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Felix Dickinson - Rave Against The Machine

Author: 3D
Monday, 2 June 2008

Felix Dickinson was an integral part of the UK warehouse rave scene, which was hastily killed with the introduction of the Criminal Justice Act. 3D caught up with the producer ahead of his Oz tour.

You have played all over the world, but is this your first time coming to Australia to DJ-
Yeah, I'm excited to be here, I've got a lot of friends who have emigrated out here, and so have always wanted to make it out here one day.

You've been DJing since before the Criminal Justice Act killed the UK rave scene in the early '90s, can you tell us a little about that time as someone who was there and saw it all go down-
It was fairly crazy. The scene had been really vibrant before the Act, and had built up an incredible community. Apparently some of the big breweries were responsible for lobbying the Bill as a lot of pubs and clubs were losing money cause everyone was partying in disused warehouses and fields rather than going to their venues to get drunk. Plus I'm sure the government was pretty scared of the tens of thousands of young people that seemed to suddenly be appearing at all these parties.

Anyway, when they started trying to stamp it out, the parties turned from being all about the music, love and community, and started to be more about rebellion and politics. Instead of simply having a party for the sake of it, a lot of the parties became more political like the 'freedom to party' rave in Trafalgar Square, and loads of 'reclaim the streets' parties, where people would shut down a road by starting a big rave on a motorway. The soundsystems that were prepared to stand up to the police survived, and they had to employ much more hardcore techniques to continue having a party. The music tended to reflect this unfortunately (with the exception of soundsystems like DIY and Tonka) and it was the hardcore techno soundystems like Spiral Tribe that started doing all the Big Parties.

When the Act finally came through, I remember some crews from London coming down to Brighton, where I lived at the time, to take over our parties. We seemed to be able to get away with our beach parties a little easier than the warehouse parties in London, so these crews would come down with guns, and literally take over, put their DJs on and surround the speakers and generators.

How have those experiences informed and influenced your DJ and producer style today-
I'm not sure how they influenced my style; although I was heavily influenced by the DJs I was hearing back then, like DJ Harvey and Markie Mark. But I definitely started then to realise that music could have a very powerful, liberating and unifying effect on people, and I suppose it's that belief that keeps me involved in music.

The Americans have evolved their own 'rave' culture with their huge parties in the deserts of California and Nevada and every year you play Burning Man - do you think it can compare to the wild days in the UK in the '90s-
Burning Man is great, but it's nothing like what used to go down in the UK. A lot of the parties I used to go to were free, so you would get a real cross section of people going, people would meet and hang out at these parties who would have no real cause to be together otherwise. Burning Man is quite hardcore as the weather is so crazy and you really have to have your shit about you to survive in the desert for a week, so as a result you only get a certain type of people going, they're all cool people but I don't think it will ever be as inclusive as the parties used to be back in the UK.