We know our way round a party here at LSD, but this is pure next generation stuff as every single synapse crackles into a lightening bolt of gobsmacked wonder and the barriers crumble before the onslaught of thousands upon thousands of heaving minds, bodies and souls coming together in breathtaking unity and rushing their fucking nuts and their bolts off. After the spellbinding spectacle that was their field at Glastonbury, we caught up with Pip Rush and Bert Cole - the visionary nutters behind it all for a word...
Can you tell us a little about your backgrounds
PIP - I grew up in the countryside in Dorset within a family of artists. My brother Joe had just started the Mutoids when I was born so got a lot of inspiration seeing their shows as a kid.Tried the school thing but didn’t enjoy the system, Started working on and off with the Mutoids 15 years on, learned how to build big scrap sculptures and enjoyed some wicked parties around the world.
BERT - I grew up in the Dorset countryside with an early passion for mechanics, machines, improvisation and acquiring the skills for making things. I went to my first Glastonbury 20 years ago and witnessed Archaos aged 10 which helped my wheels get turning. I took off on the road at 16 with tent company Kayam that took me all over the world in amongst festivals and events and was quickly made a tent master and spent the next 11 years touring the globe in the summers with a motley tent crew moving giant structures for events from orchestras to raves. In the off season I started to put on my own free parties and was becoming more interested in getting people together with music and entertainment outside of the normal system.
How did you come together to create Arcadia?
PIP - I started a traveling arts café and travelled round European festivals and squats building party environments. It was hard graft with no funding and we spent a lot of time trying to fix the trucks and acquire diesel... But it was loads of fun, and we met hundreds of creative, driven people. We rocked up at a Spanish festival one day and bumped in to Bert who I vaguely knew from childhood. He was erecting these massive tents, having fun with his crew playing about with serious machinery. I was really inspired to see the possibilities when you had quality tools and good food…and I think he was also inspired by how much fun our freestyle creative lifestyle was…
The next year we scored a good budget from a festival in Ireland and he came out to help with his crew. It was a real potent mix of crews and we built an amazing environment full of sculptures, with a big tent in the middle with bands and stuff. Sometime in the early hours we had a chat about how a linear stage and a separation between the musicians, crowd and sculpture was all wrong, so decided to try and merge it all in to one 360 arena…. From the outside we looked like a dribbling mess, but on the inside wed just hit on an idea that was about to grow beyond our wildest visions!
BERT - I knew of Pip from an early age as we grew up pretty near each other but started to get more in touch as time went on and we realized we had some common interests. I worked as part of a team Pip put together to produce an area at Electric Picnic in 2006 and there was something really positive about working together and the ball started rolling there really as the momentum gathered to try and create, make or produce things in festivals that were nothing traditional but a fusion of influences and elements that combined, made for a full 360 degree all encompassing atmosphere in which people could really let themselves go. This was made relatively obvious from witnessing years of festivals and concerts always following the same old linear formula of stage and auditorium etc. We quite clearly decided to turn it inside out and upside down and create a hub from which effects, music, energy radiates in which people are amongst rather than simply watching. Where things have got to now is a mere evolution of what started for us there.
How important is recycling and mutation in within the Arcadia concept?
PIP - Hmm, it’s massive. Anyone with a few basic skills and a welder can make amazing things out of scrap with very little other resources. Also the inspiration that comes from visiting a scrap yard and seeing mountains of machines from past generations piled up high is massive in itselfe.… We get all our stuff from military scrap yards, Its interesting seeing crates and crates of
BERT - I feel like we start with outlandish concepts and then search for good bits of scrap as building blocks, slot then in and re arrange them. This allows the concept, design and manufacture to organically and simultaneously develop along an exciting path.
How important is wider team spirit and the essence of collaboration in the bigger installations?
PIP - It’s all about that really, building creative stuff, pushing the boundaries and having a big party at the end really brings the best out of people. ‘Arcadia’ has attracted so many amazing individuals and groups in to my life, all who have inspired me and shaped how I live. I think everybody must have a similar motive, because they all give their heart and soul to work around the clock and make it happen… and they’re definitely not doing it for the money!
BERT - It’s all about the people, community and spirit. What we do is fuelled greatly by huge amounts of enthusiasm, focus and relentless hard work towards a collective goal by many amazing people who have a huge range in skills, interests lifestyles and ideals. Together these form a multi faceted, ever changing collective who point in the same direction.