The inaugural Brighton Music Conference will take place this month and Daniel White caught up with its organiser and visionary John OO Fleming to find out what it is all about
John Fleming wasn’t a normal child.
While other children were running around his school field playing football, rugby and cricket, his mind was elsewhere.
“There was I, this silly little kid walking with records,” Fleming laughs. “I have no idea where it came from. I was just obsessed with listening to electronic style music when I was at school in the 80’s.
I just kept collecting records and then it was my headmaster, out of all people, that saw me as the geek walking around with bags of records at lunch time when all the other kids were playing and he said ‘look, I want to do a disco, do you want to come and DJ the night because you collect records?’ so that’s how I got thrown into it and since that day I’ve been a DJ!”
John OO Fleming, a trance producer from Worthing, is one of the country’s most respected DJs, maintaining a strong underground following, while still releasing tracks through more mainstream labels including Ministry of Sound and Deconstruction Records.
Eight years after his eureka moment at the school disco, Fleming took a massive leap of faith and created his own record label, Joof Recordings, allowing him to sign up acts he felt deserved a deal but were not being noticed.
However, today he is going a step further and is about to embark upon another leap of faith, which he is hoping will be even more important to those who are struggling to break into the music industry.
Fleming is the organiser of the inaugural 2014 Brighton Music Conference; the first electronic music conference to be held in England.
“The important thing for me is education because there are a lot of colleges and universities around the UK that have got music courses and yes they teach you the textbook way of how to make music but what they won’t cover is the real world knowledge of how things happen once they leave college,” Fleming explains.
We’re giving them the tools from working professionals in the industry. So they’re going to learn all aspects of how to survive in this music industry, how to handle PR, how to get signed to a record label, how to start their own night, how to get gigs. We are covering every angle, we have probably got the best people ever to teach them this, from DJs to producers, from club owners to PR companies, so they’re going to learn a hell of a lot.”
With more than 25 years experience in the music industry, Fleming has been apart of his fair share of music conferences worldwide and it was his involvement in these that initiated the Brighton Music Conference.
“It was just out of pure frustration,” he reflects. “The other conferences were just seen as parties, it’s not a professional environment to undertake business or to do networking. You’re trying to arrange a meeting for the following day and they wouldn’t turn up, they’re drunk or they’ve slept in.
Then it suddenly clicked and the next minute I’m talking to my partners and we’re putting together a conference. The UK has never had a conference before and I think Brighton is the perfect city for it. It couldn’t be any better to hold the UK’s conference.”
Fleming was born in Sussex and holds Brighton close to his heart as a hub for creative expression, one which he has close links.
“Brighton has always been known as an artistic, musical place; it’s a free place,” he describes. “It’s got that lovely cosmopolitan vibe to it and I don’t think there is another city in the UK that’s quite like Brighton. Historically, we have both been proudly at the forefront of a lot of things, music especially.”
The two-day event will take place from April 11th-12th, with over 150 speakers, 40 master classes and 50 music tech showcases packed in.
While there will be performances from some of the biggest names in the dance music world including Dave Clarke, Eats Everything and Dave Seaman, it will be their talks about the industry that OO Fleming is looking forward to most.
“At the moment the electronic scene is looking to bubble,” states the enthusiastic producer. “We are the point where electronic music is massive and we can’t hide that fact because it’s on mainstream radio at the moment, it’s in our pop charts and this is going to come back into the clubs.
So it’s a chance for us to all get in a single room and have this wonderful discussion. It’s something that’s never happened so that’s part of the excitement. So something very positive will come out, we will get a clear vision on what the next thing will be.”
While the inaugural event is yet to take place, the build up to this April’s conference has been so successful that Fleming is in no doubt about what will be happening at the time next year.
“It will be an annual thing, definitely,” Fleming confirms without a second thought. “From the success so far, even though it hasn’t happened, the seminars have sold out, it’s sold out very, very quickly. So with the amount of attention we’re getting now leading up to it, we are already planning year two!”