Photography: Fat Tony.
August 2nd and 10 years of the Voodoo Jam is fast approaching, what better time to catch up with MC Scott O’Brien to talk to history, personal highlights, judging, formats, after parties and all things that make the roof blow off at the Generations Hall!
10 years of Voodoo Jam is coming up, firstly congratulations on this milestone.Anyone who organised a contest knows the amount of work it takes. I know you are looking to raise the bar with your events, what are your plans for blowing the roof off Generation Halls in 2014?
We will let the riders blow that roof off this year as we always do. I will do my best to create the atmosphere for the riders to go off. New DJ for the finals, he’s got an amazing reputation and we will also have a few new things to restructure the way I run the contest. Most of all the after party will be a great time. Pretty excited about the Baco premier on Friday night and the pre jam will be amazing. Possibly going to add a pre pre jam on Thursday as well. Working out some details for that now.
I know it takes a hell of a lot of work behind the scenes to make an event the size of Voodoo jam happen, who is helping you Scott? What sponsors have stepped up this year?
Terry Adams as always is my partner in this. Hector Garcia helping out with the website. Mike Meza designed our shirt. Matt St Gelais is doing the sticker design.
Flatark is our newest sponsor. Ucchie had hooked this sponsorship up and its amazing that he helped to support Voodoo jam like this. Red Bull, FlatlandFuel, Freegun, Dans Comp, Purple Monkey, Monolithic, Reklamation Bikes, Atl Clothing, G-Shock, Neue Creative, Bike Project, Tiger Balm, Canes, Sequence Fab, Deco, The Terradome, TDA, and St Martin.
More than any other event I can think of, you embrace the culture of where you are from with the vibe of the event. Do you feel thats an important part of contest organisation?
I do, its always important for people to experience culture at any event. I’m a New Orleans guy, just grew up with so much culture and feeling for life living here. I love to have the riders experience that.
A lot of contests can be about riding too much and we miss out on important life experiences. To understand culture and live life thats the best thing, no matter what place you get at Voodoo Jam you still have fun with your experience. It’s a positive great vibe and I love that.
For my experience and outlook on Flatland its always been about culture. I’ve always enjoyed meeting riders, checking out their styles and how it comes out in their riding. I’m literally watching who and what kind of person you are when I watch you ride. It’s kinda crazy the way I look at flatland. I can tell you so much about a person 10 min after I watch them ride hahaha.
You helped bring the 3 man final battle to flatland at the Voodoo Jam. What format are you rolling with this year?
As of now we gonna go with the original Voodoo Jam format from 2004 with the 3 man battle at the end. Riders seem to enjoy having a traditional run rather than head to head battles. The 3 man battle at the end is the best of both worlds I guess. I am considering a few other options like the progression session we are doing in Cologne. I am going to see how that goes before I make a decision.
I always stay in touch with riders and see what they like. I want to be progressive and always work in a proper direction for flatland.
For all of those who want to be involved but can’t make the trip to New Orleans, will there be a live feed this year?
Yes we will. Bobby Carter will be taking care of that once again with Diversion Media. It was a big hit last year. We are going to make some adjustments and hopefully make it even better this year.
Over the ten years, if you had to pick your top 5 memories, what would what they be?
WOW, Um so many I will try to recall one from each year.
2004 – 3 man battle with Alex, Justin and Terry. French guys came Alex and Raph.
2006 – Dickie Sanders progression. Tyler Gilliard winning AM. Mickey G proposal to his now wife Nicole. York Uno and Hiro came to open the door for the Japan riders.
2007 – Matthias just killed it! He arrived!
2008 – Ucchie’s win and his riding was just next level that year. Swamp tour with the japanese riders.
2009 – The Matthias vs Ucchie battle was insane!
2012 – Dom killed it. Terry and Wilhelm made the podium that was dope.
2013 – The Tsutomu vs Hiro battle was just crazy stuff. The look on Tsutomu’s face when he won, priceless! Every year the after party has been amazing, great times with awesome people!
Who is judging Voodoo, and what are the judges looking for this year?
As of now its for sure Chad Degroot, Todd Carter and Claude Hickman. I have a lot of confidence in these guys and their experience. We can put the contest in their hands and trust them to make the right call.
As to what they will be looking for I will of course rely on their professionalism and experiences in Flatland to make the proper calls. We will reward riders for taking risks and originality, while sticking to the normal things that make up judging a contest. I do however communicate with the riders through email before the contest to let them know what to expect. It’s not a simple process thats why we always do our best in choosing judges that we can depend on with their experiences and knowledge of tricks.
There’s a young kids class this year right Scott?, I know yourself & Alex Jumelin have been doing a lot of work with kids & the development of grassroots flatland in the schools in NOLA. Can you tell us something more about it, & what this might bring to Voodoo 10?
Actually thats all Alex, I was just honoured he asked me to be a guest at his school. But that motivated me to start a Novice class. No age restrictions just an entry level class. I’m hoping younger riders are in this. If theres enough of them that show up we will have a break down with maybe a youth group.
I’m very concerned with the state of flatland and the age of the average rider. I really want to move some focus towards youth groups and getting younger riders involved.
Terry, Alex and I are discussing ways to make things happen.
Voodoo Jam is a bit limited and maybe not the best platform for this. It’s certainly great to expose them to flatland, but then they will need a platform for progression and ways to be with a group of kids to push each other. I love what York Uno is doing in Japan, and it didn’t happen over night. He worked at it for years. I’m thinking I may move into this direction, maybe flatland youth schools a few times a year. Alex and Terry can be instructors. I’m not totally sure but its going on in my head right now and I will have to sort it all out! Grow Flatland!
Where can be people find out more information on the event?
FB – Flatland Voodoo Jam
Twitter – @thevoodoojam.com
Insta – Voodoojam
Any final shoutouts Scott?
It’s impossible for me to thank all the people through these 10 years.
All the riders that have ever come to Voodoo Jam, thank you guys its your contest and I’m so stoked you do your best to get here. You know who you are!
Mickey Gaidos, Hector Garcia, Pat Schoolen, Texas Flatlanders, Fat Tony, Japanese Flatlanders, Erik Otto, Matthias Dandois, Brian Mattle, Green G, Hiroshi 430. Sorry if I forgot your name you know I love you haha.
Generations Hall for the venue and helping us make flatland history.
Every company that has ever sponsored Voodoo Jam at some point thanks so much for your support.
Red Bull and everything you have done to help create and stand behind us is amazing. I love this company and all that it has done for BMX.
Alex Jumelin and his belief in me as an MC. His drive for flatland and being an artist on his bike is amazing.
My wonderful family and their love for Voodoo Jam is one of the driving factors for many years. Kristi, Mia, Brooke and Cam. Mom and Dad!
Terry Adams my partner in this whole deal, its impossible without him. He is the man that deals with sponsorships and gathering funds to run this event. This guy does so much for Flatland in many ways and not many people know that. Love this guy!
Thank you Scott! That was great to catch up! August 2nd, Generation Hall, New Orelans! Get there if you can!