Changes: Emily Eavis
The audio version of this episode is available here.
Annie [00:00:04] Hello everyone and welcome to Changes. Hiya folks. I'm sitting in the rave shed at the end of the garden with the doors fully open. You can hear the wind kind of whispering through the bamboo branches. You can hear my next door neighbour fiddilng in his shed. You can hear the kids in the school behind me and the birds are singing. It has been the most beautiful, hot summery week, a week where I've really felt like, Oh my God summer has just crept up and it's here. It's undeniably here. The reason why I've not been that aware, I suppose, of everything happening is because I've been living a lot, in the last definitely month, two months, in the alternative universe of my new novel *laughs*. Literally trying to finish this draft I've been doing. And it's quite remarkable when you're kind of neck deep in a novel at this point, I'm on draft four, because even though the whole world is happening around you, your head is just somewhere else. So, as I talk to you now I'm going to hand in the novel at the end of today, and I'm so looking forward to being kind of back out, present fully in the world, seeing friends, being social. And one of the big things I'm most looking forward to is going to Glastonbury, and that is what this week's episode is all about. So, it's been three years but finally Glastonbury is back, in all its glory, this week. It is the biggest festival in the world. 200,000 people will make their way to Worthy Farm in Somerset to see performances from thousands of world class artists, this year headlined by Billie Eilish, Paul McCartney and Kendrick Lamar. Now 2020 would have been Glastonbury's 50th anniversary. It was started in 1970 by Michael Eavis, but the pandemic happened. It was cancelled not once, but twice. So this year is going to be so, so special. Now, as many of you will know, Glastonbury has been home to some of the most iconic performances of all time, with the most legendary artists of all time gracing its fields and taking to the Pyramid Stage. Everyone from Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, Dolly Parton, Van Morrison, Stevie Wonder, Adele, Florence, Jay-Z, a defining moment in Glastonbury's history, Arctic Monkeys, Beyoncé, Kanye West, and in 2019, that really special one from Stormzy too. Today's guest on Changes is the lady who is key to booking and running Glastonbury as we know it, the daughter of Michael Eavis and co-organiser of the festival, Emily Eavis. Now Emily grew up on Worthy Farm, so she's witnessed Glastonbury evolve from her years as a child, through the eighties, nineties, noughties, right up to now, and her stories and memories are just remarkable. She even played Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star on her violin on the Pyramid Stage when she was five years old. As well as being a family affair with her parents running the festival together before her mum died, Glastonbury is also special, so special and unique in the landscape of festivals in that many of the staff are volunteers and millions of pounds from the festival is donated to charity each year. It is a place like no other. I invited Emily to the rave shed, this very rave shed last month, to talk through her big changes. It was a gorgeous, sunny day like this. You can hear the kids in the playground from the school and it was such an honour to have some time with her. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did. Welcome to Changes, Emily Eavis. *Short musical interlude*. I love that I open the door and you are literally on the mobile phone talking about sandbags. So on brand *laughs*. It's like, be more Emily Eavis, this is perfect!
Emily [00:04:04] *Laughs* Oh God, there's always some kind of infrastructure chat going on every day at the moment because we're so close to the festival.
Annie [00:04:07] How are things heating up? Like what is life like for you now at this point? One month out.
Emily [00:04:11] One month away, we're really in it. It's like kind of being reminded, like so much is coming back to us- it's kind of like experiencing it for the first time in many ways. It's just been such a crazy couple of years. For a while we were like, God, maybe it won't even run this year. So it's amazing to be back. And everybody is like, it's like in technicolour because everybody is just appreciating everything so much. Like across the site, there's like such a buzz, it's brilliant.
Annie [00:04:41] So it's been three years, which is the longest time Glastonbury's ever not happened. Obviously you've had your fallow years. What's it been like for you coming out of the rhythm of doing the festival? Obviously there's always work but it must have felt different.
Emily [00:04:54] It really felt different. It was like, really challenging, the process of the first cancellation was probably the most stressful part because we were so close to the festival, everything was in place, we had a massive workforce of people there. I mean, I had to literally call a meeting and tell everybody to go home and it was probably one of the most upsetting, difficult conversations I've ever had to have with like the whole team. It was very, very emotional. Really, really hard. But also it's kind of given us a time to think about the festival in a different way. And it's made us appreciate it. Like it really has made us appreciate what it is. Because I think when you're rolling this thing out and you're in this motion of this kind of pattern of seasons and festival movement all year, you never take a moment to kind of look at it. So in a way, COVID gave us all a chance to be like, 'wow, it is actually, really a special thing'.
Annie [00:05:52] *Laughs* it's such a special thing!
Emily [00:05:55] Ahh I love it now. Like, ahh just I really love this, it's great.
Annie [00:05:57] I want to give a quote from one of my favourite things I've ever read about Glastonbury, it's when Caitlin Moran followed you in the lead up to 2019 and she wrote about it. "This isn't just music. This is a small city with a population bigger than Bath. Emily Eavis doesn't just run a festival, she is basically the head of an alternate future city state with pioneering technology". I thought it would be good to give listeners just a kind of bit of context about the operations that goes into this. Like, it's fucking vast. It has its own forge, it has its own sewer system, you know? It's not just music!
Emily [00:06:31] No, it is- and I think, you know, it's very easy to forget that because I'm obviously on the inside of that, you know, the kind of engine room is at the farm. So all year we're putting drainage in, we're kind of reorganising the toilets or, you know, whatever it it's going to be. There's always an infrastructure conversation. You're kind of fitting a city into a countryside valley, which is very remote and very beautiful. And you kind of- even now the fence is going in and it's like this kind of installation, just like sweeping through this valley. It looks absolutely huge. I'm like, was it that big before? *Laughs* before COVID? Anyway, yeah it is, there's so much. It really is building a city.
Annie [00:07:13] Mad. It's just like, I think people forget about that aspect of it. So, in terms of the rhythm of the job, how does it affect your life? Does it get crazy now? Are you like, 'see you later family. I'm off'. I mean, obviously you work with the family but how do you cope with the kind of, huge peak?
