12.5 Minutes with Paul Oakenfold
by Chanté LaGon
Can I get you to say "freaked"? It's no secret that I'm a drum n bass junkie, so it wasn't being in Paul Oakenfold's presence that got me. Anyone who's locked their keys in the car on a cold, rainy night, without a cell phone when all your friends are at the party you're supposed to be at has a small idea of the bite I took on this one.
Of all things to forget, I found myself frantically searching for my questions and tape recorder (that pocket, no, try that pocket...damn, where is it?) like a raver on acid looking for his friends at the Nike Pavilion. But no! That would be too easy. I'm in Paul's posh hotel lobby. Listening to "crappy techno" playing overhead. Trying to make small talk with His Highness as he fidgets, adjusting his baseball cap and shifting in the oversized pillow chairs.
Then, he spoke. "I have another interview in 15 minutes."
Forget the search party, I needed a bright spotlight and a sign with "GOOF" written in big letters. Only seconds before my face melted into a pool of embarrasment, I dug into my coat and found my tricks of the trade safely packed away. I swear I heard a heavenly chorus when I pulled them from my pocket.
So I guess that other interview is the "exclusive" one that another Web site announced they'd clinched on Sunday. C'mon, now. Who do I write for?
Since Lunar Magazine is where you've landed, let's get to it. You know him, you love him here's a conversation with Paul Oakenfold.
Lunar: It's been a while since you've been in Atlanta, and I'm just wondering if it's even a blip on the global scene?
Paul: Sure, it's very important to me. It's just that America is so big, and not living in the country, I only come here every other month, and I'm trying to go around the whole country. So I finally got to come back to the States, and I'm here now.
Lunar: I've read you used to be a hip-hop DJ. Are there any MCs or DJs that you follow still?
Paul: Yeah, I still like hip hop. I don't buy as much, I don't play as much but I definitely like it. Every time I come to America, I try to listen to the radio or watch on TV to see what's new.
Lunar: 88.5 if you're in town long enough is a college radio station that has really good hip hop, and tonight, they'll have electronica shows with trance in the beginning and another with jungle at the end. [Another "goose" moment because 88.5 aired a basketball game that night!]
Paul: Oh yeah.
Lunar: You grew up on pop music, is that right?
Paul: Well, I used to buy Bob Marley, T-Rex, so yeah, popular music.
Lunar: Would you say that electronic music is pop music for today's generation? You hear it on commercials and everything. What does that speak to when you consider how mainstream rave music has gotten?
Paul: Well, if I said to you 10 years ago that R&B and hip hop would be dominating radio, in the UK and US, you'd simply think, "No way." And I think this is just a cycle...So, it will have its day in America as long as it gets on radio.
Lunar: When you just started out DJing at 16 and it was just about making people move and getting out there ...
Paul: It still is.
Lunar: Cool, OK. What keeps you excited like that? What is it about seeing people out there dancing to what you put out there that does it for you?
Paul: It's simply bad...to see people out there to music that I play or make. I'm lucky to be a part of a global dance scene, so I'm just having fun really.
Lunar: When it comes to music that you produce yourself, what's your goal? When you make music, what do you think about?
Paul: The music that I'm making at the moment is more film-based. It's just what I'm into at the moment. I'm making more stuff that you can listen to at home rather than go and dance to at a club.
Lunar: I've also read that you've got a wide variety of soundtracks to pull from. Is that influencing what you're into now?
Paul: Yeah. I've always been into soundtracks. I don't go home and listen to this [the "crappy techno" that was playing overhead] that's the last thing I'd listen to. Movies is where I draw a lot of influence from, and soundtracks and such.
Lunar: I'm wondering what it's like to be named biggest DJ in the world. I wonder if that's such a good thing. Do you enjoy being labeled that way?
Paul: It puts a lot of pressure on you. Sometimes it's difficult.
Lunar: People's expectations, or...
Paul: You know, like last night, the flight got delayed, so we had five hours' delay. I went straight to the venue with my suitcase and records. You just have to do it. I don't wanna let no one down, so you just gotta do it. And the people paid good money, so they don't wanna know about me sitting in an airport, and tearing up my suitcase and not even having a wash or change. It just part of it. So, hey, you have to get over it, really.
Lunar: Comes with the territory.
Lunar: Being the people's DJ that you are, I think it's a good attribute. Any person who goes out to feel the music wants to have a DJ as into it as they are...
Paul: Yeah, sure.
Lunar: But at the same time, I've noticed that there are some DJs play for themselves. And I wonder what you think about that, and to be honest, what's bad about that?
Paul: I think it's a balance. I think it's education, but also entertainment. You know, it's pointless me coming to America and playing all records that everyone's heard. And to me, education is the important part of making the scene bigger. So, I play to the people, but I also play to myself.
Lunar: What do you plan on educating the people with tonight?
Paul: I just finished remixing the new U2 record, I'll play that. I've got five or six new tracks that haven't even been released yet. One of them is the song from Star Wars. So, I'll play those and hopefully they'll like it.
Lunar: I'm sure they will, no doubt!
Lunar: Do you plan on going on tour with them [U2]?
Paul: Their tour is not going to be as big as the last. They're doing smaller tours, more rock and roll-based. Getting back to their roots. So, no, I don't think I will. I'll also be in the studio the same time they tour. I'll probably go check out a few shows. They're brilliant.
Lunar: I think my 15 minutes are about up so I have just a couple more questions for you. You've said that you take things to the extreme, and you like to push boundaries. I want to know something that you've done outside of music that pushes the boundaries.
Paul: The extremes are within music because media sets boundaries. So going and taking a DJ out of a club, and playing the mainstage at a festival, or supporting a rock and roll band, or going to Kiva, or Bombay or China, where you really wouldn't imagine a dance scene happening, that's what I mean by pushing the boundaries. Taking a rock and roll band and giving them a remix of work. Or taking hip hop like when I remixed Arrested Development and made it house that's what I mean by that.
And, extremes outside of music, no. I'm like anyone else. I go to the movies, I go to the theater. I love restaurants.
Lunar: What's your favorite food?
Paul: My favorite food...probably Thai or Italian.
Lunar: OK. Last question. When's your birthday, what's your sign? I've always gotta get that.
Paul: My birthday's in August, and I'm a Virgo.
Lunar: Cool. Anything else you'd like to say?
Paul: I'd just like to thank the people for coming out and supporting me and buying my records. I hope they enjoy the night, really. I will!
Perfecto Presents Another World
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