Fancy a few snappy Q&As with some of the big movers and shakers at Bluedot 2023? Of course you do. Step up Creep Show’s John Grant, Stephen Mallinder and Benge, Radiophonic Workshop’s Peter Howell, Johnny Lynch aka The Pictish Trail, David Maclean of Django Django, Ian Parton of The Go! Team, former Lush singer Miki Berenyi and Bluedot festival director Ben Robinson

Who/what excites you most about this year’s Bluedot?

Ben Robinson: “The space carnival parade on Saturday afternoon – it’ll be where the whole audience comes together in costume and high spirits. We’re running a drop-in costume-making arena called Craft Punkz so everyone can dress up and get involved.”

Johnny Lynch: “I’ve never been to Bluedot or Jodrell Bank before, so I’m looking forward to seeing the whole site. The best festivals are ones that reinvent a space, or make you feel like you’re not just in a car park surrounded by burger vans and chemical toilets.”

Stephen Mallinder: “David Holmes. And I just want to stare at the Lovell Telescope.”

John Grant: “Róisín Murphy. But since we’re playing at the same time and will miss her, I’ll prolly just walk about and look at hot dudes. Hope there’s some excellent Mexican food available.”

David Maclean: “Looking forward to seeing Leftfield. I’ve been a huge fan since their first album and they’ve been so influential. Their new LP is great, too.”

Peter Howell: “Max Richter. For his music and the special way he presents it.”

Ian Parton: “I’d like to do a guitar solo inside the satellite dish, but unfortunately I can’t do guitar solos.”

Miki Berenyi: “I’m only there on Saturday, so I’ll be meandering about and stopping to see whatever catches my attention. A bit like your granny looking around a bric-a-brac market.”

Electronic music and science are made for each other. Discuss.

David Maclean: “I love all the old Radiophonic Workshop and Raymond Scott stuff. The 1950s was the decade when the future seemed so exciting. Science fiction was becoming actual science and electronic music was a big part of that – and still is.”

Ian Parton: “Yep, Johnny Ball is the godfather of math rock.”

Peter Howell: “Science is the mother of a lot of inventions, one of them being electronic music. Making something artistic out of something technological gives you a real buzz.”

John Grant: “Science brought about the vocoder which is the most important invention of all time.”

Benge: “All music and sound can be broken down into scientific sine waves, ergo, music is science, and vice versa.”

Johnny Lynch: “I reckon if Albert Einstein was alive today, he’d be in a synthpop act. Albert’s neat ’tache has ‘synthpop’ written all over it.”

Ben Robinson: “The spirit of exploration through the use and advancement of technology feels at the heart of great electronic music.”

Imagine you’re in outer space, marvelling at the wonder of the galaxy, plugged into music. What’s on your playlist?

Ben Robinson: “Great question. This is actually how we built the musical curation of the festival! For me, it would be Mandy, Indiana – their punchy, industrial sounds would rattle a spacecraft and add some life to the quiet of space.”

Miki Berenyi: “Cocteau Twins seems apt. But I imagine any audio would be drowned out by me repeatedly bellowing ‘OMFG’ expletives at the mind-blowing experience.”

Peter Howell: “Vangelis, Loneward for the drifty stuff, Isao Tomita and some generative sequencing just inventing itself as it goes along.”

Stephen Mallinder: “Everything from Tim Hecker to George Clinton, Drexciya to Erykah Badu, with the narration by William Shatner and Björk.”

Ian Parton: “I’d like Alice Coltrane with her floaty harp. Interstellar.”

John Grant: “Isao Tomita, Vangelis, Ennio Morricone, DAF, Ministry, Cocteau Twins, Gina X Performance, Devo, Missing Persons, New Order.”

Benge: “I’ll choose the soundtrack to ‘Cosmos’.”

Johnny Lynch: “The new Django Django album, ‘Off Planet’. Truly cosmic. I’d probably have a load of Adam Buxton podcasts lined up too.”

David Maclean: “Jimmy Cauty’s ‘Space’ album. The Orb’s ‘UFOrb’. And let’s throw in Holst’s ‘The Planets’ and the ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ film score for good measure

What’s on your festival rider?

Johnny Lynch: “Oh, I’m not picky. Always nice to have a cold beer before and after the show, but even just a cup of tea is good.”

