INTERVIEW: Caitlin Elliott (Festival Director) – Heavy Scotland

The UK metal scene is graced with several killer metal festivals year in, year out. From Bloodstock Festival to Download Festival firing on all cylinders to underground heavy hitters such as Damnation Festival and UK Tech-Fest specialising in specific areas of the alternative scene, alternative music fans have a plethora of choices available here in the UK. 2017 will see newcomer Heavy Scotland enter the festival ring for the first time. Boasting an incredibly strong lineup of the best metal has to offer alongside focusing on the blossoming Scottish scene, Heavy Scotland aims to hold it’s own against the competition. We caught up with festival director, Caitlin Elliott, to talk about the festival; its ethos, origins and aims for the future, alongside discussing what fans can expect from the festival’s debut year.

Heavy Scotland is set for its debut come April next year. What can fans expect from the festival?

Caitlin: One massive metal party! A great big celebration of metal and the metal community. The festival weekend, as well as the lead up to the festival with the Heavy Scotland Metal Is Not Dead Battles, is going to be a lot of fun. We have so many incredible musicians either playing the battles or the festival, it is a very exciting time to be living in Scotland as a metalhead. So for what to expect- great music, of course, as well as the chance to meet some of your favourite bands, make new friends, party, discover new bands, just have a really great time whilst surrounded by a bunch of fellow metalheads and friends. We will also have a food court, signing sessions, meet and greets, a merchandise hall with a variety of stalls and one or two things I’ll keep as a surprise. The Scottish know how to have a good time so expect to have a really great weekend!

Can you describe what spurred you to create Heavy Scotland?

Caitlin: At the time when I was doing my Masters there wasn’t a festival like this in Scotland and I am huge fan of metal myself, so I wanted to create an awesome metal event which would be great fun for everyone whilst also hopefully helping grow the metal scene. Smaller bands need a platform to grow and I hope Heavy Scotland will be a step up for a lot of bands.

The festival’s prime message is that it is situated in Scotland, which previously hasn’t really held many metal festivals. Why do you think, that up to this point, Scotland hasn’t had many metal festivals?

Caitlin: I asked myself that same question when I wrote my business plan. I still don’t have an answer as there is a great metal scene here. It could be that people are so used to travelling elsewhere for festivals, no one wanted to take the risk of running a festival here. It is no secret that festivals take a few years to make a profit so one needs to be very dedicated to the festival in order to push through several challenging years. I am grateful to do what I love and hopefully add to the metal scene here so I am going for it with all the love and energy I have.

For your debut year, you’ve already billed quite an impressive lineup that features the likes of BEHEMOTH, ARCH ENEMY, HAVOK and so on. What difficulties did you face when looking at creating the festival lineup?

Caitlin: Thank you. We still have seven more bands to announce which really strengthen the line up and the balance between lesser known and more established bands. I think with any new business it takes an incredible amount of hard work to get going and I admire all festival organisers who are now running successful festivals with mind blowing line ups. It was important that each band was a solid live band, as I want our guests to feel that gut-wrenching burst of energy that you get when you watch your favourite band killing it on stage. It was a challenge to book 18 bands which blended well, who were available on those dates and who I knew would knock the guests off their feet- all within the budget. The line up had to justify the price of the weekend, and hopefully when people are there, all the extra entertainment and surprises that we have in store will feel like an added bonus. All of the bands on the bill really deliver when they are on stage and I hope that the Heavy Scotland crowd leave the festival thinking, ‘fuck, that was awesome’.

One of your biggest pillars with the festival is the focus on highlighting the local talent of the Scottish metal scene. How important is the local scene to the success of the festival?

Caitlin: I think it is very important for local metalheads to support the festival in order for it to grow, so that we can bring even bigger bands year after year and so that we can eventually have a full stage dedicated to unsigned bands. I hope all the young bands in Scotland will be able to use the platform to start getting to the next level. There will be a lot of industry people at the festival and I know from personal experience that meeting people at these types of events can really help your path in the metal scene.

What bands in particular are you most looking forward to seeing at Heavy Scotland?

Caitlin: All of them! It is an honour to welcome each of these bands to the Corn Exchange and no doubt they will all deliver pit inducing shows and blow the audience away.

With the fact that the UK already has many festivals for fans to choose from, are you feeling any pressure that Heavy Scotland can hold its own against the competition?

Caitlin: Haha I sense you wanted to ask me something else there. I do not think of other festivals as competition as I value and appreciate all metal festivals for what they bring to the metal community. I try and go to as many festivals as possible, both in Scotland and around the world, to support the scene an celebrate our amazing community. I wouldn’t be putting everything in to this festival if I didn’t think it was going to be a great event for metalheads and bands alike. Metal is full of great people who support the scene they love and care about, and I am sure that everyone will have a great weekend, and hopefully come back for volume II in 2018. I am humbled by the amount of support we have received so far and I am grateful to everyone who has bought their tickets and to all of those who are flying in from around the globe, I didn’t expect that! To sum up, with any event and new business there is pressure but I believe the public will appreciate this new addition to the metal scene and support it so that each year they can come back and celebrate metal whilst having a ton of fun.

With many festivals across Europe looking at having a more varied lineup in order to draw more fans, what is it about Heavy Scotland that makes it stand out from the crowd?

Caitlin: I don’t think I can compare Heavy Scotland to more established festivals. We have fantastic headliners, BEHEMOTH destroyed the Bloodstock crowd as direct support last year, and people want to see them as their shows, and music, is insane. It penetrates your soul and then explodes out of you with full force. Every time I see them I feel as if I just been given the ultimate gift. ARCH ENEMY are so tight, Michael and Jeff‘s guitar mastery is brilliant, guitar heaven and Alissa kills it on stage, her vocals are sick and there is something very powerful about watching her. The last time I saw them, at Summerbreeze, they had over 35,000 people going absolutely insane. There is a feeling you can not describe about watching these types of bands live which makes every sacrifice you made to get to their gig a million time worth it. Having two of metal’s titans must be a big factor in attracting guests to the festival. Combining this with years of preparation and a real passion for the metal scene and I hope that is what attracts people to the event.

Besides the impressive lineup, what else can fans expect to experience at Heavy Scotland?

Caitlin: The warm up and after parties, which we have yet to announce. We have been planning them for a while now and they are going to be a lot of fun. A real sense of camaraderie between metalheads from several countries who are here to enjoy the atmosphere, relax, have fun and make some great memories.

And finally, we’ll offer you the floor, do you have anything to say to the readers of Distorted Sound Magazine?

Caitlin: A massive thank you to everyone who has supported the festival so far. And if you want some more metal, come along to our Heavy Scotland Metal Is Not Dead Battle of the Bands on 28 Jan, 11 Feb and 25th Feb. Each night is followed by the Keep It Steel Metal Party and the winning band will open Heavy Scotland. We are proud to support the metal scene and look forward to welcoming all our guests in April, and as I said, the Scottish know how to have a good time so it will be a very memorable weekend! If you are thinking of coming along, purchase your tickets before Christmas to save, the more you buy, the more you save. Everyone who has bought their tickets before Christmas will be entered in to a competition to win a giant metal bundle of goodies. Come and enjoy our amazing, beautiful city and party with 2,500 other metalheads. Some of our bands are releasing new albums early next year, some of the bands are only doing a handful of shows in 2017, and all of our bands deliver insane live shows, so don’t miss out. And I will see you in the pit because I want to go nuts too!

Heavy Scotland Current Lineup

The festival takes place on April 1st and 2nd 2017 at The Corn Exchange, Edinburgh, Scotland. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased here.

For more information on Heavy Scotland like their official page on Facebook.