Paul Oakenfold: Electronic Legend Says America Will Dominate the Next Wave of EDM
DJ Paul Oakenfold holds the distinction of being one of the first electronic superstars. He's been performing and mixing since 1980, and he's not planning on spending his 33rd year in the business chilling out: In addition to his recent work with Madonna and Bruno Mars, he's scheduled to perform at Coachella 2013, and drop his long-awaited vocal collaborations album, Pop Killer.
facebook.com/Oakenfold Paul Oakenfold is scheduled to perform Friday, February 1, at Wild Knight in Scottsdale.
This weekend, he finds himself in the Southwest, venturing to Scottsdale's Wild Knight. We spoke with Oakenfold about the rise of EDM in America, his projections about the genre's future, and we "fapped" over European soccer for a bit.
Up on the Sun: I have to be a little music geek and be honest with you. I find it a big honor to get to speak with you. You've been creating and producing work since 1980. That makes you a serious EDM veteran.
Paul Oakenfold: [Laughs] Well that's great to hear. Yeah, it's been a long while.
Having started off earlier than most renowned DJs today, could you describe your early career and musical influences?
[As far as] early musical influences growing, up in England, you're listening to all kinds of music. So, there's not really one act or one sound that I'd say [inspired me], but [there's] Radio 1, which is a station that plays all kinds of music in England. That's what the great thing about England is. In America you want to hear [specific things], but you hear rap on one station and rock on another or pop, but in England they play all kinds of music. So you grow up listening to everything; to a lot within one station.
I wish we had stations like that in America, so everyone would be exposed to everything. Speaking of different genres, you've worked extensively within the pop format -- U2 hired you for the Zoo TV Tour in 1993. In the early '90s, EDM wasn't as popular as it is today, at least in America, and you exposed a lot of audiences to that kind of music. Now, you see a lot of younger DJs like Madeon with Lady Gaga and Nero with Madonna. Did experiences like touring with a live band change the way you approached music?
Touring with U2, [I was playing to a different] crowd. Playing electronic music to a rock crowd is and could be a difficult moment, especially for me. I would take familiar rock songs that people loved and take the vocals and do either remixes or mash-ups on those within the set. People knew the songs, but not that particular version, and it worked well for me. It was an experience that shaped me and gave me an interesting task. I learned from it and enjoyed it.
You seem to have your own approach to remixing. You've remixed artists like Snoop Dogg, The Rolling Stones, and many more. Do you ever find it difficult to choose which songs will make the albums since there is only a limited amount of space on each volume that you produce?
Yeah, I mean it's all about quality control. It's not just about putting out anything. I'm going to make sure it's the right thing and that's a big part of it for me.
Have there been tracks where you couldn't make work?
Yeah, I've turned down a lot for those reasons. Really, it's about what you do and not about who you've turned down. It's about who you've collaborated with and why specifically it worked.