Emily [00:07:31] I kind of go a little bit into the, like the zone sort of thing, like around now. So I don't- like a friend of mine the other day was like, 'I feel like I've kind of- this is the time where I lose you for a couple of months and I just can't wait- and we'll get you back in July'. And it's so funny 'cause like, she's such an old friend and she's just known this cycle and she sort of just checks in. You become completely absorbed in this thing. In the production and the building of this event that is in our home. It would be so different if I didn't live there, because you know, you just go to the site and build, but it's like- it's kind of we're there. You know, the reversing vehicles all night- I mean last night at like one in the morning, I could still hear the 'beep, beep, beep'.
Annie [00:08:13] Oh my god, that's hilarious.
Emily [00:08:15] Here we go. And i'm kind of going to my kids, 'guys, this is- this is the festival'. Like that sound-
Annie [00:08:19] That's the reality.
Emily [00:08:20] Is the sound I grew up with. You know, like forget the bands, like that is- it's the... yeah, the build. It's all encompassing. But it's so, you know, it's so kind of life affirming as well. You know, the digger drivers, the trucks, the plant, the everything arriving, you know, it's like all the people, the faces.
Annie [00:08:39] Yep. It's happening!
Emily [00:08:40] I know.
Annie [00:08:42] Talking about kids. You grew up at the festival. It's all you've ever known. What are your memories of- of kind of childhood and the festival.
Emily [00:08:49] I mean. I was thinking about this because I was looking at your questions last night and I was like, 'the biggest change?'. And I was thinking about changes in my childhood and the fact that when I was a kid, every year was just like a massive shift, a massive change. Like every year has a different narrative. So festivals in the eighties were like entirely different. The festival was growing radically and you know, every year had a different narrative with the travellers and it was like, with music and it was just- there were so many different stories to it. But I spent a lot of my childhood feeling terrified of it because it was like, it was pretty wild and very divisive and very, very kind of tribal in the area that we lived in. There was just so much kind of animosity about it and like loathing, and it was really like full on feelings to grow up around. So I was like terrified. I was like blimey- you know we had like, ball bearings shot through our window by like, locals, and, you know, our car was burned down.
Annie [00:09:49] Wow.
Emily [00:09:50] It was burnt, you know, and things like that. It was just kind of- so I lived with a lot of this kind of fear of the festival. Cause I was like, 'can we just have a normal life?'.
Annie [00:09:57] Yeah, yeah.
Emily [00:09:59] But now I look back on it I'm like, what- so there was a lot of change in that respect when I was a kid. Now it's less, you know, we have a lot of, we have like the highs and lows, but it's kind of a bit more like bedded in into our kind of culture and our society in a way for that time.
Annie [00:10:17] Yeah, there's acceptance and celebration of it now.
Emily [00:10:21] Acceptance, yeah. And kind of a feeling that it's not this like threatening thing that's going to, you know, get all of your children into drug addicts and get them into knives or whatever the thing was. You know, there was just so much rumour and controversy around it.
Annie [00:10:35] And did you get flack for that, you know, at school and stuff as a kid?
Emily [00:10:39] Oh, yeah. I mean, everyone was like, totally, you're the weird kind of outsider. I was kind of a shy, a bit like, keep my head down, kid. Probably as a result of like, being around my dad who's the opposite *laughs*. Always like, hands in the air. So I would always be like hiding a bit and kind of watching. And then I went to school and everyone was like, Oh my God, what is that thing you do? It's just so weird. I couldn't really like, get people to come. I used to try. I used to take in books in my blazer pockets, books of tickets and just be like, 'does anyone want to come? It's not that bad'. And people were just like, 'no, thanks'.
Annie [00:11:19] Wow, bet they're sorry now.
Emily [00:11:21] Better *laughs* better not.
Annie [00:11:21] *Laughs*
[00:11:21] *Short musical interlude*
Annie [00:11:32] So, what was your dad like then? What were your parents like? Because they founded the festival together, right?
Emily [00:11:37] Yeah. So my parents were this indestructible kind of, love affair that they had, which kind of saw them through any conflict. And it was very powerful to be a part of that. It was very loving and kind of, very, you know, they just were in love. So, you know, if I came back with my mum, my dad would be waiting on the step. They were just completely like, connected and really in this thing together. And I think that was how they saw this wild ride through, because they had this amazing connection, which is very like, 'we can withstand anything because we're in love'. And it was like, kind of amazing to witness now. When I look back at it I'm like, crikey, that was like pretty powerful what that created, because both of them were married before. So they had three children each and then they got together and had my brother and me. And it was a very, very-
Annie [00:12:30] Is your brother older or younger?
Emily [00:12:32] Yeah, a lot older. And my siblings are a lot older than me, so I didn't really kind of grow up with them. I kind of grew up like, as an only child a bit.
Annie [00:12:40] What were they like as people individually?
Emily [00:12:42] My parents?
Annie [00:12:43] Yeah.
Emily [00:12:43] My mum sort of supported my dad's kind of mad ideas. He was very like, he was pretty like, he had an energy which kind of saw him running around and never sitting down and he was just completely taken over by this thing. And he was pretty brave. And it was what he kind of stood up to, and those kind of late nights with the travellers coming at like two or three in the morning waiting for the call and at that point there was a lot of conflict between the travellers and the festival. And they'd kind of, storm in through the gates and he'd sort of be trying to deal with these, you know, quite difficult characters, to put it nicely. Some of them are still here but, like on the festival actually, but there was a time of huge conflict. And so, he was like this driving force, you know? So if you imagine he's like not sitting down, jumping around, completely like taken over by this thing and my mum's like, very grounded, very kind of supportive and present and kind of holding him and the whole thing together. So they were kind of- it was quite a good, good combination.
Annie [00:13:56] The kite strings.
Emily [00:13:57] Yeah. Like it works. It's like, it's funny, yeah.
