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Go Back“CHEESE FOR SHEEP” SAY THE HOMELAND HATERS – “Fuck them” responds head honcho Darren Hughes

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Despite living in a country with notoriously iffy weather, England’s outdoor party harders have done a good job pulling off well attended events. The late 80s/early 90s rave scene caused no less than a cultural youth quake, the aftershocks of which are still being felt today. Skip forward to the beginning of the third Millennium and it's the more legal UK festie circuit that gives receptive members of public the opportunity to get hammered in a field.

The oft-cited Ibiza link is strong, most particularly with the first big gig of the season, Meanfiddler’s We Love Homelands. In contrast with Glastonbury, the three day mud and musical mishmash, Homelands events concentrate the musical dose to a duration similar to that of the We Love Sundays @ Space parties in Ibiza, to a few ticks under 24 hours. Like the Med event, the big day out in the Matterly Bowl near Winchester consists of sunny (fingers crossed) outdoor bits and covered hardcore raving bits. Indeed a lot of the same artists are booked: “99% of the djs that play at Space on Sundays play at homelands,” says the man who does the deals, Darren Hughes.

People really wanna know what this man thinks. The last interview we did with him, in September of last year, is in the top 20 of most read stories on this site. Mr Hughes’ belief in his programming instincts led him to break from his partners in Cream to forge successful new brands in the mid '90s.
At Homelands 2004 the resurgence of rock as a genre to actually have a good time to has been acknowledged with the choice teenaged Leeds four piece the Music to co-headline. The NME described them as "important", but hopefully that won't affect the lads too much.[center]
This great pic from homelands 2003 courtesy of Paul Underhill ([/center]And even if they choke and die a miserable and very public death, the faithful Faithless are odds on to pull something particularly special out. Below Darren provides details about the plans that members of this superstar dj group have for Ibiza this summer.

Out goes Sasha and the other big proggy trancers, in comes a dedicated Hip Hop arena.
Writes Darren: “Last year Grandmaster Flash was one of my highlights of the event. Hip hop live acts have always gone down well at Homelands eg Run DMC, Public Enemy, De La Soul etc. So with this in mind and with the popularity of hip hop right now, we felt the time was right to have a hip hop arena. Flash, Jazzy Jeff, Dizzee Rascal, Tim Westwood will be the headliners of the arena.”

The hotter-than-snot Dizzee Rascal is the artist with arguably the highest current international profile of any those featured. The kid from the east of London is all over CNN, all over North America, and owns the endlessly echoed voice of a really pissed off black underclass layered over beats as sharp and scratchy as a pool of glass from a smashed bus shelter.
Dizzee on Bush: "I see this man on the TV, he just wants to fight. Every time he looks so dead set, egging them on. He's like a little white Don King. I see a man on TV with nuclear weapons and he just wants to fire them about. He's just picking on everyone and at the end of the day I haven't seen him in an army suit personally." (from

Mr Underhill did this one too[/center]Add to that Lamb, Black Strobe, Roger Sanchez, Felix Da Housecat, Miss Kittin, Plump DJs, James Zabiela, Erick Morillo, Steve Lawler, Smokin Jo, the Radio One lot (Tong, da Bank etc), Mr C , Roni Size and the Movement crew featuring Roni Size, London Elektricity, DJ Marky (cue thunderous applause from a zillion Brazlians), DJ Hype, Lemon D & Dillinja, DJ Zinc, DJ Krust, Ed Rush, + MCs Stamina, Moose, Darrison Tali + more, Mr Scruff, Erol Alkan, Black Strobe (with “Dex’n’ FX”!), the Glimmer Twins, Ali B, David Phillips et-bloody-cetra and you can perhaps understand why Darren cares little to respond at length to those who accuse the Homelands lineup of lacking effective engagement with a fickle and critical public.

But the big question really is, what’s in it for the local Hampshire county kids?
Darren Hughes: We invite the people who live locally to bring their children onto the site on Friday evening to see the site and have free access to the fair rides.

How many people are you expecting?
We are hoping for a minimum of 30,000 people.

How much are the tickets?
Tickets cost £54 [a little more than 80 euro & a little less than USD$100]

How much are the tickets at the other festivals?
Glastonbury is £100 and Creamfields probably the same as Homelands.

What criteria do you use when picking the acts? Have you seen all these guys play?
We changed the programming of We Love Homelands significantly last year and feel we were successful in creating a new model for the event. We have booked talent that we want to see perform at the event, instead of talent that we think will serve to sell tickets or that is catering just for a young audience. I guess the event has grown up. We have seen 90% of the talent that is booked.

