Rachel Frost, Secret Island Party founder, has done many SIP interviews however here are her untold stories.
1) What has been your favourite SIP & Why?
Well obviously I loved this years. It was amazing to see so many people there - it really has grown so much & it’s amazing to see! Especially seeing so many people there on the Friday! Which was the day we added.
But I think my favourite SIP was last years (SIP #4). I’m torn between that one & the Typhoon one (#3). Just because of the drama of it & some of the outfits were quite funny – the theme was Enchanted Distortion. But maybe the Typhoon wasn’t the best thing; it was quite funny though.
Realistically, I think last year was my favourite. With the Bunker stage in the Village School. SIP wasn’t too big back then either. It was still a manageable number. So for the staff & community involved we could still enjoy it. It was more chilled out. No sponsors involved. Just us.
2) Favourite theme? Why?
Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves. We did some silly things for that theme. I really liked the new addition of the actors. It maybe didn’t make much sense to everyone else, but I really enjoyed the Prison & the drag queen. It was quite an easy theme for everyone to dress up for too. Even though nothing stands out particularly, outfit wise, as a whole everyone looked great!
3) What was your favourite specific costume?
I think it’s between two. Kate Harrison (a friend) had a leopard print globe head one year & then a group of boys, dressed up as Robots. They used parts of washing machines & stuff. There was a lot of effort that went into it. I can’t think of anyone else who’s put in so much effort.
4) Funniest story?
Well there are a few. But not many I can tell the public ;). This year I was called over because a member of staff had to speak to somebody’s mother on the phone because they had lost their tent & belongings. That was a first. To have a mother on the phone!
5) Biggest disaster?
Definitely the Typhoon. The festival goers had to hold down the sides of the marquees to stop them from blowing away. And people’s tents got blown into the ocean by the waves. It was an unexpected curve ball Typhoon. We thought that nobody could leave the Island on the Sunday. So everybody started drinking more, then suddenly they could leave because it calmed down. It was quite funny.
6) Which are the ideas that just didn’t quite work?
It depends on which side you are looking at from. I would say the Bunker Stage from last year is one. From a Sipper’s perspective it was amazing - & a lot of peoples favourite area. But having it in the Village School didn’t quite work as far as being considerate to the villagers…I don’t think it was really fair to them, and the same with having the rooftop Party in the village. We had a lot of people in the village houses & the toilets got blocked etc. It wasn’t nice. So it didn’t really work in that sense. But for SIP goers it was great!
We’ve also had lots of mishaps with art decorations. We have learnt that paper decorations do not work. Things that can be moved & taken away, don’t work. Things need to be tied down, glued down or you just except they will be taken away. Definitely learned that lesson the hard way.
7) You have had many plans, which, for one reason or another just didn’t happen – which one do you still want to do?
Hmmm. I’ve always really wanted an aerial arts frame set up on the beach. I think that would look beautiful. I would like more cabaret acts. International cabaret. I’m not so fussed about bringing international DJ’s, although it would be nice. But I would really like to have more international Cabaret style acts, more theatrical. It would also be good to add more talks and debates. More TED TalksTM style things, to add to the wellness side. I would still love to have an open-air cinema at some stage. But that’s when it gets much bigger.
8) Favourite art piece?
I liked the entrance last year, with the Sun. And the stairs this year were amazing. I really like Us Ed Pencil’s art piece on the wall this year too. That was probably the most impressive. I don’t know if I have any real favourites though. I think we have just progressed each year and each year it looks better as a whole. Although I did really like when we had the hanging globes with flowers in.
9) Biggest rumour?
Oh, ha. When people were saying Blur was going to play. That was the second one I think. We had a few confused people on the Sunday.
10) Biggest triumph?
I really liked it when we got the screen working in the Prison. It was quite a complicated idea - live filming someone in the prison, being interrogated by a drag queen, then it being projected to another area. We hadn’t really been able to test it until we were on the Island. But it actually worked.
Then I suppose selling out this year was a triumph. After all the struggles that was such a good feeling.
11) Hardest problem pre-event you’ve had to overcome?
To begin with getting stuff there was pretty difficult. Before we knew about the big boat from Kennedy Town. We just took everything with trollies, via Cheung Chau, then on a Sampan. The whole set up! That was pretty insane! It took us about 4 weekends of just trolleying stuff over.
12) What is it that makes SIP still the same through all the years? Even as it grows?
I think it’s that it is still attracting the same kind of people. It is a community, arts & music festival. Which has always been the philosophy from the beginning. Even though there were so many more people this year we didn’t loose that. Everyone who comes to SIP feels part of a community. You can really feel the love.