INTERVIEW: Megan Evans of Deer Shed Festival

It’s been a while since I attended a festival… Obviously, there were so many cancellations throughout the last couple of years due the pandemic, and I missed out on 2019 as I was busy hosting my own (well, my wedding which I aimed to be as festival-like as possible). So, this year I was desperate to find one that was as lovely as possible and suited my needs of being perhaps a little older than the average festival-goer without missing out on any of the best new music. Sadly, the last festival I went to in 2018, and my favourite ever festival experience – Indie Tracks – did not survive Covid, and so I was looking for a replacement; something equally as inclusive, chilled-out, family friendly, and of course hosting plenty of amazing female and non-binary bands and artists. And then I came across Deer Shed… And I cannot wait to attend for the first time next month!

A festival with a real family-friendly focus, whilst hosting an incredible range of exciting new artists – as well as an array of comedy, spoken word, literary and theatrical shows – it seems like the perfect fit.

We caught up with festival organiser Megan Evans to talk more about Deer Shed’s roots, its ethos and inclusive line-up, some of the most special Deer Shed moments of years gone by, and more… Have a read below, and have a listen to our special Deer Shed 2022 playlist , featuring some of our personal faves who’ll be playing at the festival, at the bottom of this feature!

Hi Megan! 2022 will be Deer Shed’s 12th year – congrats! Can you tell us a bit about what Deer Shed is all about, and how it all started out?
Thanks! Deer Shed was started by our founders Kate & Oliver after they struggled to find a festival environment that was right for their kids but that didn’t compromise on cool and interesting music and culture programming for them. So, thats very much the goal of the festival – to create a festival environment that is accessible and exciting for all ages and groups, whether that’s families with kids of any ages or groups of adults with no kids in tow. Our family friendly festival content doesn’t look down on or condescend  and our music line up (we like to think!) is about as current and exciting as it can be. We’ve found it really works though it can lead to some funny situations, especially challenging our comedians to deliver PG sets to families who are unafraid of some audience interaction…

What strikes me about Deer Shed and makes it stand out against other festivals at the moment is the good gender balance of the line up – was there an intentional and specific decision to do this, or does it just naturally pan out that way?
We’ve strived for a 50/50 gender line up for years now which, while we’re mindful about achieving that, we also feel has happened very naturally and organically. Our focus is becoming more about looking at our line ups from a point of view of how inclusive, diverse & neurodivergent our performers are, both across the music line up and the arts and comedy. Gender parity of booking is something we have to be aware of, but it naturally also happens as our wish list each year always has more female and non-binary artists than male. Like everyone, we can always do better though and we still have work to do to making sure the line up across the board is as inclusive as possible. It’s something the whole festival industry has to be aware of and do better at. It’s no good saying that there aren’t enough female headliners or that its hard to find female headliners, that’s just lazy booking in my opinion. As festivals we have the ability to put our faith in artists and make them headliners – we’re not powerless in this situation.

Over the last 11 years, you’ve hosted some amazing bands and artists including Anna Calvi, Adult Mom, Sunflower Bean, Big Joanie, Ezra Furman, The Go Team! and Honeyblood, but has there been a particular set that stands out for you as a personal highlight over the years? 
There are so many! So if I’m allowed a few…
Kae Tempest headlining Saturday night as the rain started to come down was incredible, it was so atmospheric and beautiful… like it was meant to happen. School of Seven Bells is another highlight. We always say Deer Shed is a great place to discover new bands and I was just in my infancy of working for Deer Shed back then, this band just nailed it and I remained a loyal fan ever since. Their final and last album Ghostory was stunning. Anna Clavi headlining in 2019 with that album was amazing – the lighting and sound is one of the best gigs I’ve ever been to and god the guitar playing is mesmerising. Ibibio Sound Machine, when we did a massive flash mob with the audience to ‘Give Me Reason’, was one of my highlights of the last ten years; audiences young and old had learnt this dance routine for this specific time in front of the main stage. Joan As Policewoman – I love her! When she came to Deer Shed and headlined the Lodge Stage I was completely star struck. Honourable mentions also for Lone Lady and She Drew the Gun.

