Interview: Peats Ridge Festival Director Matt Grant
So Matt, you’ve been putting this together since 2004 and the festival itself has seen an incredible evolution… What are the changes and transformations you’re most excited about this year?
There’s lots of great new stuff this year, we’re launching a new outdoor fully decorated electronic stage at the Festival which will feature cutting edge sets from some wicked producers and DJs, we’re organising it in conjunction with the crew from Noisy Chicken. We’re also launching a new mobile Eco hub at the heart of the Ecoliving Village. It’s an amazing structure that we’ve designed with a team of architects and which is manufactured out of recycled Aluminium agricultural pipe. We’ll be taking it around to other events to educate people about sustainability. Our arts programme is always a highlight, rich and diverse and kooky, this year we’ve partnered with Alchemical Cabaret and will be bringing a full black-out Theatre dome, with full theatrical performances during the day and which we’ll be turning it into a fully themed nightclub at night. The Children’s Festival has a great headliner this year, the Drumming Monkeys and we will be improving ‘The Swamp’, which is our area dedicated to teens, with lots of workshops and live performance. And of course over 140 musical acts, with an outstanding line up of Australian and international acts. Gotye will be playing the midnight set, that’s a real coup, and we have an amazing selection of up and coming Australian talent to give everyone a chance to discover a new favourite act. It’s going to be wicked this year!
Tell me where the inspiration for you to create a sustainable music festival sprung from.
I had wanted to organise a Festival since 1994 but it wasn’t until I took a Permaculture design course in 2000 that the concept of marrying sustainability and a Festival together emerged. I had felt an obligation up until this point to work within the field of sustainability as I could see from a logical point of view that we were heading towards issues with resources on the planet, but I wasn’t sure how to implement this obligation. I had competing pulls between the urge to work in sustainability and the passion to create a Festival. Once the idea of combining both came to me everything just seemed to flow naturally, although I have to say at the time everybody thought I was mad. When we made the choice in 2005 to run the event entirely on renewable energy (100% biodiesel fuelled generators) nobody had done this before and a lot of people said to me you’re crazy to take the risk, but from my information there wasn’t such a risk and it was something I really wanted to do. We’ve run the Festival on renewable energy ever since and to be honest we’ve never had any problems. We’re still the only Festival that’s 100% run on renewable energy and we’re constantly looking for new technologies to decrease our impact on the planet. We report on everything we discover through our Model Event program which is all the information we discover about running a sustainable event that we give away via our website.
Why Glenworth Valley and why the illustrious dates over New Years Eve?
Well, it’s stunning there. Driving down into the valley is an experience in itself with the Festival appearing below you. Also it’s really close to Sydney, which is a definite plus. New Year’s Eve – because it’s the only time of the year where pretty much everybody takes at least a week off and you can get everybody into the most relaxed frame of mind.
Who are you most excited about hearing play in this year’s line up (I’m personally going numb with excitement over Gotye)…
LTJ Bukem, is my personal hero there is no better DJ for stepping out big time on the dance floor, also Oliver Tank will be wicked. Stanton Warriors and Dum Dum Girls will also be well worth checking out.
I see you very much as a pioneer in this field, particularly leading the way in terms of generating sustainable and viable ways to create events and festivals globally, I have to ask though, (it must get hard at times) what keeps you motivated to bring about sustainable changes in attitude in other people?
Good question, probably at the end of the day I’m a stubborn bastard and I rise to challenges. There’s no doubt at all that organising Peats Ridge has been a huge challenge – emotionally. physically, mentally and financially but what I do makes people smile and creates positive change in the world. The Festival is an inspiration to many and it teaches people great things and even in the hardest moments I have never lost my enormous faith in what the Festival stands for in this world.
WHEN: 29th December- 1st January
WHERE: Glenworth Valley (1hr north of Sydney)
HOW MUCH: For 3 days of music with camping included, it’s a steal at $350 per person