Uneek Ibiza (uneekibiza.com) editor Andrew interviewed Paul Oakenfold at Savannah on the sunset strip in San Antonio on August 11th 2015. Paul spoke about his career to date in the UK and America, his love for Ibiza and his new DJ Academy in Los Angeles.
Click below to listen to the interview in full on our Soundcloud page;
Or read below for the full written translation;
Paul, great to see you back in Ibiza! How are you and how have your sets been going at Connect Ibiza at Privilege the past few weeks?
Good thanks, they’ve been going very well. It’s a new night on the island, very busy and it’s good to see a bunch of old friends that have been turning up that live on the island so yeah, it’s good to be back.
Wicked, and you’re back there tonight – what can we expect from tonight’s set?
Well I’m going to play a few of the classics actually tonight, as it’s the 25th anniversary of Perfecto, so I’ll be dipping into the old record collection and pulling out a few – I’ve done some new remixes on a few of the old familiar tunes also, so there’ll be a bit of everything!
Brilliant! You’ve just been performing around North America recently, how does it compare or differ to Ibiza?
Nothing compares to Ibiza, it’s the spot. I’ve been coming here for many, many years, it’s a wonderful place. It’s changed I think in a good way personally. I’ll always come here every year.
Fantastic. If we go back to your first famous trip to Ibiza in 1987 – so much been said and written about it – can you tell us about it in your own words?
I came here on holiday, and I invited 3 of my friends to come and join us, and we ended up having this amazing experience on this really wonderful island. There was already a bunch of my other friends here, so we were just a load of young guys having fun on this island. The music was amazing, and we took that spirit and energy back to England – it’s been well documented we started the club and things kind of went from there really.
As you mentioned, what came after that trip in 87 back in the UK really gave a platform for your career to kick off – the gigs at Heaven, and the birth of Perfecto Records, that must of been a special time?
I came back, we started clubs called Spectrum and Future and laid down the foundations of what we had experienced here in Ibiza. From there I wanted to start releasing music and there wasn’t really a label at that time that was putting out the kind of music that we wanted to play and sign, so that’s where the birth of Perfecto really came from.
Brilliant. Perfecto Fluro is my favourite ever mix cd, I must of listened to it thousands of times and was one of the early mixes that made me fall in love with dance music. You’ve mixed a multitude of mix cds over the years, what has been your favourite?
I think my favourite has to be the Goa mix for a bunch of reasons really. It was a mixed that I approached in a different way. There’s dialogue, there’s movie score, there’s different kinds of underground music on there. It was a big challenge of how I could take all of those elements and put it together within a mix, so I’d have to say the Goa mix.
That’s a really good mix also. You released your Greatest Hits & Remixes in 2007 with your classic tracks on including Southern Sun, Bullet In The Gun, and remixes of the Happy Mondays and Stone Roses to name a few – what do you feel are your favourite tracks or remixes you’ve produced over the years?
I think Massive Attack – Unfinished Symphony and U2 – Even Better Than The Real Thing are two of my favourites.
Lots of DJs have changed their style for commercial success over the years, but you’ve remained true to a sound which you love – this is clearly important to you?
I really love melodic music, it really gives you a wonderful feeling. Over the years when I’ve released my artist albums I’ve focused more on songs, but they still have that melodic emotion that is in my sound. The tempo may be different, but it still comes from me.
We seen your set a couple of weeks ago at Connect Ibiza and your set was full of really driving, melodic, beautiful trance music, so that still drives you?
Yeah, it really does connect with people, and it allows you to open up and just go with the DJ and get lost in the music and that’s really what I enjoy.
— Uneek Ibiza (@uneekibiza) July 29, 2015
We totally agree with that. You’ve played some massive gigs at festivals, stadiums and toured with some of the biggest artists and bands across the world, do you have some favourite all time top gigs?
I have a few actually – when I played on the Great Wall Of China, when I played at Madison Square Garden and also at Wembley Stadium when I played with Madonna and U2 – I’m a big football fan, so any football stadium I love playing in! Those were amazing for me, but I’d say when I done my own show at Clapham Common when there was 60,000 people there that was a real achievement.
A real special moment! You’ve won Grammy’s, DJ Mag Top 100 polls, NME’s Album Of The Year and Brit Awards amongst various others, which of these gives you the most satisfaction?
I’m just very lucky to be nominated for those kind of things – I just think if you try your best and really spend time on trying to become really good at what you do in life then if something like these awards come, it’s great to be recognised by the people that voted for you.
Being from near Liverpool, Cream was (and still is) the club of choice for me – can you tell us about your 2 year residency at one of the biggest clubs in the world at a time when dance music was really exploding in the UK?
