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Terminal V: A chat with the founders of Scotland’s electronic festival

ByOlly Marsters

Apr 10, 2019

Terminal V Festival is Scotland’s largest one-day electronic music festival, returning on Easter Saturday, 20 April 2019 at Edinburgh’s Royal Highland Centre. We talked to the founders and University of Edinburgh alumni Derek Martin and Simon McGrath about the origins of Terminal V, and how it has grown from 2,500 to 15,000 guests in just two years.


Talk a little bit about your history as a festival, what was the inspiration behind Terminal V as a concept?

Terminal V launched in Easter 2017 and this Easter will be our 4th Terminal V. We run twice annually with events taking place over Easter and Halloween at the Royal Highland Centre in Edinburgh, which is a vast warehouse complex site with acres of grassland surrounding it in the grounds of Edinburgh airport. The inspiration was drawn from years of working in the industry, experiences lived, including international festivals abroad and a strong passion and knowledge of the music we love for a very long time.

Terminal V has grown from 2,500 people up to almost 15,000 people for our Easter edition called ‘Terminal V –The Rising.’ Terminal V was a natural step for us from running our regular club series Nightvision in the capital and both of us running club nights for many years separately prior to that. Terminal V came about as we hit a point where a lot of our shows were outgrowing venues and it felt like a natural progression to take the step up to a festival.


Terminal V has become Scotland’s largest one-day electronic music festival. What do you think best explains this success?

I think it’s a mixture of a lot of things. The calibre and amount of acts we are bringing to our events, our attention to detail which can be seen with high end production is similar to something you’d expect in mainland Europe and with strong marketing campaigns this all blends together to give the full package.


How do you ensure that you build on previous years to maintain a fresh concept that allows you to progress your support base in future years?

Since our first event in April 2017 we’ve developed from having one main stage to now having four main stages plus two smaller ones, catering for the bigger room sounds of Techno through to the more specialist intricate sounds of house, disco and more experimental sounds on smaller stages.

We always look to develop and better ourselves from the last Terminal V from production, line-up, stages etc. We spend a lot of time planning new concepts with our production team so it’s always a new and exciting setup at each Terminal V event, with April being a massive step up again in terms of production on all stages.


Electronic music has a significant association with drug abuse, what measures do you have in place to attempt to limit its significance at Terminal V?

Medical and welfare provision and onsite support is something we consider in the highest level. We have high level prevention mechanisms in place to restrict these, similar as to what you would see with any big festival, be that a live music festival or electronic festival. It’s something that always has to be considered with events on this scale when there is a high level of attendees. We work closely with the local authorities on our event planning to ensure public safety comes first.


How significant a part of your support base do you consider students to be?

Students have always played a huge part in the club/music scene in Edinburgh in general and this reflects through to Terminal V. There are certain acts on our line-ups which seem to draw a more attention with students, with the likes of Patrick Topping, Mall Grab, Richie Hawtin and Daniel Avery and Helena Hauff getting a lot of student attention for the forthcoming event.

We also always try and keep students in mind for ticket prices, offering student priced tickets so they can join the experience within their student budgets.

For April, we are offering 25 per cent off for students. We also offer student rep jobs to students were the can work for Terminal V as well as event intern roles. More details can be found by emailing us here: contact@terminalv.co.uk.


How are you attempting to make Terminal V a more desirable event to attend for students on campuses across Scotland?

We’d like to think we are doing this with our strong line-ups, bringing acts to Edinburgh (and Scotland) that people wouldn’t normally get to see here (or at least altogether at one event). Also, putting on these types of events, with this calibre of acts and our level of production, up until now was not something that was available in Scotland, so we are offering something fresh and exciting.

We have a large catchment of students ranging from Aberdeen to Newcastle, Glasgow to Belfast. This event also seems to have really taken notice with students in England. As our line-ups increase in size its very clear that our catchment area stretches further afield with the appeal of the festival. And like mentioned previously, we strive to keep it affordable to the student market.


Where do you see the festival going in the next few years? How do you think you’ll be able to ensure its growth and progression?

It’s all about us staying true to our vision of what and where we want to go to with the festival. It’s important to keep it fresh and interesting for each edition which means going back to square one and developing the next event from the beginning up again. This keeps the experiences as new as possible at each event for the artists, production, as well as the customers. We are working a year ahead at all times on planning the line-up, it’s a hectic competitive market.


Image: Ben Glasgow

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