Relentless Beats

Defining a Legend: Paul Oakenfold

The terms “legend”, “superstar”, “pioneer”, and many others are used very loosely to accentuate the importance of certain people. Often times in music journalism these words are used to describe newcomers, one-hit-wonders, and wunderkinds, who are more likely than not, not quite ready for honors like these. More often they are used to describe an artist who has made a sizeable contribution to the dance community, but have not yet truly touched that mark where they can be named “legend”. So what is it that makes a legend? A number-one track? Owning a record label? Being a tastemaker? A number one track may hold a key to instant success, but does that mean that the success will repeat? Not always. Owning a record label just proves that you have a little money to back you up, not necessarily that you have the clout to hold influence over the populace of the dance community and those who contribute to it. Tastemakers may have an influence, but tastes change all the time and perhaps they are just a passing trend.

There are only a select few who truly deserve these highly regarded titles, and there is a certain formula in place to decide who is a legend and who is not quite there. A legend is someone who has the ability to influence their counterparts; they are someone who has proven that they have lasting appeal, not just for a year or two, but for decades; a legend changes the way that their community functions and perceives; they aren’t in the game for the fame or for the paycheck, but rather to make an impact and because they are doing what they absolutely love to do; a legend is someone whose skills encompass more than just DJing and Producing; they are musicians, showmen, performers, pioneers, tastemakers, superstars, inventors, relationship-builders, fan-servicers, and positive influences all wrapped up in one nice package with a pair of headphones on top. How many people can you think of that fit this description? Only a few come to mind, one of those being the true legend, Paul Oakenfold.

Everything about Paul Oakenfold is legendary. From his not so humble beginnings, to his meteoric rise to fame, to his industry success on a little island called Ibiza, to the creation of his 25 year old record label, Perfecto, and beyond even that. Having begun by working as an A&R man for Champion Records, bringing aboard DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince as well as “Push It” singers Salt-n-Pepa, Oakenfold started out big in the Big Apple. The second big city that gave him global recognition was the famed island of Ibiza. Here Paul Oakenfold really discovered his true calling and brought back the Balearic sound from his residency days at Pacha and Amnesia to the shores of the UK where the newly founded Ministry of Sound brought Oakenfold on as their first official resident DJ. However, it was when Cream, the Liverpool super-club, gave him residency that he had officially reach world-renowned stardom.

Paul Oakenfold Interview on Ibiza Uncut

Like I mentioned above, a legend is a fan-servicer, a showman, and a positive influence. Despite, Oakenfold’s success in the large scale nightclubs, he had not forgotten what made him who he was. He liked the underground sound and therefore sought after clubs that no one else wanted to play. He wanted to be the guy who brought this Acid house to the unlikely locale and make sure that they spread the word. He played anywhere he could. He didn’t care if the club was small, big, super, well-known, unknown, or somewhere in between. Reputation mattered, and unlike most, he knew that it didn’t dent his reputation to branch out.

Nevertheless, Paul Oakenfold had started a movement. And after that first trip to Ibiza, it wasn’t just his DJ and production career that was taking off, he even started his now immensely successful record label: Perfecto. This new label played an integral role in the relevancy and exponential growth of the Trance genre. On Perfecto, Paul has released some of his most famous tracks including “Not Over Yet”, “Bullet In The Gun” and “Southern Sun”. In addition, Perfecto released the double-album Perfecto Las Vegas which was a #1 seller on the iTunes Dance charts for a number of weeks giving Oakenfold the highest selling DJ compilation ever released.

In addition to his massive success with the establishment of Acid House, Trance, the European club scene, and his own record label, throughout the years Paul Oakenfold has had the opportunity, and surprisingly the time, to work on the scores of a number of films and video games. He did some work on the film The Bourne Identity where he created the song “Ready Steady Go”. The song was massively successful on its own and in the film. Other projects in film/tv he has worked on include: Californication, Planet of the Apes, The Matrix Reloaded, and Speed Racer. As far as video games go, Oakenfold created the original song, “Beautiful Goal” for FIFA 06.

Let’s just conclude by saying that Paul Oakenfold is a legend. He fits the criteria to a tee and with over 25 years under his belt, I can’t see why he would stop right in the heat of Electronic music’s rise to phenomenon status. According to his Facebook page: “Whether you are listening to a CD, watching a commercial, going to a club or playing a video game; Paul’s omnimedia presence is felt everywhere. Paul Oakenfold is the sovereign of DJ culture and is its most recognizable icon.” I’d say that that is just about as true as a statement can get. Don’t miss you opportunity to witness a true legend at the turntables on July 11 at the Monarch Theatre!

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