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Obsession Gideon Dawson
Interview with Gideon Dawson undertaken by Eternity.....
This interview took place in Cheltenham in March 93 with Gideon Dawson the founder of Obsession, one of the countries best organisers and only 25 years of age.
You used to be with Fantazia, did you do anything before that?
Yes Perception with Chris Griffin. We held our first event at the Brunnel Train Station in Temple Meads Bristol, it held 3000 people, that was back in 1990, the first Perception. I did the flyers and marketing of it and Chris did all the DJ's bookings, that's how we first came together and after a while we gave up our full time jobs (I was a copy writer for a major advertising company) to do this full time.
So how many Perceptions did you do with Chris?
I did two Perceptions with Chris, both in Bristol and then I split off from Chris because I decided I wanted to work by myself, I found it hard to work with other people. I then started Fantazia and did the first Fantazia together with me doing the flyers and line up and James as first helping out with the production. We then went on to secure the hire of Westpoint Exhibition Centre after 7 months of pestering them, that was New Years Eve two years ago. We did Westpoint which was a really good party.
So what happened to Chris then, did he continue Perception on his own?
No, Chris got involved with other partners and continued Perception - we just called it a day and remained friends.
Ok, so back to Fantazia, what happened after that?
Well, as well as doing Westpoint we also were doing a club in Cheltenham called Trance, for about 500 people, we did that for about a year and a half and it was one of the most popular clubs outside of London. In February we did Westpoint again (The Second Sight), that went well as well, a lot of technology was introduced that hadn't really been seen before in the rave scene. The along came Bournemouth. Robbie Dee, Rex and myself gave out over half a million flyers all over the country in a 14 week promotion - it was the largest promotion of its kind ever seen at that point. We ended up getting a bit of a calamity with a lot of people turning up on the door but no one was hurt and a lot of people say it is the best rave that has ever been - no of the parties I have been involved in have had violence at them; no stabbings or anything like that.
After Bournemouth then, which was obviously a great success, what did you after that - Did you do any more Fantazia's?
After Bournemouth I felt that I had come to a bit of a crossroads and also a third party had hot involved which I wasn't too happy with. But we had need them to finance the events.
But hadn't you made enough money from your previous events?
Not enough to finance Bournemouth. We did not make a killing at Bournemouth as it cost a lot of money to put on. An awful lot of money.
What happened after Bournemouth then?
I was mentally exhausted, over the 12 week period I probably covered 2 thousand miles travelling all over the country making sure meetings were made, tickets were selling and it was being promoted right all over the country. We ended up with a bit of a overkill really but everything went well and after Bournemouth I decided to go away on holiday for 2 weeks. Whilst I was away I decided I was working with people that didn't really have the same attitudes as myself or have the same ideologies as I had so I felt at that point that I had lost sufficient control, and did not want to be involved in what I thought Fantazia had turned into, which was more about making money and less about the Dance Scene - it seemed to be going away from that and into more commercialisation which was perhaps not such a bad thing for certain people bit it depends on your roots as a individual I decided at that point that it would be better to use another name and take the team that promoted Bournemouth, all the DJ's and move it into another organisation from Fantazia which I thought would be a step on. Whilst I was still with Fantazia I got involved with a project at Donington Park, I wanted to do Donington as a technology theme park and use multilevel tubeless structures, in other words spend a lot of money, make lots of themes under one overall theme but the people I was working with thought it would be too expensive and to much of a financial risk, they decided to just set up one stage and go for nothing new and it was a project that I thought would have been a climb down - it wouldn't have been a better event than Bournemouth, it wouldn't have been more creative, a lot of people say it didn't live up to what was expected. Due to the amount of people that went to the event the amount of creative things that could have been done was only limited by ones imagination but unfortunately the people involved in it wanted, perhaps, to make more in financial security than taking a risk with the production. At that point the arguments really happened and I decided I wasn't the sort of person who wanted to be involved with what was going on with Fantazia so I pulled out with the knowledge I had started two companies before and knowing that Obsession was a team of people around the country that you know, and hopefully have some mutual respect between you. The DJ's, the marketing, the whole concept was taken and Obsession was started, the original team came with me including the art worker, Alex Hadden, Robbie Dee had also been there from the start and had given out most of the flyers with me and Rex who had been a massive help in implementing what had gone on in the past, and of course the girls in the office. So really it wasn't like leaving Fantazia it was like starting a fresh with the same people but not such an emphasis on making money. If I sat here saying I didn't want to make money that wouldn't be true but I also want to put something on that is more creative, more unique than anything that had ever been seen before, every time I do a party to make something different that had never been seen before. that's progression - what's happening at the moment is the general rave scene is taking a few steps backwards and its time for a few people to stop and think what they are doing if they want to survive another year, moving forward instead of staying the same, perhaps that is why attendances have been lower at events recently. I bit of Zest is needed. Yes people are looking for something new yes, something new could mean in the music - we took a risk at Westpoint and put John Kelly on the decks in front of 10,000 people and it worked out really well, people loved it, after him we put on Ratty who plays a lot faster music but it all seemed to interact nicely - in other words what we were trying to offer was something for everyone rather than just a hard thing or a progressive thing, create an overall picture and supply the best for every single section of the music.
