“It’s about developing female artists”: TRNSMT festival boss responds to criticism of all-male headliners for 2019

"As an industry we can do more, and that includes providing a platform for female artists. "

TRNSMT festival boss Geoff Ellis has defended the festival’s line-up for 2019, after it was criticised for hosting three male headliners.

The Scottish festival faced backlash on social media yesterday, after it was revealed that Stormzy, Catfish & The Bottlemen and George Ezra will all take top billing on Glasgow Green in July.

Posting on Twitter, fans criticised Ellis for the lack of female acts in the festival’s first announcement – which included the likes of Jess Glynne, Mahalia, Sigrid, Mabel and Jade Bird.

Another account claimed that female acts only accounted for twenty percent of the line-up, and showed the huge gaps that occur when women are removed.

Speaking to NME, Ellis said that the line-up reflects some of the biggest female names of the moment, and reiterated his commitment to “developing female artists” in order to make them the headliners of tomorrow.

“We try to have more females on the bill. Jess Glynne is a big artist and she’s there. Would I prefer to have more female artists on the bill? Yes. But it’s also about developing female artists to make them into headliners. We had Sigrid on the King Tut’s last year, but we’ve now upgraded her to the main stage,” said Ellis.

The DF Concerts boss also explained how busy touring schedules played a part in the line-up for 2019 too.

“You’ve got people like Florence & The Machine who we would’ve been delighted to have as a TRNSMT headliner, but she’s coming in August so we’ve got her headlining two nights at Edinburgh Summer Sessions instead,” he said.

“We’ve got CHVRCHES headlining the Summer Sessions too, so it’s not that we’re ignoring female artists, but you can’t always get them on the weekend of your festival and sometimes you’ve got to get them at different points of the year.”

Ellis added: “As an industry we can do more, and that includes providing a platform for female artists. It’s something we try to do with TRNSMT and giving that platform to the likes of Catherine McGrath, Jade Bird and Mahalia.

“When you’re looking at the TRNSMT headliners of the future, hopefully those acts will end up there. Jess Glynne will have a big crowd on the Sunday and so will Sigrid, but we’re definitely putting the acts on and it hasn’t been for lack of trying.”

As for the rest of the line-up, Ellis described rising Scots star Gerry Cinnamon as a “phenomenon” that reminded him of Oasis’ rapid ascent to rock royalty.

“Gerry Cinnamon is huge, I’ve not seen a phenomenon like Gerry since Oasis, in terms of his rapid ascendency. I remember when we had Oasis playing the King Tut’s tent at T in the Park and then they headlined Loch Lomond only a few years late,” he said.

“That trajectory hasn’t happened since, but Gerry, certainly in Scotland, is one on that same path. He could be selling out stadiums soon.

“Stormzy as well, both acts are different musically but they’re both the people’s poets. They come from the streets and they’re both very in tune with their audience and what’s going on. They don’t follow any traditional path as musicians and they’re both extremely exciting.”