If there’s one thing we’ve learnt from a densely packed year of festival’s that’s been staggering high in quality, it’s that Gottwood remains the standout choice when it comes to absorbing premium electronic music within an intimate setting. With the news of next year’s line up further reaffirming it’s intention to educate with the likes of Joy Orbison, Andrew Weatherall & Mr. G added to it’s usual cast of mainstays (Move D & Ben UFO amongst others), we explore six reasons why it’s seventh edition looks set to cement it’s status as one of the most relevant and adored. festival’s of it’s kind.
One of the most humbling things about going to Gottwood is the amount of sheer time and effort that goes into making it one of the most unique weekends in the festival calendar. By time you’ve arrived and made an attempt at pitching your tent, a team of around 35 talented designers, carpenters, painters and other artists have already spent months building what is the Gottwood experience. From constructing stages using wood from the surrounding forest to creating intricate webs of coloured yarn, it’s the little touches, innumerable in number, that make Gottwood something special. See our Gottwood Build gallery for examples of the skill, time and love that makes this four day party in the woods into something much more.
2. Live Performances
It’s 1am on the Forest Stage. Stephan Bodzin steps up for his set and produces a glowing wand. As he moves a hand along the piece of DIY hardware, the sounds produced shake’s the hay bail walls to their foundations. This hour-long display of live techno from this master of frequencies included many such devices and completely blew our minds.
Over the past years we’ve seen some incredible live performances while at Gottwood – Tom Demac’s set last year with Percolate was an immense hour of improvised techno. It’s not all about the digital though, speaking to the organisers last year in the lead up to the festival, one of their main intentions was to bring a broader spectrum of music to the party by booking more live artists. With the likes of Mouse Outfit, Seven Davis Jr and Andrew Ashong providing a delicious touch of variation, we’d say it was mission accomplished.
3. DJ’s love playing Gottwood
With the music ultimately being the most crucial component to a festival experience, Gottwood over its first 5 years has dependably delivered on it’s line-up without need of tacky pretention or cheesy attention seeking sponsored publicity. As co-founder Tom Elkington explained earlier this year (watch here), DJ’s enjoy playing Gootwood and it’s often reported through Gottwood’s grapevine of acts playing extended unannounced ‘special’ sets dotted around the festival and even though set times weren’t posted up often, you could be sure to find a solid artist lost in their element at a stage nearby, adding to one of the site’s hidden treasures.
The mood generated from the boutique-designed production adds to the ‘secret party’ atmosphere that gives DJ’s a free reign to freely express themselves in a different manner to which we are accustomed. We caught up with techno regular Artwork at Gottwood 2015 who said the festival was ‘easily one of his favourite places to play in the UK’ due to the receptive crowd, relaxed atmosphere and remote location. Move D having played almost every year to date, posted on his Facebook as he was leaving this year’s edition that he was already looking forward to 2016’s offering after his first aptly named “inofficial disco set” went down a storm. Between Ben UFO/ Craig Richards’ 5+hour back-to-back, Seven Davis Jr’s first live performance and MCDE’s closing cameo who famously doesn’t tour often anymore, Gottwood maintained a clear individuality and exclusivity, which is hard to come by in today’s over-saturated festi-circuit.
Gottwood is the staple of the unique and boutique festival experience joining together underground electronic music and visual effects to create a community atmosphere. The site, built using organic materials, is gets underway weeks before opening and with live art created throughout it is a constant show of creative craftsmanship.
The idyllic Anglesey location – free of corporate brand name sponsors and endorsements – is instead decorated by independent food trade and arts stalls which don’t distract from it’s picturesque setting. Each stage has a completely unique theme, name and set design, giving the entire site a really distinct personality. The mythical artisan woodland really adds to the outstanding ‘Gottwood experience’, and plays a massive part in making it truly unique.
5. Size isn’t everything
We’ve all seen it – the life cycle the majority of festivals in the UK abide to. It starts with 2000 people in a field somewhere, perhaps a couple of headliners and some intimate stages. Two years of successful attendance, a good vibe, some modest growth and then the sponsors gain interest. Before you know it you’re being herded around the site like cattle, drinking shit beer and eating an £11, soggy GBK. It’s the natural way of things isn’t it? It would seem the guys at Gottwood have thrown the warm cup of flat Carlsberg back in the face of expansion.
With an annual attendance of 5000, Gottwood has a feeling of something new and special despite the fact that it is now entering it’s 6th year. Attempts at expansion, corporate sponsorship and relocation have all been scattered thanks to the adamance and determination of the organisers to keep the village in the woods just the way it is. Don’t get us wrong – it gets better every year – it’s just nice to see that some still value quality over quantity.
6. Dress Code
Another great part about Gottwood is that nobody really gives a shit about anything. It’s the perfect place to forget about the stresses of life and let things digress. One such explosion of this anti-establishmentarianism would be what people wear over the weekend. The farm in Anglesey transforms into a parade of colour with sequins, glitter and henna covering just about every square inch of skin. Feathers, turbans, crowns – we’ve seen it all – and every years the outfits get more intricate and increasingly beautiful to look at.
These personal decorations combined with the incredible efforts of the people that build and design Gottwood make this place it’s own sovereign state for the four days of it’s annual existence. Tickets have nearly sold out for this years festival – If you’re looking for something a little different this summer, get yourself to Gotty.
Adam Shelton / Awesome Tapes From Africa / Andrew Weatherall b2b Roman Flügel / Axel Boman / Beautiful Swimmers / Chimpo / Craig Richards b2b Ben UFO / Crazy P / Daniel Avery / Denney / DJ Deep / Felix Dickinson / Frits Wentick / Glenn Astro / Grain / Ivy Lab / Jane Fitz / Job Jobse / Joy Orbison / Kowton b2b Hodge / Lauer (Live) / Maribou State / Max Graef / Move D / Mr. G (Live) / Nick Höppner / Nicolas Lutz / Optimo / PBR Streetgang / Pedestrian / Prosumer / Psychemagik / Ralph Lawson / Secretsundaze / Shackleton (Live) / Sonja Moonear / Tama Sumo / The Mole / tINI / Tristan Da Cunha / Virginia / Waifs & Strays / Will Saul / Zip
2 Bad Mice / Al Dobson Jr / Alex Arnout / Antony Di Francesco / Appleblim / Archie Hamilton / Bad Passion / Bastien Keb / Black Josh / Blackhall & Bookless / Bradley Zero / Cassio Kohl / Cedric Maison / Dave Harvey / Detboi / Drymbago (Live) / Foul Play / FYI Chris / Glowing Palms / Harry McCanna / Henry Wu / HKE / Jeen Bassa / Jozef K / Khruangbin (Live) / Krywald & Farrer / Last Waltz / Mirko Loko / Morris Cowan (Live) / Paramida / Peak & Swift / Reginald Omas Mamode IV (Live) / Roly Porter / Ruf Dug / Sam Russo / Saoirse / Sebastian Voigt / Tenderlonious / Wolf Music / Zoo Look.
For a taste of what to expect, peep our gallery below from this year’s unforgettable edition.