Annie [00:13:59] Yeah, yeah, yeah. And what did they tell you? What was your understanding as a kid of why and how Glastonbury came about?
Emily [00:14:08] I think that, because of the nature of their relationship and the fact that they'd both met kind of later in life in slightly difficult circumstances, it was kind of built on their kind of love and their- they were already outsiders, slightly. I guess, together they went to the Bath Blues Festival and saw the Moody Blues and a couple of other bands and they were pretty blown away by it. So literally the next day just got on the phone to a local scaff firm and built a stage in the field.
Annie [00:14:41] Wow.
Emily [00:14:42] And that was kind of- in the seventies they were a bit sporadic, the festivals, but it was like, pretty small. More like a fete.
Annie [00:14:51] Yeah.
Emily [00:14:52] Free milk. Hog roast.
Annie [00:14:53] Pound a ticket was it?
Emily [00:14:55] Pound a ticket.
Annie [00:14:56] Pound a ticket.
Emily [00:14:57] Yeah, and Mark Bolan played the first- there's a whole story to each year but in the early- the very first festival was my parents and '71 was very different because it was Arabella Churchill who came down from Elgin Crescent and she- and pointing towards Elgin Crescent like as if-.
Annie [00:15:14] It's just down the road.
Emily [00:15:17] It's just there! And so they- this whole bunch of like a very different crowd came in and Arabella brought this whole other thing into the festival, which then lived for years, you know, because she ran the theatre and circus fields.
Annie [00:15:29] Right, okay.
Emily [00:15:30] And then Bowie played that year. And that was a much more kind of rock and roll crowd. So the combination of '70, very rural, very kind of agricultural almost, and '71 with this kind of injection of like London and kind of-
Annie [00:15:43] Yeah, yeah.
Emily [00:15:44] And then the two kind of worked together. So it became, they were quite significant those two years.
[00:15:50] *Short musical interlude*
Annie [00:15:59] Okay. So let's get to your first childhood change. So you talked about your mum?
Emily [00:16:03] Well, I think, I'm not sure if this is like childhood really, because I was 19, so that's probably quite, kind of adulthood. But I would say probably on the cusp. So having had like a lot of changes throughout my childhood, the one thing that was like very, very unchanging was the fact that my mum was very solid, so she was like the kind of anchor to all of us. So when she got ill, it was terrifying because the thought of like, the whole kind of family but also event and my dad and everything was kind of inter-held-together by this one person. And so it was very, very difficult change because it was like, I don't think we're going to survive this. And my dad was very fearful of the fact that he wouldn't be able to survive. And at that point, I was in London and I moved back and then I lived at the farm to help.
Annie [00:16:51] So what were you doing in London?
Emily [00:16:53] I was at Goldsmiths learning, studying to be a teacher. So I would not have been doing the festival really, I don't think. I would have probably had quite a different, quiet life. I mean, not that being a teacher is a quiet life, but it's certainly like, more a consistent-
Annie [00:17:08] Stable.
Emily [00:17:08] Stable life. So then I came back because I, I wanted to kind of support my dad in the way that my mum had and I could also see that it would have been really hard for him to continue without somebody.
Annie [00:17:24] Yeah.
Emily [00:17:24] He just needed, like, a sidekick, you know?
Annie [00:17:27] Yeah. Yeah.
Emily [00:17:28] And so I became that person and I moved back and I supported him. And I kind of for a few years was in between London and-
Annie [00:17:37] Right, okay.
Emily [00:17:38] And Somerset.
Annie [00:17:39] Yeah, so you were 19?
Emily [00:17:40] Yeah.
Annie [00:17:41] You went back. Like, how long did it take you to realise that you were going to stay? And what was that decision like?
Emily [00:17:50] I think like, one of the things that had happened in my teenage years is that I began to really like the festival.
Annie [00:17:58] Yeah.
Emily [00:17:59] So I'd gone from this like, point of really being kind of fearful of it and wondering why we were putting up with all of this, to suddenly being like, actually this is a really great thing. Like it's not just about that, it's about all these things. So I kind of came back and I was like, I'll help you. And they were always going to retire in 2000. It was just never a question. So this was 1999, and basically I worked alongside my dad and I was like, could see very clearly straightaway that the festival was going to be the thing which kept him going and he was no way going to be able to finish in 2000 because it was like, his lifeline. And so he became completely, like, you know, devoted to the festival. So I was sort of like, next to him, and then over the years I just- there was never, ever a point where we were like, this is going to happen, you're going to take this on. Or like, I would even want to have that conversation. I didn't really want to do that. In fact I could never really envisage it, working without him. But then very slowly, over the years that changed into something that was a bit more tangible for me. And I think when I saw that I could really do my own thing with it- because I'm quite creative and and my dad is creative too, and for a while I was like, how are those two things going to work together? But actually, it kind of very naturally evolved into where it is.
Annie [00:19:26] Yeah, yeah, yeah. And what did your dad think about you coming back and- because the festival happened quite soon after your mother died, right? So there was a kind of momentum of having to just get on with it.
Emily [00:19:37] Yeah. '99 the festival was pretty, like a bit of a blur. We just got into that. Because she died and then it was like a month away. Yeah, *Annie sighs* it was like, pretty much like. So we got through that festival and then at that point, we only ever planned one year ahead. So different now. Now we're like doing five, ten year contracts and like thinking into the future. But for that point it was like, we'll just get through the year and then see. And there wasn't such a thing as like, 'festival culture' as much, you know. So it was like, this is just something that we do and then we might do it or we might not. And it was just a bit more like.
Annie [00:20:17] Yeah.
Emily [00:20:18] Kind of movable. And it just felt like, okay, when it's time to just knock it on the head we'll-
Annie [00:20:24] We'll do it.
Emily [00:20:25] Wave goodbye. It's been great.
Annie [00:20:26] Yeah.
Emily [00:20:27] And I think that lightness gives it a kind of- you can feel that, it's not like, there's no business plans or-
Annie [00:20:33] I mean, there's so much I want to talk to you about that. Just like on that first change or like accumulation of changes, you lost the rock of your mam, you left London, so the momentum of your life kind of did a U-turn and you went back home and then you swapped jobs. That's mad.
