Rob Star & Will Paterson chat to MEOKO about Eastern Electrics Festival

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Hi Guys, Thank you very much for answering a few questions for us. You’re obviously both very successful in your own right, Rob as the promoter of Mulletover and pub/club landlord, and Will as the promoter of FOUND and Hidden nightclub. Could you tell us how you first met and the series of events that led to the formation of eastern electrics?

Rob:  We met while holding events at the paintball arches in Shoreditch, we worked together on a few events and both felt we could do something bigger and better than the events we were currently promoting. The first event was due to take place in the shadow of on old electricity substation in the East End, which was where the name came from (unfortunately we had to relocate at the last minute – something we’re used to!)

Will:  I first met Rob when I was helping to run The Paintball Arches in Shoreditch. He ran a couple mulletover shows in the arches and then we ended up running a joint Issst and mulletover show at the arches opposite the old SEOne club in London Bridge. During this time we started to talk about a different sort of party – one that crossed more musical boundaries and one that set out to be in bigger venues.

It’s been a thriving event brand for a number of years now, how long has this year’s festival been in the planning?

Rob:  We wanted to do a festival when we first started talking about the event (about 5 years ago), but we wanted to grow something more organically which is why we started doing the large scale warehouse parties at Great Suffolk Street. We wanted to build a fanbase for Eastern Electrics first, so that people trusted us when it came to putting the festival on.

Will:  We started work on the festival about 18 months ago, although from when we first started planning EE we always wanted it to be a festival as this would allow us to cross more musical boundaries.

The move from Clapham Common to the new Area 12 site on the Greenwich peninsula couldn’t have been good for your stress levels, do you think the new site offers something more than Clapham Common (despite its lower capacity)?

Rob: We’re used to moving sites, so it wasn’t too stressful (although we’re not normally looking for sites this big!). We’re really lucky to have found Area 12, as it’s perfect for what we want to do. Sound levels will be better than we could have achieved on Clapham Common, and the site has the skyline of the City in the background which will look amazing as the sun goes down. There’s also great transport links down there, so it will be easy for people to get to - at one point we were considering the options of sites outside of London, but we’re glad we’ve kept it close to home.

Will: I think in a funny sort of a way we were lucky when Clapham Common didn’t happen. We underestimated how much our core audience did not want to go to the Common and when we were able to move to a brand new site it was well received. We still like the Common, but I think for the more underground fan it seems too commercial.

Area 12 offers a lot. It has been the brainchild of these very committed Dutch guys, who over the last 3 years have come up with some amazing ideas to bring some fun to this area of the Greenwich Peninsula. They have designed a site that has a massive main stage with great, great sound levels and huge screens. They have secured some brilliant tents including 2 tents, which have 360 degree visuals and a jaw dropping VIP Tower which looks more like a futuristic air traffic control tower than a typical roped off VIP enclosure.

It’s certainly one of the most exciting lineups we’ve seen, if you had to pick one artist from the lineup that you were most excited about booking, or are most looking forward to hearing, who would it be?

Rob: Jamie is the obvious one for me, we’ve been hanging out at the same parties for close to 10 years, and to see him achieve such success is really pleasing for me. I remember doing an amazing illegal party with him in a disused Kwikfit garage back in 2005, all the other promoters wanted to cancel the event, but he trusted my judgement on the venue and it was a great event that people still talk about now. As soon as I knew we were doing the festival I wanted him to headline.

Will: Maceo Plex. I just think as a producer and a DJ he is completely and utterly on fire at the moment. I just can’t wait for him to take apart the main stage.

Realistically, are you actually going to get to see them play though, or will you be running around all day/night working and coordinating? 

Rob:  I will definantly see him play! I’m sure there will be a few of the other usual suspects up there on stage with me as well, hearing him close the festival will be a very special moment! It will probably be the only time during the day that I will get to enjoy myself though – hopefully all the hard work will be done by then!

Will:  Yeah we will be working, but part of that is watching the acts very carefully. We need to know what works and what doesn’t, so we will still be able to get in amongst the tents and the crowd.

