With Nozstock’s 20th anniversary festival just a few weeks away one of our regular writers, Debra Welsh, caught up with Ella Nozworth (daughter of Noz who founded the festival). We chatted about music, family and the very different festival experience when bringing your children along.
Ella, 2018 will be Nozstock’s 20th anniversary. How long have you been involved with it? What drew you to becoming involved with running the festival?
I was there right from the beginning. I was about 12/13 on the first Nozstock, which was basically a family and friends BBQ! My role has evolved over the years along with the festival. Originally, I would suggest some good bands, help out here and there and my role now as the Creative Director has me involved with Music Management and PR/Marketing.
Our family all live at the festival site, it’s our family farm and our home. We have many of the original crew members still with us who come back year on year. There is a real sense of camaraderie amongst the crew, many of whom are now good friends of ours.
Being part of the festival is all I’ve ever known, it feels so natural to be involved. When I was at university I realised just how unique what our family did every summer with hosting Nozstock was. Although I did a teaching degree I decided to stick with Nozstock and become more involved. Originally I used to work 1-2 days a week but now it’s a full-time role.
Nozstock offers a great range of activities for children young and old. How do you go about sourcing and arranging them?
We have a brilliant kids area co-ordinator who books most of our offerings, we also accept public applications from various kids entertainers. Most of the kids crew are Mum’s themselves so really understand what is required.
Over the years what is put on in terms of kids activities has changed from sit down and watch activities to more interactive ones. When I had my first baby back in 2015 I really saw Nozstock for the first time as a parent, and it helped to shape my view of what is offered! For example, one of the first things that I changed was the addition of a changing area right in the middle of the kids zone. Festival going as a parent is a totally different experience of course, but a unique and amazing one which offers real bonding and family time away from the distractions of everyday life. It’s a lot of fun.
At which point in the year do you start working on assembling the line-up? How do you choose your artists?
We start organising the line-up for the festival in the September. We begin by booking the headliners first so that we know the budget for the rest of the acts. The choosing of artists is very much a family driven thing; we all have such different musical tastes and all like to push what we like to the fore. Due to our differing tastes there is always a really wide range of musical offerings at Nozstock. This year we are very excited to have headliners Chase & Status joining us, as well as acts who have been to Nozstock before such as Electric Swing Circus.
Nozstock has grown quite a lot in the last decade. How do you see the festival evolving in the future?
Not a lot! We are happy with the size and capacity; we are small and friendly. We will always continue to develop what we offer but not increase the size of the festival. We have introduced new areas in recent years such as our “altered state” theatre stage, arts and crafts area and will always seek to improve upon what we currently offer. We would need to rent a neighbour’s farm to increase the size though!
How do you balance being a festival organiser along with being a busy Mum?
Being my own boss gives me a great deal of flexibility; I can be there to put my girls to bed and email into the night. I can bring my children with me onto the farm while I do some measuring for example. It’s not always easy but then being a working parent never is. I’m very lucky!
When the festival begins, do you join in and enjoy it with your family or is there still work to be done?
I don’t get to enjoy it really! It’s crazy, busy, I get blisters on my feet from doing 80 laps of the farm! Getting to see the crew and watch everyone else enjoying it are what makes is special. We have had hard years, when it’s rained heavily etc. That can be stressful. After the festival finishes though there is always a huge sense of satisfaction.
We have a crew party a couple of months after the festival though where we all get the chance to let our hair down. We even have our own fake award ceremony with awards such as Best Team, Hardest Working Crew Member and so on! We all really look forward to that.
Finally Ella, what is your favourite thing about Nozstock?
The crew. When they all come together to start assembling the festival it’s like being reunited with family. It’s a difficult question actually! The feedback we receive frequently is that the atmosphere is great at Nozstock and that it feels very home made which makes us all very happy.
Nozstock returns for its 20th anniversary on 20th – 22nd July. Go to their website to book your tickets!