Emily [00:20:52] I know.
Annie [00:20:52] Like in terms of like the amount of huge like, upheavals in one go.
Emily [00:20:56] Yeah and when you're in a period of change, you actually take, it's weird like you're kind of subconsciously just allowing all these other changes to take place. You're not- like it's always the anticipation of change, isn't it, that's terrifying? When you're in it it's like actually, really a natural thing. You're like, okay, this has happened and now these other things are happening as a result, and you're kind of just dealing with it. It was like, really shocking how I could understand it, something that I'd feared so much. I was so terrified of anything happening to my mum, and then when it happened I was like, okay. I felt like I can be the adult here. And I suddenly kind of, probably did turn into an adult at that point. And I just was like, I'm going to deal with this. And it just all slipped into a different pace and a different- I just turned in- my life just totally changed.
Annie [00:21:46] But it gave you a sense of purpose, I suppose? Like a kind of driving force.
Emily [00:21:51] Yeah, and I think I just- it helped me process my grief as well, because I was able to work on something that they had created and it was like, really, I wanted to make it work. Whereas I didn't have that before, because I just was like, 'I'll have my own life'. But after that I was like, actually, I want to make this work. This is like, an amazing creation and I want to keep this going. So there was a switch. And I think that's what happens isn't it, when you lose people? You know, they kind live on in you in a different way.
Annie [00:22:21] It makes you look at the world differently.
Emily [00:22:24] Yeah.
Annie [00:22:24] What legacy did your mum leave within Glastonbury? Like, what parts of her are Glastonbury?
Emily [00:22:28] Yeah, there's so many things. I mean, she was so caring and I think the, the kind of welfare side and the caring side. I mean I grew up like having- welfare is next to our house, but also like in our garden so my mum looked after people for months after. I mean, we had people living with us for whole summers, you know, where they would just, didn't want to go home.
Annie [00:22:53] What, after Glastonbury?
Emily [00:22:54] Yeah *laughs*.
Annie [00:22:54] So they'd just hang out? *Laughs*
Emily [00:22:55] Yeah and you know, some more vulnerable cases, you know, where people were like- I mean, there was always a period in the eighties, it's so, again, very different now but for a time in the eighties there were people who were left over who would come and find refuge there that didn't feel that they had a belonging or a sense of- or a place to go.
Annie [00:23:17] And Glastonbury was the closest thing?
Emily [00:23:19] And so they came and they stayed. And they'd appear, you know, so people would come sometimes like a month after. And there was always a period of time where my mum would be on the end of a phone. So we didn't have an office, the phone was in the house and my mum would answer the phone to these parents who were like looking for their kids and we would be matching the *laughs* It sounds crazy now, the kind of kids that were left in our house with the parents. So the parents would be like, 'she's got dark hair and a fringe' or whatever *laughs*.
Annie [00:23:50] You're looking out the window like, 'yeah, I think I see her!'
Annie [00:23:54] 'I think I've got her!'. So, come down and you can come and get her or we can- we had somebody who'd drive people home. And once this family came to get this girl called Anne-Marie who was from Liverpool, and she didn't want to go with them, the parents, and her parents were very, very straight. Like it was not like, the natural place for them to come. The festival at this point is absolutely like the Wild West. The scenes are just unbelievable outside of our house. So they get out of the car and they're like, 'where have we landed?'. They come into the house and Anne-Marie's sat and she's just like 'I'm not, I'm not coming'. So my mum's like, 'it's okay, she can stay here for a bit and we'll bring her back in a couple of weeks'. Anyway, she ended up staying for a while *laughs* and she was just there every day after school and you know- so there was some characters.
Annie [00:24:41] *Laughing* how long did she stay for?
Emily [00:24:41] She stayed for a couple of months.
Annie [00:24:44] Wow.
Emily [00:24:45] And she was great. These people were part of my life. And that was what my mum- you know, she put herself on the height chart in the kitchen with all of our heights.
Annie [00:24:52] Ahhh!
Emily [00:24:56] She put herself in like 1970 like roughly where she would have been *laughing*. It was so funny, but you know, and there were lots of cases that were kind of individual stories like this where my mum kind of looked after people. And that care thing, that is like, an amazing thing. That's a huge part of the festival. That's like the kind of nugget right in the heart, which is that, you're not like- you're coming, you're going to be looked after. If you're vulnerable, you're going to be, there's somewhere to go. We have an amazing welfare team. We have outreach all over the place and there's a kind of diff- there's a heart which is just different.
Annie [00:25:30] Yeah. Yeah. And there's a moral compass to it as well. Just in terms of how it runs as a business. It feels even weird to call it a business, but of course, you know. But like, if you put Glastonbury in the context of the festival landscape, festival culture is booming now. Everyone's got a festival. It just stands out. It's just so remarkable. It's so remarkable for how you work. Would you mind explaining like, the kind of, the ethics behind Glastonbury?
Emily [00:25:55] So, my dad is a methodist and from a very Methodist family. And so there was always this kind of slight guilt about having fun *laughs*. You know, slight like, you've got to give back if you're going to do something really indulgent like have a brilliant time, you've got to deliver something back. So there's a kind of greater, kind of message here which is about, I mean, so many of my family are like teachers and doctors and stuff. Like everyone's got this whole thing about-
Annie [00:26:24] Service.
Emily [00:26:25] Yeah.
Annie [00:26:26] Public service, yeah.
Emily [00:26:27] Totally. And it's like- I think there's something really, really good in that and there's something in the way the festival's survived because of those values. And so the charity thing is at the heart. So we've always given a huge donation, or when we can, to all of our charities. And I think it makes a difference. The festival would never, it just wouldn't be able to survive, frankly, in that commercial world anyway, because it's like we don't have those huge fees. We operate outside of that because of the way in which we, we get the bands for free. Everybody's kind of like, you know, for cheaper, because they're coming in and they're all playing a part in this thing, which is like we aim to give, you know, X amount, as close to £2 million a year to charity at the moment. It would be so different if we were all like, running away with it. Do you know what I mean?
