Gilles Peterson on U.K. Scene, Brownswood, Starting a New Festival

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Since the 1980s, London-based DJ and record label founder Gilles Peterson has been a force in music. The first installment of his We Our Here festival is set to run Aug. 15–18 in Abbots Ripton, Cambridgeshire, U.K.

(Photo: Courtesy of Brownswood Recordings)

As such, Peterson now is founding a new U.K. festival for jazz and club culture this summer, taking its name from the We Out Here record. “The festival is about blurring the lines between the live music and clubs that I love—it’s a combination of what I do as a DJ, curator and record label guy,” he said. “And at the moment, there’s no shortage of finding bands to play—if anything, there are too many for our budget.”

His lineup is certainly one to be reckoned with among the glut of U.K. festivals this summer, and includes the likes of Gary Bartz, Idris Ackamoor and the Pyramids and saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings’ Sons of Kemet project, as well as forward-thinking DJs Theo Parrish and Objekt.

Limited to 6,000 attendees and taking place in the rural idyll of Cambridgeshire, Peterson hopes the festival will make its mark in the long term. “We want to create the right mood for the music to work and for everybody to have a good experience,” he said. “And it’s so important to me that the DJs and the bands have the best sound quality—both elements are equally important.”

Knowing for his enduring DJ residencies, it would be no surprise if the We Out Here festival is equally longterm, mirroring Peterson’s Worldwide festival in Sête, France, which has been running for 15 years.

Back at the label, though, he’s aiming to chart the unknown. “I’m not looking for jazz quartets to sign at the moment,” he said, cautiously. “I’m fully behind the scene, but it’s really important that for every Joe Armon-Jones and for every Zara McFarlane, I’ve got a Skinny Pelembe, and that’s how Brownswood will keep me excited. Anyone can tell that we’re not doing it for the money—we’re just doing it because we love it.” DB

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February 2023
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