With the eleventh edition looming and bands being announced as we speak, we decided to grab festival co-founder Val, to ask her about the festivals origins and how it has now developed into quite a unique event in the Metal calender.
First of all, many thanks for taking time to talk to us here at Planetmosh.
Before we created the idea of MFVF, we often organized little small scale Metal fests and we always gave a name to these events.
We wanted to created a unique festival, as none like this existed at the time.
We had a request from Epica to play in Brussels and then started to build the event’s line up and realized that the majority were Female Fronted bands. We decided to stay with that theme, came up with a name and that’s how MFVF started.
The early editions of the festival were held in Brussels itself, what memories do you have of those early shows? Good and bad?!
Of course, it was good, the first edition was a real success. There was a huge demand by fans to get such an event up and running.
We had the chance to get Nightwish for the 2nd edition, this resulted in MFVF selling out very quickly.
The only minus we had at that time, was that the venue was too small to welcome all the fans that wanted to attend.
The festival has been at its current home in Wieze for some years now, how did you find out about the place and what convinced you to move there (apart from the cake shop over the road!)
Someone mentioned the venue so we went and saw some events there.
What we found really interesting was that we could create a huge backstage area and also that the venue had really good acoustics due to the wood construction.
This venue might not be the easiest to access but it fits totally to the MFVF atmosphere that has been created.
As years have gone by the festival has continued to grow and grow, do you constantly have to adapt things to keep ahead of the game?
Yes, every year. Building the line up is already a challenge but also getting new ideas, bringing innovations, etc…
Speaking as a fan, I think the addition of video screens was an excellent decision, did that come about from fans requesting it or was it something you had planned anyway?
We had the idea for years but didn’t have the right or proper contacts. We met the actual video company that set it all up during a small open air festival.
From a planning point of view, when do you start thinking about the next edition, straight after the last one?
Usually we have already started before the upcoming edition, so that we’re able to announce some names during the festival.
It’s at least 1 year of work to get everything together.
When booking bands to appear, how difficult is it to get all the bands that you want on the bill? Do you draw up a list of ‘back ups’?
We have a list for headliners of course, then a further list of some middle order bands but as there are new bands every year, we tend to first see which bands are applying and then, in addition, what the fans want to see.
One band that has supported the festival well over the years (and the festival has supported them of course) is Epica. Would it be fair to say that the festival has a special relationship with them?
Yes, like I said previously, we started the MFVF with Epica as the main headliner, and they were requested by fans every year.
Mark (Jansen) has been a friend of ours for many years, even before Epica existed.
Without naming names, has there been any band over the years that the organisers have thought “no way are we having them again!” ?
You can certainly think that when problems happen but thankfully it’s really rare.
Equally, has there been a band, that for whatever reason, you haven’t managed to get that you really wanted to put on the line up?
Sure, some headliners. They probably think that MFVF is too small for them.
We tried also to get some smaller bands to appear for years but for one reason or another their schedule doesn’t fit.
On to this years edition, as I speak, Tarja has been announced as the first headliner, her only festival appearance for 2013, how did you persuade her to perform this year?
We have a good relationship with Tarja and she knows that the MFVF is a special place for her to perform. She is always made very welcome by the festival and also by the fans.
Another act appearing this year is a personal favourite of mine, Anneke Van Giersbergen. You must be really pleased to finally get her to play the festival?
Yes, she was, with The Gathering, the precursor to the genre of female fronted bands.
Anneke is a really kind person, and it’s a pleasure to welcome her to the festival.
What else have you got planned for this years edition, any exclusives for us?!
There will be some more confirmations over these next few days, not headliners but still really strong bands.
We can book one of the headliners right now but there is an exclusivity with another festival this summer, so nothing can be revealed just yet (not Epica hehe).
When you look back at everything the festival has achieved so far it must make you very proud. Did you ever think it would become so big? Fans now travel from all over the world to be there each year.
Each edition goes so fast, that you don’t have the time to realize.
We are proud of the MFVF but you know , you always think that you can make it better.
It’s when you suddenly realise that your festival is known practically everywhere in the world, it dawns on you that you’ve built something important, even if we are not the biggest festival.
Finally, could you describe the festival to those that might not have been before and tell them why they should be part of the experience.
You will see lot of bands that you won’t probably see in your country, discover new talents, see great shows as most of bands want to make it a special occasion.
The MFVF is a big family, we all work with our heart, for our Music passion, the atmosphere is special, you won’t feel anything like it anywhere else.
You will meet a lot of friends that you couldn’t see at any other time of the calender, also, you’re bound to meet new friends and many of the bands as well.
When the last band will start to play you’ll be tired but will think “What, this is already the end ?”