Heavy Scotland Interview – Caitlin Elliott, Festival Director
In 2017 all metal eyes and fully intact pit ready hair ( well for most of us) will be watching and moshing for the first Heavy Scotland Festival to take place in Scotland on the 1st and 2nd of April. AATR will be there but before the mayhem and chaos ensues Caitlin Elliot, Festival Director took time out to answer a few of our questions.
AATR: Firstly many thanks for taking the time to talk with All About the Rock, it’s a busy time of year so it much appreciated. I’m sure though it’s going to get a lot busier in the first half of 2017 on the lead up to Heavy Scotland. Can you give us a bit of background as to the some of the driving forces behind the festival and where the idea first came from?
CE: Hah, yes, I do not plan on getting much sleep until April. It is definitely worth it, though, to be able to bring something to the metal scene and to give underground bands a platform. As someone who enjoys being creative and exploring new things, running my own business was always the path for me. Figuring out what sort of business was the big question. Having always loved metal the goal was to do something in the metal industry. It was about 6 years ago when I started thinking about running a metal festival. I moved to Edinburgh to do my Masters and noticed Scotland didn’t have a metal festival, but it had a solid metal scene and lots of incredible underground bands. That is when I decided to put the festival together and to try and grow the scene and give underground bands a platform which will hopefully help them get into the wider metal scene. Metal is a community and one giant family and it is important to give back, so I’m hoping I can use this platform to give back in as many ways as possible.
AATR: What made you pick Edinburgh as the host city and did you think about a staging it elsewhere?
CE: Having done my Masters in Edinburgh it was my first choice however I did briefly consider running the festival in Glasgow but in the end, I felt Edinburgh was the right choice. The venue is the perfect size, we have a 2500 capacity and plenty of space for our metal market, press room, food court etc. The metal scene here is not as big as in Glasgow so it was a great opportunity to grow the scene in Edinburgh. We will have to move when we go outdoors, but we have no idea where that will be right now.
AATR: How has the reaction been locally to hosting the festival in Edinburgh and do you hope to launch some new talents over the weekend?
CE: There seems to be a lot of buzz about the festival, people are excited to have a big metal event in Edinburgh, which is awesome. Definitely, a large focus for the festival is to give underground bands a platform. We have guests flying in from around the world, Chile, Mexico, Qatar, Sweden, Poland… lots of countries, so to be able to offer these bands a huge new potential fanbase is a great feeling. It will be great if all of our local bands gain a massive new fan base, who will go home and tell their friends, who will tell their friends. It is a really exciting time and I hope the bands do well from this and that the metal scene is that bit bigger after the event.
AATR: It’s safe to say the Heavy Scotland has one of the best logos around, where did that come from and whose idea was it?
CE: Hahaha, that made me laugh. Thank you! Alex Skolnick and I were discussing unexpected metalheads last year, he has a very cool blog about metalheads who don’t look like metalheads, people who you would never guess were massive metalheads, and how I am one of those and then he interviewed me for his blog. Anyway, I was thinking about what to name my business around this time, and as I was thinking about the image of metal and what it means to be a metalhead and being an ‘unexpected metalhead’, and I could not think of anything that encompassed my personality and metal. Days and days went by and then one morning in the shower it popped into my head ‘Dead Viking Productions’ and that was it. It was an amazing tattoo artist in Finland who drew the logo based on the name of the business and then a fantastic friend of mine who made it digital.
AATR: How did you become personally involved with Heavy Scotland?
CE: Heavy Scotland is a way for me to give something back to our metal community, to add to the metal scene. Metal is the best thing ever and it makes me very happy so it would be an honour to do something for the bands, the community and the metal world.
AATR: I’m sure there will be many more challenges ahead but what have you found to be the main obstacles when trying to put the festival in place and how did you overcome them?
CE: Ooft, I’m not sure I can remember all the challenges. It is like a newborn foal trying to walk. You are going to fall over and you have to get back up and keep fighting. Nothing in life is easy but your dreams are worth fighting for. Everything has been a challenge, and that is good because it makes me appreciate every person who is supporting the festival even more. It took me many months to find that amazing person who drew the logo, he was not the first person I asked. Every step has taken hard work and time, that is why it took me so many years to finally get the festival going. It is a truly wonderful feeling to finally have the festival up and running and I am eternally grateful to everyone who has helped along the way and to everyone who is supporting the festival. We are a part of an incredible community and the festival wouldn’t run without everyone’s support. To sum up, you just have to keep fighting and if you are doing a good thing, it will work out in the end. I love metal and our community and want to help it grow. So hard work, passion and persistence is how I overcome all challenges.
