Dreadfest is an independent festival with a DIY ethos that aims to showcase the best UK grindcore, hardcore, sludge and doom bands, as well as some of the finest overseas acts. This year’s lineup has the likes of Wormrot, Helpless, Cattle, Svalbard, Droves and Rotten Sound, and previously Coilguns, Conan, Hooded Menace, Slabdragger, Mastiff and Coltsblood have featured. With the third edition of Dreadfest taking place at Temple of Boom in Leeds over the weekend of 22-24th March, I wanted to catch up with the driving force behind it all, Megan Borman.
Hey, no worries! Things are going well, we’re down to last few little bits now like ordering wristbands, finalising drivers, mocking up t-shirt designs etc. The most stressful bits are over so hopefully the rest is as smooth sailing.
How do you find balancing organising a DIY festival with other life stuff, having a young child and such?
In all honesty, I’ve found it a bit mad haha. I thought being on maternity leave would give me all the time in the world to work on Dreadfest but around a newborn and two different volunteer positions I attend, I’ve definitely taken on a lot and it’s more difficult than when I was working full-time. I’m just starting to find that balance, I took a bit of a break over Christmas to get myself organised and on a schedule so it’s getting easier as we go along. Having a baby is a huge learning curve and a lot of work in itself, and I always used to joke that Dreadfest was my “first baby” because of how much time and effort it takes to book, promote and run but I wouldn’t change either! I could do with more sleep though.
What was it that inspired you to start Dreadfest a few years ago?
I had a lot of friends who ran gigs and festivals and always wanted to give it a go myself but felt I was too young and inexperienced, originally I had planned to just put on a small gig for my birthday but after I started planning it just spiraled out of control. It ended up spreading across two days and we were like “oh shit it’s pretty much a festival now”. So Dreadfest was born and I started looking into things like caterers and merch and realised I really enjoyed promoting it, so it got its own Facebook page and word spread around and it did quite well.
I’ve visited Leeds (from Glasgow) a number of times and I get the feeling that there is a very strong, tight-knit and active scene within the city and surrounding area. What main things would you put this down to?
Yeah definitely the Leeds scene is great, I think it’s down to quite a few things. There are loads of bands here so there’s always a gig on, we’ve got a tonne of ace DIY venues like Temple of Boom, Chunk, Wharf Chambers that people just enjoy attending, and everyone is just dead friendly. There’s no sort of elitism between promoters or bands, everyone just wants to see each other do well and help grow the scene. People also just love going out and getting drunk so if there’s good bands on that’s a bonus!
As an organiser, you seem to have an excellent ethos of putting on smaller acts from the UK, or otherwise, and providing a platform for them. How do you go about selecting the lineup? Do you try to include a quota of local bands?
I think it’s really important as a DIY festival to first and foremost prioritise UK and local bands, when planning Dreadfest I put just as much thought into the smallest bands on the line up as I do the headliners. The ones in the bands are the ones supporting the DIY scene, they come to the gigs regardless of if they’re playing and for a lot of bands that aren’t necessarily local they might not have as much of a chance to get up to Leeds to play so it helps spread their name around too. Every year there’s been multiple bands I’ve enjoyed just as much, if not more, than the headliners. As for local bands, they built this scene and it just helps that they’re all really fucking good.
Do you have a lot of bands approaching you, wanting to play Dreadfest?
Yeah, absolutely loads but a lot of the time you can tell they’ve not even bothered to look at the previous lineups or what the festival is about and they’re just messaging because they want a gig. I get so many emails from bands that have just heard the name but play like folk rock or groove metal so would never fit on this sort of line up, it’s a bit annoying but you gotta hustle to get gigs and I understand that. We also have a lot of enquires from really ace bands though that were more often than not already on my list to book and I’d just not got around to asking yet. It’s a really good feeling that people actually want to be a part of what you’ve created.
Which bands are personal ‘must-see’s for you this year?
Well, I hand pick every single band every year so it’s always an amalgamation of my favourite bands and basically you should try and see everybody! But I know that’s a cop-out answer so to pick a few I’d say aside from the bigger EU bands up top, definitely Helpless, Kurokuma, Human Leather and Cattle, basically all the ones doing something a bit “different”. And obviously, JohnXMcclane playing their first show back, I was buzzing when they approached me about reforming.
Will the planning for next year start straight after this one? Have you already started?
Yeah, I always say I’m going to take a break but never do, I normally start emailing headliners within a week of the festival finishing. This year I’m trying to be a bit more prepared and have already got lists of bands I’d love to book so I may start reaching out sooner rather than later.
What’s your soundtrack of choice when carrying out all the of chores of organising and arranging Dreadfest?
I love all sorts of music, everyone says that but I really do, I also like listening to podcasts, and a lot of the time I put on Disney songs as they soothe my daughter and it’s a lot easier to work if she’s not screaming! Stuff I’ve been really digging recently though is the most recent releases from Cult Leader and Secret Cutter, the plethora of releases from the Japanese bands VMO and Vampillia, as well as everything by Brockhampton and Cardi B. It differs day by day, I’m always looking for new bands on Bandcamp and Facebook too to expand the Dreadfest line up with.
Thanks again for chatting to The Moshville Times, I hope that this year’s Dreadfest is a blast!
Thank you so much, fingers crossed everything runs to plan!
Only a handful of day tickets for Saturday and Sunday for Dreadfest remain.