14th of December will go down as the day that sent the whole of dark fruits twitter into mayhem with the release of arguably the strongest festival lineup ever featuring the likes of Liam Gallagher, The Courteeners, The 1975, Arctic monkeys and Blossoms amongst many other massive names.

The name of the festival was ‘Yorkshire Fields’ and garnered a lot of attention not only for its unbelievable lineup but for the fact, there was nothing but a Facebook page to represent it leaving some to question the credibility of the event. Despite the uncertainty brewing, the lineup announcement post was spreading like wildfire, you couldn’t scroll through your facebook or twitter without seeing someone sharing or tagging their mates, it was everywhere.

All hope was lost for excited fans when Courteeners front man Liam Fray Tweeted saying they’d not be attending.

People were right to be sceptical and on the 17th of December only 3 days since the announcement was made the Yorkshire Fields dream well and truly died when a post was released on thier facebook page explaining how the festival was, in fact, a hoax created by a 16-year-old from, you guessed it, Yorkshire.

Obviously, I am totally fascinated by this being both a music blogger and avid festival goer myself so I reached out to the mastermind behind the whole fiasco. He very kindly answered a few questions.

So, I’ve seen the video interview with Ladbible but I want to just delve a little deeper really because I personally think you’re a genius you fooled the whole of the indie dark fruits community. Firstly lets out a name and a face to this whole situation, who are you? 

-I’m Ollie Yates, I’m from Lancashire. I go to a college in Skipton (that’s where the idea of Yorkshire fields came from)

How did the idea come about, did it spring into your mind straight away to then take it from a small scale discussion to a more public display. 

-At first, we were set a project in our course at college (Computer Science BTEC and this was for the social media sector) and it was to use a business or create one and create a social media campaign and plan it out to every extent. I had the idea of creating a festival because I thought it would be easy to make as I usually have experience with graphic design (@olliedesiign on Twitter) and the concept was quite easy to create as I had to follow the simple steps that every festival does. I only created a simple Facebook page labelled as a festival, created a simple logo and then an “announcement poster”. I had no following off that other than those at college. It was when I created the lineup poster things got wild. I used a Facebook ad campaign with £5 for 5 days. Within hours people started commenting and tagging their friends and sharing the post. Within the first day, it got a few thousand responses. But it was the second day where it went wild and more and more kept seeing it. People did begin to see it was fake as there was no website or any other details on tickets or anything (as I didn’t want people to be scammed)

How did you choose the acts, are the ones you would like to see on your dream lineup or ones that you choose purely for popularity and shock factor? 

-I chose those acts because I and my college mates like those acts and we enjoy that kind of music. My friend Charlie helped me out with the smaller acts as I wanted to get the initial line-up to look believable as any other festival

Obviously making it look believable was key, people would have seen straight through it otherwise, your hype posts and poster design looked 100% legit. Is design something you’re into or a possible career path? You could make some decent money out of producing posters like that. 

-I do actually do some design on the side for friends and people who contact me on twitter. I do enjoy design and the whole idea of doing a festival really excited me in a design aspect. I looked at a lot of the beat herder festival posts and other ideas from Pinterest and I just went from thee, to be honest

What response did you expect from posting the lineup, it’s very easy for posts to get lost on social media, did you think it would break through and when did you start to notice the post was picked up? 

-I was hoping that I would get a few reactions from it of people saying how amazing the lineup was but mostly just needed a little bit of a response to get my college essay going. I started to notice it was picking up about an hour after sharing the post on the page. People started to see it through the advert (only £5 to promote) and then when people started tagging big groups of friends it started to get even bigger to the point where I had to turn notifications off my facebook because it was blowing up that much.

Eventually, the lineup went viral, my social media was full of people sharing and speculating, I had readers DMing me asking if I knew, it was mental. I can only imagine the number of messages the page was received, judging by those messages did many people actually catch onto it not being real. I saw that you had proposals from caterers, photographers etc how did you respond to those, did you let them in on it?

-Firstly, it did go mental, within the first day I had over 99+ messages on the Dm’s asking about ticket prices, camping prices and just them overall asking if it as real o fake. Hen I announced it was fake I had people messaging me again saying how I’m a ‘legend’ and how it was such a great windup’. When companies started messaging the page it was hilarious because I couldn’t say to them it was fake unless it got out and ruined it. I only ran the ad for a weekend so I only had to wait 4 days (Friday to Monday) to tell everyone. Most of the companies messaged the page again saying it was funny how I even managed to fool them too.

How many people were in on it, what was the closest person in your life that you managed to fool? Did your mates share the lineup not knowing it was you behind it? 

-Only a select few were In on it from college. I also told a few mates and they found it funny when it was blowing up as well. The funniest point was when my girlfriend sent me the post and how she wanted to go but I had to break the news to her it was fake and she was gutted. There were so many of my friends tagging their friends not realising it was fake either and a lot of people from my old school.

The whole thing was blown when Liam Fray from The Courteeners responded to a fan’s tweet to say that they’d not be attending, how did you react and did you know it was finally time to make the announcement that the whole thing was, in fact, a prank?

-I only wanted to run the ad for a weekend (for the purpose of my essay) and when I saw Liam fray had said that it was hilarious to me because I didn’t think any of the acts would see it, never mind respond.

What was the reaction like to the come-clean announcement, did you receive any kind or negativity or hate, I know I was just annoyed I didn’t come up with the idea first, would have been great promo for the blog, ha. 

-I did have a lot of negative comments (especially a lot of angry older people calling me stupid for trying to ‘scam’ people) but most of them were funny negative comments anyway. I also did get a lot of nice comments of people wishing me well with the write up of the paper and they hope it goes well.

This has shown that we shouldn’t believe everything we see online, the impact that social media and how fast things can spread online, do you feel like you’ve personally learnt anything from this whole experience or is this still all a bit of banter? 

-All of it just shows what I wanted to get out of it in the first place. I did want to just show people how if something looks so believable, do you believe it? That’s what I’m basing my whole essay around at least. It is still a massive load of banter though to say that I did create a massive festival that over half a million people believed.

As I mentioned before this stunt was pretty believable, have you had any job offers from festivals or PR companies because it’s very clear you know your way around social media, I could see you running a festivals socials?

-No, I haven’t. but I do want to go into social media marketing / digital media before I even started this because it does really interest me but I do find that I can use this to put in my Cv and get me into that line of work later on.

And lastly, There’s been a petition made to actually make the festival happen, maybe with a few less of the big names, but would that be something you’d like to see happen?

-That would be absolutely amazing if it did happen but I’ve got to be real and say I don’t think it will be happening anytime soon

Well there you go, ‘Yorkshire Fields’ may not have gone down in history as the best festival ever but it will go down as a pretty cool prank.

Massive thank you to Ollie.

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