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This is Belfast, tiny in comparison to its larger cousins of Glasgow, London and Manchester – but none the less intense. I’m sitting in the bedroom of Omar Ben Hassine with two thirds of A Northern Light (Darren Doherty at hand beside me recording guitar and Colm Laverty absent but in the next room, watching a film no doubt). Gearbox, guitars, Macbook and a multitude of wires leading off in every direction makes me feel like I’m sitting in some musical womb. It is a womb of sorts, here they are nurturing their ideas; growing them. It’s their baby.

– You guys have been on the ladder for a while now and have done basically all three of the major options, studio recording, low-fi with a young producer (Clark Phillips) and now you are taking up the charge personally…
OBH: “Well…it’s been going good. We’ve been through a couple of different things, trying it one way, then another. This works for us far more so because we’re a band that doesn’t have a lot of backing. When you go to a studio you can find that you’re extremely under pressure, sometimes you’re coming in to put out your first record, your first EP and you don’t want to be under pressure.”

– It sort of messes with the creative process? You think, ‘I have to do this right away’, rushing things a bit.
OBH: “It does. You also want to come up with the best result and you also have to find your feet as a recording artist at the same time, and as an artist you have to find what works best for you. So, the fact that you can sit and find this out in your room without too much pressure to begin with helps.”

– So you think it’s preferable to find your own feet first before going out to record in a studio and importantly, to spend money – rather than throwing yourself in at the deep end?
OBH: “Just for us really. I can’t speak for everyone, everybody is different, you know. It’s something to be thought about.”

– Obviously, experimenting and spending time with the processes is important. Finding your sound so to speak. Is there anything else you’ve brought into it?
OBH: “Of course, my background is in electronic music, layering, learning the equipment, playing around and being reactive – it may work well for me because of that.”

DD: “In the long journey of us, we’ve always tried to record our ideas along the way and we normally found that often we didn’t have the right equipment or that what we did have wasn’t up to scratch. So we had to make use of studio spaces and their bigger scale. Through time, and through hard work we’ve acquired what is needed to make a good final product ourselves that’s really worthy. One that we can put out, that can hopefully sell. It’s nice to have these tools. We always felt that we were compromising at the time when we were in the studio at this level. We’d get carried away getting on with someone, carried away listening to their ideas – and it can be great to have outside influences but we’ve just felt for a long time that we know what we want our music to sound like. So it’s great to be able to spend day in, day out working on it by ourselves at our own pace.”

– You mentioned about having the tools. Do you feel now as a songwriter that you can have a quicker turn around on songs?
DD: “Yeah, that’s the big thing. From the genesis of this band we’ve recorded all of our practices, all our little jams, all of the song-writing because along the way it’s easy for something to get lost due to the way in which our songs come together. We can break all that down now. It’s easy to work this way from the beginning, to lay down the initial idea, some guitar, layer stuff on top of that. To experiment and see what sounds better, and as you say the turn around on songs is what we’re really going for. Every time one of us gets an idea, it’s literally a day or two later that we can have a finished piece which we can analyse and build on into a live sound.”

– As a drummer, what would you find has been the experience of a quicker turn around time on songs?
OBH: “It’s good for me because I love electronic music, and I can put my ideas into the computer like mapping the drums. It’s a different way of listening back to ideas.”

– Technology has improved the speed of your creative process then too…
OBH: “Yeah, it’s a lot easier now, such as when you’re sitting over in the practice room with a drum kit and you find an electronic idea, we can’t do it there – in here we can do both. I can mix an idea on drums with the electronic idea, and vice-versa so that we can hear how it sounds as it happens.”

– Obviously all of this is working towards your next release, which is coming out when?
DD: “We’re hoping…well, the beauty of all this is that we’re working to our own time frame. We definitely are looking to push for late-February/early-March; a double single. Our main intention for this year is to work towards an album. That’s the definite aim.”

