Mob Meets Funk the Family founder - Lucy "Elle J" Small

by The Bonniemob on April 12, 2017

Our SS17 collection is a heavy nod to the music that shaped us as kids in the 70's and 80's. We are firm believers in inspiring the kids with music and now the days are getting longer, summer is on the horizon and the kids are getting itchy feet, it's time to get planning for the music festival season! Brighton & Hove, where The bonnie mob call home, has always been a hub for the musical and artistic, we are always spoiled rotten when it comes to big name artists gracing our doorstep. And this goes for the family friendly options too..the kids definitely don't miss out on their share of well known artists, performers and authors coming down to inspire them. So this summer is no exception...

We are super lucky to share localities with the ever growing "Funk the Family" Festival HQ, run by music journalist, DJ and all-round cool mum, Lucy "Elle J" Small. Before her present incarnation as uber-busy lady, she worked for 10 years as an underground music journalist for the likes of The Face, Ministry, The Observer, Dazed & Confused and Blues & Soul just to name a few. During this time she was flown around the world to interview artists such as Pharell Williams, Janet Jackson, Dizzee Rascal, Jay Kay of Jamiroquai, Alicia Keys, Lady Soveriegn, Mariah Carey and the list goes on and on. Like so many of us, once family life started for Lucy, the last minute nature of her career meant that something had to give. So while nestled into family life with her 2 vibrant boys, her passion for music had to find another outlet and this is where our favourite Brighton festival, Funk the Family, was born. 

Lucy "Elle J" Small - Funk the Family Festival Director

This Easter, we have teamed up with Funk the Family to offer you the chance to win a family ticket in our Instagram loop, along with a mind-blowing haul of other family goodies..check it out!

We collared Lucy at our local coffee shop to give us the lowdown on what it takes to curate not 1, but 2 festivals, getting the kids into quality music and working with an all-mum team, and here is what she had to say:

What made you start a festival?

I felt there was a huge need for a daytime festival for families that didn't want to commit to and/or couldn't afford an expensive camping festival. Hove Park in Brighton & Hove was the perfect location- it's beautiful, only an hour from London on the train and there are so many parents here that love good music and want to do something both cool and fun with their kids, while keeping them thoroughly entertained. Funk The Family was born because I wanted to go to something just like it with my family! Funk The Format was already a radio show and I was putting on events and live gigs under that name, so expanding to do a second day, just for adults, seemed a natural progression. Funk The Format is aimed at a slightly older crowd who are both serious music connoiseurs and love a fun festival vibe- there's also a fair few parents who go to both- they just either get a babysitter for Funk The Format or battle it out with their partner as to who goes!

What inspires you when curating both festivals?

For both festivals, my first and foremost inspiration comes from my love of music- I worked as a music journalist for ten years, interviewing people like Janet Jackson, Pharrell Williams, Jamiroquai... too many artists to mention! I'm also inspired by many of the amazing times I had at Big Chill festival, many moons ago! For Funk The Family, my inspiration also comes from my boys- I have a gorgeous nine-year-old and an equally gorgeous six-year-old. I wanted to create a festival that both kids and parents would love equally. Funk The Family is now in its fourth year and has grown with the boys; every year the activities get bigger and better and this year every single workshop or show at the festival is free. 

What's it like working with an nearly all Mum team? 

Everyone who works in the office (five of us) are all Mums! It's a proper sisterhood. There's a lot of laughter, sometimes tears and always hugs! We're all really passionate about what we do and work really hard. I work pretty much full-time, especially leading up to the festival, but I'm a super flexible employer and everyone works school hours and rarely during half-terms or school holidays. None of us work during the big six-week school summer holiday as the festival is in June, so it's a pretty cool gig for a working mum!

 Funk the Family Festival Team

(We love the Lucy's team are all flexible working mums! Read our post about Mother Pukka's aka Anna Whitehouse's FLEX APPEAL here - all about the need for a more sustainable, flexible working ethos for parents in the UK)

How do you find juggling family commitments and the festival?

Hard! Who doesn't? There's always the guilt of feeling like you're spending too much time at work and not enough time with your kids or your partner or, on the flip side, that you're not giving the festival as much as you should. I'm lucky to have an amazingly supportive partner who works freelance and can help out loads when he's not working. When he's working, it's tough but we somehow make it work. The fact that I can take the entire summer off and spend quality time with my family is amazing though.

What do you do for fun?

Errrrr... At the moment, we're building up to the festival so it's all work, work, work. I'm lucky that my job is super fun, although it can be super stressful! I'm also lucky that part of my job is going to see a lot of music gigs and family shows so I can incorporate that in my family/ social life. When I'm not working, I try to chillout and I love yoga- I've been practicing for about 15 years on and off and I also love gardening... And, of course, I love a good party!

What's it like working in the music industry as a woman and mum?

I don't really think about being a woman in music much anymore as it's all I've known for the past 17 years! A lot of people are surprised when they find out I'm a mum and I own a music festival, a family festival, I DJ and that the entire festival office team are mums though. Apparently, when my Production and Marketing Managers speak to some men, they'll say, "When you speak to your boss, can you tell him that..." And they're like, "HIM is a HER!"

Top tips for getting kids excited about good music?

It's about educating them, starting with foundation artists that they can relate to- either through the groove of the record or the sing-a-long factor; kids love a sing-a-long! My boys are huge fans of Stevie Wonder and Bob Marley and I'm really proud of that. They've listened to really good quality funk, soul, reggae, disco, ska and jungle since day dot! It filters through.

Tips on taking kids to festivals?

If there's a specific music artist or children's author/ entertainer you want to see, then check the time they're on but sometimes it's more fun not to plan. I love exploring and stumbling upon unusual activities or being introduced to new music at festivals and kids love that too.

Any future plans you'd like to share?

The festivals have grown very big very quickly- from one day and around 700 people in 2014 to two days and around 9,000 people in 2016. I don't plan to grow them any bigger any time soon! I would like Funk The Format to put on more live gigs later in the year though.

 Lucy, we are in awe of you! If you want to win a family ticket to this fun-packed festival in June, get on our Instagram and follow the loop for a chance to win! 

And as if Lucy's wise words weren't enough, we pestered her for a playlist from her best loved artists of this years festivals:

  1. Goldie 'Inner City Life'
  2. Alice Russell 'A Fly In The Hand'
  3. Jazzie B (Soul II Soul): 'Jazzie's Groove'
  4. Jenna G '1000 Soul Songs'
  5. Professor Elemental 'Weird Weird West'
  6. The Nextmen 'Blood & Fire'
  7. Skitz feat Rodney P 'Dedication' (clean version!)
  8. Kudu Blue 'Vicinity'
  9. King Nommo 'Mama Sali'
  10. Neon Saints Brass Band 'Show Me Something

 Need to get your kids ready for the this festival season? We've rounded-up a capsule festival collection for the little rascals, we are thinking denims for tearing around in, bunny leopard print sweats and the essential summer hat to keep those kids heads protected.

Bonnie mob Kids Festival kit

Kit includes::

JACKSON Unisex Leopard Print Hoodie

FLASH Unisex Kids Denim Bomber

FOLK Girls Denim Dress - Tee Pee Print 

JAZZY Unisex Romper Dungaree

BEATS Organic Print Sunhat

Plus check this fab brands out too complete your kit....Hunters Yellow Kids Wellies | Zoobug Kids Sunglasses | Fjallraven Kanken Kids Rucksack | Frida's Tierchen Indian Headdress