Over the years, British-born DJ Paul Oakenfold has gone from creating mixes in his bedroom to performing all over the globe, including a set on the Great Wall of China.
“I never thought I would see the world,” he said.
On Saturday (Sept. 16), Oakenfold will be performing in Vancouver at Celebrities Nightclub as part of his Generations tour, which takes him across North America and Europe.
“I’ve been coming to Canada for over 20 years and both sides of the country. For me, I always enjoy coming up there,” Oakenfold said. “I think Canadians got into the electronic music scene earlier than Americans did so for me it’s always fun to come up and play.”
In April, Oakenfold performed at a fundraiser for victims of 2015 Nepal earthquake. The event was held at the base camp of Mount Everest, which is more than 5,000 metres above sea level.
“It had never been done before and we trained very hard for it. I’d never hiked or climbed anything,” Oakenfold said. “So, it was a big deal for me and we didn’t know if we could pull it off. I didn’t know if I could make it and we didn’t know if the equipment could make it or work.”
Oakenfold trained for six months prior to the Mount Everest set. His training included hiking around Whistler.
“I went up there [Whistler] and played a show and spent four or five days at a friend’s,” he said. “I was training every day. Just hiking and hiking. It was good preparation for being at a higher altitude.”
Oakenfold has released dozens of mixes, been named the best DJ in the world twice by DJ Magazine, and earned two Grammy nominations during his career. His music has also been featured in dozens of movies, television shows and commercials including Swordfish, Die Another Day, FIFA Football 2005, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, The O.C. and The Bourne Identity.
“I’ve been very lucky,” Oakenfold said. “Not everyone is going to like every piece of music I make and not everyone is going to like every show. I realized that. But for me, I enjoy it and if I can touch people through the music I make or the style of DJ that I play then great, that’s what it is all about.”
Considered by many as the godfather of electronic dance music, Oakenfold says the EDM has lost its way over the years, thanks to advances in technology, which has helped give rise to many new DJs.
“Technology has made it a lot easier for people to DJ and that’s the problem,” he said. “The art form is starting to disappear.”
Oakenfold said while it is important to embrace change, improvements in technology have contributed to a “gold rush” of DJs, adding that the EDM culture has changed .
“Change is all around us. But change has made the DJ world much much easier to become a DJ and that’s where you have the press-play culture and you lose the art of telling a story through music and the art of actually DJing,” he says.
In November, Oakenfold will release The Wonderful World of Perfecto: With Paul Oakenfold and Friends, a graphic comic book about his life and what he gets up to with some of the artists on his record label. A special mix will be available as well, but only for those who purchase the comic.
“It’s to be taken quite light-heartedly,” he said. “It’s a funny read and it is what we get up to in the club world.”