Ghost Road Festival
6th – 7th November 2021
And just like that, gigs and festivals are BACK, but wading through the heaps of events over last winter was somewhat of a challenge. With so many carried over from previous years and so many brand spanking new events jumping out of the dark screaming ” check us out! “, there was one festival that really caught my eye. Ghost Road Festival is soon to be celebrating its first year, but what makes Ghost Road stand out from the others and why’s it getting me giddy?
Not only is the line up packed full quality bands such as headliners Bang Bang Romeo and The Virginmarys, the festival stands for:
- Proportional Representation
At first glance, I wondered how one was able to celebrate inclusivity in terms of booking acts and how they would go about choosing acts without discriminating due to fitting a quota..Although arguably, isn’t that what most festivals do anyway, less positively? That’s a whole article in itself!
BUT, after speaking to Lori Forster, festival CEO, I feel enlightened and educated. Ghost Road Festival is a welcome bend in the rigid road of regurgitated line ups, attitudes and expectations. They’re creating a path which is unique and paved with good intentions, but most importantly, challenges the norm, something anyone who supports creativity can get behind.
LTW: Festivals are back, yes! Have you been waiting for the right time to put on Ghost Road Fest? I’m so excited for November 7th in Leeds.
Lori Forster: Yes! We can’t wait, we also have November 6th in London too. We started planning this in September 2020 – it’s been a nervous journey as we’ve been will it won’t it the whole time.
How did the pandemic affect Ghost Road Fest, were there positives and negatives to waiting and having that time?
This is the first year of the festival so we haven’t yet had to face the dreaded reschedule (although there is still time…). The positives are that we’ve had some real time to focus on what we want the festival to look like, and also for us to dictate what rules we want at our show – we’ve heard so many horrible stories of venues and gigs not feeling safe post lockdown – we have a real chance here to create a space that’s safe for everybody to enjoy.
I really appreciate what the Ghost Road ethos is, for example a focus on inclusivity, creativity, proportional representation etc. Do you feel that there is a need for festivals to focus on such things? And if there isn’t a “need”, what made you want to?
Sadly, I think there still is – I can’t wait for a time when we don’t need to even say, hey we’re a festival that has equality as a forward focus – because it should just be a thing. The lack of female, non binary, gender fluid and LGBTQ+ on festival line-ups is a little uncomfortable for me. And let’s be honest, there isn’t shortage of really great bands. I’m not naive and I do understand festivals are a business and money needs to be made to cover costs – else there won’t be any festivals at all. But I think organisers do have some responsibility to seek out acts and branch out a little.
Could you please go into what proportional representation is and why you think that’s important for festivals.
Proportional representation is exactly that – let’s have a festival line-up where we feel people are represented – and not just make it a boys only club.
How do you go about selecting artists for this festival, is there anything that would make certain bands stand out more to you than others?
I know it sounds crazy – but nice people – it makes SUCH a difference working with nice people. We wanted a diverse line up that compliments each other – but where they don’t all sound the same. I also wanted to make sure the bands varied from newer smaller bands and bigger more established bands – so it gives the smaller bands a chance to play alongside people they can learn from outside of their hometown. And for the bigger bands – I imagine it’s very humbling to play alongside bands who look up to them.
Looking at the bands on the line up, it seems there is a wide variety in styles of music and lots of dynamic which is awesome. Was it intentional to create that variety?
Definitely- I find it so boring when you see a lineup with all the same-sounding bands (not too different though I don’t want to split audiences). We intentionally aren’t releasing stage times till the day of the show – I hope it’ll encourage audience members to stay the entirety of the show and it may even allow audience to discover new music.
Going forward, where do you expect Ghost Road to go, are you looking to expand and create bigger events?
Eventually yes – I hope in the future to extend to larger venues with multi stages so again, we can give more opportunities to up and coming bands – creating a great community.
How do bands apply for Ghost Road 2022 and when can they do so ?
Drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
For full festival line up and more information, please head to the Ghost Road Festival website
See you in Leeds!
All words by Lucy Shevchuk. More writing by Lucy on Louder Than War can be found at her author’s archive.