We wanted to launch our new Q&A-series, dedicated to world-music festivals and their protagonists, with a bit of magic, with possibly the most organic and light-hearted one happening in the UK.
Since 2014, on the far tip of Cornwall, where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Channel, a festival of your dreams has been on the rise; proof that size can take a back seat when you have good musical taste and dedication to spare. That’s the secret of Tropical Pressure, which is a so-called “well-hidden secret” itself.
Every year, for three days in mid-July, the idyllic Mount Pleasant Ecological Park hosts the pocket-sized but high-quality music festival, which brings scents of the Caribbean, West Africa and Latin America to the Cornish Northern Coast.
Tropical Pressure might not have an endless and encyclopaedic line-up, nor even the same number of stages or tickets sold as the summer mega-festivals, but still, it offers unique features that constantly appeal to music enthusiasts: good taste and character. So, you can experience a family-oriented event, still offering all-night-long DJ sets, and have plenty of the quintessential peaceful Cornish seaside panorama, whilst being in the middle of a sort of Tropical dancy rave.
To discover the secret behind Tropical Pressure and its magic formula, we got in touch with its wizard (founder, director and music programmer), Tim Stirrup.
Can you give us a brief history of how Tropical Pressure came about?
We have been running live shows at the Ecopark for over 12 years and built up quite a following, regularly selling out the 200-capacity venue with artists like Dele Sosimi and his Afrobeat Orchestra, Cornell Cambell and the Soothsayers, Pat Thomas and Kwashibu Area Band. It was through feedback from our audience and a natural progression that we decided to hold a 3-day festival showcasing this music.
What is your involvement in Tropical Pressure?
I programme the music, plan the site layout and help build the festival.
What really sets Tropical Pressure apart from the UK’s other festivals?
Its focus on the cultures of Latin America, Africa and the Caribbean. The fact that it is our site that we have been putting a lot of love and energy into for the last 18 years. It overlooks the Atlantic Ocean!
Can you describe the process of curating artists – What works for Tropical Pressure and what doesn’t?
To me, it’s like a DJ set, programming the music so it works well together, bringing the traditional sounds, the foundation artists, and the new contemporary sounds together, always with an eye on what is going to go down well with the audience.
Which acts have you been eager to book in the past and would like to see turn up in the future?
Lord Echo, Lianne La Havas, Manu Chao, Quantic, Souljazz Orchestra, Les Amazones d’Afrique, The Abyssinians, Damien Marley…
What is your favourite element of the festival?
I mean, I love it all, but most of all I love the buzz when so many nice, happy people come together who just want to let go and have fun, celebrate being alive and being a part of this wonderful community, and generally want to see a better world…It’s an incredibly powerful experience….. Also discovering new artists.
What has been your favourite part of planning this festival?
The festival is put together by a team of inspiring people, so hearing their ideas and initiatives in the different areas is exciting, and developing new areas and elements for people to discover and enjoy.
British weather can still be unpredictable. Is this a concern or is the festival too hot to allow wet spells to dampen spirits?
You know the sun always shines in Cornwall!! To be honest, I don’t worry about the weather. There’s plenty going on with lots of shelter… We have a good time regardless.
Brexit is influencing so many industries across the board that it’d be hard not to discuss it in relation to the music sector. How might this uncertainty impact on your festival in the next few years?
It’s a big question, but who knows? It depresses me thinking about it. The festival is about everything that Brexit isn’t.
Although festivals each try to carve out their own niche, there are also overlapping themes, genres and artists. How competitive are festivals over the same resources, and is collaboration encouraged to ensure a more level playing field?
Like you say, every festival is unique in its own way, so I don’t see it as competition. We can learn from each other.
Outside of or including Tropical Pressure, what has been the best performance you have ever witnessed as a festival goer?
Toto la Mompisina at last year’s Tropical Pressure was something incredibly special, that moved me and many people in the audience to tears.
Finally, in a few words, how would you introduce Tropical Pressure to a potential newcomer?
Tropical Pressure is easy and friendly. It’s an intimate, beautiful site where nothing is far away. It’s full of vibes, and the music is just the best you will hear anywhere.
So pack your tent, dancing shoes and best smiles and get ready to enjoy some pure musical magic in Cornwall!
You can buy your ticket following this LINK