The UK festival scene has quite a reputation to uphold. You’ll find mud-caked metal heads at Download, post-GCSE teenagers setting fire to things at Reading and music lovers young and old sitting in the Stone Circle at Glastonbury. We’ve got such a vast selection of festivals to choose from come the summer months, it’s hard to fathom cramming one more into the festival calendar.
However, we may have found one exception to the rule: DJs Jaymo and Andy George’s Lost Village, a 5,000-person jaunt in the middle of a forest in Lincolnshire. Despite its tiny capacity, Lost Village pulled in some of the biggest names in electronic music on its debut in 2015 (think Annie Max, Four Tet, Ben Pearce and Erol Alkan) and this year’s line-up was no exception, with Fatboy Slim, Ben Klock, Jackmaster and Eats Everything taking to the decks along with live performances from Jake Garatt and Henrick Schwartz.
We talked to the Jaymo and Andy George, the DJs behind the event, about how they put together the UK’s most exciting new festival and what makes journeying into the ethereal world of the Lost Village.
How was Lost Village born?
Jaymo and Andy George: “We’ve been attending festivals for years, both as DJs and as music fans, so we’ve been slowly amassing ideas for what we think would make the perfect festival. The line-up, concept, setting, experience, food, sound system, decor – all these things we’ve been inadvertently researching for the past decade.
“Loads of new festivals were taking a very similar path, in terms of aesthetic and experience. So, we set out to create something that pretty much went in the opposite direction. Rather than being cute, twee and cartoonish, we wanted to create something with a darker edge, that used cinematography to immerse people in a story, prior to the event. A story that ultimately they’d become part of.”
What’s going on in the Lost Village story?
“The concept is that Lost Village is an abandoned village, lost in time, filled with all kinds of unusual people. The festival is us stepping into their world, kinda like a 72-hours film. And much like a film, Lost Village has a cast of actors and a director.
“We wanted Lost Village to be a place of discovery and constant surprises. One minute you could be dancing to Greg Wilson in the ground of the Abandoned Chapel, the next you’re face to face with The Seer in some secret woodland hideaway or exchanging stories with Mr Lanius in his Bureau of Lost. There’s a narrative that is constantly evolving of the weekend, which you can watch from afar or fully immerse yourself in.
“We want to stimulate people in new ways and create a surreal environment where nothing is quite what it seems. In a world increasingly guided by algorithms predicting our every move, we wanted to create something that was unpredictable, organic and, at times, unnerving.”
You both have extensive experiences playing at other festivals all over the world. Why did you want to put on your own?
“We’ve definitely approached Lost Village more as a creative project than as businesspeople. There’s a million easier ways to put on a festival, but that would give us the same buzz.
“We’ve learnt something from all the festivals we’re personally attended – I guess we’ve been harvesting information all this time. We think about the experience from both the customer and the artist perspective, which hopefully means that artists and customers alike have an amazing and memorable time. We could cut corners in so many ways but that’s not what Lost Village is about. We wanted to create an event that was clearly run by people who were deeply passionate about every little detail.”
Why did you choose Lincolnshire as a location?
“The perfect setting was absolutely pivotal to bringing the Lost Village idea to life – we knew we wanted a forest . We both grew up in the area, so we had some ideas of places that might work. Those places didn’t actually come into fruition, but they did set us on the right path. Eventually we found this place and it just ticked all the boxes.
“It’s 80 minutes from London, which is where the majority of our customers travel from. But also very easy to get to from places like Edinburgh, Leeds, Sheffield, Nottingham, York and more.”
Why did you choose to set the festival in the woods instead of a field?
“When things are easy to grasp, they can become boring quite quickly. We wanted to create a more complex environment that meant people had to explore and figure things out themselves, as we believe that’s much more rewarding.
“The forest has a natural ambience and theatre about it too – the perfect foundations for what we wanted to do.”
Both this year and last year’s line-ups are incredible for such a new festival. How did you get so many big names on board?
“The festival is curated in the same way we might curate a DJ set or a playlist. For us, flow and dynamic is very important. So, as one of the first steps in the process, we create our dream line-up, from stage to stage. Some artists are perfect for a certain time of day on a specific stage.
“We want the music to tell a story in the same way that the rest of the experience does. Once we’ve refined the line-up to the point that it feels like everything is just right, we starting contacting the respective agents.
“Generally, artists can see how much love goes into the event, and see that we’re trying to do something different. 90% of the time this means they want to play, but on the occasions that they don’t we just let it go. We want to work with people who really get what we’re about.”
How does the experience of playing to a huge crowd at a bigger festival or club night, compare to a smaller crowd at intimate festivals?
“It’s the connection you get in more intimate environments that makes it special. Most DJs will tell you the same, they’re the best gigs by a mile. And the more fun the DJ or band is having, the better their set will be, which in turn benefits the crowd.
“A large crowd, at a massive festival, clearly looks impressive – but you’re so far from people that there’s not much in the way of connection. The performance becomes a bit more rehearsed if you’re not getting feedback from the crowd. ”
Right now Lost Village is pretty small, do you have any plans to expand?
“Yes, but only a very small amount. Part of what makes Lost Village so special is how intimate it feels. We’ll grow organically, a little at a time, but nothing crazy.”