Over the last year, we’ve really been missing the festival season; the vibration of the speakers, the sweaty stranger beside you, warm cider in a muddy field and even the portaloos! So we’ve put together a series of interviews called ‘Festival Island Discs’ taking inspiration from BBC’s ‘Desert Island Discs’. Hosted by our Director Rob Dudley, in each episode we invite guests to delve into their best festival memory and the tracks that take them back to that treasured moment.
Our first episode is with our lovely Senior Production Manager, Millie Devereux. She takes us back to some of her best festival experiences.
You can listen to the interview on our Soundcloud page by clicking here or read below!
A born and bred london’er (kind of) I grew up in Dagenham in East London or Essex depending how you look at it. I’ve spent my whole life living in and around London and to be honest I cant see myself every living anywhere else! I did spend 3 years at Bournemouth Uni Studying Event Management which was glorious in the summer with the beach and I spent 6 months in Tignes, France on a ski season.
My parents are big into their music and I spent my childhood listening to the likes of Derrick May, Paul Oakenfold, Orbital, 808 State, Massive Attack, Underworld I could go on, which really developed my love for house & techno ‘party music’. That and their great stories from the M25 free party scene. This is when I knew I wanted to get into festival production, well the more legal and much safer side of what their were doing at my age!
The first festival I ever worked at was Radio 1s big weekender in 2012, I then started off as an event assistant for We Are FSTVL in 2014 which was a bit of a baptism of fire! I was hooked from then onwards.
- Fat Boy Slim – Right Here, Right Now at We Are FSTVL in 2014
I guess this was where it all started for me, it was my first year working in the industry doing an internship and the first festival of the season was We Are FSTVL in May. I hadn’t worked onsite at any outdoor events before and it just so happened our biggest event was first. Wow, I don’t think I could have ever been prepared for the 4am starts and 10pm finishes on the live days! The festival opened at 9am so it was all hands on deck for opening, after a mentally and physical draining 2 week build all I wanted to do was crawl up and go to bed when I get left off early on the Sunday! On my way back to the tent, by chance, I bumped into one of the crew I had been working with who had 2 beers and was on the way to Fat Boy Slim. Anyway long story short, I ended up having way more than 1 beer and getting in the pit of the main stage for the whole set. The final song he played was right here, right now (of course). The elevation I felt at that moment when all the fireworks went off is something I will never ever forget, getting to see all of the thousands of people enjoying themselves to something I helped build. Like I said that was it for me, I was hooked.
2. Chic – Everybody Dance at Bestival 2014
Idols, all time classics. I was so excited to see Chic and Nile Rogers, they are the definition of feel good party vibes! An army of all my friends went to see them close the festival on the Sunday night and I was sooo excited and boy did they put on a show. Bestival set the Guinness world record for the biggest disco ball ever and me and my friends just danced and sung to every song they played, which also included hits from Diana Ross and Daft Punk the Nile Rogers produced. That was the first life set I remember absolutely blowing me away, banger after banger we just all kept cheering and smiling. Pure utter bliss that set was and will stay with me forever. They opened with their seminal track from 1977 ‘Everybody Dance and the whole field erupted into song and dance!
3. Chemical Brothers – Galvanize at Bestival 2015
This was in my final year at University, so with all my uni friends (who are still best friends of mine to this day) we went to Bestival for the 3rd time, a kind of final hora to our days in Bournemouth till we all moved home. On the Saturday night we was having a wander around not really knowing what we wanted to see, I like to explore at festivals a bit, and we realised the Chemical Brothers where headlining the main stage. I had never really been that into them but we thought it could be fun. To this day its one of my top 3 sets of all time! It was one of them sets when you’re shocked by how many songs you knew and how amazing them songs are. But the main attraction from their set was the visual performance, it just completely blew me away. I had never seen 2 DJ’s interact with an audience that way before and put on such a show! The crazy visuals, intense electronic music and party atmosphere really rounded off my uni experience perfectly and I just remember being so excited to start my career in this world! I just cant listen to Galvanize without smiling or jumping up and down!
4. Larry Heard – Sun Can’t Compare at Dimensions 2016
By this point I had a couple years’ experience under my belt and I wanted to work on an international festival. Dimensions is all my favourite music and I saw so many artist that weekend I could go on forever, well when I wasn’t working which wasn’t very often! We had such an amazing crew in Croatia and we all just got on really well, it really shaped my attitude for working at festivals. After long days it was a heaven sent being able to sit down with a beer and just chat and relax with amazing people, I wouldn’t have got through the shifts without the friends I build during that month onsite. It made me very aware of how many people go into producing something that impressive form all levels of experience and areas of expertise. The perks of the job are getting to see all the artists and having fun so I made a promise to make sure that I did both (within reason, sometimes I cant keep my eyes open!). Larry Heard was headlining on the Saturday slot and I was sooo excited to see him live, I think it was his first set in about 10 years? The stand out song from this isn’t from the set though, for the whole month we would play ‘Sun Cant Compare’ when someone would have a hard day or be feeling a bit down and it made us remember what we was working for! Don’t get me from the set was amazing but that song now reminds me of the amazing teams within festival production and how you can all rely on each other for support and a beer at the end of the shift!
