Music Features

Fieldview Festival - Interview with co-founder Dan Cameron

The story of Wiltshire's Fieldview Festival is an inspirational one.  At a time when many other small festivals have fallen victim to economic pressure, Fieldview has grown from a small back-garden celebration to a 3,000-capacity fully-fledged event, all the while giving its profits to charity - an incredible £16,500 ($24,921) to date - and increasing its commitment to be as eco-friendly as possible.

This year's festival, taking place on 1 to 4 August, has a line-up which features the likes of Luke Sital-Singh, The Other Tribe and Troumaca, as well as headliners Delphic and Bear's Den.

Craig Stevens talked to co-founder Dan Cameron about what to expect from this year's festival, as well as the logistics of running a festival, sourcing bands and the charities that Fieldview supports...

We’re now just a few weeks away from Fieldview 2013. How are preparations for this year’s festival going?

Really well, we feel very organised. We’re really happy with the bands, really excited to see them all. We’ve got a new venue for the Barnacus Stage this year, which is essentially a huge yurt. A beautiful, circular, yurt-style tent. It’ll be really nice to see our second stage in a different light this year. And we’ve got pop-up stages in the woodland areas as well. It’s really exciting. The sun’s out and we’ve just had Glastonbury. It’s great to go to a festival and feel magic in the air again. We’re really looking forward to the next couple of weeks in the run up to the festival. We can’t wait to get it all set up.

As someone who’s run a festival, do you find now that when you go to a festival like Glastonbury, or any festival for that matter, that you view it from a different perspective? Do you find yourself thinking about the logistics of the festival, for example, or other aspects that festival-goers wouldn’t ordinarily appreciate?

Something of that scale, you have to appreciate the logistics and the time that’s gone into it. But at the same time, I was at Glastonbury to have a great time and so that was my main focus! A lot of the Fieldview crew were there as well. It was great to bump into them on different occasions and see them having fun as well. We had conversations about what we can do at Fieldview but primarily, Glastonbury was just about having fun!

Do you use festivals such as Glastonbury as a way to find new bands?

Yeah, absolutely. In fact, last year, I went to so many festivals that I thought what would be really interesting would be to not program a single band on one stage and then spend the whole summer going to festivals and booking bands that I enjoyed live. But then I realised that logistically, that was a terrible idea!

But yeah, we always see bands, circle them in the programme and then when we get home, check them out for next year. That’s why we go to festivals, to be exposed to new things. That’s the aim with Fieldview festival. We book the bands that we think people will enjoy and make sure everyone has a really good time. We always aim to get a variety of really cool music from across the UK.

On that front, who are you most excited about seeing at Fieldview this year?

I’m really excited about Jacob Banks and Bear’s Den. I’ve been listening to Jacob Banks relentlessly. And Delphic are fantastic live. Gentlemen’s Dub Club and The Other Tribe are great. In fact, there are so many good bands on the main stage. And then on the Barnacus, there’s Parachute Youth, who are fantastic as well. I’m trying to make it so that I can actually sit down and enjoy the bands at the festival. It’s always difficult. I make a little schedule, so I can see the bands I want to see. But it never ends up happening as I planned!

As Fieldview is such a small festival, run by volunteers, how much of the festival weekend do you actually get to enjoy?

As much as I can, but it depends how it’s going. There are always a few fires to fight.  But it’s great to see everyone having a great time. I’m a firm believer in bringing people together to have a lot of fun, and I’m guessing that’s how the festival started. There’s always that moment, which I guess that anyone working in events will know, where you can’t switch off. But on the whole, I love it. It’s great watching a band play and thinking, “Last year, I saw these guys play in a little venue and now it’s great to see them on a stage”. Probably the best bit of the whole event is to see the bands that we’ve gone out, found and booked to play the festival go down so well and to see people talking about them and sharing their music on Facebook. And even afterwards, going to their gigs. So that’s our small legacy, something they can take home with them.

Fieldview's grown massively since its inception, both in terms of capacity and in terms of its scale. Is the intention to keep growing with demand, or would you like to cap the festival once it reaches a certain size?

I think it’s something to take year by year, really. To see how the event’s going, how everyone feels. We need to take into consideration the land, the villagers, the people who put their time into it. It’s a hard question to answer because what we do next year will depend on how this year goes. It’s a very organic process, so I can’t really say.

What are your long-term aims for Fieldview, do you have a vision of where you want the festival to get to? Do you want to maintain the feel of the festival, whilst at the same time growing the capacity to raise more money for charity?

Well, going back to Glastonbury, the guy I was with had a Fieldview top on and we ran into some people who said, “Oh my God, I went to that last year”, and they had such good things to say about it. It was really great to meet someone at what I consider to be the best event I’ve ever been to, and for Fieldview to be something that they remember and they say such good things about. So part of the charm is definitely the size and the intimacy of the event. With all the big festivals that are around, you don’t get that. So the answer to the question is almost the same as my answer to the previous question. If people were to turn around and say, “We want to go massive, we want to party 24/7”, we’d see what we could do. But at the moment, we’ve got a nice vibe with the formula we’ve got. On the Thursday night, it’s quite chilled with acoustic music and live comedy. And then on the Friday, the main stage is more folky. And then it crescendos to midnight on Saturday night. We’ll see how it goes. We’re all volunteers so there’s no financial incentive for us. This is just a hobby that’s really, really fun. It’s about making sure that everyone enjoys it, from the people who buy the tickets to the crew.

In terms of planning the festival, is there a degree of overlap from one year to the next? How far in advance do you have to start thinking about a festival and when can you sign it off and say, “Pkay, we can move on now”?

For the past couple of years, planning’s started around the time of my Mum’s birthday, at the start of September. That acts as a good weekend to celebrate and also to debrief and plan for the next year. From there, we do a New Year’s Eve celebration, which we’ve been doing for the past few years. And then, it all kicks off from around January/February time, when we start talking to bands. That’s when the major decisions are made. From there, it’s all the other elements of organising an event – marketing, merchandise, traders, security and all the infrastructure elements to make sure that people can have an enjoyable and safe weekend.

The weather’s been incredible these past couple of weeks in the UK and it looks like it’s set to continue. Does the weather have an impact on ticket sales?

To be honest, I don’t know. It hasn’t been a factor for us in the past, as we’ve always sold out. When the sun’s shining, and people are watching Glastonbury, I like to think that people are thinking about going to sit in a field to watch some great bands and drink some fantastic tasting cider…which is what I would be doing if I wasn’t at Glastonbury! But it is true that the weather has a massive effect on festivals – if you look at last year’s Isle of Wight, for example, it was washed out and it was horrible to see.

Finally, did you want to say a little about the charities you’re supporting at Fieldview this year?

Yeah. We’re working with Cool Earth, where we’re donating the money from the car parking. They’re a fantastic charity which buys endangered areas of the rainforest. Sir David Attenborough’s quoted as saying, “The idea behind Cool Earth is that if we can help pay to conserve an acre then we can make a real difference. Perhaps the biggest difference we will make in our whole lives.” And then there’s Jamie’s Farm in Bristol. They work with young adults and children, who go to play on the farm and learn the skills in a few days. And then we have our bar in honour of our good friend Carly, who passed away last year. The profits from that bar will be going towards the charity Youth Cancer Trust. They take teenagers to the south coast for a week and do activities with them. Last year we were fortunate enough to enable more than ten children away for a week. They did rafting and climbing and all sorts. It’s a fantastic charity which is very close to the hearts of a lot of us who work at Fieldview.

Tickets for this year's Fieldview Festival are selling fast, with only a few hundred remaining.  For information on how to purchase tickets, go to the festival's website,