This much I know: John Minty, Splore festival director

By Sarah Daniell

A few words with Splore's director John Minty.
John Minty, music director at Splore Music Festival. Photo / Doug Sherring
John Minty, music director at Splore Music Festival. Photo / Doug Sherring

What I love most about music festivals is the sense of community that can develop, living and partying together for two to three days. The fostering of eccentric people and behaviours. Creating a temporary utopia.

Oddly enough my first music festival was the Notting Hill Carnival when I was in my 40s. The sheer energy of the music and crowd captivated me.

I always try and outdo my last effort. We do a lot of local brainstorming but we definitely take cues from iconic festivals like Secret Garden Party, Bestival and Burning Man.

Our loyal audience sets a high standard of behaviour that newcomers can buy into. Plus we book the right sort of acts and emphasise the family-nature of the event.

Good busy is pulling off 15 hours of simultaneous entertainment on five stages without any major production or artist issues. Bad busy is keeping things together operationally during and after a major weather bomb.

Hosting the Foo Fighters at my old venue, Galatos, definitely springs to mind as a rock 'n' roll experience I wouldn't want to revisit. It was overcrowded, with many police in attendance (supposedly working) and then the whole sprung floor starts buckling with the moshing. Much panic with our biggest security guys holding back toppling speaker stacks and me contemplating having to go on stage and plead with Dave Grohl not to bust in with Learn to Fly. He thought it was great ... while I contemplated worldwide headlines of "Foo Fighters and fans disappear through venue floor collapse"!

I was astonished and surprised by Le Freak - Nile Rodgers' autobiography. A startling personal tale of sex, drugs and his often overlooked hand in some of the biggest hits of the last three decades. All told in a non-self-serving way. A remarkable feat.

The Woodstock movie was also a revelation. From an early age those images stayed with me and I guess planted the seed that wouldn't it be epic to put on a party like that one day.

The most outrageous riders I've been asked by an artist were gaming consoles for each member of a major United States hip-hop group. On principle we didn't provide them and thankfully they didn't press for them as they were too busy soaking up the beautiful environment at Tapapakanga as we hoped they would.

My expectations have happily been blown on meeting some artists. Actually as a group, Lupe Fiasco, Kelis and Tinashe all contradicted the often-perceived notion of difficult American hip-hop and R&B artists. They were all exceptionally chill and easy to deal with.

If there is one artist I would love to secure, who remains elusive, it's Diana Ross.

I'm having a party for one. On the stereo a bit of cheeky grime from Lady Leshurr.

What NZ needs more of right now is even more enlightened diversity.

I could do with more tropical island surfing.

The music of the spheres in sync when I'm in the ocean at Tapapakanga listening to some good reggae and dance music on a Sunday with 6000 other people who have revelled in good music and company for the previous two days.

Splore is at Tapapakanga Regional Park, February 17-19.

- Canvas

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