Tales From The Frontline: An Interview With Balter Festival


Written by Esme Rees
04 Wednesday 04th May 2016


Balter Festival is in it's third year now, where did it all begin?

Myself and the other organiser Chris have been doing club nights and large parties for years now along with Jigsore Soundsystem. A few years ago I moved to Bristol and into his house, and before long we started talking about how we had both always wanted to run a festival. Within about a week we had a venue booked!


How did you make Balter festival a reality?

A hell of a lot of hard work and dedication! We also are very fortunate to have a lot of amazing friends with a wide range of skills and experience, and a massive amount of good luck! 

Most of all though, and impossible to stress enough, a lot of hard work!


What's been your most memorable high point so far?

Ohhh too many to list… Last year on Sunday afternoon Captain Hotknives was singing ‘One good thing about Buckfast’ on the main stage and had changed some of the lyrics to being about hating security guards. Fortunately ours are great, and by a complete stroke of luck our head-of-security chose that exact moment to pop up with a bag full of ice-lollies they had bought, and started throwing them out into the crowd. It was a lovely moment and it prompted Captain Hotknives to change the lyrics into praising our friendly security team.


Any major hurdles?

We fortunately haven’t had anything too serious, though we have definitely had our fair share of little things that we have managed to blag our way through. Finances are always the biggest problem really. We’re a small event with big aspirations in terms of whom we book and our production values, and this all costs a lot! Margins are always incredibly tight but we hope people will continue to support us so we can continue throwing some mad parties!


You've a great Bass, Garage and Dub inspired line-up this year with names like DJ Hazard, DJ Luck & MC Neat and Mungo's Hifi on the bill. Who else should we be checking out?

Well with around 200 artists on the bill that’s a big question! The Sunday soundclash is exciting; Chopstick Dubplate vs Born On Road in a four hour UK exclusive with L’Acoustics vs Funktion One rigs. We also have loads of great crews from around the country and even Europe doing stage takeovers such as Amen4Tekno, Tremor Soundsystem, Chinstroke Records, Long Live The Animals and more. I don’t want to name too many artists by name as having booked most of them myself I don’t want to be accused of favouritism but the lineup should have something for just about everyone!


You spent some time in Bristol, is this where your love of music flourished?

We’re both originally from Devon, and the strong but intimate scene in the SW is where it all really started with long nights on Haldon Hill in front of Retox (if you know, you know!) We would come to Bristol for the nightlife, and with Jigsore have been running club nights here for years. The quality of the underground scene in Bristol is un-matched in the UK so it was an obvious place for both of us to live.


If you were to give us three good reasons to come to Balter festival this year, aside from the line-up, what would they be?

  1. It’s a small and intimate with just 2000 tickets on sale
  2. Those 2000 people are awesome
  3. It’s bloody mental!



The festival is in a secret location in Wales. We're intrigued. Can you give anything away?

No, sorry! It’s less than 45 minutes from Bristol and very easy to get to by car or public transport. Full details get sent out to ticket holders a couple of weeks before the event.


It can be hard to get licensing these days, with many clubs, festivals and street parties being forced to close their doors. What does the future look like for Balter festival?

We’re confident that the future for Balter is strong. We work hard to get along with the council and local residents and last year went down really well. The current climate is difficult for live events however they can be a big money maker for the local area and councils realise this so I hope that the UK will continue its strong tradition of amazing festivals and that we can be a key part of that!


Bloc's Festival's George Hull said rave culture has gone and hipsters are too dull to dance. We don't think this is the case! Do you?

Absolutely not and we invite George to come along and see for himself!!

I guess we don’t attract much of a hipster crowd, perhaps we are just not cool enough! Our types are the ones more likely to prance around naked in a pool of noodles, or go mental to some 200bpm gabba at 4pm in the sunshine. If George wants to see some awful but inspired dancers, and how rave culture these days is so very far from boring, he should come to Balter! 


Three dream headliners? Go.

Los Albertos, Hellfish & DJ Hazard. Fortunately we have them all this year so fuck knows what we will do next time but lets just wait and see!!


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