15 April 2010

Community Service #7 - Walter Micklethwait (Insider Festival)

Last year it felt like a Scottish festival got cancelled every other week, Homecoming, Connect and the Outsider Festival all bit the bullet, it was from the ashes of the latter that the Insider Festival was born. Having already built home made stages for the Backwoods bar at the Outsider, the owners of holiday home, Inshriach House in the Cairngorms National Park, spotted an opportunity to organise something a bit different. With just weeks until the weekend of what would have been the Outsider, they managed to rally various friends and family and pull off what would appear to be achieve the impossible and organise an independent music festival within the space of a few weeks. Impressive, most impressive.
Now that the Insider is back for a second year (17th-20th June), I managed to grab a few words with one of the organisers (miracle workers), Walter Micklethwait, to ask him a few questions about what we can expect from this years event.

Would you care to introduce yourself?
There are 4 of us behind the Insider, I own Inshriach, Gordon runs the Old Bridge Inn in Aviemore, Polly and Ross run the Ord Ban Restaurant, then a heap of friends and locals get involved.

What can we expect from this years Insider Festival?
A real stormer of a line up, beautiful weather, the best food in Scotland, an amazing bar, its going to be the best festival you have never heard of.

Do you have a background in putting on live music?
Sort of. In amongst other jobs I was involved in sponsoring festivals, then ran the odd festival bar, then decided i preferred building stages and sets. I was involved for parties for MTV for a stretch before moving to Scotland. Standon Calling was a birthday party when I started there and has grown into something great so I guess thats a yes. Gordy deals with most of the line up for the Insider and is putting a lot of the bands who play the Insider on at the Old Bridge and lots of them have a real following round here.

What was it that motivated you to take on something as big as this?
That the four of us get on really well coupled, knowing some clever people who could get the licensing sorted in time and some more people who would help us put it together and knowing Inshriach would make the most stunning setting for a festival. Despite the line up its not that big, we are only looking for 500 people this year. The cancellation of the Outsider sparked it off, it was going to happen on the next estate down and when it was pulled we put the Insider together.

Has it been a lot easier for you to organise this years event, given that you have a lot more time to organise it? (Was it about 2 months last year?)
It was a miracle it happened at all last year, the Highland council were amazing and we got our license through in 6 weeks (on the Friday the party started). Its been a lot easier just having done it before, a lot of the musicians from last year have become friends, word has spread that we put on a good time and lots more folk are offering to help us improve it.

What criteria do you look for when selecting artists to play?
We sit together, usually late at night, and find bands that do it for us. Then we ask them nicely.

Are you still looking for artists to play at this years event? And if so are you looking for people to get in touch?
We have already spectacularly blown all our money for this year but every day we get a dozen emails with bands offering to play and some of them are right and we find a way to make it happen

What was your highlight from last years festival? And what are you most looking forward to this year?
The Friday night impromptu jam session round the piano in the bar, or the jam where Lau plus Charlie McKerron, Tim Edey, Adam Sutherland and Bo Jingham played through Sunday night and into Monday afternoon covered in cake. Anything involving jam basically. The line up this year is really exciting, there are many more bands involved and there are some collaborations in the pipeline that ought to be incredible

Lastly, can we expect to see the Insider to become a regular addition to the Scottish festival scene?
For as long as it remains fun and we dont lose the shirts off our backs you can expect to see us back.

The line up for this years festival is an absolute belter, check out what they have lined up so far; Sparrow and the Workshop, Jo Mango, Admiral Fallow, Bob Hillary and the Massive Mellow, Mary Hampton, Mike and Solveig, Mike Heron and Daughter, Donna Maciocia, the Banana Sessions, Horndog Brass Band, Joe Acheson Quartet, Three Blind Wolves, The Woodland Orchestra, Adopted as Holograph, Matt Bennett (Kinky Afro), The Injuns, Claes Cem, Rachel Sermanni, Woodenbox with a Fistful of Fivers, Charlie McKerron&Friends, King Arthurs Men, John Langan Band, Feis Spe, Jack Sandison and The Holy Ghosts, The Stagger Rats, Over The Wall, Alasdair Roberts, Kill It Kid, Bonfire Band, Foxgang and The Little Kicks. That's a mouth watering line up if I do say so myself.
Early bird tickets are on sale now at £60, once they're all gone they'll be £70, still a shit load cheaper than any of the big corporate Scottish festivals. Buy them here.

Insider Homepage
Insider Blog
Last fm
Inshriach House

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