“It’s the ghost of raves gone by in London!” laughs Gilles Peterson down the phone from Florence. I’m chatting with the globe-trotting advocate for all the music that doesn’t originate in the Anglosphere, when we realise that the supposed ‘new’ location for the Traction festival’s debut at Granary Square is actually the remodelled former home of the annual August bank holiday TDK Cross Central shindigs of last decade.
Traction is curated by Peterson but supported by train company Eurostar, which has form in this department – it also funded the Shane Meadows film Somers Town in 2008. “We’ve decided on music from different Eurostar destinations for Traction. I’m excited about everyone we’ve got,” says the BBC 6Music presenter and latterly a label boss.
The multi-media one-day festival features not only a line-up hand-picked by Peterson, but digital light painting from artist Mateo M, live drawing from Jason Atomic and Amsterdam’s Pedal Power Peep Show – a bonkers experience where sport meets live theatre.
The station location may be familiar from festivals past, which located on this very site until 2007, but the vast canalside yards where the capital’s food and sundries arrived by steam train in the Victorian era looks very different now. It’s the spruced up new home to shops, flats, restaurants and a new campus for the art and fashion students of Central St Martin’s. “It’s a wonderful new area which a lot of Londoners won’t have discovered yet,” points out Peterson. “There won’t be all those negative points you get in parks like Victoria Park either.”
“I’ve been really lucky to spend a lot of time in France and Belgium and Holland,” adds Peterson – who’s cherry-picked the best of Brussels, Cologne and Paris for the festival – as well as some interesting additions from this end of the Channel Tunnel too. “It’s great to be able to join all those places together in a way.”
Nearest Tube: King’s Cross