Annie [00:27:15] You must have had countless offers to expand, to take the brand global, to commercialise aspects of Glastonbury. How do you maintain the conviction in just saying no to that?
Emily [00:27:28] It's very instinctive for me and I think for like- we've had so many offers over the years that I just kind of get used to-
Annie [00:27:38] 'No! No!' *Laughs*.
Emily [00:27:39] Everyday *laughs*. APN? Like everyone in the office just says, 'APN?' and I'm like, 'yeah'.
Annie [00:27:43] What's APN?
Emily [00:27:44] A polite no.
Annie [00:27:44] *Laughing* ahh APN! Oh my God, I love an abbreviation! And I say that all the time to management, APN!
Emily [00:27:50] Thanks so much! But no. *Annie laughs*. No thanks. No thanks. But you know, there are things that we can do. We're living in a world where we're not- for a while I got rid of all the partnerships. Now, I'm bringing some partnerships back because I'm like, we need partnerships in order to survive. Because otherwise, there are things that bring- say like with the Guardian or the BBC or whatever, they all provide a service. So I think if you're going to provide a service, we'll talk about partnerships. But I'm not like- the whole buyout thing, rolling it out... Like, no. Yeah we have had lots of offers.
Annie [00:28:25] I bet.
[00:28:26] *Short musical interlude*.
Annie [00:28:26] Let's talk about change within the prism of Glastonbury itself. So there's, you know, talking about change, sometimes change can be a really positive thing, but it's about knowing when to change and knowing what to change, so you're not clearly ever going to change the kind of ethics or the moral compass of Glastonbury. But in terms of how Glastonbury looks, in terms of a lineup or a music perspective, there was some quite big changes and I'm interested in that lead up to probably the most talked about change, which is Jay-Z in 2008. When did you feel like and how did you know that Glastonbury might need to be tweaked in terms of the music that was presented?
Annie [00:29:15] Yeah, and I think it did change. I think that was what made me really interested in the job, when I knew that I could really do my thing, because I was like, I can't keep doing this same formula. Like it's not- that's not interesting to me. Like I wanted to do something different and really shift it. And so that change was, I mean, I, to be honest, I had no idea what was coming. My God, I thought it would just be like, 'oh, that's interesting', not like, you know, such a massive public talking point. But 2008 followed 2007. 2007 was really wet, really difficult, killer sound problems. Like we kind of peaked in a kind of fashion way where people wanted to come-
Annie [00:29:57] You were all over Heat Magazine.
Emily [00:29:58] Yeah, it kind of went a little bit like, really extreme in one direction. That's the thing. It can easily just joooop!, go off course a bit and I was like, people were going who didn't really want to be there, just to be there. And I was like, no, this is weird. And you could feel it in the crowd. It was just like, the atmosphere was like, people were like horrified by the mud. Which I totally get the mud is difficult. But it was like a feeling of like, people leaving. We're going to the gates, you know, persuading people not to go, me and my dad. 'No, guys come back in and we'll help you pitch a tent'. It was just like a really, really weird, strange, difficult year that festival. Anyway, so 2008 I was like, we need to do something different. When you've got nothing to lose, and that's how I felt, I was like, I just want to do something really, really, what I feel is right. And I don't really care about what everyone else thinks. And I think that was when I came up with the Jay-Z thing *laughs* and erm-.
Annie [00:30:56] So did you go to them? To Jay-Z?
Emily [00:30:58] Yeah.
Annie [00:30:58] You went to them and said, come and play at our festival?
Emily [00:31:01] Yeah, and the conversation was kind of going back and forward. And they were like kind of interested. Like, you know, with American artists, you're also sort of having to give a little bit of context because obviously, you know, lots of people don't know about it. So I was like, okay, there's this thing called the fest- this Glastonbury, and duhduhduh, and you know, it's a little bit this and these are the roots and this is the context, but like we really want you to come and a headline. And they were pretty on board early on, right? Then we announced it quite quickly and that was when all the questions started to be raised.
Annie [00:31:43] All the shit came out.
Emily [00:31:44] Yeah, because people were like... what?
Annie [00:31:46] It seems ludicrous now looking back.
Emily [00:31:48] Do you remember that now?
Annie [00:31:49] It seems ludicrous because it was what, like 15 years ago?
Emily [00:31:51] I mean, you had to defend it. I mean, literally like that weren't many- everyone was just like *laughing* going 'what have you done?'.
Annie [00:31:54] It seems ludicrous now. Yeah.
Emily [00:32:00] Like people coming up to you going, 'what have you done?! Like, why have you messed this thing up?'. I just knew that he could do the show and I just didn't want him to pull out. So my whole focus became on getting him to come in June, and he was getting married in like, in May or sometime just before. And I just remember speaking to his manager on the day of his wedding, and he was just like, 'you've got to kind of stop this. This is crazy'. And I was like, God, I can't, I can't, I can't stop. I can't. Apart from just not say anything, which I'm not planning on saying anything more about this. I can't stop this rolling press, hype machine thing from just talking about this, it is completely out of our hands now. This has like gone to another level. And then they kind of turned that into an amazing part of his set. So all of that nay-say, all that opening film was just complete genius, and it was like the way to start it was just like all these people going, 'that's never going to happen'.
Annie [00:32:59] Yeah, yeah. And then coming on with Wonderwall! And then going in to 99 Problems! I was in the audience, I was crying, I was, it was so- it felt so exciting.
Emily [00:33:09] Ohhh my God. It was so good!
Annie [00:33:10] Where were you? You must have been beside the stage just crying as well?! I can't imagine.
