DJ AirMiles: E.M.A’s guide to surviving festivals, Mr Nice, Rudimental and why no-one should travel with her!
| 28th June 2019
Festival season has well and truly kicked off and although I’m not getting involved this year, I’m currently sat here in the China sunshine writing this column reflecting on some of my festival highs and lows having a good chuckle to myself.
I’ve been so lucky to have experienced some of the greatest festivals in the world, from being a punter aged 17 to now actually DJing at them!
I’ve got a lifetime of festival stories I could tell you, as I imagine some of you have too, but I’ve narrowed it down to my faves, kicking off with the almighty Glastonbury….
Glastonbury the highs – Dreams do come true
Glasto was one of the first festivals I ever graced at the tender age of 17 and then, magically, 17 years later and I’m on the frinkin’ line up in the Glade Area (which is one of the coolest parts of Glasto) alongside some of my favourite DJ’s like Gorgon City and Goldie.
Dreams do come true if you wish and work hard enough for it and it was exciting times ahead.
All the other years I’d been in some shitty little tent on a big hill, miles away from the fest, one year we didn’t even put our tent up properly and it blew away!
Glastonbury the lows – Somerset organic cider
But things didn’t turn out quite to plan. As always, I got caught up in the party scene of things and stupidly the day before my set, I drank WAY too much of the local homemade cider, which was a big mistaker to make! The next day (day of my gig) I was seriously ill and couldn’t keep anything down!
I was so ill I nearly didn’t make it to (the biggest gig then) of my life! But my friends made sure I got to that stage and played. I was sick five minutes before I had to be on stage, but as soon as I touched those decks and saw people raving to my tunes, this crazy adrenaline came over me and I absolutely smash my set.
But when I came off stage, I was sick again and had to spend the last night of Glastonbury in bed and missed everything.
Moral of this story is – Just don’t drink ex-amounts of Somerset cider before a big gig, and yes, I have learnt my lesson haha!
Hideout the highs – Making friends 4Life
I was so glad I didn’t realise till just before my set how big this stage/area was or I might have bailed back then as I hadn’t been DJing for long, but being put on the spot you just roll with it right and it was such a buzz.
At one point it looked like I was going over to Croatia on my own, which was fine as I was there to work, but last min a couple of girls from Manchester, that I knew through the scene were going, Heart Radio DJ Lorna Bancroft and Corrie Actress Katie McGlynn.
We didn’t know each other that well before landing on the Hideout Croatia island but it was pure giggles from start to finish with these girls, from raving on stage with Eric Prydz and conducting the crowd to hitching a ride on a sailing boat with Captain Chos back to the airport (which is another story in itself). I’ve made friends with these two for life.
Moral of this story: Size isn’t everything and just go for it when life gives you an opportunity. It’s amazing how the power of music can bring you together.
Hideout the lows – Leaving
This was the first time I’d ever been to Croatia and It’s one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. I wish we had stayed another week after the festival had finished to explore more of it. But I did get so see some of it from afar on the sailing boat that Bancroft managed to blag us back to the airport.
As soon as Eats Everything had played his last tune in the Elrow tent we made our way down to a jetty near our hotel and jumped onboard Captain Chos’ boat for one and a half days sailing on the gorgeous sea. Admittedly, we might have been a tad worse for wear (what do they say about a drunken sailor) when we boarded but as soon as we’d sobered up from the festival we just lay on deck and soaked up the sun and amazing views.
Moral of this story is – Always take a mate to a festival who’s the ultimate blagger and in the words of Bancroft; “my work here is done”.
Eden the highs – DJing with Howard Marks aka Mr Nice
Set in Scotland in the Raehills Meadows near Moffat, Dumfries, Eden was shortlisted for best family festival award in the UK festival awards 2014, and this was the first festival I’d ever DJ’d at alongside my DJ partner in crime, the legend Howard Marks.
This would be the 2nd to last time I DJ’d with Howard before he sadly passed away of cancer a few years ago.
