FOUND Festival Organisers Talk Creation, Inspirations and Exciting Future
I sat down to talk with Found’s Karl Fuller and Will Paterson to discuss the festivals origins, and what makes 2016’s edition so special. Will is an operations guru, with over 20 years of experience in promotion he works in bookings, actually selling the tickets, and licensing. Karl has been working since the inception of Found running the digital campaigns, on to booking the acts, and programming. Both, have been instrumental in developing Found’s progressive identity.
I know that Found started out as a clubbing series, but was there always an intention to turn it into a festival?
Will: Actually, we always hoped we’d get to that point, because we had high expectations of ourselves as people… to an extend that we could sell a festival. And, what happened, I believe because of the Queen – they loosened the regulations for her 90th birthday for street parties. Which enabled us to take the opportunity to do our own street parties. In turn, we developed a good relationship with Hackney council and they said – “What if you did do something in our park?” Nothing of course was that simple, but one thing lead to another…
So we can thank the Queen for Found?
Will: Yes, exactly!
Are there any particular nights you’ve been on (that you can remember) that may have helped define Found’s sound or aesthetic?
Karl: I guess a lot of the festivals in Europe like Dekmantel, or Dimensions festival, in terms of how explicit they are with their bookings. Outside of that a lot of our favourite promoters from London like ‘Secretsundaze’ and ‘Art in the Dark’ are pretty much flawless in their booking and how consistent they are.
Will: For me I think I’d like to say we take a whole range of inspiration from festivals and clubs, often it’s mostly clubs with bookings as they can afford to be a bit more cutting-edge. In terms of festivals there are so many points, from interesting viewing structures to incredible sound, even to smooth ticketing operations.
You spoke to this a little when talking about bookings, but how do you think Found responds to the issue of authenticity in the festival scene?
Karl: It started from the ground up as a club series which we still do to this day in different forms outside of Found, so we still have our ears to the ground in that sense.
On top of that, every act we do try to book or look at has to have some sort of interesting story. There’s a few acts we’ve brought in who have never even performed in this country properly, like Mood II Swing. We’re not always trying to book the most hyped act at any time, not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Looking at the last couple of years’ line-up Found has always had a bit of a knack for picking forward-thinking artists on the peripheries of the electronic music scene, who have gone on to ‘make it big’. Would you say there are any particular acts this year that deserve more recognition?
Karl: Some of the acts are getting the recognition they deserve, some of them used to, and perhaps aren’t getting it these days due to other acts coming up. And, there are definitely some acts on our bill that deserve more recognition, but it’s in the early stages of their career and they might not be quite there yet… but they will no doubt be there, in the coming months – minimum.
Will: What’s great is they’re trying to plough their own furrow and create music in their own way, which is what we’re trying to do in a way, so we do lean on each other. If you want to be an outlier, you do have to rely on other people in that way.
In general, would you say that you get all or most of the acts you want to play?
Will: Well I’d say we’re sort of in an endless continuum of getting to acts before the mainstream ‘buys’ them up. Of course understandably, DJ’s, artists, have their own careers but if we get them at the right time we’ll usually get them, because agents understand what we’re trying to do. What we have to do continually is reinvent what we’re offering. In a digital age, people tend to recycle acts a bit quicker than maybe they used to before. So even our really, really underground acts from abroad are being played at one or two venues so we have to keep on reinventing. When we were booking acts five years ago, who are now stadium acts, it took a bit longer for them to enter the mainstream, but now it will take maybe two years for an act to transition. So it’s a fast moving cycle, but we enjoy the challenge.
Creating your own festival sounds like a dream to most music fans, so to prevent us all getting too jealous and setting up our own failing productions, what are some of the less glamorous realities of the task?
Karl: Budget restraints are quite stressful, so it isn’t quite like a dream, but it’s still really fun.
Will: The challenge is making it work within that budget, which is something we love. And, we are independent and in control of our destiny in lots of ways.
How did you go about crafting something a little more bound together than your average festival?
Karl: I’d say the way we do it – all of us in the office are still heavily into going out week in, week out. We’re still familiar with clubland where some of our competitors may be a bit older, a bit more corporate, and less on the ground seeing what’s happening.
Finally, what does the future hold for Found? Would it journey past the capital?
Will: I think our aim is to continue to define what we’re doing with our brands and continue to do justice to our ‘usp’, to have the best artists we believe in. We’re just going to carry on taking risks.
Karl: Outside of the capital, there might be another risk taken, who knows…
A massive thanks to Karl and Will for what is an illuminating talk on Found and festival culture. Be sure to follow Found, and check out the other festival’s by the same team: Rinse | Born & Bred Festival, Moondance Festival and 51st State Festival.