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The End Festival; Subba-Cultcha Talks To The Creator Of The Crouch End Pop-Up

Howard Monk, creator and curator of the End festival, turns Crouch End into the biggest shop window for up-and-coming musical talent for one weekend a year.

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Taking a couple of minutes from his busy schedule, Subba-Cultcha sat down with Monk to go over everything from the beginning to the End (pun shamefully intended).

Subba-Cultcha: Your festival, The End, has just celebrated its fifth birthday. How was it?

Howard Monk: It was our best yet thanks. We almost broke even to boot!

SC: How has the festival changed over the years and where do you see it heading in the future?

HM: We started with perhaps three or four events on one evening, and it’s just gone on from there. I do think it would be great to grow it further – we have Finsbury Park and Ally Pally nearby. But even at this scale it brings such a stressful and anxiety ridden period that I’m not sure I could handle it if it grew too much!

SC: Why is it you choose to host the festival in November?

HM: Dunno really! I hadn’t noticed before, but we did our first ever ‘the Local’ event in November 2004. So in a way we were ten years old this year too.

SC: How long does the weekender take to organise?

HM: We started in earnest in January this year. For next year we’ve started already.


SC: Crouch End is frequently dubbed the capital’s “creative village”. Do you feel this is a fair title, and if so what generates such a notion?

HM: It’s less than it used to be – I think given how expensive it’s become. But there’s still a hardcore population of folks who work in the arts and music, with lots of advertisers and marketers too.

SC: Why do you think Crouch End is the perfect setting for your festival?

HM: You know, it’s ridiculous that more doesn’t happen here! There was actually a review of this year’s event that mentioned a “homely community feel” to the area. I think not being on a tube-line definitely helps.

SC: I’ve just got back from this year’s Iceland Airwaves, which follows a similar format to SXSW in having music swarm the city for a week-long period. This concept seems embedded within The End as well, with the local buildings and businesses heavily involved with the event. How important is the involvement of other Crouch End residents in the success of the festival?

HM: I was supposed to go to Airwaves too and am bummed I missed it! The concept is definitely there and most people get it (some don’t like the walk to the end of Park Road, but they should try Austin, Texas for size!). I think, and we’ll need to examine the data to confirm this, that we have a string amount of attendees from the local area. We do a deal for Crouch End project cardholders and local businesses, but I think the idea of a community event can be tarnished with do-gooding and poor quality. I want to put on an excellent event and so does everyone involved; we look to bring in valuable business to the area!

SC: How do you select venues for the occasion? Do people approach you, or do you approach them?

HM: We approach them, and visa-versa. We’ve perhaps been a little guilty in selecting those we know; there are new places popping up constantly so we need to make a firmer effort to get to more places next time. There’s a beautiful theatre in disrepair; it’s a tragedy that we were unable to use that, and we tried – believe me. An arts collective has just been given a fourteen month crack at using the space however, so this could be a godsend.


SC: Where’s been your favourite venue that the End has featured in to date?

HM: That would be too difficult to call! Earl Haig was lovely this year, and the Kings’ Head is a staple. The unusual ones – Rileys, the Haberdashery, the Crypt, Little Paris – are special too. We used St. George’s Hall down by Victoria Stakes this year and it was superb – definitely hope to use that place again!
SC: …and the most obscure? HM: We used a laundrette once, which was the idea of the band that had been solely touring laundrettes. It was a one off though – the guy didn’t want us back!
SC: Is there anywhere you’ve wanted to have as a venue that you’ve not yet been able to secure? HM: The previously mentioned theatre in the Town Hall! More of the studios too, and there’s one of the churches we particularly like.
SC: A couple of years ago you had Teleman perform at the End, who have now gone on to create some serious waves in the industry. Who would you consider the biggest success story to have played over the years? HM: Teleman – I love them! The Drink this year might be the ones. Pip Mountjoy, and Technology and Teamwork too. RM Hubbert won Scottish album of the year after appearing at the End – she actually keeps bees at the Habberdashery! Peggy Sue was great at the Old Music Palace, as was Jack Cheshire at Painted Black Village. I could go on…

SC: How is it you find / discover bands to play the festival?

HM: They’re usually on my radar, or we’ll simply go and find them.

SC: Who would be your dream act to play in 2015?

HM: I already have once superb thing penciled in, but we just need to get the right venue to do it in. I don’t want to ruin any chances by saying it out loud!

SC: To finish, would you be able to finish this sentence for us? “The best thing about running a music festival is..”

HM: There’s a real sense that you’re doing something special for lots of people. That feeling is irreplaceable.

To for more information about The End festival
click here. Words & pics by Luke Forshaw