Heather Peace has been on our screens in numerous programmes, but one our audience might especially remember is Lip Service, which sprung on to our TVs in 2010. Since then she’s had an incredibly successful music career, is a co-host of Diva Radio, and more recently has been the brains behind Diva Music Festival, coming this November to Vauxhall Holiday Park near Great Yarmouth. We caught up with Heather to find out more about her career, the festival and her new album Hey Mayhem.
Interview © Amie Taylor 2018
AT: You came up with the idea for the Diva Music Festival, where did it come from?
HP: Yes, it’s an idea that’s been in my head for around 8 years, but it’s always been about how you get the word out there. I wanted to create a village feel, as we obviously could have done it in a hotel or something, but then there’s always other people there, and I wanted a place where you could shut the gates and for that whole weekend it’s all of us women together. And obviously we’re not excluding anyone, because I don’t think anyone can exclude anyone ever. But it is predominately a lesbian and bisexual female festival. We’ve got more than 30 acts lined up which are all female or female led. 70% of them queer in someway or another, and if not, they’re just super strong women.
I’ve been thinking a lot about Pride events recently, because we’ve come so far- it’s now attended by about 50% straight people, and they absolutely know why they’re there, I don’t think it’s lost its meaning. However, being lesbian and bi women, it’s nice to go to a space for you. Especially if you’re younger and you’re single; you might catch eyes with someone, and it’s that excitement of being around your own people; which I think we’ve lost a little bit with Pride because it’s now a festival for everyone, which I personally think is fantastic, but I think there’s a serious lack of spaces just for us; which is what this festival is about. And if we can make a success of it this year, we’ll make it an every year event.
AT: You said you first had the idea 8 years ago, why was now the time to make it happen?
HP: It was to do with my relationship with Diva Magazine and Linda Riley, I could never have done it on my own. We were chatting, having a beer at the Literary Festival, just as Diva was starting to become a brand of women’s events that you could go to, and I mentioned it. I had become the music editor, I’d started to promote women in music, and had started thinking this is where I might go in the future when I finally decide to hang up my microphone. So everything started to click together – doing Diva Radio, being a music editor, meeting Linda. I made a few contacts in the music industry, which is how I managed to sign up people like Gabrielle and KT Tunstall – I suppose the stars aligned.
AT: There are increasingly less spaces for queer women to go to, and I’ve heard a lot of excuses for this, for example that women don’t go out as much, or that we don’t need those spaces anymore now that we’re able to meet people on the internet. What are your thoughts around this?
HP: I think spaces aren’t necessarily needed, but I’m lucky because I live in Brighton – whether they’re needed or not is another question. We want them. To me it’s incredibly exciting to think that I can walk through those gates and be surrounded by our women. It’s brilliant. At the literary festival, the hotel lobby was full of queer women and it was such a great atmosphere. So that’s what I want. And let’s hope the women do come out to support it, because we are horrors, I think I stopped going to the Candy Bar once I met my wife, where as the fellas keep on going out. Kim Lucas who runs the Candy Bar has always struggled with that. But this isn’t just about the drinking, there is a huge amount of music to see, the Friday night has a nineteen piece big band, as well as some surprise guests that I’ve organised. And in addition, you’ve got access to everything at the holiday park – there’s a massive swimming pool that’s heated to 30 degrees!
AT: And you’re about to go on tour and are performing at the festival, having taken a couple of years out from touring to have your twins, how does it feel to be back?
HP: It doesn’t feel like I’ve been away really, essentially I’ve still been doing the radio show every week, I’ve been building the festival since before Christmas. But I’ve just got a new album that comes out on the 12th of October. It’s just gone out on pledge music, which is a crowd funding platform. So I don’t actually feel like I’ve had time out, but heading out on tour is a funny thing, I’ve done a few festivals recently, and the one thing about having kids is that nothing else feels stressful. Usually by now I’d be really building myself up for the tour and starting to panic, but everything feels fairly straightforward.
AT: Is this an acoustic album? I’ve seen it mentioned online that it was –
HP: [Laughs] Well it was supposed to be, yes, but then I went on this mad song-writing spree. Michael my guitarist sent me some stuff through and I wrote the lyrics, then as soon as I went on the studio it became a fully produced piece of work.
AT: What inspired that song writing spree?
HP: Life, just life. The album’s called Hey Mayhem. I think I had a few down days. Everyone can be ill, all 3 kids can be ill, so you’re not sleeping, then pressure builds from other sides, me and my wife would be grizzling at one another and this came out of that really. I think the last 3 tracks were written in that period where we had a really difficult month.
AT: And final question – if you could duet with one person who would it be?
HP: I’ve actually done one that I’ve always wanted to do which was with Alison Moyet. That was a bit of a dream. But if KT Tunstall at the festival said ‘Come up and do some harmonies…” I wouldn’t say no. She’s pretty awesome.
Book now for Diva Music Festival, 30th Nov-2nd Dec. We should also mention that there are coaches going from several major cities, so you can get the party started early!