Voodoo Jam 2017: The Scott O’Brien Interview

Interview: Effraim
Photos: Fat Tony, Leo Furmansky and Red Bull.

Voodoo Jam 2017 is just around the corner, there’s not a better time to get in contact with the main man Scott O’Brien over in New Orleans to get some insight on what we can expect this year and talk about all things Voodoo! Read on…

Yo Scott, Voodoo is just over a week away, how are preparations going?
Going well. Tighten up a few things and getting it all ready. Selling tickets to fans of the contest at the moment.
Honestly, been doing it so long I know where I have to be at each stage of preparation so we’re ready.

Let’s go back a bit, a while back you announced that Voodoo jam was over. What’s changed in your mind bringing it back?
Basically funding is a huge issue. Red Bull stepped up to support Terry and myself in our efforts to keep pushing Flatland BMX. Without their support, this years Voodoo Jam would be impossible.
I’m never going to do an event that’s a half effort. I will always do my best to put Flatland at the highest standards. If that means not having the event because of funding then we won’t have it. I’m a true believer of quality for Flatland BMX and it’s amazing riders. Taking time to make things proper is more important than throwing something together and calling it a contest. We need quality and youth in Flatland. I believe quality events attract youth and reward riders for their hard work.

As a contest organiser you are one of the most creative in terms of formatting the contest. What is the format for 2017 Voodoo jam?
I will Group the riders in heats for qualifying. 12 riders to the finals with a traditional 3:00 min run. Separate best trick contest at the end of this. Then take the top 3 riders for a Podium Battle.
The flow is great for everyone. I of course survey riders and ask them what they like or don’t like before I make any decisions.

Running a contest is always much more than one person, who are the crew working with you to make this all happen?
Terry Adams and family. We have some friends that help out and just love the event. Brian Mattai and Little Robert have made the amazing trophies since I think 2007.
Hector Garcia has always been a major part of Voodoo Jam since the beginning.
Mickey G captures a ton on film for us and kills the edits. It’s a family affair and everyone puts in something.

There are a lot of heavy hitters in attendance this year once again. Who are you excited to see ride?
I’m always excited for the first time Voodoo Jam riders. The ones that come and say “oh wow ok, why have I waited so long to be a part of this ” haha. For me it’s special because I know Voodoo Jam fuels that rider for years to come. For example Benjamin Hudson and Masato Ito.
I’m looking forward to seeing everyone. Last Voodoo Jam, Dub lost his bike and couldn’t ride so I’m excited to see him vibe out.
And Ucchie has been very quiet lately, I’m wondering what he’s up too.
Viki with a Brake back on his bike is interesting and I can’t wait to see him ride.
Alex back home in New Orleans.
Matthias always kills it here and just comes alive.
Will Redd with original moves and riding.
Raphael Chiquet he hasn’t been here in a long time, it will be nice to have him. His was at the original 2004.
But it’s just great to see everyone and create something special that pushes Flatland for years after the night is over.

Judging is always a massive part of putting a contest, who do you have judging this year? And what criteria will you be using?
Alexis Desolneux
Frank Lukas
Chad Degroot
Travis Collier
These judges are guys with a ton of Judging experience. For me that’s important and the experience of being a judge. We had some opportunities to get them here and we took it. That’s not always the case so we made it happen.
Criteria for Voodoo Jam is always progressing. We will discuss as a group when they get here and we will communicate this to the riders. It’s important that the riders and the judges are on the same page.
Voodoo has always been a contest that rewards your progression and if you are pushing your riding. That will for certain be a part of things.

The lifestyle aspect is always an amazing part of the Voodoo jam in New Orleans, obviously the contest is the focally point of the event. Do you have anything else planned for the riders?
After party is at a new sweet location close to the venue. We feed everyone for lunch in the VIP room and have that VIP vibe for them.
Pre Jam will be a show up and ride type of feel this year. All of my energy is spent on Voodoo.

Tell me a little bit about the guy that makes the trophies because they are always next level!!!
Well the trophies story is an amazing one and I’m glad you asked me about it.
Brian Mattai is a friend of Terry’s. His partner in the whole deal is Little Robert.
These two dudes have pure love for Voodoo Jam and Flatland. They don’t ride and they just love what we do. So they give back. The trophies are detailed and no year has looked the same. Their craftsmanship and creative process sometimes takes months.
Love these guys and what they do for us!
For them it’s exciting that the trophies they have personally made are all over the world.

Will you have a livestream for the riders that can’t make it?
Live Facebook feed this year with Hector Garcia and Claude Hickman. I think this will be fun for everyone. It will be on the Flatland Voodoo Jam FB page

The flatland segment of Nora Cup is being announced at Voodoo, what do you have planned?
Really excited that Ride BMX trusted us with this honor. We’ve chosen Ruben Castillo to present the award. He’s amazing and has been putting in the work for years with Flatland. Ruben inspired me when I was a teenager and many others. This in my opinion has got to be one of the best choices for presenter ever.
We plan to have the award presentation following Voodoo Jam at the same location. We’re working with Ride BMX on the actual presentation. It will be great!

Any final words for the riders before they make the trip out to New Orleans?
Voodoo Jam is your contest. It belongs to Flatland BMX. Your riding, hard work and travels creates this special atmosphere. Stoked you’re coming and let’s have some fun. Let’s show the world Flatland BMX!

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