Interview: Paul Oakenfold
Mon, 09 Jun 2014 09:34:25
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"It's about the feeling of trance," says Paul Oakenfold.
He captures that feeling like lightning in a bottle on his new album Trance Mission out June 20, 2014 [iTunes link]. For the record, Oakenfold re-imagined numerous trance classics, preserving their spark, while fanning the flame like only he can. As a result, he takes trance to a new place altogether, and you'll want to go along for the ride again and again.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Paul Oakenfold talks Trance Mission and so much more.
On Trance Mission, you really added your own spin to these classic tracks.
Yeah, that's the idea. The idea was to basically take those records from back in the day and give them a new spin while keeping the integrity of the artist and making sure that they sounded current and fresh in order to work in the clubs today.
It's a delicate balance between your sound and their sound.
That's it! Bear in mind, this is quite a unique approach. Certainly, you have to be careful what you wish for here. Sitting back in late September with this idea, I was like, "This is great. We'll do cover versions that have never been done". Usually, in our world, we remix it. You have to jump into it, and it's a lot of work. A lot of thought went into it. It became a much bigger project than I ever could imagine. You certainly have to pay enough respect to the original. You have to move far enough away from it so it's a brand new take, but you still need to maintain certain moments—obviously the lead lines people associate with the song and love the first time around.
Well, you also know what resonates with you as well as what works on the dance floor.
For instance, we lived with "Touch Me" for a long time. I was very fortunate to be given that. I was the first one to play that back in Ibiza. I had a whole summer on it, and it became a monster for me. I was like, "Well, maybe when we release it as a single, we'll do more of a club-y mix". I wanted to do something emotional, dark, interesting, and really melodic. That was the idea of letting it sit down tempo and creating the mood around it.
How did you go about curating the tracklisting?
It was a bit difficult. It was more of a team process. I put down my top thirty choices. Within the Perfecto team, we started to go through those. We had to contact the writer and the publisher. For some of the artists, the song was very close to them, and they didn't want us to touch it. I respect that. Some of them even said, "Look, it's the twentieth anniversary next year or this year, and we're planning to release it ourselves". It was a process that took time to get the right tracks. Luckily enough, we had a lot to choose from.
How did you strike a cohesion between the songs?
There are two versions. There's the unmixed, and then there's the mixed. The mixed works well with a flow. It's an interesting point. They all work together. Once we had the finished the tracks, it was about looking at a style that would work. Some of them have been remixed before, even many times. I had to look at each individual track and what I think I could bring to it. There are different styles of trance music. I wanted to share that with people. There's the new school trance sound that's becoming popular in America. You see this with some of my colleagues like Armin van Buuren, and Above & Beyond making trance music at 128bpm. I wanted to touch on the new school sound with "Barber's Adagio For Strings", "Hold That Sucker Down" and "Toca Me". Then, we also keep the old school sound, which is 138bpm with "Madagascar" and tracks like that on the record. In terms of tempo and approach, there are a lot of different styles in the trance world. Not everyone is going to like that. I get it. However, there's no point in me going and doing something that's very similar to a lot of the remixes out there. For instance, there's a lot of thought that went into "Adagio for Strings", in terms of the arrangement, and the second section where it breaks down is much longer in terms of using the original orchestral piece. I went back and listened to the remixes, and that's never been featured in the ones that are out there. We added a vocal section that I felt brought a different take to it, while keeping the integrity and gave it a lot of soul. It really does touch you. I actually worked on that record back in the day. William Orbit had a big hit with it, and we commissioned Ferry Corsten to do the remix. The Skip Raiders on Perfecto did another version. Obviously, other DJs have tried to do their versions as well. It's an interesting take.
What brings you back to trance music?
It's all about the emotion, the soul, and the feeling you get. It really does touch you.
Will you be getting Trance Mission on June 20?