OnBlackheath Festival is now in its second year, and this year it’s a big one. Boasting a more than impressive line-up, including the likes of Elbow, Madness, Manic Street Preachers, Laura Mvula and Kelis, OnBlackheath is London’s answer to the full festival experience, all within a stone’s throw of the city.
From Live Aid and Madonna, to the Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd, Harvey Goldsmith has worked with the world’s biggest musical acts and events. We catch up with him ahead of OnBlackheath, which he is promoting.
The setting for the festival is clearly a key part of its identity. Did you have this location in mind from the outset? What do you think it brings to the overall OnBlackheath experience?
I’ve always liked Blackheath. It’ such a beautiful, peaceful area and it’s so close to central London, with a great festival going demographic. I always thought it would be the perfect location for a festival. Now here we are – already in our second year. OnBlackheath is at the end of this country’s busy festival season. Being in Blackheath means everyone in London who didn’t get to a festival can have an authentic festival experience and sleep in their own bed at the end of the day!
There seems to be a growing emphasis on the role of food at festivals, for example Wilderness offers a sit-down, gourmet banquet. Why do you think this aspect of festivals has become so important?
Chefs are the new rock stars! London has gone through a food revolution in the past few years. Everyone is mad about food, nutrition and chefs (including me!). Adding a food emphasis to a festival broadens the depth of people’s experience, and hopefully allows them to have a really great festival without the usual stomach ache at the end of it!
You have been involved with countless high-profile music festivals and events over the years. What have been the biggest changes you’ve noticed to what people expect from the live music experience?
Live music experiences have changed so much since I started. These days it’s getting harder and harder for true fans to get up close and personal with their favourite artists due to the endless VIP and VVIP and VVVIP barriers! OnBlackheath is a festival with no Golden Circles, so true fans can get to the front of the stage and have a great time – just like it should be. It’s better for the artists and better for the fans.
When it comes to booking acts for the festival, how much of an influence does the band / artist being a good fit with the overall ethos and style of the festival have? And does this take precedence when searching for and booking acts over other factors?
We spend months searching for and curating the perfect acts for OnBlackheath. Being a good fit with the ethos and style of the festival is totally paramount, and takes absolute precedence when booking.
As you know, the UK festival market is now huge – there is regularly talk about the market being saturated but many new festivals continue to emerge successfully. OnBlackheath is a newcomer to the scene, what do you think are the key factors to establishing and maintaining a successful festival today?
Producing a top quality festival with a well-considered, rounded experience for fans with excellent artists is the key. Content is obviously crucial, but also having the right people working with me is paramount. I work with the best marketing and PR teams in the business who are all equally as passionate as I am.
Finally, what would you like people going to OnBlackheath to take away from the 2015 event?
We hope it will be a fantastic way to finish the summer for everyone. A brilliant festival experience, great family vibes with a delicious after taste!