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Miscellaneous - Interview with Stuart Mackay

  by Jamie Rowland

published: 20 / 6 / 2008

Miscellaneous - Interview with Stuart Mackay


The Indietracks Festival takes place in a heritage train museum in Derbyshire, and this year will feature over fifty indie pop acts including the Wedding Present, Milky Wimpshake, ballboy, and Darren Hayman. Jamie Rowland speaks to organiser and founder Stuart Mackay about his festival

You may not have heard of the Midland Railway in Derbyshire, and perhaps you may feel you’d have no reason to go there unless you have a keen interest in trains. But for two days last year, it was the venue for an exciting new festival called Indietracks, where bands including Bearsuit, Wake the President, Das Wanderlust, Darren Hayman and the Secondary Modern and Persil wowed those who were lucky and smart enough to get themselves a ticket. And at the end of July, it’s back, and the festival’s second effort looks to be just as good, if not better, than last year's. Featuring in this year’s line-up are the Wedding Present, Milky Wimpshake, Ballboy, the return of Darren Hayman and many other examples of the finest indiepop on offer. But where did this exciting new festival come from, and how did a heritage railway centre become the setting for one of the summer’s more intimate and enjoyable festivals ? Pennyblackmusic met up with festival founder and organiser Stuart Mackay to find out. PB : How did Indietracks come into being, and what was the thinking behind combining the worlds of heritage trains and rock 'n' roll ? SM : There are many strands of stories that come together all contributing to the formation of Indietracks, but basically I was new to the indiepop scene and enjoyed it so much I wanted to play a part in it- to give something back. I can't sing or play instruments so the next best thing was to put on a show. My job is restoring these heritage trains, and the Midland Railway where I was working at the time had the facilities for little functions, so we tried holding a little night with three bands playing in a station and an on-train disco. It was an unbelievable success for a first venture, with people travelling from all over the country. That format was restrictive in audience size so we had to alter what we did for the second one, which grew and grew until it became last year's festival. PB : Music-wise, what can people expect from Indietracks? SM : We're branded as an indiepop festival and as far as possible we try to keep to that, but it's a term that's pretty impossible to actually define. A lot of people tend to think of indiepop as purely twee music, but it encompasses a broad range of styles and we have everything from acoustic singer songwriters to a Russian punk band. PB : What would you say sets Indietracks' festival apart from other summer music events ? SM : The trains are obviously what makes us that bit different. There are many smaller very friendly family orientated festivals out there, but I'm pretty sure we're the only one that has bands playing on steam train rides, in a loco shed and in a railwayman's church! PB : This year is the second ever Indietracks festival. How has the organization for this year's event differed in comparison to the festival's debut? Was it easier to get the bands you wanted ? SM : As none of us had any experience in putting together anything like this before, we had a lot of learning to do last year. This time we've been able to build on that and expand a bit. We've more people helping out this year, which I'm extremely grateful for. It was actually less hassle last year getting the bands together with pretty much everyone I asked was up for it. This year there's been a constant stream of requests for slots from bands, labels and booking agents which has proved pretty time consuming to deal with. PB : In an ideal world, where money and scheduling were not an issue, what would be your dream line-up for the Indietracks festival? SM : No names, but my one desire with Indietracks is for a certain ex-Sarah Records band to reform to play for us. Hopefully our reputation will grow to the stage where I'll feel confident that I can at least pose the question to them. Finger's crossed ! PB : Thank you.

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