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Splendour In The Grass Founders: 'We Almost Called It Home And Away'

'It's a weird name, but we like it. It's a weird festival'.

20/07/2017 6:46 PM AEST | Updated 20/07/2017 6:46 PM AEST
Emily Verdouw
Splendour producers Jessica Ducrou and Paul Piticco

Splendour In The Grass could have been a very different venture altogether, if the founders of the Byron Bay festival had gone with one of their "terrible" original suggestions for a name.

Speaking to HuffPost Australia at the North Byron Parklands just 24 hours ahead of the festival officially kicking off, co-producers and founders Paul Piticco and Jess Ducrou said they ran through countless possible names over many months as they planned the original Splendour way back in 2001. As part of an interview for a HuffPost Australia documentary, which you'll see after Splendour has wrapped up, the pair -- who first linked up in 2000 when Ducrou was the co-founder of Homebake Festival and Piticco was the manager of Powderfinger -- laughed as they reminisced on the festival's formative period.

"Six months, we spent looking [for a name]. I'd go to record shops and bookshops, thinking 'what the fuck are we going to call this thing?'," Ducrou said.

"It was nearly called 'Home and Away', then there was 'Bandcamp', or something like that. Some terrible ones," Piticco laughed.

"I wanted something wordy, a bit quirky or unusual. Something that was happy and uplifting... [my partner at the time] mentioned Splendour In The Grass, which is a fantastic film... I woke up the next day, thinking 'it's Splendour In The Grass!'," Ducrou said.

"It's a weird name, but we like it. It's a weird festival."

The pair, who are in full preparation mode ahead of the 17th edition of the festival, cited Coldplay, The Strokes, TV On The Radio, Kanye West, Franz Ferdinand, Bloc Party, Outkast and Band of Horses as some of their favourite Splendour acts over the years.

But on the flipside, they admitted the 2011 festival was followed by some serious soul-searching. That year, when the festival temporarily left its Byron Bay homeland for the Queensland locale of Woodford, was headlined by the "polarising" pair of Coldplay and Kanye. Ducrou and Piticco said it was the only festival in Splendour's 17-year history which failed to sell out.

"2011 was rough," Piticco said.

"We've definitely had our ups and downs. The festival landscape has changed significantly, particularly in the last decade," Ducrou added.

"We've had a couple of rude slaps along the way."

Ironically, while the organisers said the controversial Kanye might have been part of the somewhat disappointing 2011 response, the 2017 festival features the American rapper in a new way. One of this year's largest art pieces is a huge inflatable installation of 'happy Kanye', a huge depiction of West's head against a rainbow background, an inverse of the 'sad Kanye' meme of 2014. Splendour 2017 only opened to fans on Thursday, but happy Kanye is already proving a big hit on social media with punters.

yeezy taught me #splendabenda #SITG2017 #conniander

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Happy people in front of happy Kanye 💘🎵🍻🌈✨#sitg2017

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HuffPost Australia is at Splendour this year, taking in the vibe and chatting to the big acts. Stay tuned after Splendour wraps up for our documentary on the festival, featuring interviews with some of the best bands on the lineup, with organisers, and backstage access. Keep up with us this weekend on Instagram (@HuffPostAu) and Twitter (@HuffPostAu) for behind-the-scenes access and interviews, as well as on Facebook for a series of Live interviews with big-name acts.

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