Paul Oakenfold: “It’s important to evolve.”
When you’ve got a legendary status and the entire world of dance has their eyes and ears fixed on you, the pressure can be killing. But not to Paul Oakenfold. Experience taught him that the best way to survive in EDM, is to keep doing what you love. And so he does. While finalizing his upcoming artist album, he found time to create a new mix for his ‘We Are Planet Perfecto’ series. Volume 2 brings the sound of his sets in the US, where he was one of the first DJ’s to set fire to the EDM movement. Celebrating the release, we named the British mastermind our Artist of the Week. Wanna know his thoughts behind the US embracing EDM? Then read along!
Hey Paul! Congrats on the release of the second volume of the ‘We Are Planet Perfecto’ series! Is this sort of your gift, or ode to the US?
Paul:”I guess you could call it that. I’ve spent so much time on the Four Seasons albums and other Fluoro sounding mixes like the Fluorescence Essential Mix I did a few weeks ago that it was nice to put together a release that represented a completely different side to what I play.”
It’s a known fact: you were one of the first European DJ’s to set foot on American soil, and build up a successful career. How satisfying is it to finally see that the country has embraced EDM?
Paul:”Very satisfying and truly exciting when you look at quite how big it has become. I don’t think anybody could have anticipated the scale on which the American population have now embraced EDM.”
Does Planet Perfecto spin around America these days, is that the crowd the label is aiming for, or will it always keep its worldwide character?
Paul:”Planet Perfecto is my weekly radio show that goes out all over the world in 40 countries and the We Are Planet Perfecto compilation series is an annual release that runs along side that show. Usually – like with last year’s release it covers every side of what I do, but with this release I wanted to make a true representation of what I often play in the US. Next sure I’m sure WAPP03 will have a different theme. It’s important to evolve to avoid things becoming stagnant.”
You moved to Los Angeles nearly a decade ago. What happened to the US that made EDM explode so much? Do you think it has to do with unity in any way, of dancing to that same beat?
Paul:”I think there have been a number of factors that have contributed to the current fever pitch EDM is generating state side. First of all you have artists like David Guetta hooking up with pop and urban singers to create global hits that dominate the commercial radio stations during drive time. Second the culture of partying in places like Las Vegas just went wild with the addition of electronic music and then as the shows got bigger and bigger and the production on those shows more and more impressive – the press wanted to know more, radio wanted to be involved and everything snowballed from there. A&R guys looking after bands and singers are pushing their artists to collaborate with EDM producers because that’s where it’s at right now in the US.”
While EDM has its focus on the US, there’s still some very special things going on, on the other side of the world. What are the good things happening at home, in your eyes?
Paul:”Well, I like the contrasts between what is happening in the US and what is happening in Europe. One is very overground and the other very underground (in relation). I like the variation between playing one sound to a beach party in Miami to then go and play another sound at a Goa Trance rave in Europe. Ying Yang.”
What has Europe got to learn from the US and vice versa?
Paul:”I’m not sure if either has anything to learn – they’re just different.”
You were one of the first DJ’s to have picked up the EDM vibe in the US. What’s the next big thing you’re going to pioneer in, you think? Or is there too much to explore right here, still?
Paul:”Watch this space.”
‘WAPP Vol.2’ is loaded with new and exciting names. Can you name some of your personal highlights?
Paul:”They are all highlights – otherwise I would not have included them!!”
The sound is more eclectic than ever. Do you think there is anything left of genres or boxes within EDM, or is everything just one big blur?
Paul:”It’s certainly heading that way. But for me that’s only ever going to be a good thing. Genres and restrictions of mixing styles together will only ever be a bad thing as far as creativity is concerned.”
In a recent interview you said that, at the time you stepped out of trance to go for film productions, trance was cheesy. What’s the current status on trance, you think?
Paul:”Well when you say ‘trance’ there’s a huge amount of variation under one banner. What you might know as trance could be very different to what I view as trance. When I fell out of love with trance it was because everything started to sound the same. Everything became very poppy – you know what I mean? Luckily I then discovered and started getting involved with a sound that was really fresh and exciting. It’s a sound that sits somewhere between goa, psy, regular trance and progressive. We call in Fluoro in the Perfecto office.”
You also said that most of EDM in the US is commercial now, and that underground is the next step. Will you be the one to take them underground, or is that up to smaller names, or newcomers?
Paul:”The underground has always thrived in the US so there is no need to try and create anything new or to start campaigning for any movement towards it. What I think is that over time if the buddle of what is going on now bursts – it might be because people are bored of that sound and may well then gravitate to the underground. I’ve seen that trend happen more than once.”
The Fluoro sound has definitely won some souls since its revival. What are the plans for the label in the near future? Any rising stars we should know about?
Paul:”The plans are to keep pushing artists that we believe in and releasing as much of their music as our release schedule will allow for. We have a ton of amazing music backed up ready to come out – it’s just frustrating sometimes to not be able to get more of it out quicker. Names to look out for – Federation, Thomas Datt, Angry Man, Magnus, Blazer, Eshericks, Beatman & Ludmilla…”
Your next single, ‘Please Me’ with Poncho and Maxi Trusso, is coming up. How did this one come into being?
Paul:”I first heard the track on tour in South America. It’s a huge hit in Argentina and Poncho are a really big band from there also. We signed the record to Perfecto and reproduced a package of fresh mixes. The video, which features one of Argentina’s biggest super models, has something like 4 million views now. It’s an incredible infectious record with such a stand out vocal. I love it.“
How about a new album, how far along are you? Any idea when to expect it?
Paul:”That’s the most common question I answer. It’s called ‘Pop Killer’ and it’s coming – as soon as possible.”