I caught up with Arcadia who in September 2015, will be unleashing their metallic arachnid creation in Bristol for a huge Arcadia party.
When did your obsession with industrial materials start?
We’ve always been very focused on creative recycling, especially of military equipment which had originally been purposed for a very specific use. A key inspiration was the idea of transforming not only the form and function of the materials we work with, but what they represent. Reshaping military machinery into celebratory structures designed for people to dance around felt like a really important foundation to what we do.
Have you always been into electronic music too?
Electronic music and dance culture have always been important to us, although when we debuted our very first sculpture for Glastonbury, the music wasn’t a core element yet. Right up until Eat Static came up to us and asked us if they could play, and the next thing we knew, a cable had been dug to a neighbouring sound system and the spark was lit. Music has played a vital role in the immersive experiences we seek to create ever since.
Was your intention always to bring the Arcadia spider to Glastonbury? Were you commissioned to do it?
Glastonbury’s support has been integral to Arcadia’s development. We originally built our first structure, the Afterburner for Glastonbury in 2008 and from then, with our ideas and their support, we grew from there. The Spider actually began life as an evolution of the Afterburner once we found the Customs and Excise scanning units that would be the ‘legs’ and from then we refined them both into separate sculptures.
Are the recycled materials used supposed to replica the way in which electronic artist recycle and transform music?
It’s a very interesting echo – but we were far more motivated to try and be conscious as an organisation of just what can be done with what the world discards – especially those objects that we felt had a real symbolic strength by their repurposing. We also love the process in which something that you would never imagine as an eye, an arm or a leg can be made to work perfectly with a bit of lateral thinking – it keeps the creative momentum lively and interesting.
Do you get any say in the artists that get booked for Arcadia?
We book all artists ourselves – we take immense care and pride in our lineups and how they individually shape the feel of the full Arcadia experience.
Do you find it hard to keep your mouth shut when you know who the ‘secret’ guests are?
Only when people really want to know and keep messaging us – but it’s generally for a behind the scenes reason beyond manufactured hype.
Who’s playing Arcadia this year or are you not allowed to say?
We released our Glastonbury lineup a few days ago – we feel it’s got great diversity, some incredible artists and we’re really looking forward to it – people like Adam Beyer, Spor, Pan-Pot, Maceo Plex, Skream, Booka Shade, DC Breaks, Annie Mac, Groove Armada, Swamp 81, The Bug, Congo Natty.
The Bristol lineup is still in progress and should be out after Glastonbury.
Tell us more about Arcadiacoming to Bristol. ‘Metamorphosis’ sounds pretty epic!
We’re really proud and very honoured to be performing in our home town and to be a part of Bristol’s year as Green Capital. Bristol has played a seminal role in our development alongside Glastonbury and we’ve had incredible support from across the community and the council. The event is in Queen Square, a historic Georgian landmark in the centre of town and we’re hoping to make it a celebration both of the city and of ideas around waste, recycling and how they can be powerful sources of celebration and unity as well as conscious thinking. We’re really looking forward to seeing Arcadia come alive within such a new and yet such a familiar context. Metamorphosis is also the name of our new performance show this year.
Do you make anything else apart from giant spiders?
Oh absolutely, we have everything from 6 wheeled amphibious bugs with wings that open to reveal a fully rigged stage and DJ booth, to the 360 degree Afterburner stage.
What are your plans once Glastonbury / Metamorphosis are over?
We plan to continue doing more overseas shows, evolving what we do and exploring new ideas and new horizons.
Words: Katie Wilkinson