Emily Eavis: this much I know

The 34-year-old Glastonbury festival organiser on being a mother, growing up on the farm and why she loves mud

My mum was the backbone of Glastonbury. Through the rocky days, to what it became later on, she was like the mother of the festival. When she died in 1999, I wanted to come home from London and support my dad – to try to fill a tiny bit of the hole she left behind.

Bob Dylan is my musical foundation. I grew up listening to him. He was on in the car, he was on in the house, he was everywhere. Although I'm a massive fan of his music, I don't like reading anything about him. I don't want to know. I don't want Bob the person to cloud my view of his music.

It's much cooler not to be cool. I've always been wary of things that try to be. My school motto was: "Be what you are." Everything we do should be instinctive instead of conforming to what's "hip".

I'll always be asked for free tickets. Everyone tends to come out of the woodwork – I've had emails from people I haven't seen in 15 years just "dropping me a line" to see how I am. I prefer it when people come right out and ask instead of pussyfooting around it. I still can't help though.

There's a lull in our collective sense of protest right now. Cuts in welfare and the arts make me feel we need to have a political voice again like we did in the 80s and 90s. People are pissed off. We've got to do something.

Our family roots run deep at Worthy Farm. We have been here for six generations, so there's a real feeling among us that it's our ancestral home.

I was very attached to a cardboard box at three. I loved it. I remember my sister pushing me up a hill with all the festival chaos going on around us. It was a lot more edgy back then: there were no fences and lots of drug dealers. I saw a lot from the safety of that box.

Both my babies have been born just before the festival. I'm convinced they don't want to miss the action. Our second son was born three weeks ago, so at the moment I either have a baby flopped on my knee or I'm breastfeeding during meetings.

I've always taken great comfort in nature. I'd struggle to live somewhere where it's sunny every day. Being surrounded by trees and the valley and the changing of the seasons is something I appreciate and need.

I spend a lot of time saying no to people. No to corporate sponsorship, no to brands or things that aren't in keeping with our ethos. If I see things that have got through, where people are taking the piss, then I flip.

I love the mud. It's hard work when it's wet, but there's something so British – and life-affirming – seeing people determined to have a brilliant time in those conditions. Imagine it were LA – they'd be like: "Hail me a cab!"

The Glastonbury Festival is from 26-30 June (glastonburyfestivals.co.uk)


Shahesta Shaitly

The GuardianTramp

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