As one half of Playgroup, Declan Cassidy is putting his heart and soul into the city’s club nights The first Playgroup Festival this summer was huge success.
Were you pleased with it?
It surpassed all of our expectations. We kind of had an idea of what it was going to be like – we wanted it to be somewhere between Secret Garden Party and Bestival but very Brighton-orientated and to involve the arts and performers. Like every festival it’s down to the people who are there and the people who were there were…Brighton people. And Brighton people know how to have a good time.
The way you promoted it seemed brave after Beachdown. Was the secrecy a worry?
Whenever you do a festival in Brighton now you’re always going to be compared to the massive disaster that was Beachdown and I think a lot of people were still scared. We decide to keep it secret line-up, secret location, which if you’ve got faith in us is amazing. But if you don’t really know us, or you’ve been to a few shows and you’re not prepared to put down your 60 quid then a lot of people were scared because of Beachdown. But the 800 people that were there will all come back, and invite another ten people. But we don’t want to get too big and lose the soul and spirit of the festival.
Why did you move your home to the Komedia?
We’ve moved the Playgroup concept to the Komedia mainly because of the different spaces it gives us and the freedom to not only have a thousand people there, which means we can get bigger artists and bigger acts, but also because the Komedia is great to work with.
What’s special about your third Hallowe’en spectacular?
Well, we’ve broken the bank booking DJ Yoda. He’s has obviously played in Brighton countless times but it’s always just been him on his own. And that’s fine. As much as there are great promoters in this town invariably people end up getting very lazy and are happy with just putting on DJ Yoda. And it will be a great show, but if you incorporate him into a full-on wild, three-floor, thousand person party – with 250 performers and acts, stilt walkers, face painters, walkabout characters, 25 piece live carnival bands – then you’ve really got something special.
Taking over the music at Hector’s House – what have you got planned?
We’re going to try to bring in some cohesiveness. We’re working closely with a charity called Bottletop for the Friday nights and we’ve got some quite cool headliners kicking it off. DJ Format opens the first one on the 15th, then JFB and Hint. High Rankin is going to do one, Mr Thing. There’s a bit of a novelty of seeing that kind of calibre or DJ at Hector’s House.
Your bookings are so diverse – is there something that makes it a Playgroup event?
This month we’ve got nights ranging from Little Dragon to Arrested Development and in between a brand new electro swing night, White Mink. Then there’s a new student night at Hector’s, which is very different to Our Broken Garden, a beautiful Scandinavian band we’ve got on in November. But what makes a Playgroup event? I think diversity, a sense of fun, leaving your pretentions at the door. We really put our heart and soul into every show. I think it shows. We really try to make an effort with the décor, and the bands we pick. Above all of that it’s the people we involve – there’s only two of us that run the company but the Playgroup crew is much wider than that.
Do you ever have to put people on the naughty step at your Playgroup?
That’s a good idea – we might have a naughty step at the next event. Dub Pistols started smoking onstage, which wasn’t cool, but everybody at Playgroup is lovely and behave themselves really well. Apart from perhaps the promoters who can get a little wild now and again.
BIG EVENT: Halloween Spectacular at Komedia, Fri 29th
GET INVOLVED: email@example.com