Noisily Festival in the UK, or in its full name Noisily Festival of Music and Art will celebrate its sixth edition this summer, and is slowly and surely placing itself as the rightful heir of the legendary Glade Festival, a festival that always gave space to psychedelic trance but also to much more than that, musically and culturally. The fact that Noisily Festival has been growing steadily every year is great news, because the world needs a proper psychedelic electronic music festival in England, where psychedelic music festivals culture was basically invented. We had a chat with Chris Williams, one of the guys behind Noisily (also known as DJ Ipcress and half of Nanoplex) about the festival, the UK Free Festivals history and tradition, the state of things with the UK electronic music scene and more – super interesting it came out!!!
Q: Why Noisily?
A: In my opinion Noisily has become the leading psychedelic event here in the UK over the last few years. By using the words ‘psychedelic’ I don’t mean we are just a trance festival. There is so much more than that about the event, and that is only one small component in this very diverse event. If you love Ozora or Boom, I think you’d really love what we have to offer, albeit on a smaller scale!
Much of what we see today formed as part of the free festival movement of the late 60’s and early 70’s. Bands like Hawkwind, Motorhead and Gong would be found headlining these ‘free’ festivals which would often take place on the solstices..
While I was working (in a marketing capacity) for Glade Festival in the final year of the event in 2012 I became aware of a new event in the calendar that I remember we pencilled in as ‘competition’ at the time! Little did I know that Glade was only months from its final curtain, and that in just over a years time I would myself be working for this new event in the calendar.
As it turns out this small event with what I considered to be a well-programmed line up was to grow from a small acorn into the thriving oak we all know and love today. I’ve now been part of the team for 4 editions of the festival, and I’m super excited by what is in store for 2017 and beyond.
Q: What is the vision behind Noisily?
A: From my perspective Noisily is there to represent the underground electronic music + arts culture here in the UK. Many of the organizers have travelled to festivals across the globe and this experience combined with their own unique vision has combined to make Noisily what it is today.
I think the word ‘free’ is what it boils down to actually. I see festivals as a chance to break out from the fabric and norms which society, or shall I say governments, place upon us.
Last November we attended the Association for Independent Festival conference in Cardiff in Wales and a session started on music programming. The session highlighted the issues which many independent festivals have in the UK competing for what are a limited number of headliners across the more commercial music elements. I remember sitting there and thinking how lucky Noisily was to have a unique USP and position in the UK festival market. We are not really directly competing with anyone here and have a really great chance of making an imprint which is lasting and sets us out from the crowd.
Yes, this makes the festival harder to sell, but it’s worth it. We are bringing together a number of niche electronic music scenes (and some which are less so) and throwing them all into a melting pot for a weekend across 3 main stages and many smaller micro ones. Also most importantly we spend as much time curating the art vision for the event as we do the music. Every last piece of our Coney Woods is thought about and it makes for quite a spectacle as you wander through at sunset on the Friday night with people spilled all over the banks and on the dance floors.
Ph: Pierre Ekman Photography
Q: UK festival culture has a very long tradition and history – can you tell us a bit about it – its roots and overall atmosphere.
A: Well, you seemed to have stumbled upon my specialist subject here. I’ve been a keen follower of the UK’s unique festival culture for many years and have spent many a day researching the roots of our unique scene here in the UK.
Much of what we see today formed as part of the free festival movement of the late 60’s and early 70’s. Bands like Hawkwind, Motorhead and Gong would be found headlining these ‘free’ festivals which would often take place on the solstices or bank holiday weekends across the country. These events were not strictly licensed, and were often advertised in the underground press so often passed under the noses of the rather staid British establishment of the time.
Noisily is there to represent the underground electronic music + arts culture here in the UK.
There are clear links between these free festivals and festival culture we have in the UK today. People like Steve Hillage who played in Gong at many of these free festivals of the early 70’s is playing at Noisily in 2017 with his System 7 project. I place a great emphasis on this psychedelic heritage as there are number of musicians, poets and DJ’s who have links as far back as the beat movement of the 1950’s, where jazz was interwoven with poetry and free thinking.