Ben Robinson: “A framed picture of Mae Jemison and some Space Raiders crisps.”

Stephen Mallinder: “My rider always seems to comprise of whatever comes in packs of six – six beers, six Penguin biscuits, six actual penguins…”

John Grant: “High-quality yogurt which I can’t eat because it clogs up your throat strings. Sparkled water. Apples.”

Ian Parton: “We insist on a SodaStream machine… ‘get busy with the fizzy’.”

Are festivals an opportunity to meet other artists and develop collaborations?

Stephen Mallinder: “Avoid people at all costs.”

Benge: “The best place for festival collaborations is usually in the rave tent at 4am. Meet you there!”

Johnny Lynch: “I’d rather see a band play than awkwardly chat to them backstage. My favourite thing about festivals is being able to disappear into the crowd, and enjoy the music along with everyone else.”

Miki Berenyi: “Not in my experience, but then I’m not very good at small talk with strangers, so I probably give off the wrong vibes. I’m looking forward to seeing some old friends though.”

Peter Howell: “Yes, of course. At Bluedot 2018, I teamed up with the artist Marcus Lyall for his awesome ‘Megastructure’ projection.”

The Radiophonic Workshop are celebrating the 60th anniversary of ‘Doctor Who’ at this year’s Bluedot. Who’s your favourite Doctor?

Miki Berenyi: “Jon Pertwee was the Doctor when I was little, and I still think of Tom Baker as the whippersnapper replacement. My kids loved Matt Smith the most, but I had a soft spot for Christopher Eccleston. They’re all great, though.”

Stephen Mallinder: “Tom Baker – he really was ‘Doctor Who’.

Ian Parton: “K9.”

Benge: “Ken Campbell – although sadly, he didn’t get past the audition stage.”

John Grant: “I’ve never seen a single episode, but I have several Radiophonic Workshop records, which I worship.”

Peter Howell: “It has to be Tom Baker, because it was during his time that we remade the title music and started to write incidentals.”

Johnny Lynch: “I’ve never watched ‘Doctor Who’, but I’d have loved Peter Capaldi’s Doctor to have actually been Malcolm Tucker. Full of swearing. ‘Fucking exterminate, is it? You’re about as much use as an over-sized butt plug with a detachable toilet plunger’, or something like that. I would definitely have tuned in.”

Best festival story?

Ian Parton: “We once saw both The Proclaimers brothers, perfectly framed, looking out of a Portakabin window backstage. Quite an image.”

Johnny Lynch: “Out of my tree at a festival, very late at night, being kept on my feet by my girlfriend. She suddenly says, ‘Oh look, there’s your friend Tom. Say hello to Tom’. I can’t see who she’s talking about, but I start bellowing ‘HELLOOOOO TOM’ repeatedly at high volume. A man in a bowler hat swivels around and gives me a very dirty look. It was Thom Yorke, ladies and gentlemen. Sorry, Thom. I’m still haunted by that memory.”

Stephen Mallinder: “I was playing a festival in Australia with James Lavelle – DJing, if I recall. Very parched earth, the whole place completely filled with smoke. Later, I found out it was caused by a mate who decided to start a fire as a distraction so he could jump the fence! Those were the days.”

Ben Robinson: “Moonbounce at Bluedot in 2019 involved an audience – including members of Kraftwerk – watching Tim O’Brien bounce music clips off the moon via two radio telescopes, in a tent at 1am on the evening of the 50th anniversary of the Moon landings.”

Peter Howell: “Bluedot 2018. We’re appearing with Orbital on the main stage. There’s a huge crowd, enjoying every minute, and there’s a lot of smoke. I feel dwarfed by the platform Orbital are performing on. My hearing’s a bit compromised by the polystyrene bungs wedged in my ears. I don’t feel ready to play the bass part of ‘Doctor Who’ on a Korg MS-20. Phil Hartnoll shouts down, asking if we’re all set. I give him a thumbs-up. I am lying. The number starts. We play. Next day, when I see the videos on YouTube, only then do I realise what it was all about. Orbital, the latest purveyors of Ron Grainer’s iconic music, are jamming with the Radiophonic Workshop, the original ones, live in front of a sell-out audience in the dark of a summer night beside the Jodrell Bank telescope.”

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