Home arrow News & Reviews arrow Stereoboard Talk To Swn Boss Gemma White About This Year's Festival & Future Events (Interview)

Stereoboard Talk To Swn Boss Gemma White About This Year's Festival & Future Events (Interview)

Friday, 26 October 2012 Written by Owen Sheppard
Stereoboard Talk To Swn Boss Gemma White About This Year's Festival & Future Events (Interview)

The festival does a lot to promote Welsh music, as well as draw attention to smaller venues and pubs in Cardiff, which venues do you think have particularly benefited from an association with SWN?
ImageI guess our safe-hold SWN venue has been Clwb Ifor Bach which we’ve used since day one and is very popular. I think we’ve benefited from them as much as they have from us actually. The Moon is a new venue which we’re using this year but more so, there are pubs like Dempsey’s and O’Neil’s that I feel SWN brings a bit of a different flavour to for one weekend of the year with live acts and such.

Would you say that there are some venues that are more important to the festival than others?
Oh no, they’re all as important as each other because they all have their own purpose. Each venue is good for certain bands, like we need Cardiff Uni to house The Cribs but then we have smaller venues for new smaller acts too. But then some more established acts like to just have a go at playing a smaller room and you get a great atmosphere where it’s full to the rafters. I think Cardiff has a really nice range of venues. Some of the best shows have, I think, been in Dempsey’s actually where the bands have been playing in the thick of it with the crowd.

What new Welsh Artists would you tip for anyone ready to attend the festival?
There’s a local band called We’re No Heroes who are playing for their first time. They really impressed us at a SWN Presents show earlier in the year. Greta Isaac is an amazing new young singer song writer. Charlotte Church is back as well. She obviously a house hold name already but it’s really nice that she’s moved on to her own thing with a new sound and she actually said she really wanted to play in Dempseys, right on the thick of it.

SWN has never had an equal reputation to festivals like Great Escape or Camden Crawl but with acts as big as The Cribs, Gallows, The Blackout and Django Django on the line up this year do you think that might be about to change?
I’ve never been to The Great Escape so I wouldn’t know but I went to Camden Crawl last year. But yeah I think we’re quickly growing and that we are comparable. We’ve also got our own identity with our own community and we’re still quite young compared to those festivals as well. We just get to offer a jam packed weekend full of different acts in small venues rather than the odd show from a few big bands.

With that in mind, if the festival continues to be successful, could you ever envisage SWN hosting gigs in the Motorpoint Arena?
Possibly, but it would need to be an act that could definitely bring the people in but who also suit the feel of the festival. They would probably require some pretty strong support acts as well. We’re very precious with the kind of acts that we like to book for the festival and it would need to be someone we really like. But you never know, if it turned out that We’re No Heroes suddenly went to number 1 and we needed some where big to put them then yes we probably would consider the Motorpoint!

It’s been a rough couple of years for the festival industry. How Do you think the festival has coped considering the economic climate etc?
I think we’re doing alright! It’s been harder to gather sponsorships this year and subsequently we don’t have a beer sponsor or a financial sponsor now. But we’re doing okay and ticket sales have been better than ever. We’ve got an amazing team of volunteers and a lot of people who are just really passionate about the event and we really rely on them a lot.

How many staff and volunteers get involved in the festival each year?
We've got 82 volunteers lined up this year who help with all sorts from decorating the venues to stewarding and helping bands unload their gear. Staffing wise there’s a lot of freelancers and temporary staff around the weekend of the festival. But for the rest of the year there’s only two or three of us that work properly.

Logistically, SWN seems like a huge task to manage considering how big it is, at what point to preparations begin?
Well we’ve actually started planning 2013 already and we’ve got the drawing board going. For bookings we usually start around May but it’s non-stop really and super hectic right now.

The line-up boasts a huge amount of variety. Charlotte Church is playing in a pub just down the road from Pulled Apart By Horses, who are themselves playing a venue that will also host a DJ set from Todla T. Is there any genre that SWN wouldn’t touch? Or has a big mix always been the intention?
I think we’re mostly seen as just an indie festival but I’d totally disagree with that perception. We’ve got a lot of grime this year and a lot more heavier music as well as your classic indie sounding stuff. The Line Of Best Fit are putting on a lot of electronic music for us and some genres that probably haven’t been invented yet, bands like Bo Ningen for example who I could never tell you what genre they are. We just put on whatever excites us regardless of the genre. A friend of ours from Rep Dat has got some grime acts like Spooky Bizzle, Elro, Cozzy and some local DJs too. That’s the nice thing about the wrist bands as well. You can just walk around and go and see anything, wherever.

What would your ideal two headliners be for next year?
Well I really wanted Jesse Ware this year so would definitely try get her next year. I saw SBTRKT a few weeks and they were amazing and I wouldn’t mind some more late night dance music.

SWN Festival 2012 took place from 18th to 21st October. For Stereoboard review's of this year's event visit here and here. For an interview of SWN headliners The Blackout, click here.

Our Swn Festival 2012 photo gallery is available over at Stereoboard's official Facebook page.

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