FOUND has grown from running club nights to taking charge of entire festivals.
One of London's most on-point promotion companies, FOUND will host a number of stunning events this summer, with a music policy that ranges from grime to disco, dubstep to hardcore techno.
Somehow, it all hangs together. In an era dominated by club closures and an over-saturated live market, FOUND continually stand out with carefully chosen bills and that impeccable atmosphere.
Clash is heading down to FOUND's titular festival this weekend, and we heartily recommend you do too. As a preview, we caught up with co-founder Will Patterson to get the full skinny on FOUND.
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FOUND seems to be an all year round operation, Will.
It's a little bit quieter in the Autumn, as that's a period when we're doing the planning for the line up and the marketing, but also – crucially – we're doing the licensing. So it's not hugely quieter, but it is a bit quieter. I think when you get into the New Year, you get into January and become very aware that you're in the year of the show and we'll be fast approaching whatever happens. So you're counting down the weeks, basically. When you hit January you get into the next stage of the licensing, and the next stage of the booking of the suppliers, and the tendering, and crucially you go to the next stage of releasing the line up – marketing, and selling the tickets.
It seems like quite a small team, how does it actually operate?
It is quite a small team, but it's a very close-knit team, it's a team that has by and large done the last four, five years together so that enables you to get through things. You work together, and you know each other's strengths and weaknesses. And we also feel like we know each other's shows quite well, so it allows us to do quite a lot with not that much.
It's far from your ordinary day job.
Quite the reverse. I think the first people come in about eight, and the last people leave about eight. And then there's work on your phone, outside of that time, at the weekends and so on. I always say that people do it because they really want to do it. There are easier ways to earn money and spend your days than working promoting festivals and clubs.
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The season started with Born & Bred, which is a relatively new project for you.
We did it last year, and it kicks off the season for us. We're hugely privileged to get a chance to work with Rinse, who've been there from the very beginning of the genres of music that we're promoting this weekend. Making the music, promoting the music, pressing the music, running the music via radio. They've been there at the beginning, the middle, and right up to the current day. So yeah, it's a great privilege working with them.
Have you found that Born & Bred has had a real impact?
Definitely. We hoped that there would be space for those genres of music, and we hoped that there was an audience for it. And actually, we found there was, and we could see the audience and the acts were just as excited as we were to have an opportunity to do it as a festival. I think this year more festivals are giving those acts an opportunity but last year that was few and far between. We felt that we were playing our own small part to give that music a home at a festival.
FOUND, of course, is up next.
FOUND is something that we've done right from the time that we began doing festivals, five years ago. We did a series of 13 club shows in a nightclub in Vauxhall, 13 Fridays in a row! And then we went from there to doing a street party on the back of the Queen's Jubilee, and then got the opportunity via Hackney Council to do something at Haggerston. And it's been a real rollercoaster over those five years, and we've definitely retained elements of the musical focus we had right at the beginning, but we've definitely changed through that time.
What we're really excited about doing with Found festival this year is getting a chance to work with some of our peers – like Secretsundaze, Art Of The Dark – who we really respect. We respect their courage for bringing through new acts, and sticking with acts, and really breaking new ground musically, which we know ourselves is always quite risky. So they're definitely trend-setters in believing in acts, believing in a space, musically, and going out there and doing it. So that's what inspires us about that show, it's quite an underground show. We know the space for it and the people we're working with also share that ambition.
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We respect their courage for bringing through new acts...
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Is that who you are inspired by, those out on a limb?
Definitely. I think as a company we're very much inspired by more outlaw-type artists, just as we're inspired by people doing that in the creative industries. We definitely feel inspired by people who go out there with a really distinct and committed vision to what they want to do. Even though it might be easier for them to do something a bit more mainstream. If they've got something that they want to do, that they feel is overlooked, and they're out there doing it week in, week out... that's what we share with the people we do these shows with.
51st State is quite different for you, could you tell us a bit about that festival?
It's different in two ways. One, the music we're doing in that tends to lean all the way back to the 70s, and certainly has a heavy focus in the late 80s, early 90s in a way that even now isn't being represented at festivals. So a lot of the stuff we're doing at Born & Bred is now being represented at festivals, especially the bigger ones, but 51st State is a bit on its own in terms of playing 70s and 80s soul, playing a lot of these big US house acts.
But also on the back of that we're getting an audience that isn't going to other people's festivals, it's a bit of an older audience. People that were there in the early 90s, or were there in the 80s – people my age and older. They feel that this is a festival for them. They know that it won't be a festival... it's for their peers, really. That's what they like about it, it gives them another reason to go. Not just the music, they know that they're going to be with other people that they knew from the first time around.
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Do you think London is becoming a harder place to promote in?
I don't think that it's necessarily becoming harder. I've been a promoter for nearly 20 years and I think it's always been a challenge to do promoting, as it's a challenge to do most jobs. I'd be cautious about saying 'it's become more difficult' – I think if you have the drive, and the passion, and determination, then I think there's a space out there for somebody – for anybody – to do a show.
Where do you plan to take Found?
We always start work on the following year in late Spring, early Summer. We have a think about next year. We're looking ahead to next year. Our company is probably split down the middle between the promoting, and the licensing and operating which is the bedrock of what we do. We find the sites, we work with the councils, we license them, and then we do all the operating of them. The building, the breaking, and everything that happens on the day. So we're looking just to improve and to perfect what we're doing with these festivals, and to improve and perfect what we're doing with the operating.
We're not looking to expand next year, as such – we're looking to continue to change things around. I think next year will be our first year where we'll have done all the parks at least once, and we'll know the good points and the challenging points of operating each of those sites. It'll give us a bit more space to do different things on those sites, because we'll have done all of them at least once.
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I think it's always been a challenge to do promoting...
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How was the licensing climate changed?
It's not so much that it's easy or hard, it's quite intense – it's a lot of work – and it continues to change. The background of it is that councils are keen to do more things in their parks now, whether it's Tough Mudder events or whatever. Music events are actually a minority of it, but essentially they want to do more things, and they've got more and more organised as to what they should expect from an operator like us. And really, that means they've got great expectations from the paperwork they want from us. That's something that we need to give a lot of focus to. And my day is probably split down half between doing that, and half between doing the promoting. And I enjoy the challenge, because the days that I'm doing it with enjoy the challenge as well.
There are things that happen outside of councils as well, that we have to take on board. The big thing that came in last year was that there was a change in the way councils were asked to look at all the structures – the tents, the scaffolding, and everything like that, which was really bringing it in line with the way in which the building industry works. Which meant that we would have to provide a whole range of paperwork, and they would come down and look at it. Which we're happy to do, but the whole festival industry had to adapt to that, and make sure that it was doing things in a way that was easy and clear to understand.
Will you get a chance to sneak away for a dance and a cheeky pint this weekend?
Not a cheeky pint, because I'll be at the behest of the police and won't be able to drink but I'll definitely be able to have a chance to listen to the music. I think if I didn't have that it would be pretty upsetting! I want to be able to see and listen to the acts.
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FOUND takes place this Saturday (June 11th).