Interview: Rich Hale
by Chris Thumwood and Danni Gillespie
Richard Hale (AKA Mista Trick) is one of the founders of Under the Hill festival and, as far as we can tell, seems to be the man in charge of making sure everything runs smoothly at this year’s event. He’s a fairly quiet unassuming man, a far cry from record-spinning, liquor-proffering lunatic we’d see tearing across the stage that night - but more on that later.
He seemed to me to be the only person there unable to take a minute to enjoy the festival, every time we saw him that day he seemed to be rushing about sorting out problems and organising things for one person or another, despite this hectic schedule we managed to catch up with him for five minutes backstage to talk about this labour of love.
Chris Thumwood: So where did the idea for the festival come from?
Rich Hale: The idea came from James, who I run the festival with. He’s an absolute legend and runs Greentrak productions which is originally a log cutting company […] he runs a log cutting, a tree cutting firm, the toilets at Boomtown, the pyramid stage at Glastonbury and the security at Glastonbury. Also, he has this beautiful bit of land that’s owned by his parents. His brother runs a bar and his brother in law runs a lighting company. So, we were just like ‘duuuh’, then we put it all together and it just came about as like a party that we all threw, originally for his mums 50th, his 30th, and his brother’s birthday, so it just grew from an organic birthday party.
"It grew out of a party!"
CT: Okay so our next question was going to be about how hard was it going from pen and paper to field and tents but you’ve kind of answered that already!
CT: You just had the right people?
RH: Yeah, knowing the right people and trying to keep it as closely connected as possible is key. This year has been quite interesting, it’s got a really nice family vibe but i feel there are only so many favours you can ask of people when they are your friends and family. And it’s got to the point where it’s a bit awkward now, business wise, where there are certain things that aren’t quite working out and you have to decide if you’d rather be friends than work with them and see them all stressed out. It’s the nature of the beast.
CT: Was there anything you tried to avoid copying from other festivals?
RH: That’s a good point, we’ve tried to make it different. I think it’s really important because what’s the point of loads of cloned festivals? I mean the Mecca for me has to be Shambala, I think that festival just gets it really right. It doesn’t expand every year and it’s got a really nice vibe: hands down, the best festival in the UK.
I think there are some things that we’re trying to make slightly different. I want to include Zentangle and Mandala artwork. It’s all really organic. It’s by a local village and we’ve just turned up and said, ‘hey were doing this thing,’ and they’re like, ‘cool’. Then we’re just bringing people together, so we’re just seeing how it goes and if it goes a better way, cool.
CT: So how have the locals taken to festival moving in?
RH: Mixed response, I think. Most of them have been really good. I think with all these things you get the odd individual that isn’t so keen: we did put forward our licence application three times before we finally got it.
CT: What is it like compared to last year?
RH: Last year? I think there are more people. I think I’m more chilled out, because i know what’s going on now. I’ve taken a bit more pressure off of myself this time ... or at least tried to. Knowing what’s going to happen and how things work is always nice. So, last year I got meningitis straight after the festival!
CT: Oh Bloody hell!
RH: So, yeah I almost died! So I’m trying to like, keep myself, you know, sorted! So, there you go.
Radio crackling and a hundred and one things requiring his attention, Rich disappears off backstage, and we don’t see him again until he takes to the stage that evening as Mista Trick.
Interview questions and answers have been edited for length and clarity.
Find out more about Under the Hill festival here!