Strawberries & Creem: the UK’s youngest team leading the way for independent festivals
2016 was a year of change. Even away from the world of politics and blonde wigs, rules are tighter, restrictions are heavier and fun is harder to find. Music in the UK has always been a way to fight back against the establishment - and it’s always among the first industries to come under attack.
One of the biggest moments of 2016 was the closure (and subsequent reopening) of iconic London nightclub Fabric. Youth culture and music were publicly attacked in a high-profile dispute that - whilst on the surface was about drug use - seemed motivated by far more cynical and financial reasons for a cash-strapped council.
The struggle between music and money doesn’t stop there. UK festivals are increasingly going the same way as record labels - corporate influence and big money dictating the way things look and sound. Over the last few years, independent festivals have been fighting corporate power and losing.
Despite this, the UK is still putting up a good fight. Grime is a proudly independent music genre that has risen from the streets of London over the past few years and is now at forefront of the UK music scene - representing British youth culture on a global stage, leaving the labels to catch up.
That is why we, a small independent music festival in - of all places - Cambridge have always made grime a big part of our plans. Strawberries & Creem Festival played host to genre-defining artist Skepta’s first UK festival performance in 2015, just months after his UK top 40 single ‘Shutdown’ swept the nation. Since then, he’s gone on to win a number of awards including the 2016 Mercury Prize and is nominated for this year’s Brits.
Where better to fight for musical independence and diversity than Cambridge? Traditional, quaint, predominantly middle class; an academic headquarters providing the next generation of bankers and thinkers. Against this refined backdrop, Strawberries & Creem Festival are pushing the sounds of the UK’s cities and streets - and having phenomenal success with it.
Proudly independent in food as well as music, we have grown incredibly quickly since we started in 2014 - doubling in size every year, culminating in last June’s 5,000 capacity sell-out, and hosting some of the most respected and exciting names in music (Kano, Skepta, Nelly, Sir David Rodigan, Grandmaster Flash). For 2017, we’re scaling to 10,000 and plan to keep growing and fighting the corner for independent music.
With an average age of 22, Strawberries & Creem are the youngest music festival team in the country. The team represents a diverse cross section of backgrounds and has only two full-time members of staff - Louise Young, 24 and Chris Nnochiri, 23. The rest are either juggling full-time jobs or at university.
Our desire to prove that young, independent festivals can thrive in this tricky, competitive climate - without the help of corporate investment and within a city which is renowned more for its academia than its music - is part of what drives us.
We’ve been described as ‘a mainstay of the underground festival circuit’ - and that’s exactly what we aspire to create. Just as grime has stubbornly paved the way for successfully-independent UK music, Strawberries & Creem are flying the flag for independent festivals - and, most importantly, young people across the country.
Strawberries & Creem 2017 takes place on Saturday 17th June at Haggis Farm in Cambridgeshire. Acts announced so far announced are AJ Tracey and Mike Skinner. Full line up announced Spring 2017.
For press enquiries please contact Tessa Harrison at Forever PR on Tessa.firstname.lastname@example.org / 01223 666929