How equal is Roadburn? 10 questions to Becky Laverty

Organisers Becky Laverty and Walter Hoeijmakers.

Why are you organising Roadburn every year?

– Roadburn has a twenty year tradition of presenting the most forward thinking, innovative and exciting bands out there; there is always something new coming up and new ways of appreciating what has gone before – which means that every year we have a new way of celebrating the music that’s out there.

What drives you as an organiser?

– Providing a platform for new bands or as-yet undiscovered bands and presenting them to open-minded audiences who are eager to experience something new. I have only been involved with Roadburn for five years, but Walter has dedicated two decades to always pushing the boundaries of what a heavy music festival can be.

What feeling do you want the visitors to bring home with them when the festival is over?

– One of joy and one of having discovered and experienced something special – and perhaps even transformative. A lot of people tell us that being at Roadburn feels like coming come, so we hope that when they leave they are already anticipating their return the following year.

In what way is Roadburn different from other festivals?

– We have so many additional things that make the line up and the festival as a whole something special. We have a curator each year that puts together a part of the line up, leaving their own personal mark on each edition. We have an artist in residence, which is a band or artist that performs multiple times across the weekend with sets that showcase different facets of their creativity. We have a different poster artist each year who is also honoured with an art exhibition of their work. We have other art exhibitions too – visual art is so closely linked to music that both deserve to be celebrated alongside each other. We also have a side programme of talks, Q&As, panel discussions etc. But the over-arching umbrella that all of these elements come under is that we strive to create an atmosphere where creativity is celebrated and everybody feels equal; everybody that performs, attends, and contributes to Roadburn also contributes to the community feel, and I think that’s a significant part of what makes Roadburn a bit different to other festivals.

Roadbrun feminism

How do you appreciate the distribution between men and women in the audience at this years festival?

– We have a good split of men and women at Roadburn. I think there are probably slightly more men than women, but the divide is not as obvious as it once was, or as it sometimes still is at other festivals and shows. Roadburn is inclusive to all genders – on and off stage.

Your most recent listen song and album?

– I’ve been listening to the new Cave In album which I bought at Roadburn! The first track from that – All Illusion – is on Spotify now. And I also put it on last week’s Roadburn: Essential Sound playlist – which is a playlist that we put together every Friday with the tracks that we’re listening to at the moment. Please do subscribe! https://open.spotify.com/user/roadburn-festival/playlist/56jVMfxcgimVpN0MUSpBhp?si=cSQDsHfXRZyzydjGUwpBJA

What is the most common word you use?

– Amazing!

In your opinion – how equal is the rock and metal scene today?

– Not equal enough. Great strides have been made to make it more so, but when there are still people discriminated against because of the colour of their skin, or because of their gender, or who they love, we are not equal. That goes for the wider world too, and of course it trickles down to smaller communities like the rock and metal scenes.

What do you do to improve the situation?

– Inequality is so pervasive and takes on so many forms it’s hard to know where to start – to answer your question or to improve the situation. I don’t have the answers on a global or international scale. I do know that we can each learn to be a little bit more accommodating and generous with the way we interact with people, especially when it comes to listening to people who have had experiences different to our own.

What do you think it takes to achieve a more equal scene for both musicians and the whole community?

– An increase in tolerance and a celebration of our differences.