Eight years ago, LeeFest simply began as a gathering in sixteen year old Lee Denny’s back garden, full of young party-goers ready for a fun, festival vibe. Now you can find LeeFest exceeding its capacity to 5,000 people with a massive line-up that includes artists such as The Noisettes, Delphic and London Grammar.
With Audio Doughnuts taking over the dance stage alongside Stanton Warriors, Dark Sky, Mele and many more at this year’s festival, we decided to speak to Alex Brooks (Director, Production Manager and Dance Artist Booker) of LeeFest, to find out some exciting news for what is to come in the South-East London Countryside this year around…
What influenced you guys to start LeeFest?
Lee’s parents went away in the summer of 2006 and told us not to have a house party (we got away with it so many times at Lee’s house before). We worked around this rule and said ‘Why not, lets have a Festival instead’ - we thought at the time that if we did a festival it wasn’t a ‘House Party’. It kind of just grew from there.
Did you guys ever expect the festival to become as successful as it has been?
We always had a vision of where we wanted it to be back then, and now we’re here I think that vision just gets bigger as we begin to understand the festival market more. It looks like a great success so far from the outside looking in, but from the inside looking out (meaning the team and I) it feels just like the old days, but perhaps with a little more work and dedication.
Overall, what sort of vibe is LeeFest all about?
LeeFest is about creating the quality and eclectic mix of music and arts normally seen at a large scale festival such as Glastonbury, and putting it on for 2000-2500 people. It brings together people from all different walks of life and different creative disciplines and gives them all an equal playing field and platform to express what they want, musically or through other forms of performing art.
What shall we expect this year? Any cool new things up your sleeves?
We have so much planned for everyone it’s crazy. We have a special lineup including The Noisettes, Delphic, King Charles, Clean Bandit, London Grammar and so many more. But what I find the most exciting are the non-music options; have you ever tried Glitter Wrestling? At LeeFest you can…
What top spots (for example tents, stages) should festival-goers not miss this year?
There are 5 different stages this year and loads of other small bits and pieces going on. I think each person attending the event could have a completely different experience to the next and that’s what is so exciting about the whole event- but if I personally had to choose one stage, it would be the Temple of Boom. It’s my baby, I programme it every year and it’s lots of fun. This year you can find (in my opinion) the pioneers of breaks and bass music, the Stanton Warriors, next to No Artificial Colours- an amazing house duo, next to Mele and Dark Sky (on the Audio Doughnuts stage). All the warm up and support DJs are friends of mine and friends of LeeFest and they know how to get things rocking in that tent pretty quick these days.
What do you enjoy the most about organising LeeFest?
It’s so rewarding at the end of the event, when everything has left the site and the last litter is collected. That feeling we get only once a year is hard to describe to anyone. The great thing about it is that we have our independence and we have run for 8 years now. No one has taken that away from us and we haven’t been led astray by corporate sponsors. LeeFest now is just like it was in the garden in 2006 (except bigger).
Any advice for anyone planning to organise a festival of their own?
Stay true to what your vision and concept is for the event and don’t be afraid to lose a lot of money in your first year.
UK festivals have exploded in recent years across the country. Why should party-goers choose LeeFest?
Party goers should choose LeeFest because it’s a lot of fun, it’s so small and intimate that you get to know the other festival goers (you can even meet Lee’s dad). We have a great music and non-music lineup, and the festival is completely independent- the profit we make is given to the charity Kids Company, and invested back into the festival.
LeeFest takes place on the 12th – 14th of July.
For more information on the line up and tickets, visit the official LeeFest site HERE
And here is a look at last years LeeFest…
Interview by Tania Kabbani