With Glastonbury Festival just a week away, DJ and certified weekend-veteran Skream offers Worthy Farm-goers some tips, while reminiscing about summers come before.
Only five sleeps to go until one of the biggest parties in the world gets underway, with thousands ready to embark on their musical pilgrimage to a picturesque corner of Somerset. For those lucky enough to grab a ticket, whether you’re a Glasto-virgin or a seasoned attendee, you never know what the festival has in-store.
Few artists know Glastonbury as well as Skream. One of Britain’s best-loved selectors, real name, Oliver Jones, has been causing a ruckus on Worthy Farm for well over a decade. In fact, it was one of the few festivals he “wasn’t banned from before the age of 25”, the dubstep legend tells me from Miami, where he’s currently embarking on a North American tour.
Since having kids and hitting the age of 37, Skream’s lifestyle has toned down somewhat. When he picks up the phone, it’s 10:30 AM Florida time, but he’s ready and rearing to talk all things Glasto. Don’t be mistaken though, he’ll be “causing it” all weekend, playing seven sets across multiple stages, melting into a puddle of matter to Arctic Monkeys and crying to “Crocodile Rock” by Elton John. It’s Skream’s happy place, and as he joyously explains, “It’s the best festival on the planet”. He can’t remember much, but what does come to his mind during our conversation, is spoken of with such fondness that you can’t help but get excited: whether you’re taking to Somerset’s discombobulating grasslands or experiencing the festival at home under a blanket.
Charge your vapes, get the flags ready, crack open a cider and set your body to skank: Glastonbury is just around the corner. Here’s Skream’s ultimate guide to surviving the festival.
What’s your earliest Glastonbury memory?
I couldn’t tell you what year it was. I didn’t even know how to put a tent up, but luckily my brother is like Ray Mears so we didn’t have a problem. I played the Silver Hayes when my remix of La Roux’s “In For The Kill” was popping off. I was DJing but I went there as a punter, if that makes any sense.
I spent all the days watching bands and drinking cider. I think Jamie T might have played, but you’ll have to accept that my brain wasn’t what it once was.
Camping or glamping?
I’m going to be completely honest, I don’t ever remember sleeping at Glastonbury. I think the only time I was in a tent was when one of my mates and I passed out, so I’m not really a camper or a glamper.
Festival essential you can’t leave at home?
My festival essential item is my crew, the boys and my Mrs. They’re the ones who keep the party going.
Mud survival tips?
Don’t get in it, stay as far away from it as possible!
You’ve woken up in your tent with a raging hangover. What’s easing the pain?
What am I easing the pain at Glastonbury with? It’s got to be a quick pint of cider. The hair of the dog is essential. you’ve got to be honest with yourself, you are at a festival and you’re fucking causing it so you’ve got to get yourself back in the game.
The stomach’s rumbling, what’s the ideal festival meal?
There are not enough tacos at festivals. I’m always walking around Glastonbury looking for something that isn’t there. But generally, just a shit bit of grub, like a nasty burger. Anything to keep you going until you find your friends again.
You’re backstage getting ready for your set. What are you pulling out of the wardrobe? Anything other than a white T-shirt for Glastonbury?
I do like to get dressed up for Glasto. I like a bit of glitter and getting a bit fucking lary.
What’s the best outfit you’ve worn to Glasto?
It’s more about the stuff I buy when I’m there because they’ve got little hippie stalls. I brought this helmet once, do you remember Legion of Doom, as in the wrestlers? It was this crash helmet with three spikes on the top. I felt entirely at home once I brought that.
I like to think I turn up as a semi-normal human to Glastonbury, but by the end of the festival, it’s like I’ve been to Burning Man.
Who are you most excited to see this year?
Arctic Monkeys and Elton John. When I first started going to Glastonbury, I was purely buzzing to see bands, but as it got more electronic-orientated, I would go to see my mates perform. But I will be front and centre for Arctic Monkeys and Elton John. If he doesn’t do “Crocodile Rock”, I’ll be fucking raging.
I’ve been watching recent Arctic Monkeys’ setlists, and they’ve been opening with “Mardy Bum”. If they do that at Glasto, I’ll cry my eyes out; I’ll spontaneously combust; I’ll literally be a puddle on the floor.
The last time Arctic Monkeys played, I was playing at the same time, so I missed the first 20 minutes of their set. I watched it back on iPlayer and they opened with an orchestral version of “Do I Wanna Know”, which is a modern-day classic, so I’m not missing them this time.
I know Alex [Turner]. I did some production with Alex and Miles Kane on Miles’ first-ever single. I’ve had some good times with Arctic Monkeys at T in the Park. Their set this year will be legendary.
Do you ever worry about how many people will be there, especially at a time when you’re clashing with Arctic Monkeys?
We [Benga and Artwork] did a Magnetic Man set at Silver Hayes one year and we were on at the same time as Stevie Wonder. We were huge at the time but only pulled about 10 dedicated ravers. I said, during the set, that I was going to the toilet before quickly running over to the main stage and watching Stevie Wonder. When I got back I just said there was a really long queue for the toilet.
Which tunes are you excited to play? And where can people catch you this year?
I’m doing around seven sets this year. One with Interplanetary Criminal on Arcadia, which I think could become legendary. I’ve got a secret Skreamizm party with some very professional friends too. There was meant to be a dubstep set but the organisers said that the tent I would be playing would cause a health and safety risk and the whole area would have to be shut down. I’ll have to peg that as half a compliment but I am a little pissed off because I promised them that I’d do it. I’m also closing Shangri La on Sunday morning too, which should be special.
We’ll try and figure something out about the dubstep set but the last place I want to get banned from is Glastonbury. It was one of the only festivals I wasn’t banned from before the age of 25. I’m 37 now and I’ve got kids, that’s the last thing I’d want to be happening.
Where will we find you at 5AM?
I’ll be closing Shangri La. I think the set’s from 6:00-8:30 AM, so I’ll literally be closing the stage.
It took me seven years to see all of Glastonbury. There are parts that I see now popping up that I’ve never been to before. Your body has to kick in because you do so much walking, especially going up to the Shangri La at night. But It’s the best festival on the planet, it’s what we’ve grown up thinking a festival is! I’m so hyped for this year, it’s not even a joke.