5. Foo Fighters – Best of You at Glastonbury 2017
Rock bands typically aint my thing, I never really went through the grunge stage at school or was around people into rock music so I never grew up with an interest in it. I was always an electronic music girl through and through so in 2017 when every single of my friends wanted to see Foo Fighters I didn’t have a choice. What im noticing are the festival performances that stick with me are the ones I least expect, im really into my DJs and over all the festivals ive been to I’ve seen some of my favourite electronic artists over and over but the experiences that stick out in my mind are the ones that creep up on you and take you by surprise and of course the ‘once in a lifetime sets’. Anyway, we went to see the Foo Fighters and I cried, I actually cried. I think the capacity for the Pyramid stage is somewhere around 200,000 people and every person at that stage was screaming the lyrics to that Best of you! Even I knew all the words, the crowd went on to chant the Ohhhhhhhh part of the song wayyy long after they had finished and in the end Dave Grohl had to ask the crowd to stop, it honestly my best live band performance. Its really shaped my festival experience because it opened by eyes to the fact that I get to go to clubs all the time and see my favourite Djs, festivals are a time to experience something you wouldn’t normally get to see. Djs play on late into the night anyway so I love to spend the day wandering around and watching bands and artist I normally wouldn’t get to
6. Kylie Minogue – Cant get you out of my head at Legend Slot at Glastonbury 2019
What a guilty pleasure! I have no shame admitting I love queueing up Kylie after a night out, just a perfect mood lifter and gets everyone singing! There was a group of around 20 of us that went to see kylie and the boys made us get there extra early so we could get really close to the stage. Main reason being all the boys had dressed up as Kyle in the white jumpsuit number and wanted to get on the TV! Which they actually did, during ‘Cant get you of my head’ they all got on each other’s shoulders and the BBC did a full view shot of them all ‘having it’ to Kylie. It was just the perfect Sunday ending to an amazing weekend. The sun was shining and I was living my 10 year old dreams!
7. Crazy P Soundsystem – Heartbreaker at GALA 2018
I LOVE disco, its just such an up-lifting music genre and im more than happy to dance around in circles singing away! Ive been to GALA every year since its started and it is a statement festival in my group of friends. Always a sunny bank holiday weekend, good vibes, good music, good people cant really go wrong. I think this is important in my festival journey because it was when I was first aware of The Fair. I remember being at the festival thinking this is AMAZING and very well produced, I really want to know who produce it and get involved! Hunted them down on social media and started following them, a year later they advertised they was looking for a senior production manager, fate if you ask me! If I hadn’t have gone to that festival 3 years in a row and experienced the type of events The Fair puts on I might not have ever seen the advertisement on social media. My stand out song from all the Gala’s I have been to is Heartbreaker by Crazy P, one of my favourite bands of all time this song its just so perfect in every way.
8. Back to Life – Soul II Soul at ON Blackheath Festival 2019
My love for music and festivals came from my parents, so it was always a goal of mine to take them both to a festival I was involved with to see one of their favourite artist. The cherry on the top was that it was also an artist I grew up listening to with them and love! Having the privilege to take my parents and my sister to see Soul II Soul will always be one of the favourite benefits of my festival Journey! The 4 of us got very drunk before and into the big top 30mins before so my mum could see the stage, ill never forget her turning around to me with pure joy screaming ‘I KNOW ALL THE WORDS TO THIS ONE!’. It was at that moment that I knew I would never want to do anything else, all the stress and long hours are worth seeing the amount of joy that can only come from a very select few experiences and being a key part of making that happen for people is just the best feeling in the world. don’t get me wrong 2019 was the hardest summer of my life back to back festivals and trying to juggle a social life but I can think about ‘Back to Life’ and it grounds me, reminds me why we all do what we do!
My festival top tip, and it’s an object that I will always take to a festival whether I’m going there for fun or working at it. It’s not the most glamorous object or it’s not the coolest object, buts it’s eye drops. I can’t begin to explain how often my life has been saved by eye drops. When you wake up in a tent in the morning and its like 70 degrees outside, something ridiculous and you’re boiling. To be able to put eye drops in its nice cold glass of water for your eyes, your hungover tired eyes. Its’ exactly the same as when I’m working festivals, when I get up in the morning or when I go to start night shift. Just popping in some eye drops, it’s like a nice glass of water or a coffee for your eyes. So that’s my absolute must have for both working and attending festivals!