OBH: “With this, come the album if we can facilitate going back into a studio to scale it up – we’ve built towards it, done all the groundwork. There’s a lot to be said for being prepared.”

– …and what about using this experience with other people’s music? Recording, producing…
DD: “We’ll just take that as it comes, there’s a big network of musicians out there in Belfast that we’re friendly and work with but at present we’re going to focus directly on our own production. We’re bursting at the seams with ideas and want to get them out there. Once it’s perfected, who knows.”

From my own experiences with watching the different scales of the recording process I’m definitely in agreement with their sentiments, preparation going into record is key, especially when solid sums of money are involved. Often times getting a record made is a young band’s main expense, and the pressure of going into record for the first time can negate the final result. Learning the ropes before making that jump up into the studio could be the vital element in comfortably seeing your music at its best.

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Many things come to mind post-Glasgowbury – not least of all that I get the blues after such an all-encompassing high point as standing up the Sperrins (ahem, aye so I’ll admit my geographical misdemeanour in calling it the Mourne mountains for the last few weeks – not sure where that verbal balls up came from – we’ll just say enthusiastic swift ignorance) listening to some of the best music in the world. It’s also hard to top the connected social feeling from seeing all and sundry, reeling back down to normality can be a tough transition.

Aside from the obvious thank you to each and every person involved and in attendance at the festival, there was a number of other memories which stood out as making this year’s Glasgowbury particularly sentimental.

– receiving a dedication from the cheeky sods that make up More Than Conquerors. Meant the world, genuinely.

– getting to sit in the throat of And So I Watch You From Afar’s performance whilst all buzzed and whirled around me.

– proudly seeing Team Fresh and Pocket Billiards début at the festival to a practical riot respectively each.

– running into Electric Mainline’s Stephen McCauley in the campsite, whilst towing two chairs along at a sprint. At the time I don’t quite think I realised just how that must have looked.

At this point I thought it pertinent to pass over the reigns to a few of the masses, the collective music community that I rattle on so much about – each and every one of us has a story to tell, and an experience to share; individually they mean something to each of us, but together they hopefully become so much more.

Brian Magill

What a great day. The festival just gets better every year. I know most of the plaudits will be reserved for the blistering sets from Fighting With Wire, LaFaro & ASIWYFA, but for me to wax lyrical about those three would just be laziness, really.

For me, the three bands that stood out were Pocket Billiards, Team Fresh and Adebisi Shank. Pocket Billiards were so up for it, and you could tell from the moment they walked out on stage that they were there to have a great time. I hate this ‘too cool for school’ shit you get with a lot of bands nowadays; it’s ok to enjoy what you’re playing (!). They are the quintessential party band and really deserve a bit more exposure.

As for Team Fresh, they had the unenviable task of hitting the stage at the same time as And So I Watch You From Afar. You’d be forgiven for thinking that a) they might be playing to an empty tent and b) that it would rub off on their performance, but they gave it everything they had, and a lot of people (myself included) were sucked in by the racket emanating from their tent. Another bunch who know how to have a good time and entertain. We’ll need to get them up to Derry soon!

Adebisi Shank are a phenomenon. They confuse and delight in equal manner, and are as punk rock as you’re likely to find in this day and age. The new tuneage was head twistingly superb, and the old favourites were there in force. You know you are seeing something special with these guys, when someone as talented as Jonny Black turns to you mid-set and shakes his head in both envy and disbelief.

Oh, and it didn’t rain. What a bonus!

Colm Laverty

Like Christmas for NI music. Dozens of my favourite local acts, veterans and newcomers alike, all helped create that feeling of unity (a rarity for festivals). My love for the day can be epitomised in one moment, where I faced the sky with my eyes closed, just as the last chords of Fighting With Wire rang out, thinking, “These aren’t just songs, they’re the soundtrack to our lives”.

