INTERVIEWS / MUSIC
Not Over Yet
International DJ Paul Oakenfold takes spinning to new heights
By Drew Hinshaw
Let's say that you're a middle-aged trance DJ, a Brit. Back in your 20s, you went from spinning records on London's West End to an A&R desk where you signed two rap duos that didn't amount to a hill of beans. One was called something like Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, and the other was named maybe Oil and Vinegar or Salt'N'Pepa, or Garlic and Mashed Potatoes... something along those lines. Anyway, you went on to be a big remixer, producer, DJ, and label mogul —and you're wondering what's left?
So, you start exploring other outlets —scoring films and co-authoring biographies rich in wisdom for the aspiring DJ. Maybe you starred as a raging un-dead mutant in an English dystopian film, or even if you didn't, your Wikipedia entry steadfastly claims you did. Whatever. You're Paul Oakenfold and you've done a lot in your 44 years on earth.
Are you scoring any films or games right now?
Yeah, I got a movie coming out that I scored called Noble Son. Then I go back to L.A. to work on a movie called Humboldt Park.
So you've kept busy then.
Yeah, I enjoy the movies.
What made you get into scoring?
I got a chance to score a movie called Swordfish, which was a John Travolta and Halle Berry movie. I really enjoyed the process, so I just continued to do it.
Who were your big inspirations as you started getting into film scores?
In terms of composers and conductors, I like Harry Gregson-Williams. I like John Williams' work. I think Hans Zimmer is really good. They're the kind of guys who I always look out for their scores. I think that John Powell does good work.
You played a zombie in 28 Weeks Later, right?
No, that's not true.
Damn. I saw that on Wikipedia.
Yeah, I was given a chance to do it, but I turned it down.
Why'd you turn it down?
Well, it’s because I don't want to be in front of the camera.
What else are you currently working on besides film scores?
That's it really. I just got my greatest hits album. It's just come out, it's doing really well. I'm just supporting the album and the book.
I meant to ask you about that. You've got this biography out.
Yeah. It’s with Richard Norris.
Did it take a long time to write?
Years. Three years.
Did you guys just meet up and talk about your life?
Yeah, but it’s also to give younger DJs an idea how to achieve certain things because that is always the biggest question you get asked.
So what's your advice for younger DJs?
Buy the book. (Laughs). Yeah. Buy the book.
Which younger DJs do you see a lot of promise in?
I like Kenneth Thomas from Detroit, Robert Vadney from Greece, Adam White from England, Liam Shachar from Israel. I see a lot of international DJs, but they're just a bunch of my favorites.
Do you consider your personal sound the product of a particular place such as England, New York, or Spain?
No, not really. My sound is pretty much a melodic trance sound, and people around the world can relate to that sound because it brings good feelings out of them.