What makes a good festival experience? The line-up? The setting? Fringe fare? Perhaps the weather?
This year, the festival calendar is more cluttered than a Delhi market with many a new trader setting stall.
Last year saw the inaugural Wild In The Country, put on by long-time club promoter and label Renaissance.
This year’s event once again graces the palatial setting of Knebworth House for 18 hours of bands and DJs, including Bjrk’s only UK festival appearance, plus the likes of Foals, Metronomy, The Field, Soulwax, Hercules & Love Affair, The Presets, Sasha and Richie Hawtin.
We caught up with Renaissance boss Geoff Oaks for his thoughts as festival season enters the busy period.
Hi Geoff, how are preparations going for this year’s Wild In The Country?
“Really well. In some ways it’s a lot easier, having the benefit of hindsight after last year’s event. It’s been really exciting to put together now we have added the live stage and more arenas.”
How do you think this year’s event picks up from last year?
“The biggest addition is the outdoor main stage. In total there are six arenas as opposed to just three last year. We have also hugely escalated the number of live acts, with more than 20 on the bill, and have increased the hours from 12 to 18.”
Where do you think the festival fits into the UK festival calendar and what sets it apart from the rest?
“The festival calendar is pretty crammed this year but I think the integrity of our line up combined with the focus on making the festival a genuinely fun experience and of course, the setting, make Wild in the Country an exciting alternative to the larger festivals – our capacity is 15,000.
“A lot of festivals seem to try and fit lots of names onto the bill without too much thought as to how its all going to gel. We have been careful to put together a really credible and coherent selection of acts, with DJs playing minimum two-hour sets, and have made each individual arena feel like a club space. With Funktion-One sound, great dcor and lightning and lots of bars! Add to this everything going on outside the tents and I think its the perfect festival recipe.”
Did Bjrk take some convincing to make this her only UK festival appearance? What do you hope she’ll bring to the event?
“From the beginning I felt that Bjrk was the ideal headliner for Wild in the Country this year and sent a very passionate proposal to her agent to that effect. Im sure the quality of the rest of the line up and the fact that its Knebworth House had an influence on her decision.
“Her recent arena shows in the UK have had incredible reviews. She will be bringing that entire stage show to Wild in the Country, which is going to look spectacular on an outdoor stage with one of the UKs most impressive stately homes as a backdrop.”
Aside from Bjrk there is once again a great choice of dance, bands and DJs on offer. If you could make a personal recommendation to see who would they be and why?
“Looking forward to Foals, purely because I like their album so much. DJ-wise, Sasha always delivers that extra something when he plays for Renaissance. Danny Tenaglia will be making his return to UK festivals after a six year absence and Richie Hawtin has his own Minus arena, which is a UK exclusive.”
Why not have the festival running for the weekend? Are there any plans to extend it in the future?
“It was important to me to grow things fairly steadily this year otherwise you can lose the entire personality of what youve created very easily. We definitely have plans to extend to two days, possibly next year, but only if we can do it in such a way that it enhances the overall experience of the festival.”
If there is one thing punters should try to do this year what should it be?
“There are so many to choose from, can I have at least two? Catch Danny Tenaglia’s set from early evening through sunset. Visit the twisted tea rooms for a slightly surreal break and refreshments!”