Latitude's MD speaks exclusively to eFestivals

Melvin Benn of Festival Republic talks at the Latitude launch

published: Tue 15th Mar 2011

Melvin Benn

Thursday 14th to Sunday 17th July 2011
Henham Park Estate, Beccles, Suffolk, NR34 8AN, England MAP
£170 weekend adult ticket, day tickets £70
daily capacity: 35000
last updated: Thu 7th Jul 2011

eFestivals got a chance to have an exclusive chat with festival boss Melvin Benn at yesterday's launch of the sixth Latitude Festival which takes place at Henham Park Estate, Suffolk.

Melvin Benn
What's your response to this year's Latitude line-up?
Yes, I'm delighted with the line up actually. I couldn't be happier. Starting with the National, they headlined the Word Arena last year, but it was a month into their new album [High Violet]. It was a good, brave decision by us a month into the new album, but it just never stopped; the album has grown and grown, and of course an album can't get better than when it is first released, but it seems to have grown in depth and strength. It's a natural thing, I think, for them to come back this time - it could have been three years if they hadn't [headlined] this time. I think they're rightfully there as the headliner of Latitude festival.

They're a band that many believe have had to wait a long time to receive the recognition they deserve.
Very much so. A long time - this is their fourth album. I think a huge amount of people who have bought the album think that it's the first album, but it's been crafted over a number of years. Jon Dunn, who curates the music here for Latitude, is their national promoter, and is very committed to the band.

Why was Suede booked this year?
That's great actually, and a band that will fit the Latitude audience particularly well - they've got that younger end and older end, [with] the indie anthems of the 90s that we're all so familiar with. It's really good that they're back. Of all of those bands that were around at that time, Suede would appear to me to be the right one for Latitude. They fit, they're a natural fit. That's something that will be really special, when all of the anthems come out.

How does Latitude balance its broad appeal with offering newer acts headline slots?
I think what's happened with Latitude is that it's developed a very consistent audience profile. I think that a lot of them view Latitude as an opportunity to expand their musical horizons. They come because they know that there will be a core of things that they like, and they come because they know on top of that core there will be things that they will discover that they will go away and really appreciate, that they may not have discovered in other circumstances. Be that bands or ballet or whatever it is, the amount of people that have told us that they've been to the Royal Opera House this year after seeing opera at Latitude is indicative of that. I think we've become a yardstick for people; if it's good enough to come on at Latitude, it's good enough to look into.

A number of smaller festivals have had a rough year. Has Latitude experienced any similar difficulties?
It hasn't been an issue this year for Latitude, not an issue at all so far. Are we immune to it? No, I'm sure we're not, but we do work hard at trying to present what is one of the most beautiful festivals in the world. When you have a festival that is in that category, you have to have a chance. I haven't felt it yet; I think there's a real opportunity to come and escape the doldrums of world Cameron and Clegg at Latitude.

You recently announced a new festival in Orlando, Florida. Does Festival Republic have plans to start any more festivals abroad or in the UK?
Festival Republic is not called Festival Republic because we couldn't think of a better name. We love festivals - it's what we live and breathe for. An opportunity came up in America that I wanted to take, [and] if an opportunity comes up in another country of course I'll look at it and want to do it. I have an absolute passion for festivals - few people have probably got the level of passion that I've got for festivals, really. I'm certainly looking to grow the company into at least one more mainland European country this year. So the answer is 'yes'.

Can you give any hints about what we can expect for Reading and Leeds this year?
I'm afraid I can't. The only hint I'll give you in respect to Reading and Leeds is that there will be some very big guitar bands appearing this year.

Latitude is confirmed as taking place from Thursday 14th to Sunday 17th July 2011.

Weekend tickets are priced at £170 and £5 for children aged 5 - 12 years, day tickets are priced at £70 for adults, and £5 years for children (5-12), and a campervan Pass is priced at £30. Children aged under 5 are eligible for free tickets for Latitude Festival 2011 when accompanied by a ticket holding adult.

To buy tickets, click here.

interview by: Nick Hagan

Thursday 14th to Sunday 17th July 2011
Henham Park Estate, Beccles, Suffolk, NR34 8AN, England MAP
£170 weekend adult ticket, day tickets £70
daily capacity: 35000
last updated: Thu 7th Jul 2011

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