ALL QUEENS: Mary Anne Hobbs In Conversation

"My aim is to proactively change the culture..."

Summer (pah!) may be winding down, but there are still some huge festivals still to come, not least All Points East, which takes place over two weekends from August 18th to 28th

Over the last few years, the event has featured some stellar performers, with Gorillaz, Kraftwerk and Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds in 2022 alone. This year’s iteration is no different, as the likes of Stormzy, Aphex Twin and the Strokes will rattling the foundations of the buildings surrounding East London’s historic Victoria Park.

The official broadcast partner of the event (for the third successive year), BBC 6 Music will be playing out sets across both weekends, with shows presented by Gilles Peterson, Jamz Supernova and an Indie Forever show fronted by Steve Lamacq. Yet the centre point of their coverage is the third ALL QUEENS takeover curated by Mary Anne Hobbs. In an exclusive interview with Clash, the radio legend talks us through the recent history of the initiative and why it is so important. 

“We hosted the first ALL QUEENS stage as London was just emerging from Lockdown, and it was deeply emotional. I hadn’t played out a festival for 18 months. I was shook with nerves. Mercifully, I had my friend Jamz Supernova on-side, and just to feel her presence with me shoulder-to-shoulder and her absolute belief in the project, was so powerful.”

“Last year, TYGAPAW had visa issues and and wasn’t able get into the UK at the last moment. Rebekah stepped in on the turn of a heel. She agreed to play for us on her one day off in months. Obviously, Rebekah wasn’t advertised, but word of mouth swept the site like a wildfire as she stepped up, and she ripped the field apart.”

“ALL QUEENS is setting a new precedent. It’s a unique platform created to lift-up the world’s extraordinary female artists, producers, DJs, and creatives. It’s no accident that the anarchy symbol ‘A’ is our logo.”

“Everybody knows the gender imbalance is real. It’s a war out there. The discourse is valuable, but my aim is to proactively change the culture. Samantha Moy, Head of BBC 6 Music, trusted me implicitly with ALL QUEENS. The project began as Monday Playlist on my daytime radio show. We added a live stage at All Points East. Then a takeover at fabric in London on International Women’s Day in collaboration with Judy Griffith; all-female DJs, door staff, bar staff, sound engineers and creatives. And now, an ALL QUEENS radio Residency in its second year on BBC 6 Music.”

In addition to the sets by artists (including Effy, Deena Abdelwahed and Ella Knight) other performers such as Corinne Bailey Rae, Elkka, Jessy Lanza and Avalon Emerson are hosting their own 6 Music takeover, as Hobbs explains: “The ALL QUEENS Residency takes place across August on BBC 6 Music. Thursday night into Friday morning 1-2am, plus 30 days at the BBC Sounds App. The shows are new music focused, but my residents have complete freedom to interpret that brief and deploy the airtime in any way they wish.”

As for the sets themselves, Hobbs struggles to contain her excitement: “The artists booked this year cover a vast spectrum of electronic sound, so if you are dancing with us all day, the sound will transform every hour at the stage. For me, it’s a joy to welcome Chloe Robinson as our headliner in 2023. She opened our first ever ALL QUEENS stage as we were coming out of lockdown. I’ve supported Chloe and her label Pretty Weird passionately and watched in awe as her star ascends, so for me it feels like a beautiful full circle moment.”

Looking to the future, the presenter has plans, both next year’s festival and even spreading it’s important message further afield: “I have an A-list of several hundred Artists. I supported Bjork at Bluedot in 2022. She’s a great example of the kind of Artist I dream of booking in future, juxtaposed with one of the most exciting young scratch DJs on earth, Baby B.”

“I’m always looking for opportunities to develop ALL QUEENS, and it would be exciting to propagate internationally. I’d love to take us to Berlin. Hi Tresor. Hi Berghain.”

All in good time. For now, festivalgoers and radio listeners alike can look forward to what is likely to be the highlight of an unmissable weekend. 

Catch Mary Anne Hobbs x All Queens on the BBC Radio 6 Music Stage at All Points East Presents Field Day, Saturday 19th August. Highlights from Mary Anne Hobbs x All Queens will be broadcast on Monday (August 21st) during Mary Anne’s regular 6 Music show (10.30am-1pm).

Words: Richard Bowes

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