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Secret Garden Party's Head Gardener Freddie Fellowes chats to Charlie Partridge ahead of this years festival


You managed last weekend in the park. It might have been slightly colder than you hoped, but it is getting sunnier. Festival season is just around the corner and people have already started talking about that one weekend in July. Secret Garden Party has one of the best reputations for festivals. A festival-goer's festival, it is known for attention to detail. Matching brilliant music line-ups with paint fights, insanely good firework shows, sky writing aeroplanes and more wild abandon than you can throw a bucket of glitter at.
Head Gardener Freddie Fellowes is the Willy Wonka of this wild weekend and I sent him a few silly questions. I don't think he liked them, which is a bit like being told to 'sod off' by Father Christmas. Or at the very least Father Christmas has come to your dinner party and corrects you on your grammar. Sorry Freddie. I think he must speak to a lot of journalists, and he is right, I should be more careful when discussing the Weimar Republic.
Let's find out what he had to say anyway. I'll still be going. Where else am I going to find The Dave-Off?

Charlie: 12 years of Secret Garden Party. As well as bands, paint fights and naked mud-wrestling SGP also includes Bloody Mary Brunches at your Soul Fire Trattoria and Finnish Hot Tub experiences under the stars.  Has your festival grown up with you?
What's the greeting card adage; 'you're only young once but you can be juvenile forever'. I am not sure grown up is the right phrase; but if you are asking have we refined our approach as to how to throw the best party in the 12 years doing it? Most certainly.

Charlie: You're at a party and end up meeting you from the first SGP in 2002 (its one of those parties). After the initial surprise, what do you think the 2002 you would say to 2014 you, what would you say back?
2014 me -"Get an accountant". 2002 me - "Get a drink"
Charlie: Festival toilets. Sorry to talk crap. Is there a way to make them run smoothly?  

Charlie: Do you encourage Mindful Hedonism?
Yes, if I knew what it was.

Charlie: Historically, eras known for brilliant parties preceded the collapse of civilisations - The Roman Empire, The Weimar Republic - How do you feel about your role in the apocalypse and what will SGP do after?
Was the Weimar Republic a civilisation? I think revolutions followed these times, as apposed to apocalypses. So to plagiarise a Tom Robbins quote; 'Humanity has advanced, not because it has been sober, responsible and cautious; but because it has been playful, rebellious and immature.'
Charlie: To pick bands you might go to a lot of gigs in a year.  How do you pick the things which aren't bands? How do you pick a 'Dave-Off'?
How do you not pick a 'Dave-Off'?!?! Rather like music demos we get submissions of ideas from loads of people, some are just solid go from the start and you can tell they will work. The 'Dave-Off' was certainly one of those.

Charlie: One year at SGP I shot a man with a paintball gun in front of 1500 people.  He was collecting fruit in a game called 'Call of Fruity'. Everyone including the man asked for more. What have you done before at a festival that you didn't think you would get away with?
Obviously everything is thought through to ensure it's as safe as possible so it's more a case of how far people are happy to go and how far you want to challenge your audience.. I'm not sure we've done anything that we didn't think would work. What I've done at other people's festivals that I didn't think I could get away with; well that's another story.

Charlie: Recently, there have been some fantastic structures at SGP, Pirate Ships, Colli-silly-iums, a giant peddle-powered monkey carousel from Burning Man.  What should we get excited for this year?
The fact you won't know what will be there until you arrive. I know it sounds coy but we really do like to keep the curtain down until show day. Expectation being the mother of all disappointment an all that.
Charlie: OK, lets talk about bands for a bit. Who have been your favourite bands off stage and why?
Off-stage; not sure I've really met many of them properly. There isn't any backstage bar so if they stay they are out in the party. There are certainly a few individuals who have ended up great friends but no bands as such.

Charlie: On stage - which band blew your mind, who was the funniest, and who made you the most reflective?
Blew my mind - probably Lykke Li in 2006 or Phoenix in 2008. Funniest - hands down Tim Minchin in 2012. Reflective - hmm, we've had some crackers; Mercury Rev or I Am Kloot are pretty high up but I think the prize has to go to Keren Ann.
Charlie: And finally, which bands are you excited for this year?  Who will make us dance the hardest?
I'm honour bound to say they all excite me but the ones I will be making sure I don't miss are: Little Dragon, Maya Jane Coles, Bipolar Sunshine, Max Raabe and the Palaast Orchester & Public Enemy.

Secret Garden Party, 24 - 27 July 2014 at Abbots Ripton, Cambridgeshire.


COMPETITION: Win 1x Pair of 'Adult Weekend' tickets to attend 'Secret Garden Party 2014' at Mill Hill Field, Abbots Ripton from 24 - 27 July. To enter the competition, send an email to admin@run-riot.com with the correct answer in the ‘subject’ box. The winner will be randomly selected.

Q: Of the following acts, which are not performing at Secret Garden Party 2014?

A: .1) Years and Years .2) The Correspondents .3) Hercules And Love Affair .4) Little Dragon .5) Trick question they (and many others) are ALL performing at Secret Garden Party!

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