AATR: Was there ever a time when you thought the festival wasn’t going to happen?
CE: That is a tricky question as everyone has days where they want to give up. There is always a chance that the festival won’t work, as with anything in life, it might not work. However, if you keep at it, if you keep working hard and putting the time and effort in, things will turn out ok. There have been times when I thought I would never get there, how will I get the money, how will I book a big enough headliner, how will I sell tickets, so many steps to overcome. I hope that by putting in years of time, hard work and passion, everything will work out. I love organising events and making people happy so every detail of the festival has been planned to ensure everyone is having a great time. It is very exciting to see everything come together.
AATR: With such heavy competition these days for live gigs did you have support from other festivals and promoters?
CE: Sadly not from all promoters. After arriving in Scotland and deciding to try and make the festival happen, I approached a number of promoters and made them aware of the plans for Heavy Scotland. As the goal has always been to help grow the scene it was made clear that Heavy Scotland would be on a date that didn’t clash and it would be a friendly new addition to the scene. None of us worked together initially but now there are many amazing people in Scotland who support the festival and I have friends abroad who run big festivals and they give me a lot of advice, so there is support and hopefully with their expert advice I won’t fuck up the festival! Haha.
AATR: You have a great line-up so far with the likes of Behemoth and Arch Enemy, where do you start putting together such a heavy line up?
CE: I am into the heavier genres myself this is the direction I leant towards. There is something about watching these bands live, it is good for the soul. It is hard to describe the feeling of seeing these bands live- one needs to physically be there to understand it. Having bands which would deliver on stage and leave every single one of the Heavy Scotland guests feeling this euphoric state, that was the goal. Having an awareness of which bands are gaining popularity and which bands are doing particularly well in the UK was also a factor. It will be exciting to grow the festival so that we can branch out and book a range of bands who might not have been suitable this year.
AATR: You’ve also teamed up with the wonderful charity Little Princess Trust. Does Heavy Scotland have a personal connection to the trust and how did that come about?
CE: Yes, it is important for me to give back and to use this platform to do good. As much as it is important to give to the metal scene it is also important for me to do more. Many people have helped me in my life and it is an honour to have a platform, which reaches so many people, to do good and I hope I can encourage others to do the same. I donated over a metre of my hair to the charity and metal is the perfect place to find long hair, so we will offer up to 20 people free entry to the festival if they donate 12 inches or more of their hair to children suffering with hair loss from cancer and a range of health issues. (Please email firstname.lastname@example.org before making your donation)
AATR: So now that your line up is confirmed what are your priorities as we head into 2017 and how does your focus change from putting the line-up together to actually making the event happen?
CE: Getting the festival out there, making sure people know about it and our brand and message. Plenty of promotion as well as plenty of planning still to be done. Logistics, t-shirts, all sorts of tasks still to be completed. It is time consuming and a huge learning experience and I love every minute of it. It is important that everyone has an amazing time and wants to come back for 2018 so I will be going over every detail and planning all aspects of the event to ensure that all of our guests leave the festival with massive smiles on their faces and a craving to come back in 2018.
AATR: What’s been your most enjoyable experience so far being involved in the festival?
CE: Probably getting to know so many amazing people from our metal community, making new friends and talking to people about metal, the festival, the scene and sharing in genuine excitement with fellow metalheads.
AATR: What can Metal fans expect from Heavy Scotland that they’ve not experienced before?
CE: Come to Heavy Scotland and see for yourself! Haha, just kidding. There are a few surprises I will keep up my sleeve but it is very important that people have a good time, so there is a lot of time and effort going in to ensuring our guests really enjoy themselves. I am putting all my love, passion and energy in to the event so I really hope people enjoy the weekend and make some new friends, experience a great metal atmosphere, discover some cool new bands and have fun. We have the metal market, the food court, signing sessions and plenty of things to do throughout the weekend, which will be awesome.
AATR: Lastly, thank you and we look forward to speaking to you again closer to festival.
CE: Thank you! Looking forward to it and Happy New Year to everyone, lets hope 2017 is full of happiness and prosperity for all.
Buy your tickets for what is set to be one of 2017’s best festivals here!