INTERVIEW: James Scarlett (Arctangent Festival)

INTERVIEW: James Scarlett (Arctangent Festival)

This summer sees the launch of ArcTanGent Festival in a farm somewhere in the surrounding fields of Bristol. Here to explain a little bit about what to expect, and why on earth we should part with 59 of our very hard-earned British Pounds Sterling for a ticket, is James Scarlett- also of 2000 Trees super-fame.


When 2000 Trees was born, how confident were you that it would make it to its seventh year?

I wasn’t even confident it would get through its first year! We had no master plan for this at all and if you’d told me then where we would be today I’d have been the happiest person alive – Trees just seems to get more and more popular and we’ve even started to think about our 10th anniversary! And we also have our new baby ArcTanGent which I’m very excited about.

When did the idea for ArcTanGent first come about?

We’ve been kicking the idea around for a couple of years, mainly because we love running festivals and really didn’t want to make Trees any bigger than its current 5,000 capacity. So the obvious thing was to start something new.

Did you have any doubts about launching a new festival in the current climate?

To be honest, that’s not something I was worried about at all. If we were putting on a generic indie festival and trying to book the same bands everyone else is after then I’d definitely have been worried, but ArcTanGent is really something different. There isn’t another festival out there anything like it and it felt like the UK was crying out for something like this.

You’ve based ArcTanGent around a sort of breeding ground for post-rock, math-rock etc, why do you think this particular area of music needs a new platform? 

Because there is a dedicated fanbase out there that isn’t really being catered to properly. You’ll see some of these bands at other festivals but ArcTanGent is the only one where they are all in one place. It’s not all post-rock and math-rock though – we’ve got quite a few bands that sit outside of this definition like Future of the Left, Bo Ningen, Turbowolf and a few others still to announce.

One of the founding principles of 2000 Trees was featuring exclusively British artists. Is this the same for ArcTanGent, or have you given yourself licence to look beyond these shores? 

I’m 100% certain that we’ll be booking non-UK bands for ArcTanGent in the future – I’ve already put the feelers out for a couple for next year so watch this space! It will still be a very heavily British focussed festival because that’s what we love and what we believe in.

Which brand of music do you yourself most enjoy, that of 2000 Trees or ArcTanGent?

Great question – ha! I’m a metalhead at heart so anything with a heavy guitar is my usual love. Having said that, as the years have gone on I like weirder and weirder music and love stuff like Fuck Buttons and Three Trapped Tigers where there isn’t a heavy guitar anywhere in sight. So… in answer to your question, the Cave at 2000trees is the ultimate for me. Although having said that, we still have something very exciting to announce for ArcTanGent that will appeal to my more metal side. I think what I’m trying to say is that I love them both!

As a festival punter, what would be the first thing you’d be sure to pack?

Sorry, but the only answer to this is toilet roll!

What’s your best memory at a festival that wasn’t your own?

The first time I saw the Mars Volta was at Reading Festival – it may sound cheesy but it was like some sort of religious experience or awakening. I was completely and utterly spell bound. They are still my favourite band to this day.

Best British band at the moment?

There is so much good stuff out there that I can’t just give you one! Although if I had to, it would be Future of the Left. The best new band I’ve seen for a long time are The Physics House Band – utterly incredible live. Also, this week I’m particularly enjoying the latest stuff by Humnafly, Bovine, Empress and The Pirate Ship Quintet too.

Did any of the trees crew know anything about festival or music management before you guys started to put 2000 Trees together?

Nope, we knew nothing! We were all professionals working mostly in London – an accountant, a lawyer, a (legal!) drug salesman, a journalist and a furniture designer. The mix of skills works quite well I think! We didn’t really know what we were doing, but what we did know is that we wanted to make a festival that was the exact opposite of the massive corporate festivals like Reading etc.


James organises ArcTanGent alongside friends and colleagues Goc and Si. It takes place for the first time this August (29th-31st), see line-up announcements here.

ArcTanGent Online.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.