Southwold: Latitude programmers’ top tips for a top festival

Half Moon Run

Half Moon Run - Credit: Archant

Entertainment writer Wayne Savage picks the brains of those who programmed this year’s Latitude stages about who and what you should see.

Dawn O'Porter

Dawn O'Porter - Credit: Archant

“At one point when I was going through the bookings this year. I looked at the acts we’d confirmed and were going to announce and I went ‘we’ve booked all the great bands, what are we going to do next year’,” laughs music arenas’ programmer Natasha Haddad. “You get over that moment and I’ve already got a list with 50 acts on it for next year that I’m like ‘this’ll be amazing’.

Made in China

Made in China - Credit: Archant

“A lot of times we spend three, four, five years trying to get a specific act in. We’re really close with our audience online, when they’re recommending certain acts and they don’t necessarily appear on this year’s line-up it doesn’t they won’t appear on next year’s or we haven’t heard them - it’s probably more likely to mean they’re playing a show in another country.

“We’ve a very broad range of musical styles, tastes and generations with acts from the 1950s right through to acts who’ve played seven gigs so far,” she laughs.

“If I was to make recommendations, I’d go down the route of what kind of music do you normally like? If you more dance-y, electronic stuff obviously I’d start with Krawftwerk (Obelisk Arena, July 20, 9.30pm-11pm). Then I’d say check out Hot Chip (Obelisk Arena, July 20, 8pm-9pm) who are such a fantastic festival band. I saw them a few years back and they just totally took over all of my senses.

“Rudimental (BBC Radio 6 Music Stage, July 21, 7.30pm-8.15pm) and Disclosure (BBC Radio 6 Music Stage, July 21, 8.40pm-9.30pm) were number one, so we’re really excited to have them. We have some newer acts and IAMAMIWHOAMI (BBC Radio 6 Music Stage, July 21, 4.55pm-5.40pm) who’s just gaining recognition in the UK. On the smaller stages we’ve acts like Chvrches (i Arena, July 19, 5.25pm-5.55pm) and Young Wonder (i Arena, July 19, 1.15pm-1.45pm)

“If you’re a more traditional band lover I’d recommend Bloc Party (Obelisk Arena, July 19, 9.30pm-11pm) and Foals (Obelisk Arena, July 21, 9.30pm-11pm), who aren’t quite traditional bands but... everybody’s excited about seeing Grizzly Bear (Obelisk Arena, July 21, 8pm-9pm) and we’re really chuffed they’re coming just to play Latitude this year.

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“Lower down the bill I’d recommend Half Moon Run (i Arena, July 20, 6.45pm-7.15pm), a Canadian trio, phenomenal songwriters, really powerful live. I’ve seen them a couple times play really small shows and they completely blew me away so that’d be my little tip of the festival.

“We’ve got lots of fantastic singer-songwriters – Cat Power (Obelisk Arena, July 19, 6.30pm-7.30pm) who doesn’t come over and play that often, who’s such a raw talent. The Tallest Man on Earth (Obelisk Arena, July 21, 3.40pm-4.40pm) is incredible.

“Lower down the bill again I’d recommend Valerie June (The Lake Stage, July 21, 4.40pm-5.20pm) out of Tennessee... we’ve got Benjamin Francis Leftwich (The Lake Stage, July 19, 8.35pm-9.20pm).

“We’ve classic acts everybody has to see, everybody has to see Bobby Womack (Obelisk Arena, July 21, 1pm-2pm),” she stresses, laughing. “It’ll be amazing. I was really fortunate to see one of his shows in London last year and he’s such a special character with so many songs you know and love. I’m over the moon, it’s just a dream to have him playing.”

“One of the things we work very hard at is getting new artists and creating a new platform; whether that’s the fashion show for graduate designers, new writing... there’s a lot of great theatre actually, There’s this wonderful actress Phoebe Waller-Bridge, she’s doing a really great show (Fleabag, Theatre Arena, July 19, 5.30pm-6.20pm) which will be quite edgy I think,” says arts arenas programmer Tania Harrison.

“Ben Moor (Each of Us, Theatre Arena, July 20) is brilliant, Made in China (Theatre Arena, July 19) is an emerging company; it’s very important to celebrate that... God there’s so many. You’ve bought one ticket so I’d recommend taking a risk, go into a tent or (try a) genre you’ve never been to before. I don’t want to sound trite but I think that’s what we celebrate really at Latitude. Be brave, be a bit wild, take a risk. How on Earth does everyone manage to fit all of these things in, I have no idea.”

Sharon Reuben, children’s area and inbetweeners teen area programmer says they’re ready to entertain the most energetic kids.

“It’s always a challenge to come up with new things, I’m always very keen to have, especially the local organisations, back but that means we have to come up with new ideas because you can’t offer the same programme. It’s a lot of fun. In something like the kids’ theatre I get to put new shows on every year and it’s really important to me that in the kids’ area and the family campsite we have lots of new attractions. We’ve got some great stuff in In the family campsite this year, we’ve got a local Anglo-Saxon re-enactment company building an encampment and they’ll be doing spear dances and combat which I think the kids will love. We’ve got Bury St Edmunds Yoga Centre in there, a local artist creating a pop-up beach, another organisation doing arts and crafts.

“The teen area is really vital, that’s a tough crowd the 11-16 year olds. The stuff Cultureworks in particular are offering is such high quality. The kids are being given digital cameras, allowed to use Apple Macs and editing facilities, doing animation, making their own ringtones, screen printing...

“We’ve got the climbing nets up in the trees, zip wires.. for the ones who want to do something quieter, more considered, like learning about writing blogs, digital photography, fashion, literature, We’ve got Dawn O’Porter coming to do a masterclass, a couple of teen authors coming. With the teen stuff, there are so many things I’d like to do and unfortunately I spend a lot of my day rushing around... I sometimes feel a little bit aggrieved that I don’t get to do any of it,” she laughs.

All this walking is bound to make you tired. Luckily, there are loads of places to put your feet up and refuel.

“Last year we did 7,500 covers in three-and-a-half days which I think makes us officially the busiest restaurant in the world,” laughs Jonathan Downey of Rotary Bar and Diner.

“This year will be our fourth year... I think we did three as Giant Robot. It’s become a key part of the festival for a lot of people – somewhere they can sit down, have a real meal cooked to order. It’s a massive production. We move it and build it like a band would... all of our production equipment is stored between Rihanna and Lady Gaga in a big storage space in the Midlands; there are two giant articulated lorries that bring everything in, unpack the tents, the furniture, the kitchen, the bars, the sound system.... it probably is,” he laughs when I suggest it’s a bigger production than some of the acts performing.

“We’ve made a proper effort to source as much of our main meat, bread, seafood, as we can from Suffolk and East Anglia. All of our pork is going be Blyburgh this year, we’re going to get our bread from Orford. With the acts the festival attracts you can quite a nice little scene of well-known people eating and drinking in the restaurant.”

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