Right before the Groundswell Festival takes off next weekend, we met the co-founder of SW France’s first surf and music festival for a little chat
Interview by Sam Del-Greco
I used to run a surf school in Jersey, and so I had every winter off to travel and surf. In 2002 I was staying with some good friends in Newcastle, Australia. Nic & I went to school together in Jersey, and her husband Luke is a pro FMX rider. One night we went to one of his shows, and I just remember thinking “This is awesome !! Let’s make this happen at home!”. It pretty much started that summer when I got back to Jersey. Over the next few years I ran 3 Extreme Weekends with surf/skate/bmx and fmx shows and after parties.
My husband Jeff worked with me to produce the last Extreme Weekend in 2007 and we had over 10,000 people come each day. We realised then that if we wanted to continue running events, we’d need to do it full time. In 2008 we ran our first music festival Grassroots in Jersey with Xavier Rudd headlining. Grassroots is now in its 4th year and this is Groundswell’s first year !
I really love events that have had some thought put into them and work in harmony with the environment and local community. It’s easy to put on a show, but making your event stand out and have a positive impact is what is important. Festivals have the opportunity to inspire people to make a change in the world.
The inspiration for Grassroots came from the Kokua Festival in Hawaii. It is run by Jack Johnson’s Kokua Foundation, and really embraces environmental education. I love Snowbombing too, the concept to bring together boardsports and music works so well. I think people want more from their festival experience these days.
We’ve been running Grassroots in Jersey for 4 years now, and last year we won a Greener Festival Award. We’re able to take a lot of our greening initiatives from Grassroots and implement them into Groundswell.One of the most important factors for us is to ensure we use the festival as a platform to inspire people to take steps to a greener future. That’s why we have an Eco village on site. We’re working alongside Surfrider Foundation, Surf Aid, Eurosima and the Conseil General of the Landes Region to promote the work they are doing.
We’re using EcoCups at the festival this year to reduce waste. It’s a really simple concept whereby you purchase your cup at the beginning of the day and take it back to the bar each time you go. Like I said, simple but very effective. We recycle our PA Scrims (the branding that surrounds the stage) and all our banners every year and make them into bags. Each bag is completely unique, perfect size for throwing all your beach stuff in, and helping the environment by reducing the use of plastic bags.
Behind the scenes we work really hard to ensure the festival is as green as possible. We work on our festivals year round, so we’re constantly looking at ways to reduce the environmental impact of the events. From eco-contracts for traders onsite, to sourcing local food for crew catering, we try to ‘green’ every element of what we do.
When I was 18 I had a VW 1970 Camper…. I LOVED it and had a heap of amazing surf adventures with friends in it. Road trips are definitely the way forward!
I’ve been coming to Hossegor since I was 14. It holds a very special place in my heart, and I think, like almost every other surfer in Europe, it has the perfect combination of epic waves, beautiful beaches, lush forests, super fun nightlife and amazing culture. Jeff & I have lived here on and off for the past 5 years. You just can’t beat it. We’ve actually been working on the Groundswell concept for about 3 years, knowing that Hossegor was the perfect spot for it. September in Hossegor has really become a rite of passage for so many surfers, and we just felt like it was the perfect place for a music festival. We want people to make Groundswell part of their road trip….. come down, stay a week or two, surf the best beachies in the world and go to a world class music festival!! On show day, I’ll be cycling to the festival!
We want to run Groundswell in Hossegor for 2 years before adding another festival. That gives us the time to develop the brand and concept. In terms of next location…. wherever there are world class waves… Watch this space!
I’ve been surfing since I was 15. I ran a surf school for 6 years in Jersey and so managed to sneak away every winter and find warm waves. Now I’ve got the best of both worlds, I get to surf perfect French beachies from Spring till end of Autumn, and then we try to work from Aus for a few weeks in Jan/Feb.
As a kid I was a tomboy so I was into climbing trees, riding my bike and hanging at the beach. Pretty much anything that involved adventure and being outdoors. I was really lucky to live super close to the beach, so as soon as I started surfing, most of my days were spent there.
It’s interesting how trends change, and the issues that were around when I was growing up are still hugely important but seem to have faded from the limelight. I remember being really passionate about saving the rainforests, and learning a lot about endangered species. In Jersey we have an amazing zoo set up by conservationist Gerald Durrell … it’s not really a normal zoo as all the animals are endangered and they run a conservation centre on site. It really opened my eyes to environmental issues and learning to protect our planet.
I’m most concerned about peoples attitude towards the planet. There needs to be a shift in the way people think and act. It’s not about scare tactics, it’s about being responsible for our actions and everyone taking small steps to sustainable living. I think some people see global warming as too big an issue for them, they see it as something that they can’t possibly have an impact on. But if we all become more aware of our environment, and our actions, together we can make a change.
At home we recycle as much as we can, we buy local and seasonal produce, and we try to do the little things that count (turning down the heating/not leaving anything on standby/showers instead of baths etc). Its amazing how quickly these things just become routine. We created a beach clean campaign in Jersey that runs alongside the festival, so you’ll always find me picking up rubbish at the beach and taking it home to throw away.
I think the UK festival market is pretty saturated. We’re lucky that in Jersey we are one of 2 festivals, and both festivals are very different to each other. Grassroots is very boutique and eco, with a line up that suits the surf lifestyle (blues/roots/reggae/acoustic/dub). I think that there has been a gap in the market for a surf/eco/music event in Hossegor for a while now, and I’m really stoked that we have the opportunity to fill it!
Groundswell, the summer surf sound experience, is on 17 September in Angresse, SW France.Buy tickets from 45 euros at groundswell-festival.com