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“We Are Strong on Women This Year”: We Spoke to Emily Eavis About Glastonbury 2016

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By Ryan Bassil

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Photo by Jake Lewis 

It feels basic to say the best festival in the world is Glastonbury, but that’s because it is. Where else can you pay one cover fee to watch live headline sets from esoteric musicians, witness a live circus or theatre performance, indulge in a strip-club from a dystopian future, and get a bowen massage from a wizard in a kilt? The festival is undoubtedly worth every penny.

The site boasts something stupid like 150 different stages. These bills are usually decided by festival bookers, but there is an opportunity for the newer, just-out-of-the-gate acts to get a slot. For the last ten years festival organisers Emily and Michael Eavis have been running an Emerging Talent Competition. To enter, you just need to be an unsigned act, living in the United Kingdom, with a couple of MP3s and a live performance video to send over. 

So we decided to speak with Emily Eavis herself about the competition and it’s growing role at Glastonbury, so here’s us doing exactly that, and then taking full advantage of the opportunity to try and find out how this year’s bill is shaping up.

Photo by Jake Lewis 

Noisey: Hi Emily! So, what’s the deal with this Emerging Talent Competition then?
Emily:
We get approached by so many new bands and new artists and we could easily fill the whole festival with just new acts. So we started it as a way to get people to send in their music to one place, we can listen to it all, and then narrow it down and have these live finals in a working men’s club. Then PRS came on board. 

Do all the finalists get to play at the festival?
Yeah, main stage for the winner. All the runners up will probably get smaller stages. I guess free entry is a massive selling point. I think it’s unusual to not have to pay to enter these sort-of talent contests. We get a whole spectrum of bands but we’re always up for it being as wide as possible, hence me talking to you.

Hiya! Yeah, it seems like in the last couple years you’ve started to book more acts our readers might be interested in – rappers, electronic artists, all the grime crews. The Sonic Stage and Wow! specifically have been great for that. Are you consciously looking to increase the amount of acts from these genres on the bill?
We consciously try to keep it as wide and as varied as possible. It’s always been pretty diverse here, but I think it’s important to think consciously about that when you’re booking. It’s very easy to fill the stages up with the more predictable acts, so it’s important to keep it broad and open. The crowd here is really diverse. You’ve got every type of person imaginable. A lot of people discover music here, so it’s important to open people’s minds as well.

Basically - it’s about ditching the Guardian pocket Guide.
Yeah! Exactly. You can’t highlight too much in those guides. You’ve got to put it aside, go by instinct and discover new stuff. That’s what’s really exciting about it. Seeing a massive headliner in the setting at Glastonbury is brilliant in lots of ways, but when you discover something in a tent in Shangri La in the middle of the night, that’s really, really exciting as well.

In terms of the talent competition, what are you and your dad looking for?
It’s all about your live performance. Record sales and stuff like that aren’t relevant to us – and the same applies all the way through the bill. It’s about how you deliver the gig and how exciting it is. Declan McKenna last year was mesmering, he’s really young, and he got on the stage and the whole room was silenced. And it’s quite hard to silence a working men’s club. It’s that live magic.

So, I’m obviously now going to ask you about everything else regarding Glastonbury 2016. What are the plans? Arcadia’s moved around a lot the past few years?
Arcadia are staying where they are. It went really well. We’re moving John Peel, which is quite a dramatic move. It’s going to go into a field that was previously hospitality camping. Next to that there’s a woods where we’re going to be doing a light installation. I think the center of gravity [on site] will change again, because every time a massive stage moves it shifts the dynamic. From John Peel you’ll be able to walk straight to the Pyramid stage.

Nice. What about the music? Who are the big names?
Musically we’re still keeping it as open as possible. We’ve got a great bill coming together. In fact, we’re quite far down the line with that. Hopefully we’ll be able to give you some names soon.

Yeah?
There are loads of great female MCs coming through this year which is quite exciting. Little Simz and Lady Leshurr and people like that. There’s a feeling in the Silver Hayes that a lot of exciting stuff will be happening over there. This is the crunch point with all our bookings. 

Will there be a re-sale before the names are announced?
There will be a re-sale but unfortunately, as ever, it’s not going to be massive. It’ll probably be a few low thousand – a couple thousand, something like that. That will be in April. We’re really hoping we’ll get some line-up out there before then but we’ll have to just see. There are lots of reasons why it’s tied up – contracts and that. 

 Photo by Jake Lewis

So you can’t tell us anything? C’mon Emily. Work with me.
Hmmm. Not really. But we are strong on women this year, I have to say. The Park is my, kind of, baby. We get really extremely excited about what we put on there.

No dice. Okay. If you can’t tell us any names, there is one thing I think we can both get behind. Which is: please, people of Glastonbury, stop pissing on the land.
It’s a massive problem for us. It will unfortunately spell the end for the festival. There is no festival with people pissing in the streams and we’re going to have to be a bit more strict on it this year. 

A whole festival brought down by piss. Mad. How are you going to police it?
We’re going to have more Green Police and more people stewarding it and more urinals. There’s never going to be an excuse to not be able to find a urinal. We have to make it our number one mission for this year. 

I am really interested in the toilets at Glastonbury, not going to lie. I reviewed them back in 2014 and I was really into the addition of compost toilets last year.
They’re good aren’t they? They’ve really gone down well. It’s a brilliant addition. I think last year we doubled the compost loos across the site. Well noticed! I always wonder if anyone notices those things. 

I do, Emily. I do. So I think we have our message for this piece sorted. Sign up to Glastonbury’s Emerging Talent Competition and stop pissing everywhere.
Exactly. Those are the two messages.

Wee in these, not in the bushes. Photo by Jake Lewis

You can find Ryan Bassil on Twitter.

Get all the info on Glastonbury's Emerging Talent Competition here