What’s Done is Dunn…
Despite the best efforts from our persistently misleading office sat-nav, Outline arrived at Henham Park just in time to catch the latest news from Latitude’s Local Press Day. Head honcho Melvin Benn championed the new Tour de Latitude scheme, rattled through a variety of new additions (Chilly Gonzales, Van Dyke Parks, David O’Doherty to name a few) and ended in a flurry of hyperbole; claiming that Latitude 2012 will be “the most important cultural weekend in England.” When things calmed down a little, we also got the opportunity to talk to Jon Dunn, Festival Republic’s musical curator.
For a man in charge of numerous festival line-ups, who books thousands of bands all year round, and has been doing so for Festival Republic since 2006, Jon is still heart-warmingly excited about this year’s Latitude. “I’m definitely really looking forward to it. I can’t wait. When you get here [to the empty site on press day] you just think, ah it’s only a month away.” But that enthusiasm can’t take over just yet, as there’s still much to be done. “[These promo days] kind of bring it home that you still have a lot of work to do; you get back to the office in London and its like ‘Oh my god I’ve still got like eight acts I’ve got to get in four weeks!’”
Jon confesses that a lot of the complications that come with booking bands for festivals are of his own doing. “The problem is every year I get too excited.” He admits that he finds himself promising Latitude slots to more and more bands that he loves, and while it’s great that Jon has such a passion for the acts he chooses to put on the bill, sometimes he won’t remember having spoken to them in the first place: “Those conversations come back to haunt you about three or four months before the festival when they say, ‘Jon you promised us a slot’ and I’ll say ‘Did I? OK, I’ll try and find you slot…’”
Of course, these occasional oversights are perfectly understandable when you consider just how much work Jon does each year. As well as booking for Latitude, he also oversees the line-up at Electric Picnic, and would be working for The Big Chill too, if it hadn’t have been cancelled for 2012. Has the removal of one of the festivals on his to-do-list made things easier this year? “Yeah it probably has”, but he goes on the say that he, “Got started at Latitude earlier than ever this year” and that “Once we came out of the festival [in 2011] we were pretty much bang into it again.” Almost without being questioned on why this was, Jon went on to say, “It’s much more competitive, there are so many festivals out there and we all compete for some of the same acts.” For someone who’s taken a fair bit of abuse over line-ups in years past, it’s refreshing to hear that Jon has still worked his socks off to book phenomenal artists like Bon Iver exclusively for Latitude in 2012.
However, when asked who he was personally looking forward to this year, Jon didn’t opt for the easy option and just pick one of the amazing headliners. “I love the bill because a lot of the acts are people I personally really like. If I answered that question ten times it would be ten different acts.” We pressed him for who it would be right now, and he opted for London based garage-fuzzers Splashh: “They’re just absolutely fantastic…certainly ones for the future.”
Latitude Festival 2012 is taking place at Henham Park between 12-15 July, for tickets and more information head to www.latitudefestival.co.uk.