Creativity Works: Advertising alumnus Lauren Adeyemi shares her experience of working as Artist Liaison at Lovebox/Citadel, Victoria Park, July 2017.
When I was offered the opportunity to work for Sarah Cole Productions as a volunteer Artist Liaison Assistant, the proposition left me with a bit of a dilemma: should I go to Lovebox with my friends - I had already bought myself a ticket - or work behind the scenes and perhaps get the chance to ‘network and chill' a bit with celebs/industry people? The dilemma didn’t last long, it was a no brainer, I was going to have to ditch my friends and swiftly sell my ticket so that I could take up this once in a lifetime chance to see my girl Solange up close and personal.
But what did Artist Liaison (AL) really mean? Well there were several roles within this title:
- Dressing room duty – this meant padding out artist dressing rooms with all the goodies
- Riders - curating all the complimentary beverages and personal requests (black towels, special food, carpets, ice etc.) to go backstage and in the dressing rooms
- Office PA - being Sarah Cole’s extra assistant, essentially helping with admin and artist management
- Stage Manager PA - taking riders to the assigned stage, contacting artists before their set and liaising with Sound Engineers
- Buggy duty - driving artists, guests and equipment to and from the stages and dropping off riders to stages.
The Create Jobs posse – there were 6 of us who got lucky with this opportunity – were spread out across all of these roles.
Don’t be fooled though, being an AL wasn’t just a free ticket to Lovebox with the bonus of being surrounded by famous people all day every day. A typical day for us was a 9am start and 10.30pm finish, with breaks for lunch and dinner, where we usually chitchatted about our daily endeavors and all the crazy shenanigans we had witnessed.
So, there I was on the first day at 8.30am at Mile End tube station thinking, “how am I going to survive these early mornings and late nights?” But walking through the empty festival as production teams were setting up the array of stages made everything seem that much easier. After managing to navigate my way through Victoria Park we arrived at the Artist Liaison quarters where we were introduced to Sarah Cole. We quickly became acquainted with the other Artist Liaison team - some of whom had already had festival experience and others, like me, who had no experience at all. After becoming accustomed to the 'do’s and don’ts' of Artist Liaison behavior, we were all ready to roll!
My first major task as Office PA was dressing room key check. This entailed going around the 20 or so dressing rooms, checking the keys worked and then labeling them for specific rooms. What I must brag about is the fact that this task gave me access to the most exclusive area in the entire festival, and I got a sneak preview into Frank Ocean’s cordoned off dressing room! Yes, there were fancy carpets, shiny pillows, special sofas, massive lamps and exotic plants everywhere. But the one rule that all Artist Liaison staff had to abide by was discretion at all times - no unsolicited photos of artists and explicitly no photos of their dressing rooms! So, no, I do not have any cheeky photos of Frank’s room.
My next task was creating the Artist Liaison packs for the buggy drivers, stage and dressing room liaisons. I had to provide them with two maps, one for Lovebox and another for Citadel, the running order of stages' lineups, contact details for the Stage Managers, Artist Tour Managers and the Artists themselves, alongside the ever-important Artist Liaison code of conduct. I was also tasked with delegating the food tokens to the artists including Frank Ocean, Solange, Kano, Chase and Status and Michael Kiwanuka. There was some fab stuff on offer from the catering tent, including a paired down version of the Nandos menu!
Over the next couple of days, my time was split between the on site office and working on the artists' riders (aka the food and drink allowance and extra comfort things that artists are entitled to). There were duties such as laminating signs - and believe me there are tons of signs that need to go up at a festival! - and running down to the box office to get extra VIP wristbands for friends of artists who needed adding onto the guest list. The best thing about being in the office was the fact you were the eyes and ears of the festival; the first point of contact to hear about artists and any requests, delays, changes of plan, or when magazines and PR companies were trying to sneak extra guests on the guest lists! If one of the AL team wasn’t doing their job properly then you were also always the first to know.
Rider allocation, however, was definitely less ‘glitz n glamour’ and more grueling. Let’s just say that I left with more muscle definition in my arms and legs than I have ever had before from heaving large crates of alcohol, soft drinks and bags of ice!
By the end of day 4, I was ready to leave the festival with my Jägermeister freebies and a few bottles in tow. I had accomplished my dream of seeing Solange and Frank Ocean in the flesh, so at 9.30pm I ran for the exit (not literally) and saluted Lovebox for all the wonderful memories and friends that I made along the way.
The big question now is: where will Lovebox be next year? It’s being moved from Victoria Park, so are we saying farewell to its glorious east London location to join Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park? Or will we see it move further east to London Fields? These are all speculations, so I guess we’ll just have to wait and see!
Finally, big thanks to all at Sarah Cole Productions for the opportunity.