We managed to grab a few words with the legendary Paul Oakenfold to catch up on his Perfecto Label, his new 'We Are Palnet Perfecto' compilation and what's in store for 2012...
Paul Oakenfold has been one of the pioneers of electronic dance music for the past twenty years. In our book he’s a true legend of the scene along with his very own record label, Perfecto. His early productions and mixes, especially within the trance department are ones today that have inspired many of the new generation of artist. While he may be responsible for inspiring the current breed of dance artist Paul continues to develop and push his sound. His sound, is one which you can’t really pigeon hole into one genre, has been pushed back into trance this year as the genre’s fresh influx of new music exciting his passion again. It’s very evident to see with his Perfecto label having refreshed its classic sub brand ‘Perfecto Fluro’ with some superb releases this year. You may cast your mind back to early this year and remember he re-mastered his legendary ‘Goa Mix’, which was an old Radio 1 essential mix, for a double compilation CD.
It’s been a very good year for Paul Oakenfold, especially for the trance followers. He has one last offering to round off the year with the launch of his annual ‘We Are Planet Perfecto’ compilation. With so much going on we couldn’t resist to fire a few questions over to Paul. He very kindly, fired back the answers.
i:Vibes: It’s a pleasure to be able to fire a few questions over to one of dance music’s most iconic names. After all these years involved in the scene what do you feel your biggest accomplishment has been?
Paul: Wow that’s a tricky question. It’s hard to pick out one thing to be a stand out accomplishment above any other. Releasing successful records, working with U2, Madonna, Hunter S Thompson…. Getting recognition from The Queen for services rendered to the industry. There have been many landmarks along the way and I’m pretty proud of all of them.
i:Vibes: You’re currently taking the Planet Perfecto banner down to South America, a place you’ve no doubt been to before. How is the tour going?
Paul: That’s right – I’m just coming up to the last shows of the leg of the We Are Planet Perfecto album tour. It’s been totally amazing. The shows have been incredible and the crowds as responsive and energetic as ever.
i:Vibes: What has been the crowd reaction like down there to your sets and does it get warm playing in that furry hat we’ve spotted on a few of your tour pictures?
Paul: Ha ha – well that hat was actually pretty necessary since that was the “Party at the End of The World” – so it was bloody cold. It was a party we organised on the southern most tip of South America – right out in the wilderness at the end of the Tierra Del Fuego peninsula. It was so special and intimate. It has to have been one of the biggest highlights of the last 12 months.
i:Vibes: Out of every location in the world you’ve played, where is your favourite place to fire up the decks?
Paul: Ushuaia – at the end of the Tierra Del Fuego Peninsula!
i:Vibes: Onto the music, it’s been an awesome year for your label Perfecto Records which is back releasing quality underground dance music again. How do you think the Perfecto label is doing in 2011?
Paul: It has been an amazing year. Together with the new A&R team at the Perfecto office we relaunched Perfecto Fluoro to put out the more underground stuff that I like to play and then with Perfecto we’ve been signing a hot new line up of artists like Beatman & Ludmilla, Richard Beynon, Senadee, Michaerl S….
i:Vibes: We were surprised to see the addition of John Askew to the Perfecto label. How did you managed to tempt him away from the world of Discover, a label he’s been apart off for many years?
Paul: Actually John came to me with ideas for evolving Perfecto. He had the credentials, the passion and he had a vision that was in sync with my own. He’s driven and has a knowledge and appreciation of both mine and Perfecto’s roots and history – as well as a clear focus of how to get us to where we want to go in the future.
i:Vibes: What is John’s main role at Perfecto and as an artist what track of his would you most like to remix?
Paul: He is head of A&R and is also involved as part of my management team.
i:Vibes: You brought back a very familiar name to many trance heads around the world with the re-birth of ‘Perfecto Fluoro’. How did the decision come about to give the legendary sub label a re-birth?
Paul: It was something I had thought about over the last 5 or 6 years it was one of the first things John suggested we do so we sat down and discussed what we wanted the sound of the label to be, which artists we wanted to target and went for it.
i:Vibes: What is one of your all time favourites from the Fluoro label and what makes that track so special to you?
Paul: Another hard question to answer. It would have to be one of Man with No Name’s big singles. Maybe Teleport or Floor Essence, or maybe the Man With no Name remix of Virus Sun. They were all great releases – which is why we signed them!!
i:Vibes: You have been driving together some outstanding new special ‘Full On Fluoro’ mixes during the course of this year. What makes these show’s different to your regular ‘Planet Perfecto’ broadcast?
Paul: I’ve always played loads of different sounds and styles and my weekly Planet Perfecto show showcases all sides to my musical output. The Full on Fluoro show was something I wanted to do on the underground (not giving it to loads of stations but just keeping it to DI trance channel) specifically for my trance / Perfecto Fluoro fans.
i:Vibes: How do you managed to squeeze in the time to put together your weekly radio shows with a very hectic tour schedule?
