Alfresco is one of the UK’s premier boutique festivals and it’s returning to Tunbridge Wells this weekend.
Unlike most hedonist outdoor music affairs, this one is very family friendly and deems itself to be ‘musically non compromising with a line that includes legends of dance music and electronica alongside the best in current underground music’.
After its inaugural success last year, the Alfresco festival has been expanded to include two more outdoor stages in order to host its mix of Balearic, Disco, Acid House, Electronica, Funk, Hip Hop, House and Reggae acts.
But it’s not just all about the music, there’s also a huge arena full of entertainers, shows, stalls and fun and games to ensure any little ones are kept happy. There will also be a full size roller disco, bubble magicians, arts & crafts workshops and the incredible Groove School hosting DJ classes.
With a wellbeing area, well equipped campsite and huge array of street food stalls and bars, it really does offer something for everyone.
Eileen Leahy caught up with one of the biggest names performing at Alfresco’s chilled out venue in Colebrook Lakes, former Leftfield star Paul Daley, about why he’s so excited to be part of a festival that truly celebrates the great outdoors – whatever your age.
So Paul, can you tell us how you got involved with the Alfresco festival?
I DJ’d for the organisers a few times, and we also rubbed shoulders at some of London’s more underground night spots – at the bar and on the dancefloor. I’d heard good reports about what Nicky Chanot and Mark Davis were doing with the Alfresco festival and was really chuffed when they asked me to be involved.
Why do you think it’s important to support the smaller, grassroots festivals like this one?
That’s where the new talent is, and it’s great that Alfresco are supporting new DJs and artists as well as the more established acts. The UK festival scene seems to be constantly evolving, so you have to have more underground festivals to counter the commercialism of the bigger ones. The vibe in a tent with 200 people can be sometimes mightier than the main stage in front of 60,000 people, judging from my past experiences.
What do you enjoy most about playing festivals?
I don’t really play festivals so much these days, my time was when I was playing a lot as a DJ and as half of Leftfield when we were on tour between 1990 and 2010. At one point in the middle of that it was so fast moving I didn’t know what country I was in sometimes! Of course, the main rush is the first half hour after you have played a good gig. Music brings people together and can be a leveller for everyone – and I do still enjoy that feeling.
What makes festivals special compared to a regular concert?
I think the main thing is that’s it’s outdoors; there’s something built into our DNA and our instincts that we just have to party outdoors sometimes.
Can you tell us a little bit about your history with the iconic dance group Leftfield?
In 1991 I remixed our first record Not Forgotten. We then went on to do a lot of remixing of other artists, formed a label, released a few records and put out a few other artists’ records on the Hard Hands label. We then recorded and released our first album: Leftism. I was writer, programmer, arranger and producer as half of the Leftfield duo on all remixes and both albums and releases.
How important were Leftfield to the dance music genre?
Leftfield is as important as the fans and public want to make it. I leave the decision on how important we were to other people…
What are you currently working on?
A few different projects in the studio at the moment. Some of it involves writing and making music for myself and some for other people.
What other festivals will you be playing this summer?
There are a couple of things I’m considering at the end of the summer, but after the Alfresco festival I go to Ibiza to do a couple of DJ gigs, and then I’m back in the studio.
Paul Daley will be performing at the Alfresco festival over the weekend. Other artists playing include Wolfgang Flur of Kraftwerk, Alexis Taylor from Hotchip and Crazy P Soundsystem. Day tickets cost from £20 and camping from £55. For more information visit www.alfrescofestival.co.uk