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Interview: Kaya Herstad Carney, Threshold Festival

Threshold Festival of Music and the Arts is returning to the Baltic Triangle for its fifth year, offering a weekend of performance, art and music. With a massive and diverse line-up, at some fantastic venues, be sure to get your ticket now and support this grassroots festival by and for Liverpool! Arts and Culture Editor Katie Tysoe caught up with Kaya Herstad Carney, one half of the partnership that founded and continues to run the festival.

 How did Threshold begin and how was it conceived?

The first time we did it, it was curated for the venue. We were brought in to commission it, so for the first time we put it together for the venue, but we are now independent.

Why did you choose the Baltic Triangle to house the festival?

The venue we were curating for was down in the Baltic, so that’s how that all started and essentially when the venue closed down 6 weeks before our second festival we had the opportunity to go or to stay, and we felt it was right to keep it in the Baltic.

For those who may want to get into events organisation and festivals, what is the process?

I started running nights when I was still a student and I was a musician. There wasn’t many nights of the type that I wanted to play around so I basically tried to create the type of event that I wanted to play at. That’s pretty much how it started and when Chris and I got together we started doing events together, as we are actually a couple, and we have acquired more and more team members as we have gone along.

So it makes it a big family now?

It really is. We are volunteer run, and everybody is really part of the team and puts their own into it. The festival is very much shaped by our team and how it is all put together. The most important thing for if you want to make a living in events is to volunteer for festivals. Just get involved in whatever you can.

Is there a way people can get involved and volunteer for Threshold?

Absolutely, we are looking for volunteers at the moment. Last year we had about 80 volunteers, which is a fair few and because it is a smaller festival you get whatever type of experience you are looking for. If you volunteer for somewhere like Glastonbury or Isle of Wight, you essentially get one role and often that can be things like bar-work and picking litter, whereas with Threshold because it is venue based we can get purpose based volunteering opportunities.

Why is it important to have the arts and the visual side alongside the music?

Part of that was because Chris came from an acting background, so he had loads of contacts in that performance art world and I have done bits and bobs here and there. Being in the CUC building where our first festival was – it was a gallery – so we thought let’s involve some visual artists as well and have stayed with it. It’s come from more circumstance than a plan I guess. But now we have people involved in the team who are really keen and visual artists. As with most things from the festival it comes from the make-up of people we have involved really.

So it is very personable and varies each year, dependent on the team and people around you?

Absolutely, we have a core team now of 15 people who have been involved the first few years but there have been different  people involved in the production of things, different people in the visual arts and everyone brings their own to it and obviously it is our passion and it is a personal thing, not a business venture. Although, we have been doing other events throughout the year, it has been commercial where we use our Threshold team, meant as networking and getting some work from it as well.

Is there any act in particular you are most excited about showing?

I put together the programme after the team have chosen the artists and we are passionate about all the line-up and it is nice to be involved with a variety of promoters and everything. Chris is here now and he said that he is really excited about Eliza Shadadd. So there we go, I look forward to seeing her too.

I’ll put that in as Chris’ quote then…

Yeah, she is one of the singers of Clean Bandit and her acoustic stuff is really nice. We have some massive bands like Nubyian Twist, a 12 piece – a really big band. But yeah, we have a really strong line-up like more indie and rock bands on Saturday. We have got acoustic and RnB artist Akala. Its more the type of people, Mellowtone have put a lovely line-up together, like their social.

So it is very involved with the local scene and the local promoters and bands?

Oh definitely, we wanted local and grassroots alongside the more established artists. We are grassroots at heart and it is about showcasing what is going on in Liverpool.

Do you think it is important to have an art’s presence within a music setting?

It’s called audio-visual which includes the visual arts and music and everything. Partly it is a very similar industry. It is borrowing new audiences, you will only be able to know what it is you know from your experiences and whatever you have come across from growing up and from family and friends and everything. There will be a lot of people who are into music and who will not have thought of going to see visual art and the other way round as well. There is a bit of sharing audiences, there is always a lot of people who are into both.

Is there anything planned for after the festival or have you thought about next year’s festival – although it is early days?!

Even when we are programming now, we think well next year we will try and do this and this…and ideas come up. This is our fifth year, it is a little bit of a coming of age and we will see what happens and what is coming over the next year. Maybe it is bigger things and it all depends on how this one goes really, we will plan the next one after this!


Threshold Festival comes to the Baltic Triangle from 27 – 29 March 2015

Buy Tickets Here: http://thresholdfestival.co.uk/


Katie Tysoe
LS Radio's Arts and Culture Editor. Studying an MA in Arts, Aesthetics and Cultural Institutions. Big-time 80's enthusiast. @katiemarietysoe

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