We played a banging rock n roll set in the chill-out tent, that wasn’t so chilled by the time we had finished ha-ha! Bez from the Happy Mondays was also playing that day with Vince Vega in the Acid House tent who both joined us behind the decks much to all the festival goers delight.
It was a super fun and special day that I will always treasure with Howard, and I don’t have any lows about this festival only that I wish I could do it all again with the man we called Mr Nice!
Moral of this story: Make the most of the time you’ve got with the people you love.
Snowbombing the highs – Rudimental + snowboarding + raving = the perfect fest
I’m taking you over to the snowy mountains of Mayrhofen and this is where I found my true love – Rudimental (don’t tell Sigma).
I’ve been their biggest fan ever since discovering this band at Snowbombing. Their energy on stage is just so empowering, I’ve always been a lover of drum and base and these guys just nail it on the head in my eyes.
This festival for me is just perfect as it’s a mash up of my two favourite things to do in my spare time; raving and snowboarding!
I literally don’t sleep at this festival because I don’t want to miss anything. It’s snowboarding during the day, curving up the snow to all the banging on piste bars, quick shower, change and a bite to eat, then heavy raving into the early hours of the morning, then straight back on the snow.
I had the absolute honour of DJ’ing one year in Rompas Reggae shack warming up for Mr Motivator hahaha – yes Mr Motivator DJs and he’s pretty good.
Moral of this story: Festivals are even better when you combine all the things you love. Snow, beats and Mr Motivator.
Snowbombing the lows – Exhaustion
As I mention before, I never get enough sleep at this festival and on the last day I passed out on a ski lift going up a mountain. Thank goodness my friend Matty the starfish was on there too, so he woke me up as soon as we hit the top.
But I just couldn’t get back down the mountain. I was exhausted, so we just feel asleep in the snow for a good hour or so until I got my energy back.
Moral of this story is – Stop being such an excitable Duracell Bunny and get some rest before your batteries run out! The rave will still be going on when you wake up.
Bestival the highs – Too many highs to mention
Ending on an absolute winner! I’ve been to Bestival four times now and it never disappoints. It was originally located on the Isle of Wight but conveniently re-located to the Dorset countryside just up the road from where my Dad lives.
I’ve got so many highlights from this festival I just wouldn’t know where to start. I was a punter for the first two years I went and then DJ’d at the previous two.
To sum it up in one sentence Rob Da Bank knows how to throw an epic, creative, fun packed and most friendly festival, and I love the fact that Saturday is fancy dress and each year there’s a different theme.
Bestival the lows – travel problems
When Bestival was located on the Isle of Wight it was a bit of a trek to get there from Manchester UK, you had to drive down to Southampton and then catch the ferry over, then drive to the festival the other side.
Well one year I oversaw booking the ferry and as we left the festival on the Monday morning, looking like shit and feeling like shit we got caught up in the biggest cue to get off the island. Sat there for a good few hours half asleep the ticket man knocks on the window and asked for our tickets.
He then asked me which ferry we had booked, and I said the 1pm one, when he replied no, I’m afraid you booked the 1am one this morning, and there’s no way you are getting on this ferry until midnight tonight now!
As you can imagine, Mr Deansgate from Mad About Manchester and DJ Neil Andrews, who were my festival buddies for the weekend were extremely pissed off with me, as all you want to do when the festival is over is get your ass home in your clean comfortable bed!.
We were all pretty skint too and all we could afford was to pay to pitch our tent again in some campsite near the beach and have a little nap!
It ended up being quite a funny day though as the campsite had some strange 80’s disco going on in the local pub, so watching a load of old caravan people dancing to really bad music entertained us for a good few hours!
Moral of this story is – don’t ever leave me in charge of travel plans!
To all you festival ravers out there, hope you have learnt something here from my previous festival fuck ups ha-ha! Have the best summer, and don’t forget to wear sunscreen!
For everything E.M.A goto www.emadj.com
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E.M.A’s FESTIVAL SNAPS