Danny Morton (More Than Conquerors)

Although it was Glasgowbury’s tenth anniversary it was my first time at the festival, or at any festival for that matter; so needless to say I was uncertain about what the next twenty four hours held in store for me. Apparently, ‘a lot’ of free booze, loud music and the absolute best of banter! It would be so easy to fill a week or month with great gigs in Belfast during term time, but you don’t actually realise the amount of incredible bands that we have knocking about until you hear most of them in only one day!

The only bad thing about Glasgowbury seems to be that you’re completely spoilt for choice – how can you choose between Strait Laces, ASIWYFA and Team Fresh? You do your best and no matter where you end up you’ll have a pint, a group of mates and memories that will last a life time…

Diane Greer (Paddy Nash & The Happy Enchiladas)

We had high hopes for Glasgowbury 2010 and we had a fantastic time. I couldn’t believe the crowd we pulled, all ages, shapes and sizes, the place was packed. There were moments when I looked into the crowd and they were all singing and smiling back at us and I felt really moved. I know our album (When We Were Brave) is doing really well, I know the reviews are great, I know we have good things ahead but nothing, absolutely nothing will ever compare to what I felt, in fact we all felt it… and it was mighty!

When people know the words of your songs it stops being an ‘us’ and ‘them’ thing and becomes a shared experience, one which everyone plays a part in and I was definitely overwhelmed by it. We are gaining a reputation for making people feel good, and that’s a two-way thing. Paddy writes great songs but unless people like them then they are just that – good songs – it’s something when people start to tell you how they relate to them, how they make them feel. Glasgowbury 2010 will live forever in the memory of Paddy Nash & The Happy Enchiladas – and we are grateful for that.

Graham Smith (Music Photographer)

Having attended Glasgowbury over the past six years I have been able to watch it grow, in every respect, in to what it is now: a vibrant, entertaining, relaxed and exciting showcase for the incredible talent this country holds. I have said it every year and I will say it is again for 2010….this really was the best year yet.

Jason Hawthorne (Yes Cadets)

Playing on the mainstage was such a buzz, seeing people dancing to our music in the sun; that has definitely made my Summer so far (thank you weather god!). Given the weather and the lovely response, clashing with two of my favourite bands (Adebisi Shank and Not Squares) didn’t seem to matter anymore, apart from the fact that I didn’t get to see them rock out.

Roll on next year!

John Gribbin (Building Pictures)

When I landed at the festival site around eleven on Saturday morning there were a few ominous grey clouds floating around the Sperrin Mountains, but thanks to a few strong gusts of wind and a bit of the old Irish luck it cleared up and the weather was glorious!!

As a wise man said to me, “Only Paddy Glasgow can get good weather in July“…such is the unpredictability of our bloody Summer! I parked up the car, and took a walk down to the festival site just before the doors were opened just so that I could take in the spectacle of the setting. It really does amaze me to think that four thousand people descend upon a mountain to dance their socks off to a load of local bands!!

It really is very special!!

Lisa Byrne

As far as birthday parties go, this has to have been the best I have been to! My fourth year at Glasgowbury didn’t disappoint. The best year I’ve had to date. I squeezed in as much music as I possibly could in the twelve hour running time and loved every minute of it. Not Squares were an absolute treat of a find and I’ll be going to a lot more of their gigs in future.

Here Comes the Landed Gentry, Furlo, Colenso Parade and ASIWYFA amongst too many others stood out for me; along with the mighty Cashier No.9!

O.M.G!

Niall Lawler (Axis Of)

For something we’d been building up for over a year, Glasgowbury completely blew away our expectations. Landing a slot on the main stage was something else. For a hardcore band like us, getting slots like that simply shouldn’t happen, getting the crowd the size we did furthered the general absurdity of it all. The only downside of the whole event was some amazing memories which were forgotten due to the later celebrations. I think it goes without saying, but we are massively grateful to Paddy, Dermot and the rest of the team for recognizing our hardwork and believing in us. No festival has come close to Glasgowbury in my eyes, long may it continue.

