Originally a small festival organised by a group of friends for the benefit of their extended social network, Velvet Badger succeeded in gathering an audience together in a barn outside Buxton to watch a collection of Manchester’s finest performers, from Paddy Steer to Marc Constantine; from The Caulbearers to Thick Richard.

Now five years on, the organisers have merged with another local festival team, Dazzley Festival, to bring the format back for 2018. Relocating to another rural outpost due south of Manchester, the line-up promises a similarly eclectic mix of the best musicians the city has to offer. Mr Scruff’s headlining slot is a strong case in point, along with Honeyfeet (as a trio), Age of Glass and The Travelling Band.

Velvet Badger co-founder Simon Prato-Scarlett took the time to answer our questions about the collaboration with Dazzley, the new venue and ‘concentrated Vimto’.

Simon Prato-Scarlett

What prompted the collaboration between Dazzley Festival and Velvet Badger?

The guys from Dazzley came to the first Velvet Badger festival, five years ago. The following year, Velvet Badger was having a ‘fallow year’ – a year off, as we were too busy to put it on – so they held their own festival with some similar acts. Now, the Dazzlers are a great crowd and we enjoy partying with them. Also, they have brought in some great acts, which we didn’t have an ‘in’ with.

Why did you choose the venue?

We were introduced to semi-retired farmer Jeff, owner of the new festival site, by the Dazzley guys. Jeff has this great secluded space. It’s by a reservoir and overlooking a picturesque undisclosed national park (we are keeping the location secret). Jeff loves a party. Frankly, he is why we are at this venue. His family are helping at every stage, looking after artists, making food, creating a great festival space. He has put so many hours in; a total dude. He has made it possible.

How will the weekend compare with previous Velvet Badgers?

It’s more ambitious this time, but we wanted it to still feel DIY and still be welcoming, and avoid going down a brazen commercial route as is inevitable when you get to a certain size. So we have tried to keep it a ‘concentrated Vimto’ version of what we are about and invite the right acts. Us and volunteers have made the décor for the site, we are doing the bar and food ourselves, local ales and reasonable prices. Where it will differ from previous years is that we have a second live stage. Also, we will have a silent disco tent, which will be 24 hours for the first day. The main difference is the location and its feel. We have playing fields and space to enjoy, so if you do want to chill, you can.

From where did you originally find inspiration to set up Badger?

Originally, it was just meant to be a party for our mates. Me and Bernard Steer, who has produced music for Ninja Tunes artists, Paddy Steer, Homelife and 808 State, Bernie and I have been in bands and DJing for many years, and we are mates with a lot of artists, and they were up for playing. One thing led to another and we accidentally held our first festival.

What are the specials on the music menu?

A tough question! The standard is high and there are a lot of awesome acts. I won’t be missing the performances from Age of Glass, Toolshed (who have only just reformed), The Breath, Honeyfeet, Marc Constantine, Rubber Duck Orchestra, PLUME… Frankly, I’m gonna be glued to the stages.

Line-up Dazzley Badger 2018

Previously you’ve hosted the shows in a barn. What can we expect this year?

There will be more going on outside of the stages. We have the Travelling Light Circus performing their fire dancing and show. We also have fun spaces to hang out. We are there to enjoy it, too! We are coming to Dazzley Badger to hear great music, be with mates and switch off from reality.

Is there anything else we should look out for at the event?

Pipes and domes. That’s all I’m going to say.

Dazzley Badger takes place from 6-8 July at a secret location just outside of Manchester.
dazzleybadger.co.uk

Background art: Lisa O’Hara

Ian Pennington