Why all the live acts?
We have always had a strong live element to Homelands and we feel that this will grow each year to become more important to the event.

What was it about the Music that impressed you?
They are a guitar band that still has a dance element to their sound.

What about the Scissor Sisters (right)?
They are a good example of how dance music can mutate and throw up bands that can be poppy but still edgy at the same time. I think that they will grow to become very successful as they are a band that entertains and can deliver a live performance that appeals to people with an open mind about music. At the end of the day, there are only 2 types of music, good and bad. Scissor sisters are definitely the former, and that is what Homelands is all about.

Is pop quite good at the moment?
The UK pop scene is dominated by manufactured pop i.e Pop Idol etc. However, there are always new, fresh exciting artists coming through, and we try hard to present as many of these acts as possible.

What have Faithless done recently that you liked?
It has been a couple of years since Faithless have had any product out, but their new album comes out in May. I have heard what will probably be their first single and it is wicked. Sister Bliss is a regular at Space on Sundays and this summer we are hoping to have her and Maxi Jazz dj under the banner of '”The Faithless Allstars”.

How are you going to get the sprung wooden dance floor of Arena 2 into a field?
We first had this style of arena 3 years ago. The first 2 years this was the Space tent and last year it was not branded and was the ' house ' arena. The wooden dance floor, with blacked out walls and roof, a marquee tent instead of a circus tent and a Funktion One sound system is a perfect environment for house djs. Erick Morillo, Groove Armada, and Steve Lawler are just some of the djs that will perform in this arena. It is no harder to put this arena together than any of the others, but it is more expensive.

What do you know about hip hop?
I know that last year Grandmaster Flash was one of my highlights. Hip hop live acts have always gone down well at homelands e.g. Run DMC, Public Enemy, De La Soul. So with this in mind and with the popularity of hip hop right now, we felt the time was right to have a hip hop arena. Flash, Jazzy Jeff, Dizzee Rascal, Tim Westwood will be the headliners of the arena.

What radio stations do you like? Any internet ones?
XFM in london. BBC Radio 4, but I like this station for reasons other than music.

Where do you buy your music? Do you download tracks off the internet? If so, do you pay for them?
I do not buy music on the internet though I am sure that over the next few years I will start to buy music this way. The revolution has started and the music industry is in a state of shock as the big record companies have been slow off the mark. I am lucky enough to get a lot of music sent to me from labels, agents, djs, pluggers.

Have you seen
No, but I will check it out.

How would you respond to comments on the boards that Homelands is ""?
Fuck them.

Why do the same djs keep turning up year after year?
I wouldn't say it is the same djs year after year, but the ones that do play regularly must enjoy playing at the event. Who wouldn't?

What kind of emergency facilities have you got?
Melvin Benn from Mean Fiddler, my partners in the event, is the most accomplished festival event producer in the country. He was the first person in the UK to get a legal licence for an outdoor dance music festival, Tribal Gathering. He deals with all emergency facilities in regards to the event.

Will there be disabled access?
Good question, I think so.

How will people get to the site?
By car, train, coaches, maybe even walking if you live close.

What can punters expect in the way of a search from security?
The security measures are extremely tight. The search at the gate is thorough which then enables the site itself to not be overly policed which is I think the best policy.

Is the event licensed? What booze will be on offer?
The event is licensed for 45,000 people. The booze on offer is the same as in most clubs.

What is the relationship with local police forces like?
Melvin Benn has fantastic relationships with the police.

Will you have a chance to enjoy the show, or will you be working till it’s finished?
I guess you could call what I do work, up until about 10pm in the evening, then I let my hair down and get down to some serious partying.

Were you surprised when you found out Space Opening in Ibiza was going to be the day after? Why that date? Will you be coming down for Space opening the next day? When is We Love Sundays going to open?
I wasn't surprised that Space is opening the day after We Love Homelands, we are governed by the bank holiday in the UK which falls on the last weekend of May. I will not be able to come to the Space opening party which is a big shame. We Love Sundays at Space opens on June 20th.

Would you ever consider going to another club?
There isn't another club for me.

What would you like to see more of in Ibiza in 2004?
Danny Whittle at Pacha has done great things last year by breaking the strangle hold of house music on the island by programming hip hop djs in the global room. I would like to be able to present a broader mix of musical styles, djs like Mr Scruff, Grandmaster Flash, 2ManyDjs etc.

What would you like to see less of?
Everyone is welcome in Ibiza, there is nothing I would like to see less of.

Full line-up @

Words by freewheelin'