Liverpool is a very special place for me. People in Liverpool are great people – I’ve got many friends in Liverpool – obviously every single Saturday I was there for a couple of years as you said. I will always hold that club close to my heart. We’ve got one more night – they’re going to close and knock it down I believe, so they’ve asked me to do one more party and I’ve put it out there. It’s the people’s club, so I’m going to let the people decide what they want to hear. So on the Cream website, the idea is that people can go on there, you can choose the tracks, and I’ll play them for you. That’s how I’m going to end Cream (at Nation).
Wicked, we will be there at the front! So after the Cream residency, you headed to America and played gigs, and produced soundtracks for movies and video games, can you tell us about this period in your life moving from England to America?
Yeah, that wasn’t planned to be honest with you. I got asked to score a movie called Swordfish with John Travolta and Halle Berry, so I went there and I just really enjoyed the process and liked the whole idea of writing for films and games and I’ve been living there for many years now. I still miss my family and friends and you can’t beat England, it’s just great! Even though I live abroad, it’s still my home and will always be my home.
Fantastic. You’ve seen dance music explode in America recently from the forefront, that must have been exciting and proud for you to see as you’ve been over there from the start?
Yeah, electronic music has become huge in America, and it kind of reminds me of how it was back in the day when we were doing it in Britain. As a community we all came together, we loved it, we enjoyed it and that’s where America is now.
You have a recent new role in LA at Isina heading the department of DJs, producers and EDM vocalists, worldwide talent search and development mentorship program. Can you tell us about this?
What I wanted to do was give back, and the idea was that a bunch of colleagues in the business put together a DJ camp where myself and experts within the electronic world would share our knowledge with the next generation. So the idea is that by partnering up with the Los Angeles Film & Recording Academy, which is an incredible setting if you want to learn about all aspects of music, and they didn’t have an electronic division so we partnered with them, I brought all my colleagues in to teach the next generation of how to be a producer and a DJ and understand the pitfalls of our world.
That sounds fantastic. You’ll be playing some more gigs in Europe through the rest of the summer, at the likes of Creamfields in UK and also here in Ibiza, what can we expect from the festival sets?
My festival sets lean more towards high energy and bigger tunes. In a club you play longer, so you can take people on a journey, you can really start to get into certain tracks and find where you want to be in real comfortable position of playing music. At festivals they usually give you an hour to an hour and a half tops so you’ve just got to get to it and play all the big tracks.
What are some of your favourite spots on the island? Any recommendations for the readers of Uneek Ibiza to check out?
Ibiza still has one of the best sunsets in the world. I’ve seen a lot of sunsets, I’ve been very fortunate with my job and I’ve travelled a lot. I think you do need to come down to Mambo and see it. Come down, it’s changed down here, it’s a lot more relaxed and its a great spot to see the sunset.
It is a phenomenal sunset! People come to Ibiza every year and fall in love with the island. What is it about the White Isle that made you fall in love with it so much?
That’s a good question because when I first came here it was the clubs, then as times changed it was the beaches and bars, just like hanging out at Mambo with your friends drinking, there’s nothing better than being with your friends. Now my family come here, we’ve got a villa. I don’t go out here every night like I used to, saying that I was out till 7am this morning at Pikes listening to DJ Harvey, but you choose your nights. There’s so much to do, I don’t know anyone that can keep up with this. There’s 8 clubs open every single night, trying to get to 8 clubs every night is difficult!
We tried our best last week when we came to see you. We went to see Hardwell first at Ushuaia, then your set at Privilege and then Defected at Amnesia!
That’s a good night out!
It was haha! You’ve been here since the start; how do you think Ibiza has evolved over the years?
I think it’s evolved in a good way to be honest with you. There’s been a few people that have died on this island, I lost 3 friends that died here. I think that when Spain became part of the EU Britain put a lot of pressure on them to sort out their roads. I remember when we used to come out of Amnesia and there was no lights on the road, people were crossing this motorway and were being killed. The infrastructure of the island needed to be better and is better now and that’s the biggest change I’ve seen. The island is also too expensive, but that isn’t going to change.
Musically, Ibiza has created some absolute classic dance anthems over the years. What are some of your particular Ibiza anthems?
My classic has to be Grace – Not Over Yet. It was one record that I played here for the whole summer. The same with Touch Me by Rui De Silva, the cover version that I made of it, I did a trance version that I used to play at the Perfecto residency at Pacha. I played it every week as the last record of the night.
That’s a great track that always goes off! Finally, what does the future hold for Paul Oakenfold?
I have a few interesting projects – working with the DJ camp is very important and finishing my artist album, which is just more of the same – some strong songs. I’m looking forward to it actually, it’s a good time!
Well it’s great to see you back in Ibiza, thanks very much for your time Paul, really appreciate the interview!
Paul Oakenfold will play Creamfields in the UK on Sunday 30th August 2015 . For more info head to www.creamfields.com
— Darz (@darzmusic) August 11, 2015