What’s in store at Field Day 2013: An interview with the festival’s co-founder Tom Baker

Emma Gritt

Tom Baker Field Day 198x300 What’s in store at Field Day 2013: An interview with the festivals co founder Tom Baker Over the last decade, Tom Baker has been behind some of London’s biggest music events, including Field Day. The annual celebration of up and coming and leftfield indie bands and electronic artists is a highlight of the Capital’s festival calendar. Anyone who tells you it’s all about the music is fibbing, it’s equal parts catwalk for legions of East London hipsters, which makes for one hell of a day out.

Tom has been running music events in London and beyond as Eat Your Own Ears for 10 years, he is also the programmer and co-founder of Field Day. He is responsible for choosing all the acts who perform at his events, and works closely with independent record labels, managers, agents and artists to help bring new and existing talent to an always-hungry London audience.

Working alongside a small team in an office in London Fields, Tom also oversees all the marketing and promotion of the Eat Your Own Ears events we put on. You think you’re busy? Tom estimates that on a typical day he’ll receive about 300 emails. Tom is also the voice of the Field Day online radio show, and keeps himself up to date with great bands rising through the ranks by attending gigs almost every night.

Field Day is the first ‘London summer festival’, how are you planning on setting the pace for the others?

Lots of sunshine and people discovering and watching as much music as possible across eight stages from 12 noon until 11pm… As well as trying out the many fun activities on the Village Fete.

Sadly, a lot of parties have been plagued by violence and theft, how will Field Day be prepared for any unsavoury types?

We work very closely with the police, council, security and also the production company who are very experienced with outdoor events and festivals (Bestival, Rockness, Creamfields, Camp Bestival are just some of the events they work on) on tackling any potential issues that hopefully will never arise.

Who are you partnering for the event and what do they bring to the table?

I book most of the line up and work on the majority of the promotion for Field Day, but we have various stage partners as well, like Bugged Out!, Bleed and the Shacklewell Arms who all help with the promotion via their own networks and also book stages in partnership with me.

Field Day is as much fashion show as it is musical smorgasbord, what will you be wearing?

I would imagine I will be wearing Diesel Jeans, a band t-shirt of some description and most likely, I will get out my Rainbow leather sandals I bought in New York five years ago that are still going strong!

And what’s the most impractical outfit you’ve seen in years gone by?

Swimming trunks, crazy but true. Swimming trunks and a poncho and massive sunglasses! Mental.

There has been a lot of discourse about shufflers ‘ruining’ house nights, what’s your opinion?

I think they bring a vibrancy to the event. They remind people of Fred Astaire and Charlie Chaplin!

Who are you most looking forward to watching?

I’m really excited to see the lion of Zimbabwe Thomas Mapfumo, will be excellent on the main stage – summer vibes. And 73-year old Bollywood musician Charanjit Singh will be excellent as well, he recorded ancient Indian ragas using Roland drum machines, sequencers – and synthesisers – all set to a ‘disco’ beat – creating what mojo magazine referred to as ‘a startling piece of pro to house’. Very excited about him.

On the flip side 15-year-old Leed’s based Samir Alikhanizadeh aka Happa has gained props from tastemakers such as Skream, Annie Mac, Loefah and Ben UFO, remixed Four Tet and Vondelpark will be a must see before he becomes huge!

And of course both Bat For Lashes and Animal Collective will play massive mesmerising sets, they both have loads of great songs to draw from and have played festivals and big events all over the world, so I’m sure they will totally own the stage at Field Day.

What was your highlight last year?

Various highlights over the years have been; Omar Souleyman was amazing, packed tent and people having so much fun with high energy dancing… Caribou playing Sun to a huge, huge crowd on the main Eat Your Own Ears main stage was a special moment. Phoenix headlining in 2010 was a big moment as well, girls on shoulders and a mass sing along, that was brilliant. The Thing – a free jazz very out there improv group packing out the Village Mentality tent was really great to see, really emphasised what a brilliant diverse and music loving audience Field Day attracts.

How long have you been planning this year’s festival? What have you learnt about promoting festivals during Field Day’s tenure?

It always take about a year to plan Field Day, as soon as one finished you are on to the next one. Attention to detail is always key across all elements of the festivals and take on board all feedback and employ the right people for the job in hand, those that have the best experience, knowledge and understanding of their specific area, be it the PA company to the head of production. You are always learning every year and always try and improve elements every year.

Have you been running any notable ad\social media campaigns?

I think Field Day Radio is really exciting. It provides a platform for people to come to the site and discover the bands that are playing and also listen to exclusive interviews with some of the bands, we’ve had everyone from Ginger Baker, Django Django, Animal Collective to Tim Burgess take over a show. You can hear it on Souncloud.

What inspires you to do what you do?

Love of music… and working with a brilliant team of people who are passionate about music as well and doing a fantastic job. Seeing talented acts that rarely perform in London get amazing receptions such as Toumani Diabate at Field Day 2011 as well as being a part of seeing once unknown acts gain stature and success over the years such as Four Tet , The xx, Florence and the Machine, Caribou, and Hot Chip, is pretty hard to beat.

Who would be your dream line-up and why?

Would have to be Radiohead, I’ve always been a massive fan and they are an incredible live band. Led Zeppelin, are another incredible live band and one I will never tire of listening to. I play drums so I was obsessed with John Bonham. I was very lucky to see them at the O2 when they reformed for that special tribute concert.

Kendrick Lamar, massively talented new rapper… love to have him at Field Day, perhaps alongside Frank Ocean. Miles Davies playing Bitches Brew live. Bob Dylan playing Highway 61 Revisited in its entirety. Larry David hosting the main stage, I’d love to see that and meet him. Neil Young playing an acoustic set in the ale tent, Chilly Gonzales and Daft Punk collaborating live in the sky above Field Day in a see through glass balloon, and of course Jimi Hendrix would have to play.

Field Day, Victoria Park, London 25th May.

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  • Joe Roberts

    I’d only go again if they sort out the capacity issues. Watching Jamie XX people were getting lifted over the barriers at the front due to crushing. Shame he wasn’t asked about that

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