Emily [00:33:14] I took my dad up on the side of the stage. He didn't really know much about Jay-Z because my dad, he kind of relies a little, you know, at that point he was probably, what like late seventies, maybe. So, you know, he sort of liked the odd, you know, Led Zeppelin documentary or kind of. And so, and he was like, 'who is this guy? Like what is going on?'. And then he was like, 'do you think I should come watch?', and I was like, 'no, no, you've got-'. And we walked honestly, we walked on to the side of the stage and it was just hysterical because the relief of seeing this guy walk in and take it on... You know when someone owns something, that's what you've got to do. In the face of adversity, you have to own it. Whether it's like a scary meeting you're going to, whether you're going onto stage, whatever it is. That would be my life lesson, I'm like, just own it! Like, just, he did.
Annie [00:34:03] And if you think about Jay-Z, I mean, he's had to do that his entire life and his entire career.
Emily [00:34:08] Totally, and this is nothing.
Annie [00:34:08] He was the right man to do that job.
Emily [00:34:10] Completely. And within about 3 seconds, it was very clear that he was going to- in fact, before he walked on the stage, do you remember the crowd? Everyone just shouting Jay-Z. And I was on the side of the stage looking out at this sea, and it was a huge, vast crowd packed in and just everybody chanting his name. And I was like, fuck, he's totally got this. And it was yeah, it was remarkable. Remarkable. It was amazing. But I mean, hard to really believe that that was so controversial now.
Annie [00:34:40] It is really hard. Like in the context of now. It's quite, yeah, it's not great.
Emily [00:34:45] So basically, Jay-Z opened up the door to Bruce Neil. Like all of those big- so, Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen headlined in 2009. He opened the door to like, these massive American artists that we'd never, ever been able to touch before. So really, it changed not only just for, you know, festival culture and who can headline festivals, but also like it opened up the door for us in many, many other ways. And we kind of ended up having these amazing festivals afterwards. So I think that's down to Jay-Z.
Annie [00:35:20] Yeah. Yeah. And obviously you had Beyoncé and then Kanye. So, you know.
Emily [00:35:23] Beyoncé was- yeah, exactly, in 2011.
Annie [00:35:26] Yeah.
[00:35:26] *Short musical interlude*
Annie [00:35:36] Okay. So let's get onto your adult change then, because you've given us a few, which are all brilliant.
Emily [00:35:40] Yeah, adult change is probably. I mean, like, probably, you know, having your children, and then for me, like, being- I'm in the family- I'm in the farmhouse, which is where I grew up in.
Annie [00:35:52] Right.
Emily [00:35:53] All of that history, all of those meetings and everything happened in that kitchen. Everything.
Annie [00:35:59] So you're still in that house now?
Emily [00:36:01] I'm in that house.
Annie [00:36:02] Okay.
Annie [00:36:02] So my dad moved out like a few years ago, and he built a house on the hill, and he lives out there. It's a really nice and peaceful. And we're like in the kind of, in the farmhouse. So it's like, there's something in kind of that continuity which is, like, amazing and slightly terrifying? I know what it's like to be them. You know what I mean? Like, I was the child with the festival- because our children have a very, very, like, quiet, rural life. And especially now after COVID, they can't really remember the festival.
Annie [00:36:36] Yeah I was thinking, because three years in a child's life is vast.
Emily [00:36:40] Yeah.
Annie [00:36:40] You know, so, this will feel new to them in a big way as well this year.
Emily [00:36:45] Yeah, it'll be like for the first time, I think, probably. And certainly for the youngest, because my little girl is just six and she-
Annie [00:36:52] Yeah, she won't remember.
Emily [00:36:53] We were at the new bands competition the other day and she was like, 'is this the festival?'. *Laughing* and I was like, 'no, babe', you know? And I know it's sort of part of the festival, like the bands --- but they've just got no idea.
Annie [00:37:06] No idea! Oh God *laughs*. So how like, when you were a kid and the festival scared you and you had all these associations, how are you trying to kind of, make it for your kids, like, you know, with your experience in the back of your mind?
Emily [00:37:19] Yeah. I'm trying to also like, I don't want them to take it for granted because now it seems more, way more solid. And it's kind of, not in a way. Like, you know, it's like it's still so us that it's like in our home- we haven't kind of, branched out or sold out or, you know. So I kind of, I want them to realise that it's like almost like a magical, the Brigadoon thing, the thing that I grew up with which is like, you know, the appearance of this like thing and then gone overnight and it's amazing. I kind of want them to have that like, it's like a temporary thing, you know? I keep saying to them, this is just here for now and it's like this wonderful thing, but you know, one day I won't be here. I don't want, like, the feeling that it's like, just going to just be churned out. They love that thing of like, nothing's guaranteed.
Annie [00:38:15] Yeah.
Emily [00:38:15] Because that's the magic, I think. As soon as you start thinking, 'so in 15 years we'll be on X amount and we'll have...', It like kills it, so yeah.
Annie [00:38:24] And also kids I think aren't really as good at looking into the future as adults or you know, so they're very much in the present anyway. So I think it will be like that for them.
Emily [00:38:34] I hope so.
Annie [00:38:35] It will be bonkers.
Emily [00:38:36] It's funny because we're on a farm, you know, like my family have been there for six generations. I mean, the ancestors are just everywhere. You only have to walk through the hall and you know, see the great, great grandparents on the wall.
Annie [00:38:50] That's a lovely feeling of belonging, though. It's really nice that. It's really nice. I'm thinking a lot about that in terms of like, my family being in Ireland and thinking, do I want my kids to feel like they're part of something bigger, you know? Than just me and their dad, you know? There's a lineage there, you know. I think that means a lot to people.
Emily [00:39:10] And you kind of feel that, don't you, when you're on that land. And land really does have that kind of association.
Annie [00:39:15] Mhm.
Emily [00:39:16] And I think that ours really feel that when they, when they stand there.
Annie [00:39:21] Mhm.
Emily [00:39:22] I think it's a good thing.
Annie [00:39:23] What do they do? Do they go to the festival? Do they go and hang out in kids field?
Emily [00:39:26] Welll they'll be at the festival. I mean, my ten year old is like, 'I'm just going to go off this year'. I'm like, okay. I mean, I guess he can, you know like no one knows-
Annie [00:39:36] *Laughing* it's his field, he can!
