conscious thing, I just want to make sure there's a balance. I think you can easily fill a bill without thinking about it, and then realise there aren't enough females. We just try and get the balance right, and it is easy to do, there's so many amazing female artists. It's not like we're struggling to find them, there's as many good female artists as there are men, we just try and get the balance right.

That's something that's come up recently in the press, something else which has is that whilst Glastonbury Festival gives a lot of money to the three big charities, some sceptics seem to think that the Festival is making lots of money for the organisers, we know you're not, can you dispel the myth.

The Guardian story they did, did rectify it. It was them who published the story, and it was the city writer, they didn't even ring to say about it, and it was just complete rubbish. We've had the Daily Mail look through our accounts, we've had people spend days just looking through the books, and then go, "okay there's nothing here". It's pretty obvious when you look at our lifestyles that we're not creaming off loads of money from it, our wages are pretty small compared to the amount other promoters make. You could look at other promoters and say of some of them that they're doing pretty well out of it, but for us our main motivating factor is to give that money to charity. No one has any interest in making loads of money out of it, in fact we spend most of our time working out how best we can give the money away, and also on how we can spend as much as we can on making the show great.

That is the major difference I think between us and loads of other people, because we try and spend as much as we can on making the show brilliant. We're not trying to cream off huge profits and that's why in a way it's impossible to copy, because no one else in their right mind would do that.

The good thing about Glastonbury is that it's always offered so much other stuff other than the music, there are more and more festivals wanting to offer a lot more than the music as well. It's also really well set up for families, now you're a parent are you more aware of that side of the Festival?

I've always been aware of it growing up. It's the largest free kids Festival in Europe children don't pay to get in. There's no rides that they charge for, or anything. At most other things kids have to pay money for a ride, and here they get free for the whole weekend. It is the best kids event in the whole entire world as far as I'm concerned, it is amazing. Put music to the side, this is the most incredible experience in the world for children.

Family camping is just amazing, there's all these communities of big families, and they've got this lovely R'n'R Tent which is a thing that Tony's (Tony Cordy - Kidz Field organiser) introduced, which is a place for people all through the night, it's 24 hours, you can go and get a cup of tea if you need. If your baby is screaming you can take your baby there, it's got all these facilities all on tap for those whole five days. I think from a family perspective it's just incredible, and what Toby does, just blows my mind! I mean I always thought he was a complete genius but now, I fully appreciate what he does. It's only a small field but it's packed with stuff  – with the best storytellers, the best productions – The National Theatre doing ‘What The Ladybird Heard', amazing things, and all free, amazing!

Are you planning on introducing anything new to the layout of the Festival this year?

Yes, Strummerville are going to be up on the hill. There's a new spot above the tipis, a lovely spot between The Park and Kings Meadow, just right up on the hill, there's a spinney, some trees in this beautiful spot, and we've been talking of doing something there for a while, so Strummerville is going there. They aren't near the stone, they want something a bit more peaceful, and the South East is quite a party, so they're going to create something. It's not going to be quiet, it's going to be acoustic, guitars and campfire sort of vibe. They've got some really lovely ideas, and they've got lots of plans we're talking to them at the moment. That's the only real site change, Arcadia are going to be in the same place, they were really happy with their new position.

And what about plans for the future?

This is a bit more long term, but we're trying to get people to look after their campsites more. To be responsible for the space, to not trash things, and take care of it. Obviously we've had the ‘Love The Farm Leave No Trace' thing, and it is getting better but we want to do more. We want people to look after their campsites more. We want people to take more pride in their camping areas, and look after their space, to collect rubbish, and not leave things in a mess, and try and encourage that somehow, we're looking at ideas in how to do that at the moment, and are keen for any ideas on how toaccomplish that.

I think the Festival brings out the best in people, and I think people really look after each other here. Crime is so low, last year was a record low, and I think that's because people look out for each other, and people self police without needing policemen. They tell people that they can't do that because they'll pollute the rivers, they can't set off that lantern because it will damage the cows, people do tend pass the message around, and look after it as a space. It's so big, the scale of it, that we're not going to have the ideal level of cleanliness when everyone has left.

Was the amount of rubbish left behind last year better than the one before?

Yes, it was better, definitely better, but it's not where we want it to be. It should a flagship for all the green initiatives. It is for some, our recycling plant is incredible, and we get through tonnes and tonnes of recycling, but from the campsite perspective, and it is harder, because it's harder to empty the bins, and they may be overflowing because the truck can only come through and pick it up at certain times. We're thinking of having a larger recycling collection point.

Isn't most of the problem the disposability of these cheap tents?

Yes, the problem is in a supermarket you can get a cheap tent, a rubbish tent, and a gazebo all so cheap, and so people don't look after them. It's much better than it used to be, but it's a big project, that we've got a long way to go on. If it can be done anywhere it should be done here.

Lastly have you seen the Emily Say Yes Campaign?

I have seen it, and we are trying to find them a slot somewhere because they are actually a brilliant band, regardless of this whole campaign. The band, Mann Friday, are Zimbabwean, and they've just gone way beyond anything usually, their campaign is quite creative, and not just hit me on Twitter, they've had audiences holding up signs, and they've done a video and it's quite funny.

All the line-up as normal will be announced in April. Sorry about eFestivals' Coldplay rumour not being right, but you've got Courtney Barnett, that's not bad. She's doing really well now. We'd like to think we're doing quite well starting them off in The Park, because Adele played The Park in 2007, and I think she'd be absolutely fantastic on the Pyramid. Father John Misty is my new Courtney Barnett this year for The Park, it's such a great record.

Glastonbury Festival takes place from Wednesday 24th until Sunday 28th June 2015 across over a 1,000 acres of beautiful countryside at Worthy Farm, Somerset and, as ever, includes a free programme. Once again, the Festival will be raising funds for Oxfam, Wateraid, Greenpeace and a host of local charities and causes.

Tickets for Glastonbury Festival 2015 have sold out. The resale of cancelled/refunded tickets is expected in the Spring.

Anyone aged 13 or over (when the Festival starts) who wishes to buy a ticket must be registered. Registration involves providing contact details, a valid e-mail address, and a passport standard photo.

Online registration can be carried out by clicking here.

For more detailed registration and ticket information click here.

interview by: Scott Williams

Wednesday 24th to Sunday 28th June 2015
Worthy Farm, Pilton, Shepton Mallet, Somerset, BA4 4AZ, England MAP
£220 (secured with a deposit) - SOLD OUT
daily capacity: 198000
last updated: Thu 18th Jun 2015

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