Back in the early days, the sound started to gain traction in London’s small and dark clubs filled with sound. Those dances were a rendezvous and outlet for both those familiar and new to dubstep. But what started with humble beginnings in a south London borough escalated into a global cultural movement.
Holland and a few other European countries were the first to embrace this new movement. Before it spawned into the multi-headed monster that went global, it was the radio and club DJs that championed the sound to new fans. In Holland, it was influencers like Amsterdam’s DJ Gomes who took dubstep from the airwaves into the clubs. Gomes founded one of the most renowned Dutch dubstep events; starting Oi! Amsterdam in the city’s smaller venues before finding a home in the world-famous Paradiso.
Oi! championed the 140 movement in Europe, bringing a budding cultural phenomenon to a new fanbase. Throughout the Oi! years, Gomes booked names he thought best represented the fundamentals of dubstep – nurturing the community with legendary dances, DJs and crowds. This year, a decade after Oi!’s inception, Gomes and the team are back. We sat down to talk past, current and future Oi!…
Gomes! It’s been a while. You well? I’m fine, thanks. I’m counting down the days until the Oi! reunion!
For those that don’t know who you are and what Oi! is, can you give us a bit of an overview? I am Gomes – a veteran in the scene. I had a radio show for 3 years on VPRO’s 3voor12 before the raves, and then started the Oi! night in 2004. Dubstep wasn’t quite there yet (when we started) so we launched as a grime night – but Oi! evolved into one of The Netherland’s biggest dubstep parties pretty quickly.
Before the grime and dubstep, I was playing UK garage – I’ve always been busy with UK bass music!
Who else was involved in the early days – where does BRUTUZZ come into the story of Oi!? Funny you should ask that – a lot of people think he is part of the organisation! He is one of the names that played a lot at Oi!, we’re good friends but I don’t even remember where I met him. I think it was at a rave somewhere where we both played? He is definitely the guy that played most of the Oi! raves besides me haha – big up Brutie!
Oi! wasn’t just a dance – you created an Oi! Recordings imprint soon after the inception of the events right? Was the label an extension of the Oi! vibe you were pushing back in the day? Yeah sort off, everything we released was dubstep but not everything we released was something you would expect at a Oi! night. The label was also a platform we used to give Dutch talent a change to release their music. There was and is a lot of talent here! I also released tunes from bigger names on the label like Benga, Kutz and Bukez Finezt.
Can you explain what your role as event organiser entailed? I did everything on my own, I’m a control freak so I never wanted to give up any responsibility! I still think if you want a job to be done right, you need to do it yourself! The only thing I didn’t do was making the flyers – Geert Schaap made those. I had a lot of support from people like Paradiso – we had some shit nights in the first 3 years! They could have easily said: “Sorry Gomes, this night ain’t working and we have to stop”.
I enjoyed doing it all by myself. I enjoyed booking of the artists, the flights, hotels, the promo – and the whole production side of it.
You’ve got 10 years of organising one of most famous dubstep events in The Netherlands under your belt. What were your best and worst moments – and why? Sold-out events were, of course, the best moments. To see a sold-out Paradiso go wild at your night is an amazing feeling! We had people from the UK and other parts of Europe coming to Amsterdam for Oi! events.
The first time we moved from the small 400 cap room to the big 1,400 cap room was also a big moment. As were the first time we hosted festival stages – we did some big festivals like Mysteryland and Solar – they were something special. At that time, dubstep was still an underground thing so it felt really good to be there between other more mainstream genres.
The worst moments I think were DJ cancellations. We had a few cancellations with shitty reasons – it happened three times with Rusko and the last one was Skream. For me, that was the point where I decided I didn’t want to do raves anymore.
Why did you decide to call it quits and stop the Oi! events? Dubstep was getting bigger. DJs I’d been supporting from day one were getting bigger, politics appeared along with some terrible UK agents and managers. Not to mention the crazy fees – some people were smelling money that wasn’t there. It just stopped being fun. And the sound was getting too much for me – I like some hard dubstep now and then, but it reached a point for me where it was just too much. I kind of wanted to go back to my UKG roots.
With the Oi! reunion coming up, what are you expecting for the April 2016 edition? What made you guys throw another dance? Good vibes! After our announcement, I had so many emails and messages from people who were so happy that Oi! was back! That was really nice. Before I’d announced the return, a lot of people had been asking me “when are you doing an Oi! event again?” For a long time I didn’t feel like it – but last year it started – how do you say.. “to scratch again” haha! That’s Louis van Gaal English!
I was just missing it a bit I guess, last year I did a dubstep vinyl set at OT301. It was one of the nicest bookings I did last year (between all the garage bookings). So I wanted more. That was when I also picked up my dubstep production again…
In your opinion, what makes a good Oi! event? What are your key ingredients? I think what made our events good was that we never went for one sound. We always had lineups where you could hear every style of dubstep – from deep to hard with a touch of grime in between. That is where we came from, but also flowed well. It also helped that the DJs I booked loved to play at Oi! dances! We’ve got all the dubstep flavours at the reunion edition.
I’m very happy with the lineup!
What are your plans for Oi! in the future – both from event and label point of view? To be honest, I haven’t got any plans yet.
I just want to do this edition, see how it goes and how it feels and then take it from there.
Are you currently producing, involved in any other dubstep events or doing anything else you’d like to discuss? I’m involved in some other raves (not dubstep dances). If I do anything dubstep, it’ll probably be under the Oi! name. That would make the most sense… Who knows, I do miss it sometimes.
Who’s the best DJ in dubstep/ bass music these days? Haha, terrible question! DJ… I really don’t know… I’m from the older dubstep generation – a lot of these new kids I don’t even know! Youngsta is still very tight – I like his style. Always been a big fan of Jakes and his sound too. DJ EZ is my personal favourite DJ – but he’s not a dubstep DJ!
Of all the artists you’ve booked over the years, who brought the most to an Oi! event? This is also a very hard question! Caspa was always really involved. With the Dub Police label nights, he would bring everybody from the camp and made the night really special – he really wanted to showcase the whole label and dubstep. The nights I did with them were one of the best Oi! nights we did.
Any final words or shoutouts? Good luck for April and all the best! Thanks! Keep your eyes and ears open – I will be dropping a release somewhere very soon – and yes, it will be dubstep!
Gomes and the Oi! experience return to Amsterdam’s Paradiso this Friday for the Oi! reunion. And, given Gomes’ expertise for booking astounding talent and throwing legendary dances, it promises to be a superb edition. Emalkay, Jakes, Kahn & Neek, Lost, Youngsta, Gomes and Brutuzz and MC Drew on hosting duties. Do not miss this!