The London based techno festival Junction 2 made its debut in June of this year, the brainchild of one the capital’s most esteemed electronic music promoters, London Warehouse Events. The event’s auspicious combination of a unique location, revered creative partners, high-end production, and relatively non-commercial ethos led to overwhelmingly positive feedback from attendees.
Insights spoke with LWE’s Operations Manager, Alice Favre, about the lessons they learned from the first edition and their plans moving forward.
Festival Insights: You’ve recently announced the return of Junction 2 for 2017. First off: how did the inaugural festival go?
Alice Favre: Really well. The feedback has been amazing online, as well as from industry friends, locals, and the council too, which is always nice. Sound levels were better than we could have ever expected. We knew they were going to be OK but it was impossible to know exactly what level we were going to achieve so we were loathe to over promise and under deliver, but luckily we did the opposite. We also didn’t sell out last year, which hurt financially, but everyone in festival land in the UK had a hard time selling tickets and I feel like we really made our mark. I feel we are set for success in 2017. Also it was a challenging site to set up and we encountered some pretty harsh first year lessons which threatened to set the build schedule back, but we overcame everything with a smile on our face and not a cross word said on site. I am so proud of the LWE team for everything we achieved together that week.
FI: Did you learn any particularly salient lessons from year one that you’ll be acting upon for next time?
AF: Measure the height of the pillars and beams under the motorway and get every supplier to check the exact height of their trucks! We lost at least half a day of build because of that one, tiny mistake.
FI: In 2017 you’ll be bringing back Drumcode and The Hydra as curators. Are you guys keen to keep the programming sensibilities centred on techno and house, or are there other genres you’re intent on exploring within the festival in future?
AF: Yes we want to stick on that genre. Focused more towards techno and then bringing in elements of broader electronic music but sticking with the 4/4 beat.
FI: How much of Junction 2’s popularity do you attribute to its idiosyncratic location? Will you be introducing new features amidst its ‘hidden enclaves’ next year?
AF: A great deal of our success was definitely due to the site, but that’s what we specialise in as LWE: finding amazing venues in unusual locations. It’s really hard finding sites in London, mainly due to the lack of spaces that are not surrounded by houses. But even if you do find an amazing site, you still need to set it up well and make sure you carefully plan for crowd flow, entrance and exit, and have enough staff and toilets. It’s amazing how often people get this wrong.
FI: As a London based metropolitan festival, do you have any thoughts on the recent closure of Fabric and how the precedent might affect the festival sector?
AF: This is obviously a much-debated subject in our office. A precedent could be set going forwards, but I really hope it isn’t and that Fabric get to have their say on a fair and level playing field. The issue goes much deeper than their case though, in my opinion this is all centred around stats surrounding the legalisation (or at least better understanding or declassification) of drugs.
FI: Aside from Fabric, around half of the capital’s nightclubs and venues have been forced to close in the last decade for a multitude of reasons. Are there any aspects of the current climate that you’re concerned about going into the future?
AF: Event organisers and licence holders live in fear that something bad will happen at one of their events, something that is beyond the realm of control for them but that could and would be blamed on them. And if your licence is revoked, then you no longer have a business, as we have seen with Fabric. I think the difficulty is that councils or police can attach conditions to your licence that wouldn’t help prevent crime or fatalities and could almost provoke them, but there is no way you can argue these in a rational manner that will be heard and considered.
Owning a venue is hard work; to sustain a viable business you need to be open as many hours as humanly possible. But finding promoters, acts and ideas that work 365 days a year is virtually impossible. Occasionally we feel guilty putting on large events in London in spaces that aren’t nightclubs, then we remember that we are helping nightclubs by guaranteeing there are a large number of clubbers heading on after our daytime shows!
FI: Did Junction 2’s refusal to integrate VIP ‘experiences’ create the pure and inclusive atmosphere that LWE hoped for? From the looks and sounds of it, the festival seemed to lack the cynicism and division inherent in some of its more commercial counterparts.
AF: We think so. Feedback started with praise for the sound, speed of service everywhere, the amazing and diverse site, and then always ended with how great the crowd was. There was a real mix of people there and everyone was on a level playing field. VIP areas have gone a bit crazy recently and it wasn’t something we felt was synonymous with the techno community.
FI: Anything else we should know about Junction 2?
AF: Anyone got any good contacts for getting a new steel bridge built over to the main stage? Plus, we are always on the look out for new and interesting structures.
Get in touch with Junction 2.