So are you saying that your events will cater for all kinds of music for everybody that's on the dance floor rather than having a house room and hardcore room?
No, Westpoint was different because we only had one set of decks in one room but ideally the thing to do is to have two arenas - there is a big following for the progressive side in the scene because some people are a bit older.
So what was Obsessions first event?
Our first event was at Westpoint Exhibition Centre on the 30th October, a good sign at the event, something I was proud of, was the amount of people that left before the end. Because I have done a lot of flying you see how many people leave before the end, for example at Donington Park between 6 & 8,000 people had left by 6 O'clock in the morning, at the event at Westpoint less than 200 people had left before the end when it finished at 8 o'clock in the morning. that proves to me that people had a good time. I was upset with the levels of noise that the environmental health had set us because on the night they were really were harsh, we had to keep within the restriction for future licensing, apart from that I was very happy with the vibes and it was a very successful first event. We got a lot of positive feedback from people writing in, we had a few DJ's cancelled at the last minute but we brought in the Ratpack, LTJ Bukum and made sure we gave people something in return, it is difficult because some DJ's will let you down.
Can't you tract them?
Well you could do but unless your prepared to go to court for 2 years to sue them your wasting your time. Some DJ's just couldn't make it, a good friend of mine Ellis Dee had phoned up before and said it looked tight because of the fog, he didn't make the journey because he knew he just couldn't make his slot.
Yeh, well that's fair enough
As long as they have booked them in the first place I suppose that is the difference between right and wrong. I would like to say that we made a massive offer to Sasha to play but he wouldn't accept it because his manager said Raves weren't the right image for him. I was gutted because I do think Sasha's music is very special and he is depriving a lot of people of his music.
What are your plans for Obsession now?
We plan to introduce technology from all around the world that hasn't been experience in this country before, virtual reality and other things from the states. I recently went to Berlin to an event called May Day and some of the visual effects and some of the DJ's were something that has never been seen before, it would be good to amalgamate it.
Yes Europe is getting a lot closer with the tunnel so perhaps people will come here more and perhaps we will go out there more.
I was recently talking to one of the pioneers of the scene, Jason from Top Buzz, he was saying that there had been time in this scene that the music has changed and its gone in stages, he believes now that there is another change coming - we will have to wait and see what happens. People are wanting more for their money, people have been to a lot of events and want to see things that are new that they haven't seen before, technological advances, and it its only the people that consider this who will be around in a years time.
We seem to have jumped a bit, what actually happened after your event at Westpoint?
We concentrated on a club called The Park Hall near Hereford, I had immense fun running the club but after 6 months of trying to get a 6 o'clock license they turned us down and said it would never be past 1.30am, because it was in the middle of nowhere people needed an all night event to travel for it, I decided to finish it. We have put in the plans for our new club and it should be ready by the middle of this year. It is in a good position in the country and will be licensed until 7.00am, the facilities will make it a unique club and all I can say at present is it involves virtual reality. We were going for an all night event at Westpoint but because of a previous event seeing some arrests we couldn't get the license. The police took it upon themselves to arrest 100 people for minor drug offences, 9 were detained and only 2 actually ended up in court. If you arrested the same amount of people at a rock concert or in your local pub you would get the same conviction rate but the police were determined for an event never to take place at Westpoint again. We couldn't understand it because it was a move pushing the scene back underground, so underground that peoples safety would be put at risk - one thing that must be said about legal raves is that safety standards are upheld so people are not at risk - I would never like to have on my conscience someone losing their life at one of our parties. We then decided to do a strategy for the New Year and carry out a series of events taking us round the country.
We did Plymouth in February and had the 2nd largest crowd ever to be seen there - people who just went to it said it was absolutely spot on. I have now found a venue in Milton Keynes called the Sanctuary, its a 4000 All night venue and from a technology point of view it is perfect for us to bring in our production crew and transform the building to the way we want it. All that is left to say is we are always looking to the future and all the time we are progressing, this summer will see Obsession do an event where people will see things they have never seen before and take the dance scene one step further - again...
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