For the 11th year running, Chill Out Productions hosted the Dubai Jazz Festival. S&S goes behind the scenes with Anthony Younes, CEO of Chill Out Productions, to find out how it created such a sharp nine day event.
When S&S sat down with Anthony Younes, CEO of Chill Out Productions, to discuss the technicalities that went into creating the Dubai Jazz Festival, we were impressed at the amount of time and dedication that was poured into this nine day event, beginning with the set up process. “We started building the venue on the 27 of January,” begins Younes.
“We first built the TSG, the temporary structure for the VIP area, and this took us about five to six days to finish the structure itself. Meanwhile, after about two or three days we began building the main stage--this also took at least seven days to build, due to the fact that it was so large.
In addition, while we were constructing the TSG and the main stage, we started fencing off all of the venue, making sure that all the exits and emergency exits were in place. We put in lights everywhere, distributing the toilets, the porto-cabins for behind the stage storage.”
Younes adds, “Basically, within 12 days we had to build everything. The venue itself is a piece of land, a mixture of grass and gravel, but we managed, in those 12 days, to build it into a beautiful venue.”
Typically, a “one off” event will throw a few obstacles at the event organisers. So it’s no surprise that we were intrigued when Younes responded with, “Obstacles? We didn’t have any obstacles because we were well prepared and had been preparing the festival for almost six to seven months.”
He continues, “We knew exactly where everything should be going. In terms of technicalities, we had the technical teams, for each band, there ahead of time and were able to discuss what was needed and make sure everything was in place.
Obstacles, again? I didn’t see any obstacles and it was incredibly smooth running this year. I put that down to the fact that we have a very good team working here.”
For Younes and his team at Chill Out Productions, this was their 11th year of hosting the DJF and, according to Younes, “It’s grown big time.” He reveals, “The first year we had around 8,000 people coming to the festival and that was in 2003. Now, in 2013, we had 55,000 people visiting. We’ve had huge growth between the first year and this year.”
He continues, “We had approximately a 20% increase between 2012 and 2013, jumping from 46,000 to 55,000 people. The increase is actually happening during the jazz garden, not the main arena. The Jazz Garden can grow, while the main area cannot. In one night this year we had 5,000 people in the Jazz Garden itself.”
Typically, if an event is successful, it’s difficult to pin down just one highlight, whether technical or creative. And such was the case for Younes when reflecting on the Jazz Festival. Not only was the event deemed “successful,” but it ran for a total of nine nights.
So it’s no surprise that, “The highlight was every single corner of the Jazz Festival,” according to Younes. “The difference between the Jazz Festival and other gigs, is that you come in and you immediately start feeling like this is something different.
You see the displays, the sponsors activating sponsorships, the arts and crafts corners, and much more. Not to mention the F&B village where it’s not just hotdogs and hamburgers. You can see the shawarma, the BBQ, the fries and the huge bar to serve the thousands of people who come through each and every night.”
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He continues, “The thing about the Jazz Festival is that you never cue for anything. Maybe five minutes, but it’s not like other concerts in Dubai where you have to cue for an hour and a half.
We make sure we have enough staff, larger bars and many windows selling coupons, so people don’t need to cue for five minutes, ten minutes tops. Only on the final night of the Festival did we have one person complain that he had to wait 15 minutes at the bar. My response to that was, ‘yeah, fine.’”
When discussing how Chill Out Productions were able to deliver such a successful event, Younes admits, “What we do is spend a lot of money on the setup itself.”
He explains, “For example, we have enough toilets to accommodate everyone. Because it’s a nine day event, and not a one off, we spend a lot of time putting things together and spend a lot of money on the production itself, just to make sure it’s enough for everybody.”
Younes continues, “When it comes to the sound and lights? This year it was fantastic. This was the first year we used Delta Sound LLC and Eclipse Staging Services and I was so happy with them.
We had eight suppliers for the full festival, Delta Sound and Eclipse being the two main guys and Al Aith for scaffolding. Al Aith provided almost every single detail. We also had Harlequin providing the tents for arts and crafts and SES as the power suppliers.” He adds, laughing, “We could have lit a city with all that power!”
S&S ran a report back in February on the state of Health and Safety (H&S) amongst the UAE and MENA region and the findings were rather worrisome. When asked his professional opinion on the issue, it’s clear H&S is no laughing matter to Younes and Chill Out Productions.
“We take care of H&S as a priority,” he explains. “It’s always a priority for us. Other events companies probably don’t even think about it. But I personally go around and check to make sure that everything is done with the best H&S terms. In addition, there are never cables visible on the ground during an event.
And, while this might sound silly, we don’t allow for banners and flags, because I know that when the wind picks up, there is that chance that they can fly away and hurt somebody. That’s why we don’t have anything that can really ‘fly.’”
Finally, S&S wondered, following the success of the Jazz Festival, what we could expect to see from Chill Out Productions in the coming months and year? “We are trying to launch a weekly or monthly (still working on it) mini-Jazz festival,” reveals Younes. “We are actually trying to build on the success of the Jazz Garden.”
Younes concludes, revealing, “I like festivals and I would like to tell people that we are not doing ‘one offs.’ I’d like people to remember us, after a festival, for the following 12 months. This is how Chill Out Productions have been doing it since it began.”.
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Main Pa (Delta Sound):
- 5 x litkit 1 ton hoists
- 2 x K1 flying frames
- 1 x delta plate
- 1 x Kara flying frame for down fills
- 1 x laser mount kit
- 12 x k1speaker cabinets
- 3 x Kara speaker cabinets
- 5 x LA8 Rak
- 8 x DV Dosc speaker cabinets (4 x single stacks and 2 stacks of 2)
- 8 x DV Do
Ground Stacked Subs:
- 24 x SB28 speakers in an arc config across the down stage edge
- 12 x K1 subs flown behind the main PA (6 per side)
- 1 x Avid venue console with side car
- 1 x local rack c/w hdx card, aes card, 2 x snake cards and 16 I/O card. 4 mix engines version 3
- 1 x Smaart RTA Tablet system, La ne work manager
- 1 x furman power conditioner
- 1 x tascam CDR900 CD recorder
- 1 x Sony CD player
- 1 x XTA DP448 system drive
- 1 x USB Pre sound card
- 1 x Apogee Big Ben word clock
- 1 x Stage line 8 way split DA
- 1 x APC 1500 UPS
- 1 x 120m 4 way Bnc/Madi loom c/w 32 1 ›› phase power (240v) cable.
- 1 x Avid Profile console
- 1 x local rack c/w fx card, aes card, 2 x snake cards and 16 I/O card. 3 mix engines version 3
- 1 x Stage rack 48i/p and 24 o/p 16ch Sennheiser 2050 system with 24 packs, complete with antennae and batteries
- 4 x channels shure UHF-R rx c/w shure B58tx
- 28 x Clay Paky Alpha Spot 1500 HPE
- 24 x Clay Paky Alpha Wash 1500
- 12 x Clay Paky Sharpy
- 34 x Martin Mac Aura Moving Head LED Wash
- 12 x Martin Atomic Strobe 3000
- 4 x Follow Spot Strong Gladiator 3000w
- 1 x Road Hog Full Boar Lighting Console
- 10 x Thomas 4 Lite Molefay
- 9 x Source 4’s
- 80 square meter - 40mm Martin LC Plus LED Screen
- 30 square meter - 10mm Lighthouse IMAG Screen