And this year you’ve got some GIHE faves playing – Self Esteem, Nadine Shah, Denise Chaila, Billy Nomates, The Lovely Eggs and CMAT… Curating such awesome line ups must be a lot of work – how do you normally go about it? Is it all based on bands/artists that have got in touch with you over the year? 
We always have a wish list each year and we try to see as much as we can live. We’ll often head down to Leeds to the Brudenell or head to over other festivals or city based new music events like Great Escape to check out some of the artists we’re keen to bring to the festival. We keep a very close eye on new music being released and like to think we’ve developed good relationships and reputations with booking agencies whose rosters we rate. Really though, it always comes to what an act is like live, that’s where you can find some of the real gems. 

And for any upcoming bands/artists looking to apply for festivals next year, do you have any tips? 
More generally I would say spend your time reaching out to the right people in the right way rather than blanket emailing everyone in the world – find the festivals where artists you love are playing, work on a pitch and keep going! Festivals get a huge amount of unsolicited submissions, don’t take it personally if you don’t hear back!
Specifically for Deer Shed I would say email us (after July!!!) –  we can’t always reply to emails, but we are planning to launch an emerging artist comp for our 2023 event, so keep you eyes peeled. 

There seems to be a definite focus on making the festival as family-friendly as possible – what inspired the idea to do this, and stand out from other festivals in this way? 
We have always said that the festival should have the cross-generational appeal of a Pixar film, so we would say we are more of a festival for everyone, but especially if you’re a music fan and have children. The festival is for music fans but there’s so much other programming to get involved in and watch which is specially curated for families, everyone should have a great weekend! 

Do you feel much has changed over the last few years in the music industry’s treatment of new artists, particularly female and non-binary artists? 
Yes and no. It’s good that this has been identified, and organisations such as Key Change are in place to make noise and create positive changes in the way people of marginalised genders have been treated. Though the industry itself has a long way to go, agents along with promoters and festivals have to work together to make sure there is a connection and progression of acts across these areas. We all have a responsibility for this – there’s no excuses to not address these issues and create a more equitable and representative space for our artists. 

Finally, as we’re a new music focused site, are there any particular new bands or artists you’d recommend we check out?
For artists playing at Deer Shed this year, I would say: Kobi Onyame, Brooke Combe, Mickey Callisto, Balimaya Project, CMAT, The Bug Club, Cortney Dixon, Beija Flo, Bess Atwell, CVC…  Outside of that, more generally, I’m really loving Lynks, Kills Birds, Taahliah, Bicurious, GUSTAF, English teacher & Dreya MAC at the moment! 

Massive thanks to Megan for answering our questions – we can’t wait to have the most wonderful time at Deer Shed festival next month! Deer Shed this year runs from 29th – 31st July in Baldersby Park North Yorkshire. Find out more information and get tickets at their website.

Listen to our special Deer Shed playlist here:

Decolonise Fest Moves Online For Week-Long Series Of Events

Established in 2017, Decolonise Fest is an annual non-profit DIY festival, collectively organised by, and dedicated to promoting, punx of colour; something we fully support here at Get In Her Ears. This year, as with most large events in this current situation, they’ve been forced to cancel and so have moved online to create a Covid-friendly version of the festival.

This week, from the 1st to 6th September, they will be hosting a series of workshops, panel events and performances.

Workshops will include a Shadow Sistxrs Fight Club workshop involving tantric breathwork, self-care and martial arts, as well as a workshop on Black and Brown queer world building led by Screaming Toenail vocalist and celebrated artist Jacob V Joyce. They will also host a panel on Global Punx of Colour featuring punks from around the world talking about their local scenes and communities.

In addition to these super insightful workshops, live performances will come from New Orleans no wave glam punks Special Interest, anti-colonial Kenyan punk band Crystal Axis, “South Asian” “American” “Punks” (est. 2006) The Kominas, London-based alt-americana act DeLila Black, electronic synth punk artist PRNCSS and post-punk Netherlands-based act Lifeless Past.

Tickets are free, but donations encouraged. Find more information about tickets and the festival here.

