Exclusive: Michael Lain discusses 110 Above’s 10 year history

Exclusive Interviews
110 Above Festival

Leicesters 110 Above Festival is just two weeks away now! We’ve seen the recent announcements of some acoustic performances and a special Scruff of the Neck and Distiller TV tipi takeover, but now ICM catches up with one of the festivals founding members Michael Lain.

2019 marks the festivals 10th anniversary but do you know the roots? How the festival has developed? And what is Michael looking forward to? Well, we have all the answers right here.

In 2009 on the Gospall fields a group of friends got together around a fire with a CD player and from that moment on thousands of music fans come together for one of the hottest festivals that promotes emerging talent. Michael described it as a “surreal moment”.

He said: “Normally hits me when the headliner is performing and I look around at all the people having an amazing time. To think it started out as a gathering of no more than 20 friends!”

Originally titled Lainfest, they decided it was time to break away from the so-called ‘norm’ and take the festival down a different path. As up until 2013, the festival was just a small expansion with one stage. It wasn’t until 2014 that things picked up the pace.

Michael said: “We wanted to set ourselves apart from other festivals that had ‘fest’ within the name. It was also a chance to take a leap forward in terms of the overall experience – moving from a 1-day event to a weekend event.”

Struggling to pick a favourite highlight over the decade, Michael is certainly pleased with the stature of some of the headliners he’s booked.

“It’s hard to pick out one but I’d say the amazing feedback we’ve had from switching to the more ‘weather resistant’ farm buildings around Gopsall,” says Michael. “In terms of a ‘moment’, I’d say the amazing headline performances we’ve had in recent years from the likes of Circa Waves, Peace and Fickle Friends.

“It was also amazing having breakthrough acts such as Jade Bird playing our ‘Introducing’ type stage!”

Moving onto the future of 110 Above Festival, Michael and the team are taking it one step at a time to make the audience and band experience the best it can possibly be – noting feedback as a key aspect of that.

He said: “We very much take a 1 step at a time approach. I would love the festival to keep growing organically and picking new devoted fans! We put a lot of effort into making the attendee and artist experience an incredible one.

“We do this by listening to ALL feedback during and after each festival. This goes down to as much detail as “there were some nettles in the corner of the camping field” to “it would be great to have separate toilets in the family camping area”. We make sure that we act on everything.

“An example this year was a family concerned that they would not be able to see their favourite band play due to the stage choice and visibility. Our answer will be to build a special ‘family viewing’ platform.

“It is one thing listening, it is quite another showing that you act on what you’ve heard. We make sure we do.”

Finally, Michael said he’s most looking forward to the Sunday so he can finally “chill” and enjoy a drink with the “amazing attendees”.

If you haven’t seen the line up already, check it out below, also stay tuned on ICM’s social media for more interviews!

110 Above Festival

Founder and Editor-in-Chief of ICM, full-time journalist, occasional photographer, Chelsea FC.