Paul: With difficulty!
i:Vibes: Your compilation release on Perfecto Fluoro ‘Never Mind The Bollocks’ released earlier this year is still a favourite in the i:Vibes CD player. The title has a bit of British heritage to it, how do you see the UK trance scene at the moment?
Paul: It’s thriving as far as I’m aware. I have a load of UK shows coming up in 2012 where I’ll be playing more the Full on Fluoro sound – so ask me the question again in say 6 months. And I’ll be able to answer it better then.
i:Vibes: Your new compilation series has just been released across the globe in ‘We Are Planet Perfecto’. What Paul Oakenfold sound can we expect to hear in the new compilation?
Paul: We are Planet Perfecto is a new annual compilation that I will release once a year – which will feature all sides to what I play – in the same way my weekly radio show of the same name does. This first volume has more the sound I play in the US on CD 1 and the more the Fluoro sound on CD 2. I appreciate different fans like me for different reasons and I want this album series to have something for everyone.
i:Vibes: There are a few new tracks in there from you with a new single featuring Tamra Keenan called ‘Sleep’. It’s a very mellow track, what was the inspiration for it?
Paul: It’s a cover version of the Azure Ray classic. Surprised you didn’t spot that!
i:Vibes: In contrast, your previous release with the mighty Infected Mushroom ‘I’m Alive’ is a full on Psy trance monster! Infected Mushroom have been around for years but from what we can remember this is your first collaboration with them? How did this one come about?
Paul: We’ve been friends for years. I’ve got a long history with the Goa or Psy scene as it’s known. They’re cool guys and are now based in LA so it makes it easier to do projects like this together.
i:Vibes: How highly do you rate the Infected Mushroom guys and who else on the underground scene has impressed you with their music this year?
Paul: Hugely. They’re legends. You only have to look and see how huge they are in the US right now – at a time when the most successful djs are the ones playing really commercial stuff – to know that they are dong something special. They are a great band live. Who else has impressed me from the underground? Neelix, Federation, Liquid Soul, Beatman & Ludmilla, Ace Ventura, Will Atkinson, Astrix, Monk3ylogic, Blazer, Line of Sight………..
i:Vibes: Your next single release should dissolve any New Year blues dance fans might have with ‘Maybe It’s Over’ once again featuring Tamra Keenan. What will be the Oakenfold sound for this one and what makes Tamra such a great vocalist to work with?
Paul: She has a really warm tone with her voice and a great range so it very versatile. This new single I think will work well on radio and there is a huge Organ Donors mix aimed more at the dancefloor.
i:Vibes: Paul Oakenfold the artist, many will know for his underground trance music, others for your work on big budget film soundtracks and a select few for your work with Madonna. For an artist with so many electronic styles, does your love for trance still burn as bright as ever?
Paul: Brighter than ever.
i:Vibes: How do you think the genre has developed from the days of your epic ‘Tranceport’ compilations release over a decade ago?
Paul: Trance has evolved so dramatically and I guess you could argue that one of the reasons I sort of lost interest for a while was because everything started to sound the same. It became very poppy – you know what I mean? At the beginning of this year I was introduced to a fresh line up of djs and producers who were making the exact sounds I had been looking for and it’s their records that fill my CD wallet now when I play a trance show.
i:Vibes: Any plans to re-visit any of your old compilations like you did with the legendary ‘Goa Mix’ earlier this year or indeed a few of your earlier productions, ‘Southern Sun’ or ‘Bullet In A Gun’?
Paul: Southern Sun and Bullet will both get a re-release in 2012 with new remixes. The Goa mix did get a re-master and re-release earlier in the year. It was great seeing the reaction from younger fans who did not get it first time round. In terms of other compilations I’m now focused on the Four Seasons Tour and compilation album series that I will be running through all of 2012.
i:Vibes: The New Year will see you tear it up in Las Vegas once again, a place that’s almost become a second home for you in recent years. What makes the place so good to party at?
Paul: It’s the party capital of the United States. Everybody goes there to let off steam and party. The entire city is designed for partying. 24 hours a day every day, every year – there is a party going on in Vegas. I’ve been going there for so long and have seen the music scene grow into what it is today. It’s a very special place and I love it.
i:Vibes: Are there any plans for a new Oakenfold artist album for 2012 and if there are, what musical direction will it be going in?
Paul: I’m releasing my artist album Pop Killer in 2012 which will see collaborations with select pop artists and seriously fat edgy beats. For the Fluoro fans I have a 4 part compilation coming out that will run along side my Four Seasons tour. The first Winter Edition album will come out in February and the tour kicks off at the end of January in the UK with shows at Ministry of Sound and Gatecrasher.
i:Vibes: Many thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions Paul, one final thought from yourself if we may as always like to end on a lighter note. If you could have any showbiz friend sing you happy birthday, who would it be and why?
Paul: Madonna – because that really would mean you’re having a “happy birthday”!