Following in the footsteps of Morrissey, Patti Smith and David Byrne comes Elbow singer and all-round nice guy Guy Garvey – who Time Out can exclusively reveal will curate the next Meltdown festival. He’s a champion of new and undiscovered music on his 6 Music show, so we’re confident he’ll pool together an intriguing set of acts and events for next year’s fest. He certainly sounded bullish when we spoke last week.
‘Thanks! But bloody hell, it’s been a hard secret to keep. I’ve known for almost a year and I’ve wanted to tell everyone, particularly my mother. I told her last Sunday and she did this regal smile, like she always knew it was gonna happen.’
How did it feel to be asked?
‘To be honest, I was absolutely stunned and flattered, given who’s curated it in the past. But the people behind the festival know I have an enthusiasm for music communities and arts, and they thought I would know how to throw a great Meltdown – and they’re absolutely right!’
‘I will have at least four changes of costume a day, ending up somewhere between Quentin Crisp and Willy Wonka.’
What do you want to achieve with your curation?
‘To have the Southbank as a playground is a dream come true. The prospect of empowering artists – I’m like Santa Claus! I’m going use Meltdown to introduce people to music that should have far more listeners than it does. Also, it’s an opportunity to make a big political statement: everybody’s welcome, let’s celebrate the things we share rather than what divides us. We do enough of pointing out what’s wrong – I’d like to point out what’s right. Plus it’s an excuse to wander around with a wolf’s head cane and a long, white fur coat. I will have at least four changes of costume a day, ending up somewhere between Quentin Crisp and Willy Wonka.’
Any favourite moments from past Meltdowns?
‘When Massive Attack reworked all the music from “Blade Runner” (below) in their 2008 Meltdown. The music of cinema is something I’m hugely attached to – that’s a hint at some of the things I’ll be trying.’
‘I want things that go “bang!”, things that flash, things that make people jump with delight and things that make people happy.’
Any other hints you can let slip?
‘There’ll be loads of surprises: things not in the programme which people will walk away from smiling. You’ll want to hang around every passageway or foyer on the South Bank. And there’s talk of a boat… I can’t say any more.’
Intriguing. Anything you can tell us about who’ll be playing?
‘I’m a huge fan of audience participation, and I’ll be choosing acts that encourage that, so that everybody feels a part of the festival before they’ve even gone into it.’
Do you feel under pressure to deliver something amazing?
‘Of course. But it’s the kind of pressure you feel when throwing a party – you run around until the last minute, but as soon as people are there it’s fine. Also, look at the name: Meltdown. It’s not called “Stuffy and Inaccessible”. It should be fun, it should be a load of people getting together, it should be a fucking mess! I want things that go “bang!”, things that flash, things that make people jump with delight and things that make people happy.’