gigmit: Which INES#talents have played at FOCUS Wales in 2019?

Andy Jones: The Magnettes from Sweden and :Papercutz from Portugal. It was great for us! It was really exciting to see these bands that have been put forward by promoters in their own countries who presented them essentially through INES saying ’these are the most exciting bands from our area’. It brought something new to the table and it is definitely a success of our festival this year.

Did you receive feedback from the artists you’ve booked? What about the Welsh artists you selected for the INES#talent pool?

Generally, the artists are very happy with the opportunities. FOCUS Wales 2019 was a success! The shows were certainly well received. They all had great audiences and all played great showcases.
Looking at 2020, I know a lot of Welsh artists in particular are really excited with the opportunity to take their music to new festivals across Europe. So it’s something we’re really excited about. It will also be very interesting to see which festivals do invite the artists.

How is the selection of INES#talents working? Can you explain the process?

The process for booking the bands is an ongoing one. We have a few combinations of routes: we have over 4.500 applications coming to the festival, so you know, it’s a bit of a complex process. It is something that I personally oversee and ensure that all the applications are given a thorough check over to be sure we don’t miss anything. It’s really important to us that we make sure we take the very very best artists through. Our applications are open until the 1st of December so it’s still the very early stages, but we’re encouraging people to put their application in as soon as they can.

FOCUS Wales 2019 | Credit : Tim Rooney

FOCUS Wales is an associate member of INES. What is the biggest benefit of the programme?

As we’ve developed our festival we’ve placed a big importance in internationalising the event. It’s something that our artists really enjoy. International artists enjoy the opportunity to play to a new audience in the UK and it’s something that we can never supplicate. So we look at artists exchanges, such as our partnerships with other festivals, and clearly this is what INES offers to our artists: something we’re really on board with and hopefully something we can increase year on year.

What difference has INES made in the organisation of the festival?

In terms of increasing our visibility across the European music community, I definitely think INES has helped giving some attention to our festival in countries that, perhaps their music scene has not become aware of FOCUS Wales yet, so we have definitely seen a benefit in that respect. Hopefully the more INES#talents that we book, the word starts to spread year on year and then the sort of reciprocation of sending artists from Wales to other countries will increase as the festival grows.

Can you speak about the collaboration between the 19 INES festival organisers?

Being part of INES has given me the opportunity to meet lots of people doing similar work as what we do at FOCUS Wales in lots of interesting countries, lots of interesting music communities that we’ve not been able to engage with yet as a festival. We learn things from each other! It’s very interesting to learn what the guys are doing with Monkey Week in Seville and what Peter is doing here in Örebro at Live at Heart. We see we have similar challenges, trying to find some help with space for the music communities in the wider European landscape.
Definitely in some cases I’m seeing things they’re doing here in Live at Heart that are great ideas and that we might incorporate into what we’re doing and vice versa. I think the collaboration helps us all to grow a bit and this coming together is a very healthy thing for new music.
We’re all going to Eurosonic and SXSW and Reeperbahn, recognising new ideas and new concepts that have worked in the conferences for instance and new ways of showcasing the artists. It’s quite a unique opportunity that INES provides in bringing this particular collection of festivals together. From my side, we’re really excited that Wales is a voice among this music community now.

FOCUS Wales Conference | Credit: Filmcafe

What is the objective of the conference panels taking place at FOCUS Wales?

The conference at FOCUS Wales is something that my colleague Neal Thompson oversees and delivers, however, there’s a natural crossover between our two roles as co-founders.
At the heart of our conference, the whole reason we do it is from this desire of creating something really practical and useful for new music makers and the music scene in general in Wales. While we go to some more established events you can experience quite niche conversations and panels that are targeted at niche audiences. We understand in our conference at FOCUS Wales should be very practical and useful for the emerging music community. We want to put together a gathering of agents, we want to do a ‘meet the festivals’. It gives us the opportunity to say ‘great, we’re gonna invite six labels, six festivals and put them all on a platform to ask them the tough questions’, so that the audience, and largely the musicians, learn stuff that they can apply to their music right now.
I don’t care so much about hearing about the 1980s or 1990s really. I’m looking at what can artists apply to their project right now that is going to make a difference. That’s the aim with the conference. Generally we’re getting good feedback from it and we’re always looking for new feedbacks and ideas.

What do you want to say to the future applicants of FOCUS Wales?

I encourage people to apply to showcase at FOCUS Wales! All the information is at for people to check it out and oversee and understand what type of event we are before they apply. We are not a genre specific event and we’re open to all types of artists, so long as they make a solid case for why it makes sense for their creative path to come to the UK right now.

Apply now for FOCUS Wales 2020

Applications are open until December 1st 2019
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