Cornbury Music Festival: Jack Savoretti
Over a lengthy period of time, though, he has apparently built a team around him that “absorb” the business side of things, and allow him to write the songs he wants. He’s protected in that sense, he says, likening the music industry to the mafia, where “protection is everything”.
The last time Jack Savoretti spoke to OX, he was promoting Written in Scars, calling it an almost celebratory album. Sleep No More, his new album, is “more of an awakening,” he says two years on. “It’s basically just coming to terms with adulthood, with new challenges.” Written in Scars, he tells me, was powered by the ‘You can’t bring me down, I’ll show you’ sort of attitude he had at the time. “Then I got to a different stage in my life, I became a father of two children, and started to have different worries, trials and tribulations. And I felt there was no music I could turn to that spoke about that phase in my life. All albums were either about how people fell in love or how people broke up. Nobody was singing about how to keep things together and the fight for something that you love. I had to make the album that I really needed to hear.”
During our conversation I refer to the music ‘industry’, and question whether words like that are healthy for the actual creation of music. They’re not, Savoretti answers, “but they’re necessary. I don’t think they’re productive but they are the reality of it – at the end of the day you are selling something.” Over a lengthy period of time, though, he has apparently built a team around him that “absorb” the business side of things, and allow him to write the songs he wants. He’s protected in that sense, he says, likening the music industry to the mafia, where “protection is everything”.
This year he returns to Cornbury Music Festival, since his family’s move to West Oxfordshire it’s become his local festival. “I’m a huge fan of the area,” he says. “It’s always had a big space in my heart and now even more so. Festivals like Cornbury were a big part of me discovering this part of the world and falling in love with it. Oxfordshire’s always been kind to us; I’ve got a soft spot for it, now I get to call it home.”
It will be the final Cornbury, The Great Tew Park festival (also known as ‘Poshstock’) is closing its doors in 2017 after 14 years. “I don’t think we’ll be doing fireworks,” Savoretti says of his upcoming Cornbury set, “that’s never really been our style – it’s never been about the big bangs or routines. We’ll be doing what we do, and let it do what it does, as I always say.” What ultimately do you hope people who watch you go away feeling? I ask. “Like they were part of it,” he replies, “like they had a nice dinner party with us. They’ve got to know us, and they feel like we’ve got to know them.”
We then discuss festivals in general. “There are so many these days,” he says. “What I sometimes find a bit heartbreaking is you go to some, they’re amazing, and then two or three years later they’ve been bought out by bigger companies and the whole vibe changes.”
He mentions no names when saying “a lot of festivals have lost a lot of their soul.” I do, pinpointing Glastonbury. I don’t do this because I’m an avid goer and fan for whom Glastonbury has transformed into an event devoid of its original spirit; in fact, I’ve never been, not once. I do it rather because for some reason I feel like there are people who believe this to be the case. “Glastonbury still has a great vibe to it,” responds Savoretti, “but it’s definitely changed.”
I voice the idea that the festival in question has lost its essence with the introduction of glamping and the like. This sort of indulgence isn’t specific to Glastonbury though, he says, festival luxury is something more “global”. Today he knows people who go to Burning Man by private jet, not something representative of the Black Rock Desert event’s core. “The world is changing,” the musician continues. “Things are manipulated for people’s profit.”
It seems unlikely to change, I say. “The smaller festivals can survive, they don’t need to sell out,” he states, claiming that it’s possible to profit without surrendering what makes you great. He appreciates “it’s hard to turn down an offer from a big company”, and admits he might well himself be tempted by the proposal of a wealthy organisation. But still, a festival’s loss of identity is to him “a shame”.
I tell him it feels like we’ve left things on a sad note.
“No,” he says, putting a cheerier spin on things. “The note is: If you do buy out a big festival, if it ain’t broken don’t fix it, keep it as it is.”
Jack Savoretti plays Cornbury Music Festival on Friday 7th July.
Top Image © Tom Oxley
Bottom © Tom Oxley
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