Excitement is now brewing of course for the official afterparty, which has just been announced at Proud2. You’re doing it in conjunction with Just Jack and Junk Department who have both been very successful in their own right. What made you decide on these two promotions?

Rob:  I’ve known Rag from Just Jack for years, and I have a great deal of respect for him as a promoter. I went to The Love Saves The Day Festival at the weekend in Bristol (where they hosted one of the main stages) and they did an amazing job (on a similar sort of scale to Eastern Electrics). We always like to work with other promoters and they were the obvious choice for the afters.

Will: Rob has a long standing relationship with Just Jack as they have ploughed a similar furrow to mulletover over the last 5  or 6 years and we both like and respect what they have achieved with the Loves Saves The Day festival.

I started working with Junk Department last year as they organized a show at Hewett Street in Shoreditch. I liked Louis’ desire to push the boundaries and bring some ambition to the London market so it was natural that we should ask them to get involved with our biggest indoor show to date. 

You still have some acts that are yet to be announced. Are these being released slowly over time or do you have a date set to spill all the beans?

Rob: Some of our acts are playing at other London Festivals, so we can’t announce their involvement yet, all will be revealed over the next few weeks…

Will: We are releasing our main headliner on June 19th alongside 2 very big supports! Our main headliner is a full on live electronic act, but one that retains an underground ethos.

2013. Assuming the world doesn’t end, what can you tell us about your plans for next year. Or is it all hush hush?

Rob: It will be bigger and better for us next year, we’ve learnt a lot of lessons with the event this year which will mean we are much better prepared in 2013. We can’t give too much away now, but we’re already getting excited about 2013!

Will: We have already started work on next year’s show. We have learned a lot from EE 0408 and are anxious to put into practice some of these lessons for EE 2013!  We will be releasing the date in September.

There’s an ever growing popularity for festivals abroad. The guys from the Manchester based ‘Warehouse Project’ have obviously come out with the huge Hideout Festival. Do you have any plans for an eastern electrics event anywhere other than London?

Rob: Watch this space…

Will: Now that would be telling.....

Where will you be one week after the festival? Counting the coins, on the beach, or planning the next one?

Rob: I’m going to The Road to Nowhere Festival after Eastern Electrics, so I might still be there!

Will:  Working on NYE.

When you're not planning, promoting and putting on sell out events and festivals, what do you like to do in your spare time?

Rob: I like to do anything that doesn’t involve listening to really loud music or being in close proximity to a bar (I live above my pub in Bethnal Green, so I’m constantly in the pub!). So I spend my spare time doing going out for nice meals and just hanging out with my mates \

Will:  I really like reading. Give me a spare hour and Ill get my head in a book, newspaper or magazine and forget about selling tickets and booking acts!

Do you have a favourite eastern electrics memory?

Rob: Seth, Jamie, Damian and Geddes playing on New Years Eve 2 years ago in the tunnels under London Bridge was pretty special!

Will:  When we put on the first show I didn’t realize Rob even smoked and then he chain smoked for about the first 8 hours!

Promoting for so many years you must have witnessed some excellent blags. Are there any that stand out in your memory?

Rob: I try and stay away from the door when there’s a party on, although on more than one occasion when I have been doing the door, someone has claimed that I have put them on the list and they are a good mate of mine. I’ve never actually embarrassed them by saying that I’m Rob and I’ve never let them before in my life, I’m usually just happy to make them pay!

Will: Someone once called up and claimed to be Cate Blanchett’s PA and wanted to know if she could bring Cate to the show!

Now guys...imagine this scenario: an extremely rich Arab Prince approaches you during an event with an interesting offer...'I give you £1 million cash, one of my wives and 20 camels if you let me play for an hour' ... What do you do?

Rob: Put him on in the VIP area at 11am till midday and tell him he can keep the camels

Will: He could offer Rob 10 million and he still wouldn’t compromise his musical vision.

Thanks a lot guys, looking forward to the festival. See you up the front!

Click here for a chance to win tickets to the official Eastern Electrics Festival Afterparty at Proud2

EE Festival poster lo res

 Interview by Nick Maleedy