Lost & Found 2015 marked the beginning of a brand new festival journey for the incredible Annie Mac Presents. As Spring approaches and thoughts turn to warmer times, Lost & Found Festival founder Wilf Gregory tells the story of how Europe's newest electronic star was born.
When the whole thing started, we were just looking for something different. Something that wasn't yet another summer offering, which is why we went with April. Lost & Found unlocks that first sunshine of the year, and Malta's also a very unique place, culturally. It had never had the spotlight on the country like it has now.
I love travelling and being outside of England, and it was a case of “can we find a new destination in Europe? Can we find somewhere that is unique?” Malta just seemed to tick all the boxes. Once I’d seen the island back in May of 2014, it took six months of getting everyone round the table and driving it forward – that was it. It was a long six months.
I think the first meetings with Annie in London were key. And then obviously her coming along and loving it, and believing in the vision: that was they key moment. Without her on board, how and what it would have been, I don’t know.
Annie has her unique stamp that she brings to it, in terms of styles of music and artists that she wants to put on. The festival as a whole is a collaboration between all the different parties involved – Mustard Media, Drop the Mustard, Sound Channel, The Warehouse Project, Annie's team – but there’s a massive input and direction from Annie herself. It's very much become her flagship festival.
The promoters we work with also do Creamfields in Malta but that's a one day event. So obviously there was opening up to do and challenges of logistics, and every country has its own rules and regulations, etc. Some people didn’t believe that it was going to happen, or how it was going to happen, or what it was going to be like, so as a location Malta brought certain challenges but it has its benefits as well. You take everything that you’ve learned from past experiences and put them to this.
"It's important that I enjoy the festival because then you see what the experience is really like"
Looking back, there were several occasions where I thought the festival might not come together. Trying to get everyone round the table all at the same time, trying to get people to buy into it and believe what we were doing – that was all the way along. In the end, the key moment was probably when we went on sale, because then it was actually happening. There was no backing out at that point!
When April came along, it was really exciting seeing the stages and everything being built – I think that finally made me realise it was real, and it was really happening. And once it's all started, obviously I’m still working but I also get to enjoy it. It's important that I do because then you see what the customer has paid for and what the experience is really like.
For 2016, I think adding that extra day just made it feel more like a week event, and a real week’s worth. Not being on Easter this year, we felt that was important – it made it worth people taking that week-long break from work. Whether it’ll always stay that way, who knows? I’ve learned that flexibility is always key to any festival or event.
I’m always thinking two or three years ahead. What can we change, what can we improve? What are the ideas and inputs from other people? I’m constantly working and looking forward. I suppose you’re really in the mix once you’re booking artists for the next year.
This year we've got an addition of some Castle Raves and some different Pool Parties. We’ve got two hotels, the San Antonio and the Qawra Palace, which we’re going to be doing pool parties at, which are really special places. So they’re definitely going to be highlights of 2016's festival.
Wilf Gregory was speaking to Festicket Magazine's Joel Robertson.