Interview: Jay Landman (Third Time Lucky Festival)
Canny Fringe, this time under the guise of 'Third Time Lucky Festival', is gearing up to rock the North East music scene for a third year in a row.
This year’s ambitious opening weekend hosts 30+ bands over five days in three prominent local venues: Little Buildings, Head of Steam and The Cluny.
The line-up includes local up-and-comers and artists from further afield (full line-up above).
We caught up with organiser Jay Landman, fresh off the Deep.Sleep (who he also manages) tour, to chat about the origins of Third Time Lucky, the rapidly-approaching festival season, and the North East music scene.
Where did the idea come about for Third Time Lucky?
The festival was initially founded by Max Parrott as a Fringe Festival, an arts festival led by drama and comedy. I became involved as the organiser of the music side of the festival and, from that, the emphasis shifted more into being a music-focussed festival. It has grown year on year and always been special.
So the festival was born out of The Canny Fringe Festival. What can we expect from next year - more evolution? A ‘fourth time lucky’?
We’re toying with some ideas for next year – we quite like the tongue-in-cheek nature of Third Time Lucky Festival, so may continue running with the same name or a similar concept, but we’ll see – we may change things up to keep people on their toes.
I’ve read that with Third Time Lucky, you wanted to create an inner-city fest ‘free from corporate pressure’. What do you think about the state of festival-going in the UK at the moment?
For such a small country the UK has produced a significant amount of talent in both fields of music and comedy and I think it will continue to do so. Consequently, festivals are great for emerging artists, which is one of the strengths of UK festivals compared to the rest of the world. As such, the state of festivals is quite healthy in terms of music variety and quality.
However, issues to address could include diversity and costs; giving more opportunities to smaller bands. As music is very much an industry where it’s who you know, there could be greater representation of artists equally talented as bigger bands/musicians, but not represented to anything near the same degree.
I’m also quite interested in initiatives dealing with gender and sex in regards to festival line-ups; the next few years will raise some valid points and bring up much-needed conversations about addressing such points.
What do you think of the view that bigger festivals such as Glasto/Leeds/Download have ‘sold out’ to this corporate pressure?
Not so much ‘sold out’, but I’m very much a big supporter of the idea of DIY, grassroots, musician-led projects. I think the emphasis of these is a bit more focussed solely on the artistic side and worries less about the commercialism of such a project, e.g. funding, sponsorship, generating money.
Everything has its place, but small, local festivals and events always intrigue me more, or even larger ones such as Beautiful Days, which is The Levellers own festival in Devon. I love the whole idea of artists doing things independently, e.g. Wrong Festival, Falsetival (festival run by False Advertising), Mousetival (festival run by Mouses). I think it’s important musicians realise they often have more power to do things than they realise; they can create their own opportunities and initiatives, and for me that’s just as exciting, if not more so, than a big festival as there’s a real element of surprise and grassroots-empowerment.
What is it about local, accessible ‘grassroots’ festivals like Third Time Lucky that’s more intriguing for you than the more mainstream festivals?
The main thing for me is that they aid smaller artists. To get onto big festivals you often need to be very well connected, whether it be through management, booking agents, PR agencies, etc. Smaller, local grassroots festivals level the playing field a bit by acting, to some degree, in an ‘introducing’ capacity and thus raises the profile of each artist on the line-up. It also aids musicians and their ability to network as they have full access to the festival, which means they can enjoy other artists’ music, talk to other musicians and enjoy the whole festival. Ultimately, I feel that a festival like Third Time Lucky shines the spotlight on smaller, emerging artists (both local and from over the UK) a bit more and thus also introduces audiences to brand new music.
As someone deeply entrenched in the North East music scene, managing Newcastle-based artists such as Sarah Connolly and Deep.Sleep, what’s your thoughts on the local scene we inhabit?
I very much feel that the North East is the place to be currently for music. It’s very vibrant, diverse and exciting as there’s plenty of venues catering for artists of all genres and audiences are keen to attend. I think the big thing we’re facing is sustainability.
In order to maintain a healthy scene we need to be seeing local artists playing outside of the North East on tours.
This will assist in changing the perception of Newcastle and its music scene from being seen, in some ways, as a backwater city.
Newcastle is placed wonderfully for touring bands, right on the A1 it’s ideal for bands travelling North/South from Edinburgh/Glasgow to Leeds/Sheffield, but the city can still be missed on tour routes. With big artists, we often see people travelling to Manchester or Leeds to catch such them live, and as such Newcastle can be a bit neglected.
I feel the way to change this is to show the rest of the UK the diversity, quality and quantity of talent here in the North East. We can show this off by supporting artists to tour outside of Newcastle, so they can turn the spotlight onto the city in much the same way artists like The Smiths, The Stone Roses and Oasis did for Manchester. We need to have a wave of artists emerge at the same time, as opposed to what has happened, where there’s one or two big artists once every decade, e.g The Animals, Sting, Maximo Park. The challenge is to make sure that the local scene doesn’t lose momentum or peter out.
And finally, with such an impressive line-up for Third Time Lucky, who would you say are unmissable for our readers: the ‘ones to watch out for’?
I don’t think I could choose any specific artist - especially when we have a second wave of announcements to come for the second weekend, which features a greater mix of acoustic artists and some surprise bands. Overall, I think I’m quite excited for Newcastle audiences to see some artists that are making their North East debut here – there are some that I’ve not seen live myself such as Kit Trigg, The Metatrons, Ponyland and The Jjohns; we’re guaranteed to be in for a treat though.
The first leg of Third Time Lucky runs 11-15th April. Tickets are available now for just £6 and they include access to the festival’s second weekend, 20th-22nd April.