They call it one the hidden treasures of the English Channel, but when you think of Guernsey, I’m pretty sure most of you will say ‘Where the hell is that? – Oh wait you mean Jersey? Oh… Guernsey. Yeah, never heard of it’.
But picture an idyllic little island, measuring only 12 miles long, with an area of 65 km² – Guernsey is an array of tropical beaches, with an abundance of dolphin loving shores and bays, nicely accompanied by glorious sunshine (most of the time). And yes people automatically presume we’re somewhat stuck in the dark ages, but that probably doesn’t help with a mere population of 63,000 people. But one thing that Guernsey has been keeping a secret, is the extremely healthy and ever-expanding Drum and Bass scene.
And that’s with great thanks to Rave.Era!
Gaz Werger, Will Corbin, Coby King-Jones and Joe Ozanne are the brains behind Rave.Era. These four passionate, charismatic, Guernsey born and bred local lads, are responsible for bringing the absolute mayhem that happen to grace your weekends once a month in Guernsey.
With a number of sold out events under their belts – With Kasra and GQ in May, to Emperor in June, just to name two of their many big events. I managed to pick their brains about how their events have become a firm favourite to attend, the challenges they’ve faced and the solid movements they’re making within the Drum and Bass scene.
So you’re all born in Guernsey, but where are you based now?
Gaz: I was born in Guernsey, but I now live in London.
Joe: I’m Guernsey based, lived here all my life. Personally I love the place and it’s fantastic to be able to put on all these events and see our nightlife thrive!
How did the topic of Rave.Era come about? How did it become a reality?
Gaz: I’ve been friends with Feeble for close to like 8 years and with Willers for about 3-4 years. Joe messaged me early last year wanting to set up events, and as we had already established a following (however small at the time), he was wondering if we wanted to brand them collectively. So Joe getting on board was definitely the catalyst for the first event. We’ve all always been really into music and loved going to raves since the first one I went to and there was nothing going on in Guernsey after Hard Riddims dropped off, so we had to start hosting the nights we wanted to go to.
Joe: It’s always been a dream of mine to host events after seeing Spectrasoul play at a huge open air event on the cliffs near to my house. When I turned 18, I got into contact with Gaz who had already established Rave.Era and basically said I wanted to do an event and use his brand name, and now it’s all headed in the best direction possible! Ever since then we’ve not looked back and we’ve had some very positive responses from our events, which is really good to see.
You host Drum and Bass events, but do you all only specialise in D&B or do you get involved with other genres?
Joe: At the moment we only specialise in D&B – However we are involved with a multi-genre festival over the summer, but none of us tend to play other genres. I’ve dabbled in House before for a bit of fun, but D&B is the one for me.
Gaz: Yeah, solely D&B. But we have ambitions to branch out once we’re comfortable with where we are. Stuff like Hip Hop, Grime, Dub/140.
How would you describe the Drum and Bass scene in Guernsey?
Gaz: Guernsey’s scene is very active at the moment! Three promoters booking huge artists. I’ve always been a bit concerned with potential over-saturation on such a small Island, but so far, so good! Everyone loves to go out all the time & even more so when there is good music!
Joe: There wasn’t a humongous scene a few years ago, it seems to have really come into its own over the last two years. There was a lot of hassle with venues not wanting to host Drum and Bass events. There’s always been Dub Sessions putting on some class events and getting over some quality acts! And we’ve had the likes of Resonate who have recently come onto the scene also doing the same.
At the moment it’s extremely healthy and there are various other promoters that are putting on good nights, big ups to them all!
When it comes to picking artists/acts to book, what factors do you usually take into account?
Joe: We tend to go for the artists that we personally like and that we know people in the local community. We have a big list of target artists that we want to get over throughout the next few years, and we hope to do so!
What elements do you try to incorporate into your events?
Gaz: Just simply good music and good vibes – Nice visuals help too. Shouts to GLC Lighting & Lasers!
