Charles Audley is a busy man around this time of year. As the Director of Noisily Festival, he has overseen a period where the gathering has morphed into one of the UK’s most respected and eclectic such offerings. After all, there are few other places on earth where you’re as likely to hear d&b, techno, psytrance and bass music in such close proximity to one another.
What’s more, Noisily Festival operates with a seriously eco-friendly conscience, and for those reasons alone we tip our hat to them. We caught up with Charles recently, as he gave us the lowdown on one of the UK’s best-loved and passionately followed musical extravaganzas…
Introduce yourself, tell us who is involved with Noisily Festival, what you all do?
My name is Charles and I am a co-founder of Noisily. There are hundreds of amazing people involved, who do all sorts, so this question has a very long answer…
How did you come up with the five core pillars, what are they all about?
The core pillars of Noisily have come into fruition naturally as we have grown, and a few years ago we decided to make them official so we could consolidate our efforts to realise them, and in doing so plan everything we do with them in mind. They are as follows…
Tell us about your eco-credentials re plastic use, energy use, waste etc.
The environment sits at the core of everything we do, and we are constantly looking for new ways to reduce and offset our carbon footprint and waste output. For the past 4 years we have diverted over 95% of our waste away from landfill, recycling the vast majority of that using our recycling partner Waste Cycle.
Beyond that we have banned all single-use plastics across site on all bars and with all traders; our toilets use zero water or chemicals; all showers are stocked with LSL and Paraben free products; our artists are asked to use recycled materials; we program content throughout our healing area geared towards educating our festival family in more sustainable living, and our theme in 2020 is ‘We Are Nature’.
How do you balance staying intimate and close-knit while also growing the offerings each year?
Noisily has now reached its capacity after 9 years of slow and steady growth. We have 6,000 like-minded, conscious individuals who join us each July, and a huge % of those continue to come back every year, meaning the intimacy and familiarity lives on.
About the line-up – is it booked with certain audiences in mind or do you just book who you want to hear?
The lineup is booked with everyone in mind, which is why the Noisily crowd is such a melting pot, and also so inviting to newcomers. There’s the techno crowd, the psytrance die-hards, the Bass Music nuts, the DnB lover, and of course the more spiritually inclined who spend time in the Mind Body Soul healing area where you can find acoustic music and drum circles. There is definitely an element of booking who we want to hear, but the suggestions come in from all of the team, and we also revert to the insider knowledge of artists in the industry whom we are friends with. This is why the line up is regarded as so complete.
Explain the 2020 theme to us – We Are Nature?
We are all made up of the same atoms and molecules that everything in the universe is, and we are part of this ecosystem, not separate to it. Unfortunately most humans (and definitely “leaders”) see themselves as superior to the environment, which is naive and what got us into this global mess. So this year we are encouraging people to revisit our connection to nature in the hope it will inspire them to make some changes in their day to day lives, and inspire others to do so.
On a lighter note, it’s intended to celebrate the beauty in our environment, and in each other.
What are the hardest things to get right at an event like this? What takes most work?
There’s so much to think about and execute with such a small team, and inevitably some things slip through the net each year, but we do our best to honour our goals in practice, and not just shout about them in the public sphere to maintain an image. That level of authenticity is essential on a personal and collective level, if that goes then so does the spirit of the event.
Each year we take on board the suggestions offered up, and do our best to implement solutions for the following year. Making these improvements also offers a huge sense of pride and achievement.
Also, admin. It’s like a grass lawn that grows as fast as you can mow it. Best to embrace that!
What are the most important lessons you have learnt over the years?
Things are easier together; ask for help if you need it; listen to each other’s ideas even if you’re 100% convinced yours is better; be kind; don’t engage with keyboard warriors or trolls; don’t get your thumb caught between a sledge hammer and a steel marquee peg; love is all you need.
What’s new for 2020, what has changed or evolved?
The site layout has changed a little. We’ve moved one of our stages to a new location, the Mind Body Soul area is moving again due to a need to preserve the forest floor, and we’ll have a new campsite to make the camping layout way more roomy for our guests.
As always the event is constantly evolving, and we can’t say exactly what it will look like until we’re on site as there are so many moving parts and people involved. We do know that it’ll be beautiful and fantastic though!
What are you most looking forward to about this year’s Noisily Festival?
The happy people, the smiling faces and the techno.
Noisily Festival takes place on the weekend of 9-12th July
Cover Photography by Jake Davis for Khroma Collective