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Interview with James Fantazia 1993

Fantazia is owned by James Fantazia who at the age of 24 had built up a successful business in the rave scene and not only offers events but also owns a record label and merchandising company.

He arranged his first party when he was only 15 years old at a club called Charles, the night was called Abortion which stood for 'A brilliantly organised raving time in one night', really weird as his business ended up in the rave scene. 

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After that he did a pop concert with Gideon Dawson but the whole idea behind the rave scene was after he had been around Europe and returned home to find loads of kids in a service station at 7am and the press moaning on about an all night party.  

He had the idea to start all night parties and introduced lasers in Cheltenham and all kinds of events including Black Tie ones.   Although they did start out together Gideon left him and started his own business called Obsession, that was after Fantazia's event Summertime in Bournemouth.

Their last party on New Years Eve was not as successful as many of the previous ones like the 25,000 person Donnington event as it was beset by many problems.    We spoke to James about the companies attitudes and exactly what went wrong..........

It is rumoured that Fantazia are only into  the business to make money, what do you say?
A lot of peoples goal is to make as much money as they can, in spite what people read in the media this is not what I'm about, of course I'm in it for the money, everybody wants to make money, no one is doing work for the good of their health.  People got out to work everyday so that they can earn money that they can then go and spend at an event that they can enjoy going to.  Why we differ to a lot of other organisations is not only do I have a dream and a message I want to get across to young people,  that I can put on parties that you will want to go to.  I take key elements from other peoples events and get influence from even a David Bowie concert, all sorts of things,  I'm not going to tell you where I get my influences from but I do get them from people in the rock and roll industry as well as the rave industry.

I have not spent the last 5 month counting money like everyone thinks, we have got some really exciting plans coming up.    My office is full of pictures of flyers from previous events and they are all coming down, its not image I'm trying to get across we are looking to the future not to the past.

So are you saying the past has gone wrong or wasn't good enough?
No, we are striding to be better every time,  if I thought we had done everything we could I wouldn't be sitting here now,  I'd be doing another job.  I know the people who are working for me now are going to do an out of this world show, when people get to out events they will stand there and say "God, this is amazing".  Our last flyer with the black guy and girl with the tongue is part of the new image.

So no hints then of what will be there?
It will be a inspiration and I think a lot of people will follow.  At the end of the day it will be the people that vote with their pocket.   If they want to go to something different and a real inspiration to the scene, the breath of fresh air that this scene needs then watch this space.

But don't you think a lot of people got that from Universe?
I think Universe are definitely offering something but its not for me to talk about other peoples events and companies, what they are doing is excellent but its not the image I'm trying to promote - if they are happy with what they did at their last event then I am happy for them.  I am not interested in what other promoters or anyone else says about us only the paying customers, everyone that wrote in about New Years Eve was personally replied to.

Was that because you felt guilty?
Yes, I felt guilty, I felt terrible that what was my dream had not come right on the night I do not need to make excuses but it was a brilliantly planned event - it would of been amazing.  Yes, it never was going to be  in the house but the venue had always been called Little Cote House, it may of been a play on words but it was not my intention for that to happen.

Picture this, I tried to make the layout of the tents a star shape, the main stage and two side stages with tunnels going through.  No fair rides, bungee jumping set to come, tarot reader.  All connected by tunnels and carpeted with coconut matting it would o been nice and dry,  I did not want people to have to set one foot outside the marquee.  You would of been in a space ship type thing, you could have had one room mellow, one room hardcore and one room with techno.  It would have started a new era in marquee events because never before has there really been a marquee event that was any good.  I did a black tie event a few years ago where carpets were down, heaters were in and people were taking their fur coats off because it was too hot,.  It was so warm we had to turn the heaters off.

What happened with this event then?
Well an hour before the event the fire officer said sorry all the sides have got to go up - I told him NO its meant to be a marquee event, he said they had to go up.  As far as I was concerned the event was now an outdoor event and not an indoor event - if I knew it was going to be an outdoor event I wouldn't have spent 40,000 on hiring marquees.