Rion McCartney (Here Comes The Landed Gentry)

As both a punter and musician, I have been attending this great festival since 2003, and this year like so many had again another diverse and exciting line up. For me it’s great to listening to bands who you never hear but always see/hear their names being mentioned, meeting people from other parts of the country who dig what the band are doing and having a good old booze up and a boogie!

Another personal highlight for me this year was HCTLG headlining the Spurs Of Rock stage to a jam packed capacity crowd, with people singing the words of the songs back to you.

The amount of preparation put into the process of the festival deserves a tip of the hat to Paddy, Stella and all the hard workin’ crew, without these people doing what they do who knows what I would have been doin’ last weekend…

…for this, I Salute You All!

Slaine Browne (Team Fresh)

First time playing Glasgowbury; we were a bit worried that no one would come to see us as it was our first time here and our older, wiser brothers were playing in the G-Sessions tent right beside us. By the first few bars of ‘Trojan‘ the tent was half full, by the end it was full to the brim, people crowd surfing, a mosh pit going for the entire set, the smoke machine blew up making Niall and Chops invisible for most of the show.

As soon as we finished we ran outside and across to the G-Sessions tent to catch the end of our comrades set, Dunbar ran up and stage dived into the crowd. We all reconvened in the camp site and got dinner, got our energy levels back up for Pocket Billiards and continued to crowd surf for the rest of the night. I remember leaving their set and collapsing on the grass in front of the main stage where I remained for the rest of the evening smiling at all passers by – then back to the camp site for more ‘Craic Fuel’ (tropical juice and vodka) and general ganch and bantering with everyone there.

Wish it was three days long…

Stephen McCauley (BBC Electric Mainline)

Glasgowbury has always been the temperature gauge for Northern Irish music but this year was extra-special! Maybe it was just that everyone wanted to celebrate the 10th birthday together but it felt like anything was possible! It felt truly joyous! As long as I live, I will never forget the atmosphere in the G-Sessions tent when And So I Watch You From Afar played. Fans were swarming around the outside of the tent trying to get in and this was before the band came anywhere near the stage! It was the worst kept secret in history that they’d be the surprise guests on the day and the sense of anticipation was electrifying! I watched it all from the back of the stage, speechless once again!

I was busy in the early afternoon trying to record a special edition of Electric Mainline from the artists’ car park and my abiding memory was LaFaro arriving in their red van straight from the ferry, on their way back from a gig in Glasgow the night before. They’d barely slept, they’d driven for hours, Alan climbed out of the van in crutches, they borrowed two guitars, crowded around a few microphones and played an absolutely heartstopping acoustic version of “The Ballad of Burnt Dave“. It was so great just to see everyone again!

It’s a festival like no other – may it last forever!

Steven Rainey (BBC Introducing)

It’s fast becoming a cliché to say, but this year Glasgowbury exceeded all expectations, taking this uniquely Northern Irish experience into uncharted territory. After ten years of supporting and promoting music in Northern Ireland, the festival has become the ultimate showcase of what this country’s musicians are capable of.

Looking around during Fighting With Wire’s headlining set, pride swelling within my bosom, I couldn’t help but think, “I wouldn’t swap this for any other experience in the world”.

Thomas Camblin (MojoFURY)

Glasgowbury, what a day! I love the fact that a small (but massive) festival can generate so much excitement with in a community.

My festival highlight was standing on the ‘smallbutMASSIVE’ mainstage while LaFaro blew the place apart…Alan Lynn is an absolute hero. The man, with damaged tendons in his kick drum foot, just back of a week’s tour, still beat the shit out of the kit.

Truly extraordinary!

With all of this said, from bands, fans, photographers and writers, there is only one last thing to re-state…

Paddy, Stella, Dermot, Niall, Sharon, Bobby and all the rest – from the very bottom of all our hearts, thank you for all of the efforts you have put into making the Glasgowbury Music Festival what it is.

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