Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

East India Youth manager Andy Inglis is reshaping the festival conference, starting at Sørveiv

26 October 2016, 10:45 | Written by Andrew Hannah

Andy Inglis, the best dressed man in the business, manager of East India Youth and current tour manager for Jenny Hval has a long-held interest in the format of the festival/showcase conference. This week he gets the opportunity to challenge and change the status quo with a new format at Kristiansand's Sørveiv festival.

Together with Daniel Nordgård and Lily Armstrong, Inglis has put together something a little diifferent for Sørveiv in the form of Challenge, Rebuild, Embrace, Sustain. The aim is to rebuild and reform the conference, make it more diverse, in order to support and sustain the artist.

Ahead of the festival, which Best Fit has supported for the past couple of years, on 28 and 29 October we spoke to Inglis to find out a little more about what he hopes to achieve with Sørveiv Conference.

Was it easy to find people of a similar mindset to forge something new?

I didn’t have to look. My colleague Daniel Nordgård and I are friendly with the folk that run Sørveiv Festival, and they were looking for someone to pitch to take over the Conference. Daniel probably goes to conferences more regularly than me, and so his head is done in on a more regular basis by them. He asked if I wanted to pitch it with him, I said “aye”, we brought my colleague Lily Armstrong in who, being a bit younger than us, hasn’t been exposed to so many of these events, so she has a whole other perspective on what purpose they should serve.

How is this going to avoid falling into the same trap of a bunch of white men talking about how to get your music on Spotify?

I’m not sure it’s a trap, as much as it is laziness, or people just not being aware of the world around them, and the resonance their actions have in a wider sense. I wasn’t born a tall, middle-aged white guy with a beard, aware that, because of circumstance, I don’t really have any problems in life except the ones I bring to my own door. We’re not against talking about Spotify either; we just don’t want to be having the same conversations about Spotify next year. We all need to be smarter about this stuff, otherwise we won’t know how to challenge the status quo. And ‘this stuff’ is notoriously opaque. But to answer your question directly: I’m not going to let it. I’ve been banging on about our ethics via public platforms and I’m aware of what a hypocrite I'll look if I fuck it up.

Is it equally as important to get a mixed audience at these conferences? I think we all know the industry in general is white male heavy, so is it possible to get a gender balance in the audience as well as on the stage?

Interesting. We have no control over who buys tickets, so I think what we have to do is continue on this path of being very vocal about our intentions, and backing that up by demonstrating that yes, we do have as many women speaking as men, and yes we do have people of colour here (though not enough) and we do have people who identify as LGBT (though not enough), and hope that we get our message out to those who would welcome an inclusive space like the one we’re creating. I lecture around Europe, and further afield, and see from the make-up of my classes that Norway’s fairly progressive - relatively speaking - when it comes to matters of diversity. For this reason I’d be surprised to see a very heavily male-dominated audience. That said, I’m personally inviting all the artists to come, and we all know how male-dominated festival line ups are…
We know we’re on a long road, and we’re committed to doing what we can. If we fall short, I’ll be the first to stand up and give us a kicking.

Is the industry ready for a change like this? Do you expect a bumpy ride?

Is it ready? God knows. Sørveiv is, and Kristiansand is, and those who’ll be in the room are. That’s all the motivation we need. I don’t expect a bumpy ride; I expect the wider industry will largely ignore us. I don’t anticipate any messages of support from anyone involved in any other conference, or what we’re doing to be the starting gun for any kind of revolution. This’ll take time. Some conferences do great work though. Tallinn Music Week comes to mind.

Tell us more about how it will work at Sorveiv...I assume this is the first one?

It’s the fourth year, but the first one Lily, Daniel and I have put together, the first with a specifically international focus, and the first with anything like the remit we’ve taken upon ourselves. We’ll have open mics on the floor, avoiding the usual “Okay, we’ve got two minutes left for questions”, and we’ll have no physical barrier (a stage or table) between audience and speakers. I’m personally emailing every artist booked to play at the festival to ask them to come and speak and listen, to be in the room. We’re there because of artists and art, but we never hear from them.

How did you go about choosing the speakers?

We just thought of the smartest people we knew, open-minded, forward-thinking folk, considered whether or not they fitted the bill, and asked them. We’re really lucky they all said yes, and we’ve had no one cancel. Yet.

Can you hope to get this across more festivals, showcases etc?

Sure! If anyone likes what we’re doing, we’re open to it. But maybe best we get this one out of the way, and to our satisfaction, before we get carried away.

Sørveiv takes place in Kristiansand, Norway on 28 and 29 October. Artists include Broen, Chain Wallet, Ludvig Moon, Razika and Siv Jakobsen. Ticket information and conference schedule can be found here.
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