Glastonbury organiser Emily Eavis on the return of the sacred Stones
After a well-deserved year off, Glastonbury’s back with a bang this summer – and headlined by rock royalty in Mick and Keith. Organiser Emily Eavis tells Elisa Bray how it all comes together
"I'd say the festival scene is pretty thriving," says Emily Eavis, breezily. "There's a healthy amount of festivals and both bigger and smaller ones are doing really well. Festivals all have their own audiences."
The youngest daughter of Michael Eavis, the man who launched Glaston-bury on his Pilton farm 43 years ago, has been helping her dad since 1999, booking acts for the Pyramid Stage in 2010. But Eavis has been at the centre of the legendary gathering since birth. "We lived in the centre of the site. We live in a farmhouse right in the middle– there was no escape!" She recalls early memories of watching punters march down the drive with anticipation. "I can remember seeing lots of knees, people walking around, and hearing the chatter, the excitement, that energy. Seeing people through the kitchen window on their way in, looking really excited that they were going to have a brilliant time."
Such proximity had its obvious benefits, such as Eavis seeing some of the highlights of the 1980s: The Smiths in 1985, The Specials, Elvis Costello and Van Morrison. But the downside – in the early days when Glastonbury wasn't the 177,500-capacity multi-stage site it is today, but a field or two and a home office – was the constant ringing of the phone. "It was difficult at times because it was pretty simple back then. There was one phone line; everything went through the house, so there were lots of situations you'd get embroiled in. But there were exciting bits."
Did the young Emily persuade her father to book certain acts? "I must have tried to get him to get Michael Jackson when I went through my Michael Jackson phase. And I think I tried with The Stone Roses."
Last week, this year's Glastonbury line-up was finally announced. Last month, suggestions that Mariah Carey and Rihanna could take headline slots were promptly quashed by Eavis via Twitter: "Three nonsense headliner stories in a week, all completely untrue!" she laughed. A Glastonbury headliner is announced with proper fanfare, after all. This year's Pyramid Stage will feature the much-anticipated Rolling Stones, Arctic Monkeys and Mumford & Sons, bringing Glastonbury firmly back to its rock roots. It will be the Stones' first appearance at Glastonbury, but not for want of trying by Michael Eavis, who has made many attempts to lure them.
Eavis works alongside her husband, music manager Nick Dewey, in booking acts for the main stages, while her father also recommends new acts. "We use our instincts", states Eavis. "You go with who you love and want to have on, who's a good live act. We try to keep the line-up as varied as possible. That's the thing about Glastonbury – it's so diverse, not just one type of music, we've got lots of bookers working round the world."
Lately she's been enjoying Australian band Jagwar Ma and the fast-rising Polica, but at home you'll hear much Bob Dylan. As for who she most wants to see on the bill? "Led Zeppelin."
Visual art is also key: expect to see a man on wire walking across a large expanse of the site this year.
Now is one of the busiest times for the Eavises. Aside from being a mother, today Eavis has already been in meetings about the stalls, wholesalers, and filming. Next up is a legal meet. "We're very busy, but I like the buzz, especially around spring. You get energy from the crew who are trying to get everything sorted. I love that."
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