For more than three decades, Paul Oakenfold has elevated and shaped the electronic music genre and remains one of the leading forces in the global music scene today.
From the DJ booths of the world’s hottest dancefloors to producing groundbreaking records or pioneering soundtracks for Hollywood blockbuster movies, Oakenfold’s diversity as an artist and performer has earned him accolades from critics and fans the world over. Garnering three Grammy nominations along the way, this journey has been epic to say the least.
The son of a musician, Oakenfold was drawn to DJing in the late ‘70s, spinning funk in the cool hangouts of London’s Covent Garden. In 1984, he spent several months living in New York City, working in A&R for the famed Champion Records, where he signed DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, as well as Salt-n-Pepa. He also became a promoter and British agent for the Beastie Boys and Run-D.M.C.
In 1987, Oakenfold visited Ibiza, where he discovered the Balearic sound that filled the air at clubs such as Amnesia. Inspired, he took this experience back to the UK and became the sound’s ambassador, starting an underground scene in London, which soon spread virally across the entire country and beyond.
Oakenfold returned to Ibiza again and again, often holding residencies at the island’s two main clubbing institutions, Amnesia and Pacha. Around the same time, London’s Ministry of Sound opened its doors for the first time with Oakenfold as its resident. But it was his famed residency at UK super-club Cream in Liverpool during the late ‘90s that brought Oakenfold global respect as a true master of his art. This residency was celebrated through the Grammy-nominated 2004 compilation Creamfields (Oakenfold went on to receive a second Grammy nomination in 2007 with his artist album A Lively Mind, and then again in 2009 for his production work with Madonna).
Oakenfold’s stature as a DJ and entertainer has taken him beyond the normal club and festival circuit, playing landmark gigs that have changed the face of electronic music. Highlights include four worldwide tours warming up for Madonna and two for U2 (with both artists insisting on a DJ set from Oakenfold instead of a support band), performing on the Great Wall of China, and two sold-out dates playing to 30,000 people at the Hollywood Bowl in California. In 2011, Oakenfold took a thousand people and a huge sound system down to the tip of South America, on the Tiera Del Fuego peninsula, to DJ all night under the stars at his Party at the End of the World—the southernmost party ever held.
A year after Oakenfold’s first visit to Ibiza, Perfecto Records was born. Founded in 1988, the groundbreaking label played an integral role in the birth of melodic trance and progressive house, with Oakenfold at the helm, producing massive international hits such as “Not Over Yet,” “Ready Steady Go,” “Bullet in the Gun” and “Southern Sun.” With countless high-profile releases and remixes to its name, Perfecto and Perfecto Fluoro are still at the forefront of the scene today, releasing forward-thinking electronic music for discerning listeners and fans worldwide.
With over half a million sales, one of Perfecto’s most notable releases was the recent double album Perfecto Las Vegas, which held the #1 spot on the US iTunes dance chart for 10 weeks. This release solidified Oakenfold’s international stronghold, as it achieved “highest-selling DJ compilation ever released in US history.”
Oakenfold has produced pop sensations U2, Madonna and the Happy Mondays, as well as three acclaimed artist albums of his own. He has remixed Bruno Mars, Justin Timberlake, Michael Jackson, the Rolling Stones, and many more. He has released more than 30 DJ mix compilations and recorded 36 Essential Mixes for BBC Radio 1, including the first one in 1993.
In recent years, Oakenfold has also been responsible for creating breathtaking film scores and cues for a long list of Hollywood blockbusters, including The Bourne Identity, Matrix Reloaded, Shrek 2, Swordfish and Collateral. His most anticipated release is yet to come.
Astonishingly, despite all his success in the worlds of chart music and film, Oakenfold has continued to tour relentlessly, playing more than 160 shows in 2013 on his Full on Fluoro, Way Out East (Asia) and Latin American tours. His residency at legendary Las Vegas club Rain at Palms Casino Resort, which ran weekly for three years, gave birth to a US scene that many now credit as being at the epicenter of the recent EDM explosion.
Oakenfold’s weekly Planet Perfecto radio show is syndicated worldwide to 74 stations in 57 countries. Every week, 23 million people tune in to hear the hottest records in the world according to Paul Oakenfold. His We Are Planet Perfecto compilation series, which now nears its fifth annual release, celebrates all sides of his versatile, non-genre-conforming sound, as well as the equally ambidextrous sounds of his Perfecto, Perfecto Fluoro and Perfecto Black record labels.
Oakenfold’s 2011 album Nevermind the Bollocks… Here’s Paul Oakenfold saw a return to Europe with his refreshed underground Full on Fluoro sound. His 2012 Four Seasons live shows and box set album reaffirmed his position as a pioneer and ambassador of quality underground trance.
In 2013, he recorded Cream 21, a double album celebrating a two-decade-long relationship with Liverpool’s legendary clubbing institution. In 2014, Oakenfold released Trance Mission, an album featuring 12 cover versions of his all-time favorite trance records—including “Café del Mar,” “Toca Me” and “Adagio for Strings.”
This year, Oakenfold celebrates 25 Years of Perfecto Records. The double CD/digital album features 34 timeless classics from the label’s back catalog, including Grace “Not Over Yet,” Planet Perfecto “Bullet in the Gun,” BT “Loving You More,” Ce Ce Peniston “Finally,” Tilt & Oakenfold van Dyk “Rendezvous,” PPK “Resurection,” Jan Johnston “Flesh,” and many more. The album is out now, and a world tour featuring more than 100 live shows is well under way.
The WAPP05 compilation saw a full release in 2015, and Oakenfold’s artist album Pop Killer looks set for release in the first quarter of 2016, featuring collaborations with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Azealia Banks, Ceelo Green, One Republic and the Wanted.