Emily [00:39:38] *Laughing* I'm like well, you know, he knows the farm. He cycles around the farm and things like that. And I always, always navigate via hedgerows and trees, because it doesn't look the same because of all the stuff that's run up, all the markets, all the stages. But you can always notice the trees in the hedgerow.
Annie [00:39:53] Right! So they're your signposts?
Emily [00:39:55] They're your signposts. So you're like, okay, I'll be like, where am I? Where am I? And then I'd look, I'd be like, 'oh, hang on. Big oak in the corner. That's the green kids or whatever', you just start to-.
Annie [00:40:03] Wow.
Emily [00:40:04] And I think that he will have that this year.
Annie [00:40:07] Mhm mmm, wow.
Emily [00:40:07] So i'm like, okay, I think you'll be fine.
Annie [00:40:09] Yeah. And he will remember.
Emily [00:40:10] Kids is the safest place for kids
Annie [00:40:11] He will remember it from before anyway. So he'll yeah, he knows what he's doing.
Emily [00:40:14] He'll be fine. He'll just go and see bands and you know, that's the best age when you like start to fall in love with the music.
Annie [00:40:20] Yes.
Emily [00:40:21] You go, 'yeah, I'm just going to go off', and I'm hoping that he'll just yeah, enjoy it.
Annie [00:40:26] Okay so, that's one of the changes then, being in that house and becoming a mother from being a daughter, into the house. Tell me about the thing that you also said in your change answer, which was about surrounding yourself with people who make you happy and not feeling like you have this debt to the world.
Emily [00:40:41] Yeah, I think that's quite important. I think just in terms of like growing up and as you get older you kind of realise the things that slightly, you need in order to get through your like- to kind of give you the strength to get through the pressure of your life. So whatever it is, whatever you do, you kind of have to surround yourself with the people that really have your back, that make you happy. And I think there's like a whole process in your life. You know, you have your teens, your school years, your twenties, your thirties, you're kind of- for me, that was like having children and kind of then you have like lots of different friendships and then you get to your forties. For me, I really feel like I've kind of found- I've got those kind of real like, pillars around me. And I think that that is so essential because I've always had that from friends, like I've always had that kind of, those very close kind of friendships but it's just changed over the years. And now it's like in a point where I'm like, that's been a big change. You know, I look at our wedding and I'm like, 'wow, that was like, hu-'. You know, there's just a period where you just are surrounded by so many people-
Annie [00:41:52] And then you shed them. Naturally.
Emily [00:41:55] *Laughs*.
Annie [00:41:55] You do. You shed them.
Emily [00:41:56] *Laughing* I didn't want to say it too ---
Annie [00:41:57] Is that a crude way of saying it? But there is also a self-editing system, I think that comes when you hit 40 where you're like, 'I just know that person isn't- doesn't make me feel good about who I am'.
Emily [00:42:06] Yeah, I think so. And I think it's like a really, without sounding too harsh because I think, you know, everybody throughout your life is what makes you, you, you know, whatever the experience is. But it's like you get to a point in your life where you're like, 'that is a shift and I am like really happy with where I'm at'. And that's a really good thing, I think, because I think you just spend so many years like just being thrown around in different, well I did, like different parties or different things or different groups and always big, big bands of people and now I'm like, ahh, that is a big shift for me. So yeah.
Annie [00:42:42] Just having a close crew of friends and family that you trust and that are good for you.
Emily [00:42:47] Yeah. And not feeling that obligation to be kind of everywhere.
Annie [00:42:51] That's such a huge thing isn't it.
Emily [00:42:52] Like, such an amazing thing.
Annie [00:42:53] Yeah and to maintain friendships and to feel like you have to go places and that- it's like that self-esteem song isn't it it's like, I should be there and, you know, even while I'm at your birthday, I'm still going to feel guilty because of rarara. It's this constant guilt of not living up to what people want you to be.
Emily [00:43:08] Totally. And being okay with just not going to things has just been an absolute revelation.
Annie [00:43:12] Oh, that's the best.
Emily [00:43:14] Oh my God. I mean, just saying no!
Annie [00:43:15] APN, APN!
Emily [00:43:16] *Laughs* APN!
Annie [00:43:16] We love an APN. Not just in business, in personal life too! *Both laughing*.
Emily [00:43:24] Can't belive I told you about the APN.
Annie [00:43:24] Well, my one is GTK, Good To Know. *Laughter* I love a GTK. That's constant in my WhatsApp group.
Emily [00:43:31] Oh God. That's brilliant, good to know.
Annie [00:43:33] Yeah yeah, okay so that's a really good lesson.
Emily [00:43:36] I think that's a good one. I think there's something about getting older where you're like, actually, I don't want all this shit. It's just brilliant.
Annie [00:43:44] Yeah, it' simplifying your life isn't it?
Emily [00:43:45] Simplifying.
Annie [00:43:46] Yeah, because there's enough going on, isn't there?
Emily [00:43:48] Yeah.
[00:43:48] *Short musical interlude*
Annie [00:43:53] Last thing before we let you go, Emily Eavis, is another quote from Caitlin Moran. She says, If you have attended Glastonbury, chances are at least one thing that has happened here will be in the best bits montage that flashes before your eyes as you die'. Without wanting to be morbid, what would those bits be for you?
Emily [00:44:10] Yeah, well, that's. I mean, that's a thought isn't it?
Annie [00:44:13] I was thinking that too and it's so true for me. Mine would be up the crane.
Emily [00:44:17] Would it? Oh that was amazing.
Annie [00:44:18] And there was fake snow coming out. And I played Olive - You're not Alone, the acapella, and it was like- I was on my own. It was the most strange experience, but was like-.
Emily [00:44:25] Wooooow.
Annie [00:44:25] Where else in the world would this be happening, but now?
Emily [00:44:29] Amazing!
