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Last month we brought you a review of Behind the Castle a new one day festival jam packed with music. Whilst we were at this festival we managed to drag ourselves away from the music to interview one artist from each of the three stages. This was a great opportunity for us as we would be interviewing established musicians who have a wealth of experience playing large venues. With this in mind we decided to try and get an overview of three key points in a successful career. Getting gigs, recording an album, and looking back.

Rodney Branigan

Cara Dillon

The Levellers

photo by Steve Chick

Rodney Branigan, although he has a long career taking his music all over the world, he has only been living in the UK for seven years. In this time he has made a successful name for himself on the festival circuit, so he was the perfect candidate to ask for his advice on getting gigs at festivals.

 

“An absence of pretentiousness will help musicians get the opportunity to perform at a festival. Festival organizers want to work with people who are easy to work with. If you're difficult they will write you off pretty quickly. Also being flexible helps. The first year I came to the UK I didn't have any festivals booked. I managed to get a slot at Glastonbury festival which I did for free, this was a good starting point because all the promoters from other festivals go to Glastonbury. Unfortunately all the promoters I met had already spent their budget for the year. Undeterred I agreed  to play at their festivals for free, doing this meant I could play 20 to 25 festivals in the first year which gave me huge exposure”.

Cara Dillon, released her 5th album ‘A Thousand Hearts’ in May. With this still fresh in her mind we asked about the recording process.

 

“We have our own studio at home, because we have children we do a lot of our recording at night. Recording at home is more relaxed you don't get the red light fever that you get in a studio where time is money. It gives me a lot of freedom, I sometimes felt pressured in a recording studio. You might be trying to record a whole album in one day when you’re not at your best. If this happens at home, it can be put off until the next day. But you do have to be very self-motivated”.

 

“Now the album is complete it was amazing to have Ed Sheeran tweet about it which was entirely out of the blue. He's a wonderful person to give me a chance like that, he has 9.4 million followers so to do a random tweet like that is worth more than gold”.

The levellers, have been there, done it, and we wear their t-shirts. So how does a band that has headlined Glastonbury festival (often considered the pinnacle of a music career) stay ambitious and motivated.

 

“We've always got ambition were often thwarted by our own ambition, it’s not always easy. But when you've done a big show like Glastonbury you want to keep doing them, we want to keep reaching an audience. New ears are our ambition, we want to reach out to a younger audience. I think younger audiences get what we’re doing because what we do isn't old man's music. What we do is folk music with bollocks”.

 

“Looking back there have been several high points, I suppose the obvious one is headlining Glastonbury. But we get just as much satisfaction from headlining our own festival beautiful days. We did a big anti-Nazi festival in Brockwell Park about 20 years ago, and that was a big deal we played to about 250,000 people”.