So if that was your original intention to have just as you explained how come there was attractions and a fair ground outside on the night?
The fairground idea was brought about a few days before the event.  Christmas Eve I was ill and because I was also busy with the album I didn't get everything sorted.  I was phoned and told a fair could be provided but I explained that wasn't what I really wanted,  I wanted a tunnel going to the toilets - there was a breakdown in communication - when I got there New Years Eve morning I knew it wasn't going right, I had to make the best of a bad job.  The marquee people fucked up!  The fire officer was trying to stick the boot in because I got the licence.  I paid 7000 up front for the carpets so all the people that came were not walking in mud.

So what happened to the carpets then?
Three days before the event they said the carpet was ready but should be laid at the last minute.  I said OK, but it was very important, I came back on the day to find still only one trailer of carpets had arrived, they said don't worry they would be there later, they said it would be done in a minute as they drove a fork lift truck into the marquee with some kit on it.   I told them to stop as they were churning up the ground.

A week before Christmas the marquee was supposed to be up, the heaters on over Christmas, the ground would have totally dried up and great no mud!  Because they had churned the ground up I had to get rollers in, because the sides had been up the heaters had been switch off, the great was going straight out.  At 4 o'clock on the day some carpeting had still not been delivered and we basically had run out of time, I'd like to say if we let anyone down I'm sorry - we do know how important the customer is.

Our next event is set to take place at Cricket St Thomas Wildlife Park, right on the south coast where the weather always seems to be nice, about 20minutes from the beach, the same distance as Bournemouth was from the sea front.   The event is planned for July 10th but if it doesn't go ahead it will be because I'm not happy and I will have decided to go for August 14th .  We will be making a hell of a lot of promises that we will be keeping and it will start the new era in dance music, we will be spending a fortune and it will be completely different.

What sort of person are you aiming to get at your event?
What do you mean by that?

Well from your past record I don't really think you can draw in some of the type of people that went to Universe, can you cater for them?
Who are they then?

Well the people that for example were in the DIY tent, the older generation, more experience people that have been in the scene for a few years, what I'm saying is are you planning to cater for them or just the younger generation that have been in the scene for 12 month to 2 years.
Whether you have been in the scene for 2 months, 2 years or 4 years you are no more important, what makes you feel we can't pull those kind of people, I feel we are in touch with what people want.

Well I think because your events are on  a more commercial level really
What do you mean?

The way you do everything, the music.
Commercial means its something that everyone wants, every promoter wants to be commercial - others will say we are commercial but still plan an event for 30,000 people,  I want to think my friends can come to my events and enjoy themselves so if that's your question the answer is yes! We are trying to attract large crowds and that's all ages and all race to come together and show support for the dance scene.

Have you got plans to move further a field, overseas to America maybe?
No, at present we will let out colleagues go over there.  We are planning to spread the word of Fantazia but America is not ready yet and its very easy to come unstuck out there which is not the way to communicate your message.  We are not ready to take on America, the music is confused, there is guns and gangsters a lot more than over here.   We still have something to prove over here and if our next step works from the new concept then we will take it abroad.

We are concentrating on our albums and the music, after the success of the first album which was 12 weeks in the charts and sold 40,000 copies we have artists signed up to us.  We have some plans for Rat  Pack and you will see a change in them as we invest money to give them a new image.  There is a lot of talent but the DJ's should spend the money they make by going into the studio to make new music and hopefully soon you will see a lot more live bands.  Our new album will show what we are doing.  We are giving new talent, a helping hand, we supported Ratty from the start and have helped Ratpack and Top Buzz to get to where they are today.

We have put a lot of effort into our merchandise, we are bringing out our new range of jeans and all out T-shirt and clothes are graphically designed.  We are bringing out what we think people want to wear and if that's commercial then I'm sorry but its only because people want to wear it because they like it.  All that is left say is look out for out next event because it promises to be a blinding event.

 

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