Interview: Audio Farm Festival

The Audio Farm crew, who are well-known for their legendary electronic nights in Manchester and North Wales, are a non-profit, non-corporate organisation. Their new festival is a far cry from the money-hungry festivals that seem to dominate the UK’s festival scene, with all the money from ticket sales going to The Green Paw Project, a charity that works to save the lives of helpless animals in third world countries- if that’s not reason enough to go, I don’t know what is…

I caught up with Ste Chesters, one of seven directors of Audio Farm Festival, to find out more.

For those who haven’t been to Audio Farm Festival, could you briefly describe the experience?

Audio Farm Festival is a wealth of experiences, stimulating all the human senses and opening the portals to a world of possibilities in an explosion of imagination. It provides a safe space to expand your skillsets with progressive workshops and talks, where talented and knowledgeable healers offer alternative treatments to rejuvenate the mind, body, and soul through holistic disciplines, massage, guided meditation, gong baths, yoga and shamanic journeys.

How and when did the festival first come about?

The Audio Farm collective started from a small rig called Jumpleague that put on raves in North Wales. Then, in 2009, we all moved to Manchester and in to the infamous house at 148 Wellington Road. Audio Farm was born with our first event featuring Jon Carter and Hybrid, and the second was Greg Wilson’s return to Manchester with A guy called Gerald. We ran monthly events and, in 2013, we went to friend’s 30th birthday on a site called The Workhouse, a local festival site we had partied at over the years. At that moment, we decided to put on a festival on a date that was just five weeks away! We curated and set up the festival in five weeks and over 500 people attended. Since then, we have put on a festival each year.

What kind of music can we expect to hear?

Everything from House, Techno, DnB and Psytrance, to the live bands on the home drum, to Gypsy Folk, Tribal and Funk. We also have The Nest, where you can enjoy 14 hours of acoustic live music a day right opposite a lake. One stage is a double tipi, home of Afro Sounds, including our Reggae Sunday, which will be hosted by my North Wales collectives. Headliners of the festival include Carl Craig, Kevin Saunderson, Cari Lekebusch, XDB and Jerome Hill.

And what else is on on offer, besides the music?

We will have a healing area for replenishing the mind, body and soul. Housed in yurts and tipis, our healers offer vast alternative remedies such as Reiki, Gong Baths, Shamanic Practices and Massage for groups and individuals. Then there is the Tent of Symmetry, beneath which you’ll find tools to expand your mind, revitalise your soul and realign your body’s chakras. With a full range of therapeutic workshops including Kundalini Yoga, Guided Meditation and Cacao Ceremonies, this is the place to experience practices from ancient cultures from all over the world. We also have the Speakers Keep. This little nook of the festival is where you’ll be able to listen to and partake in fascinating talks, debates and lectures, with subjects ranging from Animal Welfare, Philosophy and Physics, right the way through to Consciousness Expansion.

Besides this, we offer a Children’s Area, Performer’s Corner, Fire Zone, Jamming Area, and plenty more!

What, in your opinion, makes Audio Farm stand out from other festivals?

We are non-corporate organisation curated for love, not money, and Audio Farm Festival is a transformational festival, which focuses on healing, wellbeing, spreading positive vibes and inspiring people. We are also a 100% vegan festival and all our profits go to charity. All this, along with good quality music from across the globe, is what I believe makes us special.

Over the past few decades, other UK festivals have changed from free-thinking and love-fuelled events to corporate businesses. Sadly, over 45% of festivals in the UK are now owned by a handful of corporate companies with one objective: making money. These corporations see festivals as a way getting rich, whereas Audio Farm has, and always will, stand up against these corporations. We will continue to run our events for charity, and curate them for love, rather than selling out to these corporate companies that are trying to monopolise our beloved UK festival scene.

Who or what has been your greatest influence?

The Audio Farm Collective are all seasoned festival-goers and over the years, we have been inspired by many of these festivals, namely Boom in Portugal. We got inspired to create a transformational festival like Boom and we aim to inspire others in the same way.

Can you tell me a little more about The Green Paw Project?

The Green Paw Project is aiming to raise £30,000 to build an animal wildlife sanctuary in Malawi to help rescue and rehabilitate wildlife, such as leopards and antelopes, and aid in the fight against poaching animals through frontline work in the National Parks. With funds raised from previous Audio Farm events and festivals, Green Paw’s project ‘Mission Malawi’ will kick off in October with a free veterinary clinic and Rabies campaign for locals of Malawi, which is project managed by the Audio Farm team, founders of the charity. As 100% of Audio Farm Festival Ltd’s shares are also owned by the Green Paw Project, the ticket money goes towards event costs and the remainder is given to fund the vital work of the charity. This is all on top of the donations that have previously been generated from past events and festivals, which amounts to an incredible £14,756.

Any last words?

“In the universe, there are things that are known, and things that are unknown, and in between, there are doors.” ONE LOVE, ONE TRIBE x

For more interviews with festival organisers, follow my series “Tell me about your festival” on Medium.

Composed by: Milly Day

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