Camera Obscura, Emmy The Great, One Happy Island, The Carrots, Fitness Forever - Indietracks festival preview

Simon Jay Catling 08/04/2009

If 2008 seemed to be a hazardous one for the fledgling festival (Zoo08 anyone?) then no one thought to tell the organisers of Indietracks Indiepop Festival. In just its second year the Derbyshire festival- located somewhat uniquely at the Midland Railway Museum in Butterley, was host to an enthusiastically received weekend of burgeoning artists and acts who follow a strong belief in a DIY ethic, topped by headliners Los Campesinos! and a band synonymous with the DIY attitudes of the 1980's indie scene- The Wedding Present. “Indietracks is more about unsigned acts and those with DIY ethics, because that's the biggest part of what indiepop is.” That's Indietracks mastermind Stuart Mackay talking: a man whose enthusiasm for the affectionately termed genre of indiepop is plain to see. “I'd had about a decade away from listening to music,” he explains further, “and when I got back into it I discovered the indiepop scene and just felt right at home, and it became an addiction that I wanted to be part of.” The scene Stuart refers to stretches from club nights like 'How Does It Feel?' and 'Offbeat' to the internet forums of 'Anorak' and 'Bowlie' amongst others, and has risen as a tight-knit community firmly behind bands who strive to make the music they love under their own terms.

And so a passion for a scene that thrives on its passionate supporters, coupled with the rather handy curio of working at the Midland Railway Museum in Butterley, Derbyshire allowed the indiepop enthusiast to set up Indietracks Festival. This third year looks like being its most impressive yet, with headliners already named including highly rated London based folk singer Emmy The Great and massively respected Scottish group Camera Obscura. Says Mackay; “It'll be fab as both bands are at great stages in their career. Camera Obscura worked very hard with touring after the last album and it seems to have paid off; there's great anticipation for the new one and they're back on the road at bigger venues. I haven't seen Emmy The Great yet but I'm certainly looking forward to her; part of the reason they were asked was because of all the reviews I was reading.”

In addition to the headliners, as well as hotly tipped acts like Boston's One Happy Island (“they've tremendous enthusiasm on stage” enthuses the Indietracks head honcho), Indietracks are also helping Spanish label Elefant celebrate their 20th Anniversary. It's another example of the indiepop community reaching out and helping each other; after all, the idea came after a suggestion to the organisers on the previously mentioned Anorak internet forums. The consequence is the site's outdoor stage being given over exclusively to celebrating label for the whole weekend. Stuart himself describes Elefant as holding “a special place in many people's hearts; they've got fantastic bands and great enthusiasm. Indiepop is huge in Spain, but unlike other hotspots like Sweden and Indonesia where the bands write songs in English, the Spaniards keep to their native language which means there's normally been less interaction with the UK so it's great to provide a showcase for some of these.” Not that it'll be exclusively Iberians taking centre stage outdoors; the likes of The Carrots from the USA and Fitness Forever from Italy will tread the boards on the newly enlarged stage, not to mention Camera Obscura themselves.

It's refreshing to see a festival reflecting the musical tastes of its organisers and not throwing a blanket over a smattering of bands that are booked in the sole expectance of bringing the punters in. It's an indiepop festival and that's something the organisers make no bones about; yet whilst its musical stylings may be niche, Indietracks certainly isn't exclusive to who it wants to attract. And heck, if the music's not floating your boat then there's always the petting farm, the fine drink or the workshops on all and sundry, from starting your own fanzine or record label to learning how to knit. And of course there's the steam trains themselves that take you to and from the festival; if that doesn't convince you that Indietracks sounds like a memorable weekend in the countryside then I don't know what will.

Indietracks Festival takes place at the Midland Railway Museum in Butterley, on Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th of July. Weekend tickets are priced at reasonable 55, more info here: