'The world is genreless': Emily Eavis on Glastonbury's evolution

'The world is genreless': Emily Eavis on Glastonbury's evolution

Glastonbury co-organiser Emily Eavis has spoken to Music Week about the future of festival as it prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2020. 

Tickets for the event, which is set for June 24-28, sold out in 34 minutes last month after more than 2.4 million people registered.

Eavis, who picked up the Outstanding Contribution honour at Friday's Music Week Women In Music Awards, grew up on Worthy Farm and has helped usher in a new era of professionalism since joining the Glastonbury backroom team in 2000.  

"There wasn’t ever a structured plan," admitted Eavis, speaking in this week's cover story. "There was never a 10-year plan, never a five-year plan – we always thought we’d be lucky just to keep the festival going for a couple of years.

"We still quite like the idea of just running for the next couple of years and seeing how it goes, and not thinking that it should necessarily be here in 10 years. We would love to keep the festival going, but we also know that the industry changes all the time. At the moment we’re in a really good patch, so we’re just enjoying it and not thinking too far into the future.”

With Jay-Z, that was a year where Glastonbury shifted and now it's in a different place

Emily Eavis

Glastonbury Festival

Elsewhere, Eavis reflected on the controversial booking of the festival’s first hip-hop headliner, Jay-Z, which was cited as a factor in slower than usual ticket sales in 2008, but has come to be viewed among the most important headline slots in the event's modern history.

“There are some years where you witness a change, where you can see a change in the course of its history,” said Eavis, who spearheaded the festival’s 2019 ban on the sale of single-use plastic bottles. “You watch the news and you can see something that shifts things politically or whatever. And I think with Jay-Z, that was our year where [Glastonbury] shifted and now it’s in a different place.

“With [2019 headliner] Stormzy, again, that was a real turning point and that’s what makes it exciting and interesting – shifting the idea of what we should be doing, who should be playing and opening minds. Even on the High Street, up the road in the nearest town, you get people saying, ‘You can’t beat a guitar band’, or ‘I don’t agree with this hip-hop stuff’ and it amazes me. The world is genreless, but you still get those ancient opinions.”

Eavis reiterated that the proposed Glastonbury spin-off Variety Bazaar is now very much off the cards.

“That’s not happening,” she said. “It was just an idea really. It’s one of those things where my dad was talking to someone and then it became a story when, actually, it was such early days that we weren’t anywhere near developing it.”

Subscribers can click here to read the full interview with Eavis from this week's magazine. 

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