When I first attended Noisily in 2018, I knew it was one of those festivals that I would be returning to year after year. It’s a place that’s hard to describe with just words and pictures because really it’s the people you meet that make it special. So many people I talked to had been attending since its inception as a much smaller, psytrance festival and watched it bloom into what it is today. So when the pandemic hit and with heavy hearts organisers had to cancel, we were left wondering, what will come of this magical place?
With the inevitable cancellation last year, like so many other festivals the future of Noisily was uncertain. To think of a world where people can’t experience the immersive experience Noisily brings was heartbreaking for organisers, artists and festival goers alike. Having already injected money into the planning of Noisily 2020 that would never be seen again, the future of Nosily was going to heavily rely on grants and crowdfunding to keep it afloat.
Whilst it was possible to get refunded for your ticket, organisers asked people to keep hold of them for next year or even donate their value so that the festival could continue. They applied and were succesful in getting funding from the government and the incredibly generous Noisily family helped them reach their crowd funding target of £150 000.
I breathed a sigh of relief as I read the news that Noisily had cemented it’s place in the festival calendar for the next few years thanks to the kindness, generosity and hard work of so many people who had a soft spot for Noisily. I feel like I’ve been holding my breath for the last few months wondering will it/won’t it take place but as we edge ever closer to July and with the roadmap out of lockdown going to plan, for the first time in what feels like forever starting to get excited.
This year Noisily promises to be the biggest party ever. You can expect incredible DJ sets from the likes of Eats Everything, Aidan Doherty, Adrian Sherwood, Deekline, Ed Rush, DJ Storm and so many more who will cover everything from house, dark techno, drum and bass, jungle, psytrance and music genres you’ve never even heard of. The Mind, Body and Soul arena has been expanded to include even more incredible workshops, talks, relaxing massages, gong baths, yoga sessions and even hot tubs so when you’re in need of a few hours downtime you can take yourself off for some vital self care and nourishment for the mind. The decor makes it feel you’re being transported to an Alice in Wonderlandesque world and promises to be as big and beautiful as ever before, completely transforming the luscious greenery of Coney Woods.
To find out a little bit more about how Noisily 2021 will look and feel, I caught up with one of the organisers Charles Audley to chat about the measures that will be place to keep everyone safe and how he feels about returning to Coney Woods.
What changes will be in place for Noisily 2021 to make sure it’s a safe festival space?
We are working with our suppliers, contributors and local authorities in line with the developing government regulations, with regards to outdoor events. As and when these shift and change, as is the fluid nature of the beast at the moment, we are adapting to ensure the festival can go ahead and all of our Noisily family’s safety is paramount.
We’ll be announcing these changes as the festival approaches, but rest assured that whilst there are certain regulations we must adhere to in order to ensure people’s safety, it won’t be at the cost of the awesome festival experience we’ve historically offered.
Can we still expect the same incredible decor, workshops and non musical performances as in previous years?
Absolutely. This will not change, and in fact there will be more than ever before.
This year you’re taking a step back from booking “headliners” as such in favour of booking smaller artists who take as much from the festival as they give, how come you made that decision?
We’ve looked at the line up carefully, as well as the budget, and Noisily is not famed for having a roster of heavy hitters which sell the tickets for us. The tickets sell because of the overall festival experience and part of that is the soundtrack to the weekend, which, having listened to our festival family over the past decade, is more about who you don’t know than who you do.
This doesn’t mean you won’t see artists you don’t recognise, it just means that the 3 biggest budget sets of the weekend, which haven’t always been the best, have now had their funds more evenly distributed meaning we can curate an even stronger and exciting collective line up than ever before.
During the pandemic, what have you missed most about normal life?
Human contact, the inside of pubs, the outside of pubs, and the Noisily family. It’s the best weekend of the year for all of us, and from a personal perspective it’s a time to reflect on a year past and the one to come. I’ve missed that more than I can articulate. Oh, and Techno.
How did the crowdfunder help to ensure Noisily’s future, and how much did you manage to raise?
The crowdfunder and response from our crowd was an incredible experience. We’d been sitting in heaven’s festival waiting room with a £150,000 deficit from funds invested in the 2020 event, and seemingly no way out. For a couple of months we were all feeling incredibly sad and dejected, having worked since late 2011 to get Noisily to where it was, organically, authentically, and with a lot of actual blood, sweat and tears.
The torrent of emails and communications that came in from people who not just loved the festival, but whose lives it had profoundly affected, was staggering. I spent weeks writing back to all those who reached out personally, and got into some of the most honest and emotive conversations with people who were essentially strangers, but whose lives were inextricably intertwined with my own because of this thing we had all created together. It’s an enormous privilege of which I am acutely aware.
We raised £125,000 of the £150,000 needed, which was astonishing given the relatively small size of Noisily. Then, thanks to the hard work and determination of my co-founder Will, we were awarded a government grant of around the same amount, meaning that if for whatever reason 2021 is also untenable, that Noisily’s future is secure for years to come.
Have you got any special treats up your sleeve to ensure Noisily 2021 is the biggest celebration yet? After all we all deserve a dance more than ever before!
We’re going to keep doing what we’ve been doing, focussing on the festival as a whole, but with the hugely increased enthusiasm that comes with a fallow year away from the Coney Woods. The treat will be just being there I think, anything else will be a bonus, and you can expect plenty of those!
What are you most looking forward to about Noisily this year?
Do you think the pandemic has changed people’s views on the importance of festivals like Noisily for the mind, body and soul?
I think that perspective is always good, and f**k me we’ve had a lot of that over the past year! For those who truly love festivals, and who rely on them both professionally and personally, it’s been a sobering year, and not just because we haven’t all been in a field getting boxed…
Gathering together amongst the trees, letting loose, turning yourself unashamedly up to 11 is a necessary tonic for the soul, so I don’t think it’s changed people’s views on the importance of festivals per say, rather exacerbated them further.
Speaking of Mind, Body and Soul… what plans do you have for that area and will there still be lots of interesting talks to attend?
The Mind Body Soul will be back and bigger than ever, and in a slightly different location. You can check out the MBS Monday’s posts which share content between now and the festival, and hit up the website for more details.
Is it too late for people to get involved in running workshop or food truck at Noisily?
Yes, we carried over most people from 2020, and have had applications open to fill in the gaps which are now closed.
For people who have never been to Noisily, can you sum it up in a few sentences?
Noisily is a festival like no other in the UK. It is a sum of its parts and people, it is a community, a family, a crucible for learning and self-expression, a holistic haven where all are welcome, where ego gives way to character and the natural woodland surroundings hold space for all.
Rooted in psychedelic culture, Noisily plays host to the full spectrum of Electronic Music, from Techno and Psy Trance, through Glitch Hop and DnB, to Funk, Soul, Disco, Ethnotech, Live Electronica and beyond.
Our healing area is expansive and all encompassing, as equal a part of the festival as the sound systems on the forest floor, and the art and performance throughout.
Noisily is not “cool”, or “trendy”, or “a la mode”, it’s a place to see and be seen in our authenticity, as humans, and as part of nature. It is bigger than the individual and celebrates the whole.
Weekend tickets are unfortunately sold out but head to the website to be added to a waiting list – you could get lucky!