Artist Spotlight – Paul Oakenfold
“When it comes to a career the magnitude of Paul Oakenfold it’s hard to encompass one of the true legends of electronic music into just words. For over 3 decades he has elevated and shaped an entire genre and remains one of the leading forces in the global music scene today” – Via Facebook
There are legends, there are forefathers, there are gods in the electronic music industry, and then there is the man himself
You cannot say he created electronic music, but Paul Oakenfold is definitely behind the music leaving Ibiza. A man who has done many first and paved ways for electronic music to grow not just in the clubs but also throughout the world. Paul is passionate about expanding electronic music in reaching the most remote corners of the earth; from the warehouses in Los Angeles and London, to Hollywood and film, and to the highest points on Earth, he has done it. Never looking back, always moving forward, Paul has been doing it for over 30 years and does not appear to be stopping anytime soon. His legacy is rich and it is always a delight to see him behind the decks; but sitting with a man who is continuously making and creating history has been a real honor.
In April, you received the British Humanitarian Cultural Ambassador Award. Were you surprised for the honor? Why is it important to you to be an ambassador for spreading arts around the world?
First of all, of course it is an honor to be recognized by your country for the job that you do in the space that you work. Electronic music in England and Britain has been popular for over 30 years. So for me it was an honor to be recognized by the country that I was born in.
You have been a staple in the electronic music scene since its creation, especially in the United States; yet you still are able to be diverse and fresh. What continues to inspire you to play and make great music?
Inspiration doesn’t come from [one] place. Inspiration comes from a moment. And I am always looking in terms of music to take it to the next level and be creative. I like to collaborate in the studio with different musicians cause that is where ideas come from.
Courtesy of Paul Oakenfold
In 2017, you spearheaded the first Electronic Music Awards, hosted in Los Angeles. Why do you feel it is important for electronic music to have its own award show? Any plans to bring it back this year.
Yeah! Having another award show in November. It has been moved from September to November; make it easier, since a lot of the industry was still in Ibiza. Club culture as you know it today is unique. In England, [it is like the rebirth of] the “Second Summer of Love”. It has been 30 years now that club culture as we know it has started. So I felt it was about time the industry and we as a community had an award. We are a growing industry. It is unbelievable that in India and China, these places are now huge for electronic music. So I have got together with a few of my colleagues and we put together a great board of 80 people within the industry judging who wins. And it is not about the popular vote. It is about the industry recognizing some of the great talent out there that may not be popular. And it was very successful, we had BPM, and a bunch of brands wanting to go and be a part of it. [The live stream] had 5 million views on the first one.
Technology has definitely come a long way since the 80’s; especially with production, it has made it easier, some would say. What are your thoughts on the progression of technology? Do you think it has become too easy? Why or why not?
This is a good question, you are right. This is kind of a loaded question. Technology has made it so easy that you don’t get the true art form of the DJ. Telling the story, from arranging the structure key, it is now starting to fade away. That press play generation, with prearranged sets is now pointless. Technology has really made it incredibly easy to DJ.
Your Planet Perfecto residency at Rain in Las Vegas was during the start of the rise of electronic music in Las Vegas. Do you think another Oakenfold residency could be as successful as it was in today’s climate? Moreover, would you go back?
I would never go back to Vegas. I spent three years and nearly every Saturday there. I have done what I wanted to do in Vegas. It was 2008 and for three years, it paved the way. I always go forward, I don’t want to go back and do something that I have already done. It is not in my character. I have other plans.
In 2001, you had your break in the film industry doing major work for the movie Swordfish. Since then, you have been a part of many different scores. What do you like about writing or producing for a movie/Hollywood? Any future scores/soundtracks should fans be on the lookout for?
Yeah, I grew up with my father watching film and going to the cinema. So I was a big fan of it. So when I got asked to score the movie Swordfish, for me it was unbelievable that they recognized me and the music that I was making. I was living in London at the time. So I came to Hollywood and I started working film, and I really enjoyed it. I have this documentary coming out which I just scored, which is about my trip to Mt. Everest, when I DJ’d there. And hopefully people enjoyed the music. The music stands alone as much as the film.
How was the trip to Mt. Everest, how did that even happen? How long did it take to get all the equipment and everything up there?
It took two years to pull it off and it took us 11 days to get to there from hiking and climbing. The difficulty was sleeping on the floor in a sleeping bag minus 16. It was freezing. Worrying that you cannot breathe all the elements are against you. When it is windy and then sunny it is really dangerous. You have to cover yourself up. And we didn’t even know if the sound would work. It has never been tested before at that height. But we raised a lot of money for children’s charities. And that was the goal. And we pulled it off. And it has put us on a path to look for other remote places to play and raise money for children.
You are a Grammy nominated artists, you have pioneered and revolutionized electronic music, you have worked with some of the biggest names in recording history, you have a discography that covers all genres and Hollywood, you have given so much of yourself to this industry and to fans, what is left for Paul Oakenfold to do?
Time Nightclub tonight! I am enjoying doing these remote, interesting shows, that shine a light on electronic music and also make money for Children’s charities. So I am doing the big event for UNICEF, which I will fly to London on Monday to do, and then I have a few of these clubs. These shows like the Great Wall of China and Mt. Everest take a lot to do. You have to get permission; you have to raise money to do them. So those are a few of the events that I now want to attempt to do.
If you could live by one motto, what would it be?
Believe in yourself.