"It's a relaxed affair"
Launched by former Formula 1 engineer Tad Czapski and held at Kencot Hill Farm near Burford, Tadstock champions young musicians who have engaged with the CCP community charity based in Cheltenham, and is a . OX spoke to Tad at the festival site to talk F1, ecological responsibility and his plans for the future…
How does a guy go from engineering at Formula 1 to launching a rural festival?
The festival kicked off as just a way of getting an extended group of friends together back in 2005, but it got bigger and bigger and we ended up welcoming a few hundred people. At that point I met up with the CEO of CCP in Cheltenham, and became friends with him. He came to one of the parties, I think it would've been 2007, and we started talking about the young artists and studios that they have up there. Some of them were really talented so we thought it'd be great to start showcasing them at the festival. Now, it's really dedicated to that.
You're big on sustainability and ecological responsibility. Why are you interested in that?
To be honest, I was born that way. I was born an engineer, I was born a vegetarian and I was born an environmentalist.
So as an environmentalist, what drew you to Formula 1?
I can see the paradox! However, Formula 1 may be an entertainment circus, but the research behind the scenes, particularly on the power train, is very relevant to the real world. Technology developments were much freer in the days of old - although there are natural reasons why nowadays there really are some quite weird regulations. Every year, the regulations slow the cars down and the engineers work around them to speed them up - competing against each other. The FIA basically reframe the rules to cut the speed of the cars down as much as the engineers can find each year to add on.
What did you do at Formula 1?
I started doing electronic control systems, but my background has been pretty solidly in engineering. I hadn't been motor racing before I joined Formula 1 in my mid-30s, so I came in with quite a different mindset to the petrolheads who had been there for years. My career progressed quite quickly through F1 up to management.
Back to the festival - what can we expect?
It's a relaxed affair - we're hoping for 1,000 people this year. People enjoy the environment and enjoy the music that's put on. This year, Lonnie Donegan’s son, Peter, is going to showcase some of his music and also that of his dad’s, which we’re really looking forward to.
Can you talk about some of the artists that you've put on in the past?
They come from all walks of life - for example, we had a young chap who was a really good rapper, and he was working hard to try and put his life back on the rails. He was only about 17 at the time, and with CCP's help he managed to get his feet on the ground and stay away from the kind of tangents that young people can go down at that age. He's not followed up with his rapping, which is a shame because he was incredibly punchy and erudite, but he found a path in life and that's what CCP does. If you look on our website, there are interviews with some of the incredible artists that played last year.
Where are you looking to put it in the future?
The long-term plan is to keep developing the festival and working with young and disadvantaged musicians. It won't exclusively be that, because we have veterans who come back each year and demonstrate their craft, but predominantly it's about providing that live experience for young artists.
How do you deal with the logistics of putting on so many different acts?
We have the main stage, which we call the Earth Stage, and we have a small open mic stage in a marquee, then later on the DJs play within the woods. In terms of artist management, the manager of CCP's music studios takes that responsibility, then we rope in various volunteers
Other than music, what goes on?
This year we've got a lady from Cheltenham who does fantastic vegan raw food, and she'll be doing hot vegetarian food as well - a meat-free festival. Of course, most people bring their own food anyway because we're small and we like to keep it relaxed. We’ll also have real ale, great wine and cocktails served at the bars, and entertainment for kids throughout the weekend.
Tadstock takes place 26th-29th August 2016
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