Stonehenge Free Festival Poster. 1984
I think the word ‘free’ is what it boils down to actually. I see festivals as a chance to break out from the fabric and norms which society, or shall I say governments, place upon us. It’s a chance to build your own family with its own values and more importantly to make a change. It’s vital we as festival organisers continue with what we do so that we can open up people’s eyes and show them the other side of the coin. We should be thankful to those early pioneers back in the 50’s & 60’s for doing that for us all.
Q: How is that tradition reflected in Noisily?
A: I think we draw a great deal from the early days of festival culture at Noisily. One older member of our build team in 2016 remarked about how much it reminded him of the earlier days of Glastonbury when it was a much more free form event.
Overall though I think it’s the spirit of the event which takes most from that era. We don’t have walls around the event and it sometimes feels like you’re in a big free party in a forest somewhere. That’s what I love most about it, the freedom to be creative and whoever you want to be.
Electrypnose. Many peeps might not of heard of him, but this guy from Switzerland is a real talent. I think he’s worked in most psychedelic trance styles, and anything is possible…
Q: The UK has experienced a lot of troubles in the last years with the way the government and law treats dance culture – how do you cope with that?
A: I think we are fighting back. Yes it has been a difficult few years for sure, particularly for the UK club scene, with the property development boom in London taking away the very cultural institutions which made people want to live there in the first place. What local authorities need to understand is (and this goes particularly for London), is that if you destroy the grass roots music venues, you are destroying the UK music industry. Without the small 400-500 capacity venues where promoters and musicians and DJ’s can learn their trade, you are cutting of the life blood for the super clubs and more importantly for Noisily and the festivals.
Where are the underground electronic music events like us going to draw our talent from if there is nowhere for the artists and DJ’s to play? It’s a good question and one which has greatly worried me over the last 8 years since we saw to many overbearing local authorities strangle small venues out of existence.
From what I can gauge things are changing though. The introduction of a ‘Night Zar’ in London who is charged by the London Mayor to work closely with local authorities and venues has certainly improved things. Her job is to make sure city planners cannot just plonk million pound flats next to popular music venues which sees them shut down for Noise complaints.
I want to be part of the underground music venue renaissance here in the UK, and I think we are seeing the very start of this happening right now in 2017.
Photo: Nick Caro
Q: Give us 3 things ppl coming to Noisily will experience there and nowhere else.
1- A festival which is about so much more than just the music. We see Noisily as a transformational experience. Somewhere you can come for the weekend and change your outlook and way of being. It’s a vital part of what we are.
2- From the psychedelic side of things I think we are the leading event here in the UK in 2017. I think European people who enjoy events like Boom, Ozora and Psy-Fi would be well served in coming to the UK and experiencing what we have to offer. The UK psychedelic crowd is unique, and takes things to a whole different level.
3- In my opinion the best festival site in the UK! A beautiful woodland set deep in the English countryside.
Chris Williams (DJ Ipcress / Nanoplex)
Q: Funniest Noisily moment ever?
A: Well, I’m not sure it’s funny but more fortunate. The guys were putting together the very first Liquid Stage back in 2014 at the first Noisily I was involved in. It was 2 days before the event was due to open and a large amount of the canopy was up which had been newly made for the festival. Anyhow’s, there was a large crack and a large branch fell off a tree and fell towards the décor. Somehow, the branch fell directly on one of the very small wooden supporting posts and avoided the décor. One inch either way and it was a goner!
Q: Most moving Noisily moment ever?
A: I think for me the closing night of the festival last year on the Noisily Stage. So many friends, such good music and an almost perfect correlation of sound, visuals and vibe.
Q: What acts are you most excited about in this year’s edition?
A: There are 2 in particular. Firstly, Beardyman on the Treehouse Stage. If you get the chance to watch one of his recent videos, he’s become so much more than just a beat boxer. He’s literally creating great sounding techno completely organically on stage using his voice and his new machine, ‘The Beardytron’. It’s quite something, and really makes you stand there and say, ‘How the hell does he do it!?’.
Secondly on the Liquid Stage it’s Electrypnose. Many peeps might not of heard of him, but this guy from Switzerland is a real talent. I think he’s worked in most psychedelic trance styles, and anything is possible, but you know it’ll be good and superbly produced.