In the absence of any ‘proper’ indoor events at the moment, this online extravaganza from Decolonise Fest sounds too good to miss! We feel that organisations like Decolonise Fest are vital right now; creating spaces that advocate for emerging artists of colour, foster a community of like-minded people, connect punx of colour to global struggles against the legacy of colonialism and indulge in a love of punk together.

Full online Decolonise Fest schedule below:

Tuesday 1st September

Shadow Sistxrs presents: Entering into the Serpent: Dialoguing with Kali

Clem leads us through a journey of Tantric breathwork, bringing us into contact with the Goddess of Revolution, our Divine Mother, Kali. Monique will then teach a few simple martial arts techniques that will allow us to physically embody the principles of power, protection and pleasure.

Wednesday 2nd September

Black and Brown Queer World Building

Join Jacob V Joyce for a workshop mapping the future through collaborative poetry and writing exercises. This workshop draws on speculative fiction writing techniques to facilitate collaborative envisioning of a queer decolonial future.

Thursday 3rd September

Crystal Axis + The Kominas + DeLila Black

Join us for sessions from:

Crystal Axis: Anti-colonial Kenyan punk band

The Kominas: “South Asian” “American” “Punks” (est. 2006)

DeLila Black: London-based alt-americana act

Friday 4th September

Special Interest + Lifeless Past + PRNCSS

Join us for sessions from:

Special Interest: New Orleans no wave glam punks

Lifeless Past: Post-punk Netherlands-based act

PRNCSS: Electronic synth punk artist based in London

Sunday 6th September

Global Punx of Colour Panel

Join Decolonise Fest for a panel event with punx of colour around the world discussing their local scenes, how punk relates to their identity, how BLM has affected their activism and scene and how to create a global punx of colour community.

Get In Her Ears w/ Jelly Cleaver 22.08.19

Mari & Kate were back in the studio this week with a plethora of new music from the likes of Seazoo, Jenny Hval, Calva Louise, Glossi, BONES UK & Babeheaven.

They were joined by artist and producer Jelly Cleaver, who talked about her DIY ethos, her activism, and her jazz punk fusions.

Listen back:

BONES UK – I’m Afraid Of Americans
Calva Louise – Belicoso
El Tee – How I Like It
Minimals – Page Turner
Danika Smith – Suit Of Armour
Lyrah – Don’t Make Me
Ennieloud – In My Room
Babeheaven – Seabird
Liar Liar – Bad For Each Other
ALTA – Twisted
Glossii – Watching Me
Sunbloom – Take It Away
Grizzly Coast – Half Light Boy
Ennieloud – In My Room
Cat Apostrophe – January
Jelly Cleaver – VI II V
Jelly Cleaver – Yarls Wood
Stanlaey – The Mountain Collector
Jenny Hval – High Alice
Seazoo – Throw It Up
Toni&Mash – LTGFU
Noga Erez – Off The Radar
Cozy Slippers – A Million Pieces
Galileo’s Fan – I Won’t Be Found
Kim Gordon – Sketch Artist
Jaayns – Stars
Chastity Belt – Elena
Ru Paul – Sissy That Walk

First Timers Fest Hosts Workshops For Aspiring Musicians

Held at the inclusive, accessible and volunteer-run DIY Space For London, First Timers is a season of musical workshops, followed by an evening of gigs, where every band plays its first show. First Timers’ main priority is about getting new faces and voices in bands, and doing something about the lack of diversity in the make-up of the DIY music community.

Aiming to ensure inclusivity, First Timers wants to ensure people of all genders, abilities and backgrounds get involved, and promotes a welcoming environment for anyone who may not have ever played a musical instrument. Giving people a chance to experience their first gig in a really supportive environment, it encourages coming together and learning in a non-elitist way.

Workshops are available in the following: Drums, Vocals, Bass, Guitar, Synthesisers, Songwriting, Beat-boxing.

The next workshops, taking place this Sunday 11th March, will be drums with Jen Calleja (Feature) and Tamsin Mi (ES) at 1-3pm and Pedals with Nadia (Jellie Rolls). Visit the First Timers Facebook page for full details of all upcoming workshops.

First Timers Festival 2018 will take place on 5th and 6th May.