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Upfront - Interview

Upfront are a promoter that put on various events during the mid 90's and now do Drum and Bass Style events under the name Upfront DNB.  This is an interview with Fantazia from 2011:

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How did it all begin?
It all started in 1988, me (JD) and a couple of mates ( David, Barry, ), was getting fed up with going to parties, paying £15/£25 to get in and getting shit from the security, promoters promising djs & mcs that didn’t turn up, bad pills lol, and basally getting ripped off.

Where did the name come from?
We wanted to be upfront with people, in what we do, our events, and our attitude, as corny has it sounded, we wanted to be Upfront, (what you see, is what you got).

What gave you that initial push?
Apart from being fed up with all the false promise by promoters , there was also an opportunity for us to do some think about it. we actually started supporting other promoters in the beginning, yeah we did a couple of our own events, but it was more supporting, arranging sound systems, doing videos and photography at events.
We become tickets agents for a lot of the other promoters,( Life Utopa/ Desire/ Elevation/ Pirate Club/ Blaze Magazine ) to name but a few, selling tickets, merchandise, flyer distribution, the lot, it come to a point, that if you wanted tickets or distribution done in Essex or Kent, you would come to us. which in turn, was the foundation of Upfront.

Did the Djing, Production, Promoting come 1st?
I did a bit of mcing ( voice mc ) for some friends, Chris of United Dance, and Funky of Elevation back in the day, but it was more about the promoting that I wanted to do

Who’s throwing the best parties at the moment?
We are ( UPFRONTUK DNB ) lol, na, Who's throwing the best parties, or who's throwing the biggest parties, should be the question…..I think the biggest parties at the moment are being done by Innovations, Raveology, & Random Concept, and a few others, if you look at it, from the point of view of best DJs/MCs and production on the event.  

The only problem is, it is becoming a bit of a monopoly, don’t get me wrong, these events are the dogs bolllocks, brilliant productions and the best value for money, but with some of the big promoters managing the big artists, so it goes with out saying that they will always have all the artists on they line up, at a fraction of the cost, whereby controlling it, the second problem, and most important one is, when ever one of the big promoters put on a event, it stops the smaller promoter from do an event on the same date, well, not stopping them, but makes it difficult, as the artists are booked on the best set times, and more then just an the normal hour set time, so when you try to book them for your event, you are given a early set time ( before 12.00midnight ) for the artist, and we are talking about top headliners !, and this is even if you have booked them first !! Before any one else !!!!! Which is a bit unfair really, monopolisation of the scene !!!

So, to answer who is putting on the ( BEST ) parties at the moment, I would have to say, people like:- Earthquake / Club Dissident in Peterborough / Audio Assault in Southend, oh and us.   Why? Because we keep it reel, ravers get to see the artists up close, and are able to get the photos taken with them, the venues are not to big, so it keeps it more personal.

Which other countries have you played/put parties on?
We have put on parties all over the UK, Spain, Belgium, and France.

What was the first event you ever played at/put on?
We did a couple of parties back in 1989/91, which were your typical warehouse parties, One of the first events we every went to was In Search Of Space, and Biology, a true rave ! The Biology one, was in Slough just off the M25, and it was mad, thousands of cars driving around Slough looking for the party, in the end the police started to directed every one to a large ware house care park, which was the Panasonic / Tech warehouse, we all parked up and was directed to a empty warehouse ( by the police ), as we got nearer to hit, we could here a sound system and see lasers !! it was wicked, will always remember that one !

What’s the best event you’ve played at/put on?
Its hard to say really, what our best event was, they have all been good, from the old warehouse acid parties in 89/91, to the jungle events in the late 90s, and then the summer of love events in Ibiza in 2003/2006, but the most recent ones are the, “In Search Of Space – Drum n Bass Tour” which we started back in May 2010, going all around the country, from:- London/ Hertford / Portsmouth / Bristol / Essex / Peterborough / Nottingham / Southsea / Hertfordshire, the tour hasn’t ended yet, we are planning the end of tour party for the end of the year (2011) , its been a wicked tour, met some great people, and the parties were all rammed.. The inspiration behind this tour, came from an event we went to years ago (89), called “In Search Of Space” which was quite appropriate really when you think about it, coz of the way we are looking for the space to do such events !

What was your first record you bought?
S-Express lol.

Out of all the tunes you have, which one ‘never fails?’
Valley of the Shadow ( Long Dark Tunnel ) / It’s a London Thing / SL2 On A Ragga Tip, & 4am.

What's you favourite tune of all time?
Valley of the shadow.

When all the partying is over how do you like to chill out?
Haah,, the parties never stop…! But I suppose, I like to listen to a bit of liquid (drum n bass), and lots of vitamin C ! lol

So how is the scene in your eyes at the moment?
Nothing like it use to be, from a promoters point of view, it’s a “dog eat, dog word”, to many people trying to put events on, for the wrong reasons! i.e. money! And not for the music… to many big egos! in respect to the artist, & the monopolisation of the scene, by some of the bigger promoters.