Annie [00:44:31] And I met Posh and Becks on the way to the crane. *Emily laughs* It was 2am. That's Glastonbury. Posh and Becks?! Can you handle that?
Emily [00:44:40] In Arcadia?
Annie [00:44:40] Yeah, on their way up. I was like, 'come on up, I'm playing in a crane, you can see it, it's just over there'.
Emily [00:44:43] Did they come up?
Annie [00:44:43] I don't know, I was up the crane. I don't know.
Emily [00:44:47] I love it. I mean, that is the festival isn't it?
Annie [00:44:49] That's it. Sums up.
Emily [00:44:52] Everybody- it's a great leveller. Everyone's just in the same boat, you know?
Annie [00:44:55] Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Emily [00:44:56] And no one cares, do they?
Annie [00:44:57] That's the best bit.
Emily [00:44:58] I bet everyone was just ignoring them. No one like, dives in for big selfies. Or at least I'm like, 'just nah, you'll be fine Brad Pitt, no one will notice, just go for it'. *Annie laughs* the worst thing you can do is have loads of security, isn't it?
Annie [00:45:11] Oh, that's the worst. Yeah. In the past, I've worn a wig, thinking- and it's become a joke now where all my friends are like, 'oh right, she's got the wig on', as if that's going to disguise you. And then you're up at the stone circle and they're like, 'oi Annie Mac!', and you're like, 'Fuck!' this wig does not work... it never works.
Emily [00:45:27] A wig is a good idea. In all fairness though, Brad Pitt didn't get- I mean, he wasn't bothered at all. He just got straight in and just-
Annie [00:45:33] And Prince Harry went too, right?
Emily [00:45:35] Prince Harry... Fine. Nobody gets hassle. And they're not worried about it so I'm just like, it's great attitude. I think it all rubs off. If you come and just drop your preconceptions. The ideas of like, you being in, entering- you know walking down Oxford Street or whatever, to being suddenly at the festival, people are just in a different zone, they don't really hassle people.
Annie [00:45:56] I was talking to my good friend who's kind of, well her kids five now, but we were talking about life and stress and that idea of feeling needed all the time and she said, 'the most free I've ever felt is at Glastonbury'.
Emily [00:46:08] Really?
Annie [00:46:09] 'Because my phone's off, no one can contact me. It's just me in this world. Like that's when I feel- like recently, in recent times, that's the most free I've felt, like total freedom!'.
Emily [00:46:17] I love that.
Annie [00:46:18] 'Like, no one can get me here' *laughs*.
Emily [00:46:19] That's so good.
Annie [00:46:20] In a good way, like.
Emily [00:46:21] That's brilliant.
Annie [00:46:22] Yeah, it's good that, isn't it? Like providing that for people.
Emily [00:46:24] Yeah, that's what it should be. I feel like that is a really important part of it. And everybody should have to be able to experience that because now we have mobiles, it's just not the same. And obviously, you know, you do have the battery issues by Sunday. So that's why Sunday's a different mood, because you just get this like absolutely free flowing feeling of freedom and just running through everybody, there's this kind of like last hurrah atmosphere. I've got my phone, I've ditched- I've lost my friends, I've just- everyone's like I dunno, I found these guys, this is great. It's just a complete --- *laughs*. But erm, what was the question you asked?
Annie [00:46:59] So the question is like, the bits that would flash before your eyes?
Emily [00:47:01] I mean, probably mine would be, throughout all the different decades of my life-.
Annie [00:47:06] It's going to be quite the montage that.
Emily [00:47:07] It's going to be quite a montage to be honest. You know, I mean even things like Hothouse Flowers in 1993 *laughs*. Just think of like, me watching that as like an 11 year old or whatever, maybe it was 1991 actually, anyway, but I just remember just being like, 'oh, this is brill'. Like you know, watching Sinéad O'Co- you know all those kind of formative gigs that I watched when I was like a kid, through to watching Stormzy in 2019 being like, I could die tomorrow and be happy. Like, that was probably the greatest thing I've ever seen and like been a part of. Like okay, I was a tiny part in this and now I just- that's it, I don't know what- I can't- where do we go? You know what I mean? Like, that's it. So, yeah, there would be quite a lot of moments. And sometimes like moments actually- on Sunday night I quite often try to see my friends and go up to the hill for the sunrise, and those moments of just sitting on the hill watching the sunrise, those are the moments where you go, 'this is brilliant'. And that's what I need, is those moments to be reminded of because it's been so long since COVID. So this year I'm just going to sit on the hill and I'm just going to watch it and really take it in and just be- it'll charge me up, you know?
Annie [00:48:22] Yeah, yeah, yeah. You'll be proud. I hope you're able to be proud, are you?
Emily [00:48:26] Yeah, I do. No, the Sunday night I have a real like, just moment of reflection and just realisation. And you know, just feel very grateful to be a part of this kind of, insane thing. You couldn't make it could you, now?
Annie [00:48:41] You couldn't make up. It could not exist. It could not exist. No way. So, thank you for keeping it going.
Emily [00:48:48] Well, thanks for having me. Thank you so much for having me, it's brilliant!
Annie [00:48:52] This has been so fun, I want to go to Glastonbury now *laughs*.
Emily [00:48:54] Yeah. Oh my God, well it's not going to be long.
Annie [00:49:02] So excited for Glastonbury. It is happening this week. You can catch coverage across the BBC, if you're not going down, do watch it. It is some of the most amazing performances you'll ever see. Having DJ'd at Glastonbury for absolutely years, there's always a higher plane when it comes to the atmosphere there, the people there and the performances there. It's really, really worth watching. Right, next week, food critic and journalist Grace Dent will be joining me to talk about the huge changes in her life, going from her working class roots in Carlisle, to dining at some of the best restaurants in the world and being paid for her opinion. Thank you so much for listening to the podcast. Please spread this one far and wide to any music loving, Glastonbury loving people that you know and let me know what you thought. Follow and subscribe to Changes. Leave a rating where you can. It's always good to be heard by more people. Changes is produced by Louise Mason through DIN Productions and I'll see you next week.