Interviews Music Industry

Paul Oakenfold: “The music scene is still special…”


He has worked on soundtracks for Hollywood blockbusters (e.g. The Bourne Identity), is widely regarded as one of the main Electronic Music pioneers, and has been perfecting his craft in a career spanning more than three decades. That’s right, Paul Oakenfold is why the word ‘legendary’ was invented. And to add to his list, he recently released the fifth volume of his ‘We Are Planet Perfecto’ series, granting us the opportunity to have a little chat about his career, the industry, and what music has brought him…

Thank you for your time, Paul. Could you explain what part of your career we’re at and where the ‘We Are Planet Perfecto (WAPP) – Back To My House’ album fits in?
Regarding the album, I don’t think it encapsulates my entire career in any capacity. My career has involved extended periods of time producing for pop artists or working on film scores. The sound I have made in the studio or that I have played at my shows is constantly evolving. So for me, ‘Back To My House’ is more of a snap shot of what my sound is today. As opposed to anything retrospective looking backwards to the last three decades.

With a career spanning over three decades, how do you look back on the times that seem like a lifetime ago?
To be honest, I don’t often look back. I prefer looking forward and moving at a fast pace. It’s about today and tomorrow – not yesterday.

Could you share the stories of three of your most memorable parties with us?
Wow. That’s a tough one. There have been so many. Playing Wembley Stadium with U2 was a big day. Next to that, my show on Clapham Common was incredibly special and the party I did at the end of the world down on the Tierra Del Fuego Peninsula was extraordinary as well. But then you also have the Great Wall in China, all the shows at the Burning Man Festival, and playing the main stage at Glastonbury. It’s impossible just to pick three.


What has been the most life-changing moment in your career to this day?
Having children!

With all those years of being (and remaining) at the core of the scene, you must have some remarkable opinions on Electronic Music as a musical style. Could you tell us how you feel about the current state it’s in and how you think it will develop in the years ahead?
I think the scene is a wide-ranging landscape with many different styles – from the very commercial pop end or EDM through to the really uncompromising ends of underground techno. I know a lot of people feel the commercial end has ruined a lot of what was special about the scene, but I just don’t feel that way. I think every person should be entitled to play the music they want to play or listen and dance to what they want to listen and dance to. I’m not in a position to preach that one style of music is better than another and nor is anybody else.

Has there ever been a moment when the thought of calling it quits crossed your mind?
No. At this moment in time, I’m enjoying where I’m at. I enjoy making music, releasing music, touring, and enabling new artists to develop themselves. I’m very happy with life right now, so the thought of retiring isn’t on the radar.


What’s your secret of remaining at the heart of the electronic music industry for so long? What would you recommend to anyone setting out to accomplish the same?
There has to be a genuine love and passion for music. Without that, it’s never going to work.

What has the DJ world brought to the table that nothing else can even remotely compare to?
A feeling of unity.

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