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Fantazia Founder - James Talks Back

James, we might as well start by getting the boring stuff out of the way!  Would you briefly tell our readers about yourself...
Ok Steve, my name's James, I'm 24 years old and I live in Cheltenham.  I've been organising events since I was 15 and I've been involved in the dance scene since 1989 and I'm single!!

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I think there are a lot of people out there who want to know about  "New Years Eve" let's hear your side of the story...
Ok. Our aim at Fantazia has always been to be different.  I believed we could hold an event in a semi permanent structure, with tunnels, carpet, heating etc, so people would feel just like they were in a building.  Before I became involved in the dance scene, I based my events in marquees on the back of country houses.  So I thought, wouldn't it be nice to let our customers have some quality treatment, you know, give them 500% and wouldn't it be nice to hold an event in the grounds of a stately home?!  A "touch of class" was what I was trying to achieve.  On this occasion, it didn't work.

I don't really want to go into detail.  Let's just say that, I, like every promoter, rely on lots of people, a number of whom let me down. Obviously Fantazia is my responsibility and consequently, I have to accept the blame.  And before you ask,  I won't name names! Except the Fire Brigade - to say they were unco-operative is an understatement.  They did everything in their power to prevent the event taking place.  Personally, I was not happy with the night.  In fact I was extremely disappointed! At the end of the day, every company makes mistakes - this was ours.  We're really sorry if anyone experienced any discomfort.  Some people contacted us after the event to complain, and everyone of them received a personal apology and compensation of some kind.  What I will say is that we had thousands of letters from people who had an excellent time. The amount of letter received and the large number of videos we sold prove that. I'm convinced that if it had been warm and carpeted, we wouldn't have had many, if any, complaints.

What is your opinion of the Scene?
As far as I'm concerned, the demise of the scene is down to 2 things - a lack of good, original music, and greed.  The latter is the one that really pisses me off.  Most promoters and DJ's are earning very good money.  But do you put any of it back? And in my opinion, that's a contributing factor to why people aren't enjoying events as much now.  We've always tried to offer our customers value for money, as well as play good original music and put on friendly security. And, of course, be different!

You talk about greed, and not putting money back into the industry.  A lot of people believe Fantazia are only in it for the money! What do you say to that?
There are loads of things we could do just to earn loads of money, and we certainly wouldn't be involved in this industry.  As the end of the day, people have to make up their own minds, but let me tell you this.  Over the past 4 years, we have been ploughing a lot of money back in to the scene, to the extent that we now have a Video Company, a clothing company and a Record Company, as well as the events side of Fantazia.

Tell us about the Record Company?
You've heard me rattle on about the lack of good original music - that's why we set up Fantazia Music 12 months ago.  The first album - The First Taste has sold over 40,000 copies since its release in November last year, and reached number 2 in the dance/ compilation charts.  The second album is called Twice As Nice, and offers excellent value for money as it's a double compilation.  The scheduled release is 12th July, and it will be available through HMV, Virgin, Our Price and most good stockists. I know I am biased, but believe me, it really is a good listen.  We've  also got some brilliant artists signed to the record company including Rat Pack.  We are releasing a single by Rat Pack on July 5th 1993.

You motto is "Come and Join the Future" Tell me about the future?
We are determined to keep the scene alive, by putting on excellent shows and producing really good, original new music.  If I may, Steve, I'd like to make a point to your readers now. We at Fantazia haven't forgotten that it is you, the people, that make the scene.  You've got to tell us what you want!  We've just completed writing to our 60,000+ members, asking them just that - What do your want?  Lets go back to your question. Shit!  What was it?

When's your next event?
It's planned for 14 August for 30,000 people at the Cricket St Thomas Wildlife Park in Chard, near Illminster (South Coast), although the license hasn't been confirmed yet. 

What sort of show are you gonna put on?
Wait and see! I can promise you, though, that it will be truly spectacular, probably the best event this country will ever see!

Ok James. I'd like to thank you for giving us your time.  I've certainly enjoyed speaking with you,  and I'm sure our readers will enjoy reading the interview.  Also I'd like to wish Fantazia all the best!
Thanks mate, and vice versa!  By Steve Larnder-Smith


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