It’s not often you have T-Pain, Shaggy and Nelly playing some of their biggest tunes to thousands of people in a field in Cambridge.
But that’s exactly what the crowd at Strawberries and Creem festival get when they rock up to Haggis Farm on a Saturday in June.
The festival’s organisers have tapped into early 2000s nostalgia with its headline acts which play alongside UK stars such as J Hus, Kojo Funds and Not3s.
William Young, who founded the festival five years ago, admits that one of the reasons they pick hit-making artists from a decade ago is because they’re “affordable”.
But he says they’re acts that people like and they helped the festival stand out from other summer events.
“I’m not going to lie and say they’re not cheaper. Definitely with a small festival we have had to be creative to ensure we come in under our smaller budget.
“But at the same time people still love T-Pain, they still love Nelly. We grew up watching the music channels when these guys were bringing out the number ones.
“They’re fun acts that people know and love. And yes they’ve been affordable which is definitely helped us.
“But at the same time it’s helped us establish a brand that’s a bit different.
“We’ve carved out a slight niche for ourselves”.
Strawberries and Creem started out as a garden party for 800 people for students at Cambridge University.
Fast forward five years and the event is now on course to sell 10,000 tickets for Saturday’s event.
But it’s not been an easy journey so far as the festival is run by a small team – the majority of which have jobs outside of planning the event.
William, who also runs a tech start up, says one of the biggest things he’s learned over the past five years is to “sometimes never meet your heroes”.
The 27-year-old says on the whole the majority of the acts are “pleasant” but there’s been some diva moments.
“From Grandmaster Flash refusing to go on stage to only have one dressing room last year which the artists were fighting over.
“There’s always going to be tantrums and always going to be things going wrong.
“But fingers crossed it’s getting less frequent the more we do it.”
Will says one of the major selling points of the festival is it brings acts like J Hus, J Tracey and Kojo Funds to an unlikely location.
“Four years ago we brought Skepta to Cambridge and no-one would’ve thought we could’ve brought someone like Skepta and that music scene to this quiet, quaint little city we’ve grown up in.
“It’s been refreshing to bring these acts to our sleeping intellectual city. Growing up we didn’t have the access to these performances and events.
“It’s quite exciting.”
He says the festival is the “little guy fighting against other big gun” festivals but he feels they’re making a mark.
“We have the room for expansion on the site on the land can get up to 50 to 60,000 people quite comfortably.
“Cambridge is a great location. It’s a great brand to have. The ambition now is to definitely scale up.
“It’s still the same mentality of getting to the levels of the likes of Wireless.”