With Guernsey being such a small Island, is there a struggle in finding venues to host your events? I know Drum and Bass can be frowned upon.
Gaz: When I first tried putting on a solo event late 2017, I was told rejected by several venues because of some issues that had been going on, fights etc. But given enough time that all passed. We’ve definitely been lucky to be given the opportunity by The Fermain Tavern and Fusion especially! I believe they’ve been pleasantly surprised by the events.
Joe: There used to be a struggle due to unruly behaviour in some venues giving the scene a really bad reputation. However there’s been a turn recently and a lot of venues have been more open to the concept. Alex at Fusion has been extremely accommodating and has opened his doors to us. He’s let us put events in the biggest club in Guernsey, and we’ve also had some fantastic support from the Fermain Tavern with our events too.
I know Jersey has a huge Drum and Bass scene with big names being booked weekend in/out – Do you feel now that D&B is getting bigger over here, there is any pressure to compete?
Joe: Personally I don’t think that there’s any pressure to compete, it’s a completely different scene over there and we don’t tend to get Jersey people coming over for our events – It’s more so Guernsey people travelling to Jersey for their bigger scale events. The Vanguard and Blkout boys have put on some crazy events and I think the extra 30,000 population size works in their favour and allows them to put on larger scale events which we would struggle to do and still break even.
I know a fair few people who treat promoting as purely a business, not a hobby. But I know you lads DJ as well? How long for? I’ve been to your events and you’re genuinely thoroughly enjoying yourselves. How do you find mixing the two?
Gaz: It’s definitely a lot of fun hosting parties – for me anyway. I love mixing too, so combining them is awesome. I’ve been mixing for maybe like a year and a half, so definitely have a lot to learn still. – It’s good to have a team in this situation too, so we can have someone mixing and everything else is behind the scenes is still covered. A LOT of preparation helps with this too haha.
Joe: In Guernsey events aren’t necessarily a stable form of income unless you’re putting them on every weekend, which would be a bit too much for a small Island. It’s brilliant to be able to get DJ’s over that I look up to and would one day like to be in the same position as. It’s also a great experience to be able to support them and play to a crowd of people that you know throughout your local town.
What’s the most challenging scenario you’ve faced as a promoter? How did you overcome it?
Gaz: I wouldn’t say challenging – but the most stressful was the fog rolling in the ONE DAY we needed it clear, meaning A.M.C & MC Phantom’s plane couldn’t land… Watching it circle on the radar for over two hours until it turned around back to Southampton was horrible, aha.
We ended up playing all night instead and the crowd was amazing, some serious kind words from everyone I spoke to.
Talk about some of your dream artists. Who would you like to see head over to Guernsey and why?
Gaz: Well, dream artists have to be the likes of Andy C, Chase and Status, Noisia, Mefjus, Dimension, Camo & Krooked, Break… The list goes on. Realistically not all of these are viable in such a small place but we have our eyes on all sorts of awesome artists that will be hopefully be gracing the shore soon. We also have plans to start up events in London, so the choice and possibilities are now endless!!
Describe one of your professional successes. What worked well?
Gaz: Our events in Fusion main room have been insane. Absolute road block inside, vibes on point. So much so we’ve been invited back and we have more plans in the works.
Joe: Emperor at The Fermain Tavern in June went off!!
How do you find budgeting for your events realistically? Being on a small Island and travel to and from Guernsey is far more expensive etc.
Gaz: Lots of maths and preparation really (laughs). But yeah, there are way more costs for gigs in Guernsey then there would be on the Mainland. Flights, hotels, taxis etc, it all has to be factored accordingly into the ticket costs.
What events do you have in the pipeline?
Joe: We have A.M.C and Phantom returning this Friday August 23rd at Fusion.
Friday October 4th – Special guests TBA (Critical Music).
December 28th – Special guests TBA (1985/Exit Records).
And beyond that it’s all super top secret stuff but plenty in the works!!
Exciting stuff! Can’t wait to find out who those special guests are.
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