Summer, where art thou? Recap ‘MINT FEST’

Tom Culshaw
Written by Tom Culshaw

As I sat on a return flight from a six day survival course in Ibiza, I was sure that my summer antics were over. So much so, I passed on my MINT FEST ticket to a friend. Content with the mayhem of late, I was almost looking forward to a relaxing weekend in an attempt to salvage a marble or two. With this new outlook on existence, and many, many life affirming quotes read, I was ready to hang up my boots and convert to Buddhism or join the peace core.

The dark blues of post Ibiza quickly sank in, and as the days passed I stood firmly in my decision to turn over that infamous hypothetical leaf. This lasted an impressive three days until I was offered a full weekend ticket, a press pass and camping for MINT FEST. Only reinforced of course by a line-up of epic global talent spread over two days of chaos. Armed with an I-phone, a press pass and a faultless squad of comrades, I set off to MINT on the Friday, all set to cap off one of the greatest summers of my life.

Festivals traditionally, are made up of a mixed bag of weird and wonderful people. The beauty of it is an office worker can hang up his suit for the weekend, tie a bandanna around his head, and skip around a field in the sun high fiving strangers all day. Other events in such a central location have received damning press in recent years with trouble or violence, however the diversity of revellers and the relaxed approach of staff at Mint managed to salvage that ‘carefree vibe’ that is only apparent in the midst of festival season. With the set up so relaxed and relatively intimate, everyone could meander from tent to tent with ease. Each performance drew a particular crowd that fed off one another’s energy, and it wasn’t a constant battle to trawl through masses of people due to over crowdedness. Party people of all ages rocked up, ranging from the typical North face warrior shouting ‘Alan!’ around the camp-site, to a six foot five black man in his 30’s wearing nothing but Speedos and a spiky helmet. Fancy dress was in full flow, short shorts dubbed, and the sun was wearing his snap-back.

By chance I was lucky enough to meet the owner of Mint briefly. He was genuinely interested in how the festival was going and thanked us all for taking part and travelling down. Refreshingly humble and sincere, it only reinforced how in touch and approachable the structure of the festival was.





It was by chance, I must admit, that I stumbled across ‘Denney’ early afternoon on the Saturday. Backed highly by Mixmag following his smash hit ‘Ultraviolet’ (signed by no other than the infamous Hot Creations Camp), the local lad from Middlesbrough has catapulted to international success over the last two years.

Early set times are often frustrating, with talented DJ’s usually dropping bombs on a vacant crowd. However the aptitude of Denney managed to pull revellers out of their sleeping bags and in no time the tent was bursting with appreciation.

Technically on point, the Northerner injected a soulful and funky wave of contagious tracks throughout his set. Mixing the tempo brightly and gradually getting deeper, he managed to maintain the crowd for his full set. Exchanging glances of approval from the crowd confirmed job done. Party started, a perfect way to start the day, and a DJ I am eager to see again in full flow.





A fixture that stuck out amongst an entire line up of global tech masters was the pair of New York house innovators ‘The Martinez Brothers’. Their knowledge of music is second to none, and it’s seemingly impossible to pin point exactly what it is that creates their untypical, dirty, jazzy and eclectic approach to underground techno. With so much influence from their father Steve Snr, it would be interesting to know which genre of music primarily manipulates each track. I find myself claiming to have heard ‘the greatest set yet’, each and every time I’ve seen them. This weekend again, was no different.

Prior to their set, I managed to grab them backstage. Struggling to keep my composure and mentioning I’m somewhat of a fan several times, I eventually managed to grab a picture with the brothers, and what an absolute pleasure it was to meet them. It’s impressive how humble and down to earth the pair remain. Innately cool & genuine lads, it’s no wonder the brothers are currently the defining leaders in the global house scene.

Following on from the ever impressive Maya Jane Coles, the pair immediately ushered the crowd into a much deeper and funkier playground. Backed by impressive visuals and illusive smoke screens, revellers dug their heels in preparing for wave after wave of twisting euphoria. At times it was impossible to process the realism of it all as the duo transfixed the crowd seamlessly. Mixing in their own produced work ‘H 2 Da Izzo’, the whole set was personal. Track after track amending the tone in poetic form. It’s difficult to convey the aura that consumed the tent. Day quickly seemed to turn into night, with revellers frequently exchanging glances of pure admiration and disbelief, each ethereal drop perfectly delayed to monstrous effect. As the set progressed, the crowd looked as if they were held at gun point. Hands held in the air, eyes closed, head in the clouds.

The oddities, trials and jubilations of the day wrapped up with a trademark Sven Vath journey of the mind. I called it a day, and began the short journey back to camp. Winding down, gradually piecing the day together I found myself passing the Duke Dumont tent. Softer melodic tones drifted out. I popped my head in, only to find a close friend of mine stood on the outskirts, eyes closed, passionately mouthing the words to ‘Ocean Drive’. The whole tent caught within a moment,

Envisioned, peering up at the roof in search of their souls. A flurry of confetti and strobes rained upon the crowd, a fitting image to round off an unbelievable day.



Jimmy Switch, a self-taught DJ and producer from Manchester is gradually becoming one of the most talked about up and coming talents this year. With a residency at abode, he carries high energy sets, and funky progressive drops that have marked Jimmy with his own unique sound. I’ve been lucky enough to see him several times now, with each performance getting better and better.

Sunday, the final day of reckoning and three days into the festival, a pick me up was most definitely needed. Luckily I didn’t need to look any further than the ‘Prism’ tent, as Jimmy Switch immediately set off with a deep and soulful set. The tent was relatively empty to start, for approximately five minutes until funky bass leaked out into the festival, grabbing revellers by the ears and luring them inside. Mixing tempo, and timing vocals brilliantly, Jimmy wiped any hangover, and set an extremely high standard for the day.






The enormity of the weekend line up was only reinforced with wAFF playing mid-afternoon 14:30 – 16:30. A man with unprecedented talent, who has worked his way into a residency with the one and only Jamie Jones. From the get go, the PARADISE tent was on fire. wAFF as comfortable as ever, high fiving guests who lurked in the wings, grinning as he dropped absolute belters, and genuinely enjoying setting the place alight.

The set began, and remained infectious. Naturally, the East Yorkshire born lad worked the crowd into ecstasy dropping ‘Tiger stripes – Brrr – truesoul’. It was insanely funky, lashing out bouncy techno with deep melodic bass oozing around the venue. As expected, the PARADISE tent invested brilliantly in special effects, lighting up a cloudy Yorkshire day with strobes and exhilarated faces. The mood of MINT was lifted, with wAFF hammering home one of the best sets of the weekend.


It’s difficult to depict a festival in so few words, especially on the scale of MINT. So many world class DJ’s, and not forgetting a certain ‘SKEPTA’ for those with a soft spot for Grime. The Jamie Jones’, Richy Ahmed’s and Seth Troxler’s of this world needn’t a mention, as a mind bending performance is now expected and delivered. It is however inspiring to see the lesser publicised talent, firmly staking a claim within the global house scene, wrapping up a summer of insanity in fine form.

The weekend is made by the people, the vibe and the sense of freedom. A written effort of conclusion would not pay justice to the weekend passed. My only advice; assemble a sterling group of friends, buy a tent, and get yourself to MINT Festival 2016. World class.


Words & photography – Tom Culshaw