8 facts about DJ Paul Oakenfold ahead of #DXBNYE

As arguably the world’s first superstar DJ, Paul Oakenfold’s achievements easily dwarf those of his younger competitors. We talk to the 51-year-old about the most weird and wonderful moments from his life and career.
Paul Oakenfold at Glamorama Fashion Rocks by Macy’s Passport in Los Angeles in September. Chris Weeks / Getty Images for Macy’s / AFP
Paul Oakenfold at Glamorama Fashion Rocks by Macy’s Passport in Los Angeles in September. Chris Weeks / Getty Images for Macy’s / AFP

• Paul Oakenfold began his music career in the artists and repertoire division of Champion Records, where he signed stars such as Salt-N-Pepa and Will Smith

“The first signing I ever did was DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince, Girls Ain’t Nothing But Trouble – how true is that,” says Oakenfold. “What stood out to me was the commerciality of the song, the sample, and the tone of Will’s voice. I signed it and then remixed it for the UK market and it became a top-5 record.”

• In 1995, Oakenfold became the first DJ to headline the main stage at Glastonbury

“That was a wonderful moment for me. Why was it me? Ask them. They should put Calvin Harris on next year – that would be my advice to them if [the organisers] are reading this article: put Calvin on – it will be off the charts.”

• Oakenfold co-produced Happy Mondays’ 1990 classic Pills ‘n’ Thrills and Bellyaches

“I was very proud of that ­moment – the first artist I produced. We, or they, went on to sell a million records, won a few awards, and were nominated for a couple of Brits. It was unique, the first indie-dance record. Of course they were just as mental as everyone said – they were the Happy Mondays. But underneath all that there was obviously talent there, because at the end of the day, they had to focus and make a record.”

• In the early 1980s, Oakenfold would pretend to be a music journalist to sneak into clubs for free

“We’re in New York City, I’m with my buddy and we’ve got no money. We’re broke, in Harlem, and we want to go to all the nightclubs – so we get false IDs made. I got NME [New Musical Express] and my buddy got Melody Maker. We got into clubs, and my friend interviewed Bob Marley and Bobby Womack. I’ve still got my NME false ID, so I can get in anywhere I want. I probably made NME internationally famous because a lot of people in New York had never heard of it then.”

• Oakenfold co-wrote and produced the theme tune to the United Kingdom’s version of the reality television show Big Brother

“It’s still being played, can you believe that? It’s part of British culture. I knew then it would really work because we’re nosy people – and 12 years later it’s still on TV.”

• He also remixed the James Bond theme tune for the 21st century

“I’m a fan, as I’m sure a lot of your readers are. Growing up watching the movies, and then suddenly getting the opportunity to remix the theme, I was: ‘Yeah, of course I’ll do that.’”

• Oakenfold recruited the renowned American author Hunter S Thompson for a guest appearance on 2002’s Bunkka album

“At the time in Britain, a lot of clubs were using quotes from Hunter’s books to promote their nights, so I reached out and said: ‘I have this idea, let’s collaborate.’ He loved the idea. He was a very intelligent, gifted man. But he used a tremendous amount of drugs and I think that’s why he committed suicide – the older he became, the lows became so bad he couldn’t handle it.”

• One of Oakenfold’s biggest fans is none other than Madonna

“How lucky am I? To be signed to Madonna’s Maverick Records. To produce, remix and go on tour as her opening act – I’m very lucky. Artists have a choice of whoever they want in terms of producing and remixing, and an artist such as Madonna does whatever she wants. She’s a global icon, but she’s pretty down to earth. When you’re in that moment, with three of you in a room for three or four days, 12 hours a day, you really get to know someone, and I was very fortunate to have those ­moments.”

#DXBNYE at Meydan Dubai is on Wednesday. Tickets cost from Dh395 and are available at www.dxbnye.ae


Published: December 28, 2014 04:00 AM


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