With the line up to Lau-Land announced the festival looks a mighty enticing end to May. Martin Green of Lau gives us an exclusive on how it all came to be and what to expect.
Where and what is Lau Land? What is its geography, its climate its people and its politics?
Well Lau-Land moves around so it’s climate varies a bit. It is our movable festival, a celebration of music we love and a chance to introduce great musicians to each other and an audience, that perhaps hasn’t come across all of them before. It’s a little window in our collective musical mind.
When did the idea of Lau-Land come about? What is the guiding principal or philosophy of the festival?
More music for more people more of the time. That’s the basic idea, the music we present is of all flavours, and that is important, it’s not a genre specific event, and where possible finding connects between musicians of different backgrounds, that is important to us. We also encourage people to get involved, folkies are really good at getting involved in playing music at festivals, and we all come from that tradition and want to encourage that, so there will be trad sessions and singing sessions and workshops, but also participatory things from other forms of music, some hands on electronic music events, and seminars for people to talk and learn and get excited about musical ideas.
Who has been involved and did you get a totally free hand in deciding the line up? What have been the biggest challenges in bringing it all together?
We are doing this event in partnership with Sage Gateshead, so we talked to them about out ideas for programming and they have been amazingly helpful and supportive, we have been really lucky with who was available and up for taking part. We have had a free hand in deciding the line-up but the Sage have given us a lot of advice about what works well in their venue and helping to think about programming a whole weekend so it feels like one homogeneous event, rather than just a series of gigs. The biggest challenge for us has been the logistics, there are loads of things to think about, and getting all the bits to fit together at the same time is tricky, again having the experience of the Sage’s team has been invaluable.
How did you go about choosing the other acts? Are they people you are close with?
We listen to a lot of music as a band, in the van mostly when we’re travelling, but there is also a lot of sharing music between us when we find things that excite us. This is a representation of those artists some are musicians that have been important to us in our development as modern folkies, people we listened to over and over as teen-agers (Chris Wood and Andy Cutting, Martin Hayes) others are people that have warped out minds more recently (Fred Frith, Hacker Farm, Michael Chapman) and some are what we think represents brilliant music being made just now (RM Hubbert, Aidan Moffat, The Unthanks) that we want to present. Some are Lau van favourites, John Carty for example we listen to a lot. The club night on Saturday will be brilliant, great bands that work best where they can work a bit of a sweat up, so that will be in The Central bar in Gateshead, just across from the Sage and a great late night spot.
There are some very interesting collaborations in the mix, (Hubbert/Moffat, The Unthanks with Martin and Dennis, Frith/Chapman and You and Aofie), were these already taking shape or are they specially organised for this festival?
The Unthanks we always wanted to get involved, we are close to them professionally and we’re all good pals, we were all keen to do something really special, and we asked them who they would like to collaborate with. They came to us with the concept of Martin and Dennis and The Voice Squad, all such top quality artists, of course that excites us very much. Collaboration has always been a big part of Lau’s musical life and the chance to extend that and facilitate collaboration between others is like magic for us.
What in particular will this mean for the Lau live show?
Lau are going to start of the festival on the Thursday night, it will be mega to have Aoife there, Lau and Crooked Still did a big collaborative gig at Celtic Connections a few years back and Aoife has guested with us on a few shows, it is fantastic that she can make it to this given that she lives several thousand miles away. It’s gonna be a stouter!!
Interview by: Simon Holland
Folkworks: Lau-Land: Thursday May 29th – Saturday May 31st
Lau Plus Support Aoife O’Donovan
Thursday 29th May, 2014. 8pm
The Unthanks with Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill and The Voice Squad
Friday 30th May, 2014. 7.30pm
Fred Frith with Michael Chapman
Friday 30th May, 2014. 8pm
A Morning Sing With The Unthanks
Saturday 31st May, 2014, 10.30am – 11.30am
Big Family Sing and Dance
Saturday 31st May, 2014. 12pm – 1pm
Norma Waterson & Eliza Carthy: Love Farewell – The Journey Of A Song John Carty: Irish Tunes Workshop
Saturday 31st May, 2014, 12pm – 1.30pm
Lau-Land Sonic Thinking Workshop with Fred Frith and Adrain Uttley
Saturday 31st May, 2014. 12.30pm
Eliza Carthy: Song Workshop
Saturday 31st May, 2014. 2.30pm – 4pm
Big Family Sing and Dance
Saturday 31st May, 2014. 2.30pm – 3.30pm
Chris Wood and Andy Cutting with John Carty
Saturday 31st May, 2014. 4.30pm
RM Hubbert and Aidan Moffat
Saturday 31st May, 2014. 9pm
Full details and tickets here: www.sagegateshead.com/tour-dates/lau-land