The Sundown Festival is back in the surrounds of the Norfolk Showground for a third consecutive year. Headlining the two day event, which sees approximately 45,000 people descend on the site over the weekend, are Example and Jessie J. Prior to his headlining set on the Saturday night, Elliott Gleave aka Example took time out to talk exclusively to eFestivals.
You played the inaugural Sundown Festival (then called the Norfolk Spectacular) and now you’re back and headlining! How does it feel?
Its good man, it’s a sign of progress isn’t it. A lot of the acts who were playing that festival two years ago have disappeared! So it’s nice to still be about, and it’s nice that people still want to hear the music.
So what can we expect from your performance tonight?
Lots of energy, flashing lights, probably I’ll swear a couple of times and my mum will tell me off. She’s not here by the way, but my uncle is. Anyway, a couple of new songs, I think it’s three new songs in the set off the new album, including the new single ‘All The Wrong Places’. I never really know what to expect with these. I’ve done about 60 gigs this summer; so you can usually tell after two or three songs if it’s going to be a cracker or if it’s going to be quite generic, but I have heard from the other artists already that it’s quite busy out there.
You’ve played a lot of festivals this year already, have any stood out to you?
The best one in the UK was Parklife in Manchester, but tonight could challenge them. The best festival has been Luxembourg; it was something called Rock-A-Field. That was the best crowd. And then there were some other ones that surprise you like Hungary! You know you go to Hungary and you go to Volt Festival and you just don’t know what to expect. You go on at 1am and there’s about 40,000 Hungarians going mental; and probably a few Austrians as well, they like that sort of thing.
You played Glastonbury as well, how was that for you this year?
Yeah, it was alright. I mean, you know, it’s just like everyone gets super excited about Glastonbury and bigs it up and that kinda puts all the artists on edge. I like to treat it like any other festival and everyone’s like “Glasto! Glasto! Glasto!” and before you know it you’re like, even though I never get nervous, you kind of feel anxious when you play Glastonbury because its live on TV and there’s always 30 or 40 of your mates there, and then you’re always up against big bands. I was up against the Rolling Stones!
You don’t get much bigger than that!
Exactly! But I was up against a load of others band as well on the other stages as well; so yeah I think it was a success. There were about 30,000 people watching me out of the whole festival crowd so I was happy.
Have you got any other festivals lined up for the rest of the year?
I’ve just got Jersey tomorrow and that’s the last of the year. And then i’ve got 3 or 4 more other little gigs here and there and then the whole summer is over.
You are doing the US aren’t you?
Yeah, the US tour starts October 9th.
What was the first festival you went to?
I went to V festival in like ’98 or ’99. Didn’t camp, just went for the day. We broke in and then they found us about 7pm and threw us out and said “you’re black listed, you’ll never come to V festival again”.
And then you played last year.
Obviously they paid me lots of money to come back so that’s quite funny. That also happened with my old university a few years ago, about 2002 I was banned from my student union for fighting, I’m not proud of it, and then they paid me 7 years later to come back and perform. Seems wherever I get thrown out of they pay me to come back. It’s a great way of being banned isn’t it? Perhaps I should get banned by McDonalds or something and then they’ll pay me to be in an advert.
Do you enjoy when you’re at these festivals being able to get out and wander about?
I can’t! I’ve done it a couple of times but I usually wear a mask. Even if I wear sunglasses, because I have got such a big mouth, people just recognise my teeth. They go “oh look it’s a big toothed guy! Ah it’s Example!” So I can’t really go anywhere unfortunately.
So, have you got any advice for festival goers?
Wet wipes and hand sanitiser. That’s all you need to know.
What appeals to you most about festivals?
I love performing and I love live shows so there’s nothing better than being able to perform. It’s my job but I really enjoy the performing aspect of my job. I don’t really enjoy being in a recording studio. I find it quite boring. I like to be in and out of studios within a couple of hours. I write most of my songs on aeroplanes or tour buses so the only really fun aspect of my job is the gigs. I don’t really like interviews, I don’t really like TV shows, but I love being on stage. So festivals, you know what I mean, I do as many as I get offered.
How is work going on album number five?
I keep thinking it’s done and then every few weeks I write another song that’s better than the ones I’d done before so we keep adding to the album. You think it’s done, then you’ve got something new and something new and so I’m just going to keep writing until the deadline, the deadlines in like 2 months. I’ve got 14 tracks done now but in a few months I might have 10 new ones, because I’ve still got loads of ideas.
You’ve mentioned already that you’ve played a couple of new tracks this summer. How have you found the reaction to those tracks?
Yeah, they’re going off. The new tracks have just been purpose built for festivals so, you know, there’s a low point, there’s a build, there’s a drop, there’s frantic energy and there’s another breakdown and another drop which is just classic festival tunes. Which is just like hands in the air chants and then drop, everyone go crazy and bounce around.
Is it exciting for you as an artist to play these new songs and see how people react to the new material?
Yeah, you always want to know how the people are going to react, but I don’t know. The thing is when you do 4 or 5 gigs a summer like some people do then you probably get a bit more excited about it. When you do 60 gigs I don’t really get excited until I’m up there, and then once I’m up there I get so much adrenaline that I get caught in the moment, and lost in the moment, so that I kind of forget when I’m up there. So I don’t really pay attention I’m just sort of in autopilot.
Who have you most enjoyed collaborating with in the past, and who would you most like to collaborate with in the future?
My favourite person ever to work with was probably Calvin Harris, just because he’s so talented and he worked me really hard to get the best performance out of me in the vocal booth. In terms of working with people I only really work with my friends, I don’t really have a hit list of people. There are obviously certain people like Jay Z, if he asks you to do a chorus you don’t say no; so someone like him.
Thanks for your time!
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