The Great Escape Experience PT I: An Overview

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I mean where do I even begin.. Looking back at the weekend it all feels slightly like a blur. It went by so quickly and was filled with several different moments which all seemed like different lives. I was lucky enough to be given a delegates pass which gave me access to all the shows but also the conferences and delegate parties spread out across the city. Free booze and food were often at my disposal which is secretly the only reason I went.

The Great Escape is based in Brighton and showcases some of the best up and coming bands who you should keep an eye on. The entire music industry was there as well to check out said bands, but above anything they were there to network. Scratch that – it was mainly networking. And drinking. And networking some more. And drinking some more… You get the idea.

Most music venues have been raided by the festival which keeps it exciting. Your surroundings are constantly changing. Streets are closed off and covered in quirky looking vans selling snacks and refreshments. It’s easy to get around by foot and by the end of the weekend my feet felt the pain I’d expect to feel were I ever to climb Mount Everest.

I was sent to The Great Escape by ICMP with the purpose of creating a short documentary. For this, I aimed to interview several bands. I approached this quite casually by approaching bands after their sets. For a few of the more established ones, I emailed their managers. Artists I spoke to included Blossoms, Declan McKenna, Dan Owen, JONES, MarthaGunn, Hidden Charms and Clean Cut Kid. I also got some insight from a few industry professionals although generally they preferred to stay behind the camera. Stay tuned for this video which should be coming out soon.

I really love networking so this festival was my idea of heaven. I probably have my background of moving from town to town to thank for my love of walking into a room knowing no one. I always see it as an opportunity to expand what I know. There is always that initial moment of discomfort where you wonder if you’ll come across as an absolute dick and forget how to speak English. Luckily most times I try and forget who these people actually are and realise they’re just people. People with their own insecurities and fears. They generally are always keen to meet someone new and talk about what they do as well.

Industry wise I found myself at the Music Glue House having free pizza and The Orchard social having more free pizza. Live Nation threw brunch and I spent some time at the CAA social where I met some future colleagues. I ran into James Bay and George Ezra’s management from Closer, the founder of Barn On The Farm and met some of the engineers and mastering wizards from Metropolis Studios. Other connections I made were from Vevo, Off Axis, United Talent, Coda and AIM just to name a few. I ran into people I know from Wrapped Up Music, Jaba Music Management, ATC and Polydor, Wild Promotions and BMG. I made connections with someone from Q mag, Murray Chalmers and Generator. I also met representatives from the Canadian music industry as well as the Scandinavian one. They both explained how the UK must scene differs from theirs. I must add that the Nordics really know how to brunch…

As you can see, my phone book probably doubled. As did my knowledge and understanding of how the industry works and what it takes for a band to break through. The Great Escape is an incredible opportunity which you need to grab on to with both hands. I would highly recommend it to anyone wanting to get into that world.

I hope this has given you an overview of what I got up to. Stay tuned as I will be posting two more articles. One covering the band highlights as well as lessons learned at the festival.

Peace my loves.

Nina x

Follow Nina Rubesa on Twitter @ninarubesa 

(Photos courtesy of The Great Escape Instagram)

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