David Adamson chats with Nathan Shepherd and Lily Fontaine ahead of their night at Band on The Wall in March

The BBC 6 Music Festival kicks off on Thursday 7 March and amongst the headline sets from The Smile, Young Fathers and Gossip there's a carnival of live performances from up and comers as well as plenty of DJ sets. 

Returning is the much-loved Indie Forever night at Band on The Wall on Friday 8 March. 

David Adamson chatted to hosts Nathan Shepherd and Lily Fontaine (also of indie darlings English Teacher) about what to expect, the endurance of indie and the current noughties nostalgia.

David (D): Hi Nathan and Lily, how does it feel to be doing this year's Indie Forever night

Nathan (N):  It's kind of surreal for me because this time last year I did the Indie Forever DJ set at the festival so it's special because it's a year on and I've done a lot since. So much has happened since, I feel like a different man, so it's nice for me. I'm looking forward to it. 

Lily (L): Yeah definitely surreal. I enjoy DJing and I've done a fair bit recently. My favourite nights to go on are those indie sleaze nights, so it's perfect for me. It's like getting to go to a club and control the aux, so it's an honour.

D: When you say indie sleaze is that the image of the 2000s Camden Town thing? Is that what that's pointing towards?

L: It's just a phrase that's come up in the last year or so I guess. I feel like it didn't exist until recently, and yeah I think it is pointing to that time. And I guess what I've noticed is that's what my friends especially would call that era now. The Libertines and that kind of thing. 

N: Yeah it's what you'd have associated with Alexa Chung I guess, that kind of vibe. I always get asked about indie music and it's funny because that era was when we were growing up listening to music, and we were obviously too young to even understand what was going on - from like the early 2000s to about 2009. It was a great era for indie, and an era that I think a lot of people romanticise as well, everyone seems to love it. It's funny because it is now becoming kind of retro.

L: It's interesting what you say about us not understanding it completely because I've thought that recently; a lot of what was going on, looking at images online now, you weren't getting the full picture of at that age. It was more just like, I wanted to dress like Alexa Chung and I wanted to go to Camden and be there. And now that it's becoming sort of retro for the new generation of young people, for me that just makes me feel incredibly old. 

D: I'm 32 now, so I started school in 2003, and all the music I was getting into was all of that era. Now it's considered something to be nostalgic about I think, 'Jesus Christ it's not come around that quickly has it?'

2024 02 22 Indie Forever Nathan
Nathan Shepherd Image: BBC
2024 02 22 Indie Forever Lily
Lily Fontaine Image: BBC

D: So what can people expect from the night? Obviously indie's a very broad church, isn't it? Are there certain things that you're really keen for people to hear?

N: I won't give away too much of the setlist; we want people to buy tickets and come down! It's just going to be good vibes, I think everyone's just going to be happy to go and have a dance, and obviously there's a great lineup of DJs. I'm hoping that we're not going to clash too many tunes, because there are those tunes that everyone wants to play. We might have to cross reference.

L: Yeah we can exchange notes. I've got a playlist of stuff that's gone down well in the past but the final selection is yet to be decided. 

D: I guess it can be a bit of a delicate balance can't it? If you're DJing something like dance music you can blend those songs into something, but it must be quite a special task to be curating all the songs and thinking, 'Well if we play The Look by Metronomy then what do I play after that?' It must be fun to put together. 

N: I enjoy it. I don't know if Lily agrees but DJing is enjoyable in the sense that the only thing you can get wrong is not mixing well. You don't have to worry about the right note or singing well. It's enjoyable that you can enjoy the music without thinking about playing well. You just DJ well. 

L: I never thought about it like that actually. I always get super nervous beforehand about that point of mixing well. Also what I like about it is that sometimes you want to go to a club but don't necessarily want to socialise, you just want to have a boogie on your own maybe. So when you're behind the decks you're there but you're not there; you're not in the crowd. You just have a little personal boogie and then when it's the next set you can go out again.

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Band On The Wall Image: @bandonthewall / Instagram

D: So obviously it's taking place at Band On The Wall. How important do you think that venue is in creating Indie Forever and that sense of a special evening?

N: Band On The Wall is class. Such a nice venue, and it's a big room. Obviously it's an iconic spot in Manchester as well. 

L: And ultimately it's really cool that it's in Manchester. It's really special that they decided to do this festival in places outside of London, and now here permanently. It's really great to shine a spotlight on Manchester because it's got such a rich musical history. It makes so much sense.

D: And even just in terms of indie music, that one small genre, Manchester's got a wealth of riches, doesn't it? 

L:  Absolutely. Too many. 

D: (Laughs) Yeah, well, you can't play all The Smiths' songs can you. Try as you might. 

L: I think we definitely will do. 

N: If Lily plays four I'll just play four different ones. 

D: Something that goes very much hand in hand with great indie nights like this is people properly getting dressed up. Are you hoping to see a fantastically well dressed crowd as well?

L: I'd honestly not thought about that. But I personally am planning on getting disgustingly dressed up. It's going to be fantastic. But as for the crowd, as long as they're there I don't really mind. 

N: Yeah, I'm going to get horrendously dressed to the nines. Suit and a big tie. I'm going all in. 

6 Music's Indie Forever takes place at Band On The Wall on Friday 8 March at 9pm as part of this year's BBC 6 Music Festival.

Click here to buy tickets 

For a rundown of what's taking place this year read our preview

For more information about what else is going on at this year's festival visit the website

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