Disclosure played a risky game last year when they decided to start a brand new festival. Wild Life - their co-venture with drum ‘n bass phenomenon Rudimental - saw Guy and Howard Lawrence taking over Brighton City Airport for a weekend in June. Far from suffering under the weight of first year nerves, it was a blinding success. The clever sods even used it as an opportunity to debut new album ‘Caracal’.
Technically, Disclosure and Rudimental are only in charge of picking the acts (“that’s what we’re most qualified to do,” says Howard). That’s assuming disaster doesn’t strike. “Unless something drastic happens and we need to step in, we stick to the line-up.”
2015 saw everything go to plan. Seaside sun was a permanent fixture, with George Ezra, Jamie xx and Skepta all getting involved in the first year celebrations. “This year, the line-up’s equally strong,” he claims. “Genuinely, we just went through our iTunes and gave a big list of the ideal acts. And the bookers smashed it - they got pretty much everyone.”
These aren’t just a bunch of Disclosure’s favourite acts. Half of them are close friends - expect the duo’s after-hours fun to go a few steps further. “We’ll be out in the crowd, potentially in disguises and without being recognised,” he says, shunning the Michael Eavis routine of driving through festivals on a giant tractor. “I mean, we could get some horses and parade through the airport like kings. We had this plane last year, which we squeezed onto with Rudimental and a camera crew. It was potentially dangerous. Rudimental suggested we just stayed in the plane and circled round, but I was like, ‘I wanna be at the festival and having fun!’”
Outside of Wild Life, the duo are stepping up to co-headline Reading & Leeds with Foals. As young punters, pre-fame they would soak up these festivals (plus Bestival and The Big Chill) and attend every year. Today, they use them as a blueprint for their own. “Our favourite festivals - just ones that we’ve been to - had an impact. We’re trying to have something in common with those. There’s a friendly vibe. We just wanna replicate that.”
“I wanna be at the festival and having fun!”
— Howard Lawrence
Naturally, Disclosure are topping the Wild Life bill for a second year too. They’ve a few surprises “in the pipeline”, but don’t expect some grand new album unveiling in the style of 2015. “It won’t be a normal show for us,” he claims. They’re joined by Bastille, Aussie producer Flume, gadget-head warbler Jack Garratt, man-stuck-in-a-hat James Bay and exciting new acts GoldLink, Jorja Smith and Snakehips. Last year’s debut wasn’t a one-off, and these two are clearly expecting the event to continue for decades. “We’re gonna slowly expand, but we still want it to feel cosy, so you don’t get that vibe of feeling like it’s empty even when it’s sold out. That’s the plan.”
Wild Life isn’t the only festival Disclosure headline this year, and they’re convinced there’s a new wave of bill-toppers pushing through.
“Bookers should always take risks, but that doesn’t always mean shunning old-school acts. There’s always space for them because they’ve got brilliant music and people wanna see it. But new headliners are coming through. Look at Sam Smith - he’s only had music out for two years and he’s headlining festivals everywhere. I can’t imagine Sam playing a festival and not headlining anymore, which is crazy. Three years ago he was still working in a bar. It’s probably to do with how the Internet accelerates the rate people become huge.”
Photos: Mike Massaro, Sarah Louise Bennett