Townlands Carnival Festival is back this year for another year of a really creative and well thought out festival experience, with the promise of a hugely diverse array of acts on the line up. With international and local acts alike being given a platform to share and perform to a really diverse crowd at one of the most scenic Irish locations at Rusheen Farm, as well as art installations, spoken word and more – Townlands Carnival has it all sussed this year.
Going into their fourth year, they’re offering five stages this year and over one hundred acts in the West Cork location, taking inspiration from events like Notting Hill Carnival and more. They’re dedicated to the cause of community, making it a really welcoming event for all those who wish to attend while also offering some of the best international and homegrown acts around, with five stages dedicated to multi-genre music and art, progressing in energy levels throughout the day.
We caught up with a member of the Townlands team, Síobhán Ní Bhrosnacháin of Skirmish Blog, to talk a little bit about the festival that’s kicking off tomorrow.
Can you tell us a bit about the festival?
“So, we’re going into our fourth year this year and we’re really excited. We’re a fully independent festival and that’s tough to do in today’s climate as you can imagine. We’ve got five stages and over 100 acts. Each stage is dedicated to different genres. We’ve got ‘Riddim Shak’, which is jungle, dub, reggae and all that kind of buzz. It’s run by Worries Outernational Soundsystem, so we’ve got a really really big sound system, probably one of the biggest at the festival. There’ll be the Audio Jack VOID rig at The Hive and all of the other stages are kitted out with epic rigs. We’re really big into using proper sound systems. I suppose Notting Hill Carnival would be a really big influence. I suppose the kind of music that we’re into, they all need a really good sound system, so that’s always our top priority.”
The festival and its organisers really pride themselves on the inclusivity of the weekender and the comprehensive line up that the festival boasts. Síobhán gave us the low down on all the main team members that work together with pride for their area, location and community to provide a platform for unseen Irish talent and an all over festival experience for attendees.
“The four directors are all such interesting people. They’ve all got over 10 years experience in the industry. Greg and Helen would go on tour with really big acts doing stage production. Greg’s a pyro-technician and he would do effects, fire effects and visuals and stuff like that. Helen does production for big acts, she’s gone on tour with Adele and she’s ran her stage production and set up! Feidhlim’s a health and safety officer by trade and he does all of the crossing of the t’s and dotting all the i’s. Sam owns a crew company, so he organises crews for big events. I’m a marketing consultant and I DJ, but all of our main passions are to bring something of really high quality to the rest of Ireland and something to Cork as well, because they’re all from the area. It’s just such a scenic area and its actually where Ireland’s first outdoor festival was. It was that very spot – Rory Gallagher played there years ago.”
We ended up contemplating the current Irish festival scene, noting that Dublin as the capital gets a lot more attention than the rest of the country does when it comes to music culture, events and more.
“The rest of the country gets over looked. There’s a lot of talent on this island and its nice to give it a platform. It’s not just music either, there’s lots of different types of art too. There’ll be theatrical performers and what we call ‘walk-abouts’, so throughout the weekend you’ll see different people dressed up in their carnival get up and they’ll be engaging with the festival attendees. So everyone thats attending, they’re not just attending for the music, they’re attending to get involved with the festival and become part of the carnival and get dressed up. So that’s really really important to us. We have lots of interactive art installations and you can actually delve into the forest – we’ve got a fairy fort this year and in Village Hall, at the earth matters garden, you can plant your own trees to kind of counteract your carbon footprint at the festival. That whole interactive and community element is what’s most important about the festival to us, obviously music is important and its what brings people together, but there’s definitely more to a festival than music.”
The festival line up and its diversity struck me immediately, it’s the kind of line up that you could bring your whole entire extended family and their friends and still find something for everyone. The balance on the line up is commendable, and I wondered how they kept the balance in the booking process.
“Because we have the five separate dedicated stages to different sounds, that kind of makes the booking element a lot easier. It’s sort of a mix with Leftfield and King Kong Company on the same stage as Pontius Pilate and The Naildrivers, a ska band. We’ve got The Eskies and the main stage in particular is a bit of a mix, but the whole idea is that the energy level will progress during the day. So, while it might start with ska, it’ll end up with dance music, you know? I suppose especially with the likes of Leftfield and King Kong Company, they’re really fun and upbeat music and I think anyone can get down to that kind of stuff really. It’s not too niche, I suppose it’s kind of like genre purism verses genre pluralism. When you go to a club night then you’re committed to that, it’s fine. But when you go to a festival, if it is a techno festival, you really really want to like techno to listen to it three days straight, you know? We want to be really mindful that we want to give people a full experience depending on their mood and who they’re with. Maybe they’ve got kids with them, maybe they’ve brought their aunties and uncles with them, stuff like that because we are a community festival first. The Riddim Shak stage, for example, that’ll start with dub and reggae early in the day and as the night goes on it’ll go into the heavier side of it like jungle and drum n bass and stuff like that at night time. It does have that nice progression throughout the day. Even with the village hall we’ve got some spoken word and you can really just stumble across anything, you might be there for techno but you might end up enjoying some trad at some stage too.”
With a passion for bringing acts to prominence who have previously gone under the radar, I asked Shiv who she recommends attendees should go to see, particularly from an electronic music point of view.
“Katie Kim at the Sibín Stage. That’s in the woods. You’re basically covered by the canopy of the woods. Her music is really lofi and its really affected by reverb pedals and she uses some eltronic stuff as well, so she’s going to be absolutely stunning. I’m really excited for Altern 8. They’re doing a specific set for us and they’re really excited and supportive of the festival. They’re kind of more old school rave sort of stuff, it’s really fun music. For people who would be more into house and techno that haven’t entirely experienced old school rave, they’re in for a really good surprise. They put on a really good show. Proper party music. Of course we’ve got acts like Leftfield and music like that, I’m really looking forward to RiRa and Donal Dineen too. You can catch me [Shiv] playing with the Skirmish takeover on The Hive stage on Sunday and on the Pink Flamingo stage on Friday. Chris Munky will also be amazing. He’ll be doing a set at the Riddim Shack with a singer called Eva Lavarus. She’s actually stunning, she kind of does some rapping and singing and she’s really influenced by soul and R&B. They’re working on a set together specifically for a festival so it’ll be really cool. The Four Four take over will be before KETTAMA, with sets from Sam Greenwood and DART.”
Townlands Carnival Festival takes place Friday July 20 to Sunday July 22, at Rusheen Farm, Cork. You can find out more here.