What's is your real name if you use an alias and how old are you?
John Duckworth. Aka ( JD )… 21years old.. lmfaro… ( I wished ) 46.

Where do you live?
In Essex.

 What can you remember of being at a Fantazia?
Fantazia, wow! “One Step Beyond 92” was by far one of the best event of all time, blew me away….… I could not believe the size, of the stage, and the sound system and the lasers were sick !!! So many people in one place, getting on it, and loving it.

Now I'm not just saying this, but Fantazia showed the world, how it should be done…. I only wished, Fantazia would step back up to the stage again, and show the current big promoters how it should be done !

How big is your vinyl collection? What do you think of CDJ's?
Not as big as it should be !! around 10.000. CDjs… well, they are the future ! but you cant bet 1210s…

Funniest thing that ever happened at an event?
I was doing a bit of djing (back in the day), to around 3,000 people, whilst mixing in a record, I turned the wrong deck off, but didn’t realise it, as I had my headphones on,!! I looked up at the crowed and noticed that they was just standing still looking at me ! I couldn’t understand it really as it was a wicked track I was mixing in !!! (lol) I could of died……

Other DJs you rate?
There is a lot of good djs around, i.e. the headliners, but more importantly there is a lot of really good Up and Coming djs,,, like Blackley / Complex / Taxman / Logan D / Haribo / Kallista / Connekt, Switch FX, Chris Kaoz, Fusion and so on.

What are your feelings on the MC's?
I think the right MC can make or break an event, however, they need to remember and respect the DJ when his mixing!

What do you do outside of the dance music scene?
Nothing… the dance music scene is my life… However, in saying that, I do have a family, so when I'm not working, I like to try and spend as much time as I can with them.

What advice would you give to up and coming DJs/Promoters?
For Promoters,,, Listen to the people ( the ravers ) and give them what they want, not what you want ! Promote your event hard, and don’t rely on others to do it for you. Respect other promoters and work with them.
For DJs/MCs you need to work at your game, and be the best at it… If your booked for an event, support it in every way you can, remember, its not just about you! Its about the complete event…

When was the 1st time you visited Ibiza? Was it to holiday or to play?
First time I went to Ibiza was back in 1998, for a break ( Holiday), and just fell in love with, the vibe it was heavy… Wicked Island ..

Anything else you want to say? Any shouts?
I would Like to give a big shout out to:

Funky (elevations ), Brett & Sting ( Life Utopa ), Rat Pack, Terry Turbo, Mad Al ( Earthquake ), Garry K (Random Concept ), Tye ( Club Dissident ), Finbar ( Roller Express ), Chris ( United Dance ), Devious D, Reckless B, Brockie, Nugget, Jumpin Jack Frost, Pompey Rabbit, Confusion DNB, Ridagator, Lilman, Crissy Cris, Slipmatt, Ellis Dee, Shabba D, Harry Shotta, Stormin, Funsta, Skibba D, Eksman, Baby D, Timeless, Twisted Individual, WKD, Lines E, Shaydee, Decoy, B52, Complex, Drastik Measures, Shaun ( Blaze Mag ), Robbo, Micro & Nino, Yardee, Ricochet, Torchman, IC3, Robbie Dee, Jooka, Chris Kaoz, Switchy, GQ, Fearless, Subfocus, Twisted Bless, Bassman, Juiceman, Sublow, Loki, Vibes, Wynda Dapper, Nicky BlackMarket, Kenny Ken, Scotty (UrbanFront ), Fatman D, Bryan G, LTJ Bukem, Majistrate, The Ragga Twins, Modified Motion, Sly, Herbzie, Taxman, Hype, Andy C, Bunnage, Sam Elliot, John Drone, Grooverider, all the Rude FM crew, Rush FM, Kool FM, Blackley, Radio 1 Extra, Cardiff FM, Kallista, MC Danger (Pete), Fusion (Lee), Ross, Logan D (Low Down Deep), Hazard, Trigga, Evil B, The Ticket Sellers, Toby (Innovations ), Jam Jar, South Coast Flyers, Original Sin, Phantasy, Friction, Spooka, Erb n Dub, Navigator, SMK, Shuffle, Joe (Innovations), Lloyd ( Innovations ), Jon (Unban Takeover ), Tom ( Code)

If you could stage a rave anywhere, where would you choose?
Hyde Park ( London ).

How do you see the scene 5 years from now?
Yeah, good question…. The way Drum n Bass is at the moment, I feel its ready to exploded, the music is becoming more and more diverse. Promoters need to work together, get rid of the hatters and back stabbers and stop the monopolisation that is killing the industry…..

If you had a time machine what year would you go back to and why?
1992 on wards… best events, and the music ever, it was live-o….

Any shouts you would like to make?
See Above,,,

But to end, I would just like to say to all the Fantazia Crew, a big “Thank You” for the many years of inspiration that you have given me to put on events and to keep the vibe alive, for if it wasn’t for you guys, then I'm sure, it wouldn’t have been a fantastic industry and scene to be in…The best & biggest events ever seen (wicked)…. Keep it going guys…

Bless JD…


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