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Latitude feels like a festival competing with itself. Even the most experienced festival punters will agree that ‘unique’ best describes this weekend of music and arts. Yet, one or two regulars will still tell you that they regard it as the ‘Glastonbury of the East.‘ Here, the variety of music is phenomenal. On Friday, Naomi Keytes, Nick Mulvey and Mikhael Paskalev certainly pushed the ‘i’ Arena stage into our top venues for the whole weekend as they performed their respectively captivating sets.
Two years after having left the Mercury nominated Portico Quartet, singer-songwriter Nick Mulvey is finding his way into the watch list of music critics. He spoke to SCAN straight after his live set to speak about festivals, music and the future.
The enthusiastic crowd adored his sound and he expressed a similar sentiment about his set. “It was an absolute pleasure. A lot more people than I expected actually.” Nick was at ease in his surroundings despite it being his first time at Latitude.
In the background, the heavy bass line from the Lake Stage provides a rhythm for our discussion. “I’m amazed, I think it’s absolutely beautiful – the lake is lovely, the line-up is great and I’m staying until Sunday.” A relatively relaxing weekend for this industrious musician, having played earlier festivals, including Glastonbury and then announcing to his fans that he was going to be at Secret Garden Party the weekend after. “A lot of the crowd will perhaps have just turned up because there’s a lot of different music on, the audience is quite disarmed. They’re all kind of quite open. So, crazy things can happen.” Then again, how does an artist get noticed but through working hard? For a while now, watchful eyes have followed the succeeding moves of the former Hang percussion player after having left his band, Portico Quartet. ‘I was in a band for six years and wanted to write my own songs.’
In 2008, the band’s debut album was Mercury nominated alongside Elbow, Radiohead and Adele. With such success in the past, it certainly is a case of starting all over again for this Cambridge lad. By the time this goes to print, he would have just finished recording his solo album but until then it was all down to the brilliance of his EP ‘Fever to Form’ – “It’s a very special song to me as it was the first one I wrote after leaving the band.” All this turn events must feel like it has been a long time coming. “Yeah it’s that kind of thing, it’s a release. A relief even, or both.”
Before we let him go to perform his acoustic session for a national newspaper, we got onto the topic about artists who make great records and artists who have the special quality when performing live. “I love recording and making albums but playing music to people is obviously – that’s the main thing.”
Finally, we sunk our teeth into what I thought was the festival’s best night. On Sunday, Disclosure brought everyone to life; punters young and old had the best time raving to deep house. Equally phenomenal was James Blake, the dream of every music aficionado.
From the Lake Stage curated by Huw Stephens of BBC Radio 1, standout acts were The 1975 and Dan Croll. Dan found time to speak to us before his set. He tells us that this is his first time at Latitude – he admits he was never a regular festival goer before becoming an artist – for now, he is making the rounds at the festival and touring circuits, securing fans anywhere he can go and laying the foundations for a bright career ahead. “It’s all new to me but it’s great, I love taking it all in. Lots of crazy people.” We ask him what the highlight of weekend has been so far. “So far at Latitude, straightaway Laura Mvula. We walked out of the van and walked straight into [her] starting her set which was incredible. I really love her music. I just bumped into Local Natives – those guys are fantastic.” Dan agrees that seeing the sublime Laura Mvula would have been enough for the whole weekend. She was so mesmerizing that everyone felt genuinely pained at the cruelty of such a brief half-hour set. “And then we just sat by the lake. It kinda wasn’t what I was expecting, people paint this picture in your head of muddy but this is beautiful so far.”
There was a question that needed to be answered before he carried further: what would be the top three things to bring to festival? See how it compares to Nick’s earlier answer: “Top three things to bring to a festival, I would say, are…you wanna bring a cooling box to keep your booze cold, something to put on your head – a good hat or a headband or something funny. And I would say a bag of nuts to keep you going.” Dan hesitates. “Erm. Beer. Lots of underwear, underwear’s good. And, I don’t know, a surprise item – just something random!” A genuinely relaxing aura unwittingly surrounds this 23 year old. We expected that like Nick, the set he’s about to play will prove a hit with a festival audience. He anticipates that there will be “lots of harmonies, some playing about with some few time signatures, some dancing. Just all around good fun I think!” Then he delves into specific ground, letting our curious minds into the worries of a live performer. “The intro to the set, will only be the second time we’ve played it. It’s a nerve-wracking one as it’s tricky but when we played it on Friday for the first time in Norway, the feeling of doing it was great, so I’m really excited to do that one again.”
Staffordshire-born Dan Croll is a name that will soon be synonymous to successful singer/songwriter. “It started after I ended a career with a broken leg in Rugby.” Dan owes a fair amount to the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts where he was mentored by its founder, the quite legendary Paul McCartney. True, it’s never been easy to pin him down – he even admits that his music jumps about and changes sound from song to song. In person however, he is a genuine guy who is just staring bright eyed at it all. (Yes, this former rugby player meant the sport.) Both he and Nick are at a cusp where the likelycareer trajectory is on the way up. As a relatively newer guy to the scene, we ask Dan where he imagines himself to be in a year’s time. “I’m a pretty chilled guy. I’m having the time of my life right now.”
Nick’s latest EP ‘Fever to Form’ is now available to download. Dan Croll’s debut album is set to be released early next year. His latest single is available ‘In/Out’ is available to stream from www.dancroll.com.