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Muzik Magazine, January 1996

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Original publisher: Muzik Magazine

Muzik Magazine

Kings Of '95

With artists like BT and Man With No Name, his Perfecto label has taken trance to the masses. Once again, he's proved the critics wrong. Put your left leg in for
... paul oakenfold

words Vaughan Allen  picture Vincent McDonald

THIS has been another great year for the doyen of DJs, Mr Paul Oakenfold. The rise and rise of Goa trance continues unabated, with his Perfecto label delving deep into the scene to bring gems of mad ethno-trippydom before an eager public, and his DJing talents are still highly sought-after. One of the top rank of global spinners on the dance scene, he is as likely to be playing in Bangkok or Melbourne as in Liverpool or London. Endless travel, pots of cash, oodles of kudos, what more could anybody want? Just a better class of player at Stamford Bridge.
    Or so says Oakenfold as he guides us through 10 of the reasons why 1995 was such a special year for him.

"This album was designed to showcase Perfecto's current roster of artists and what the label has been doing this year. We're into quality rather than quantity, so we're trying to develop artists on a long-term basis. There are nine acts on the label now. Our biggest names are BT, Grace and Man With No Name. They'll definitely develop into album sellers. We also have an underground label called Perfecto Fluoro, which releases tracks which haven't previously been available commercially.
    "Although I've talked a lot about Goa in the last couple of years, I'm not only into that. I've never just been into one thing. The idea of Perfecto is to reflect as many different aspects of the dance scene as possible. The underground and the commercial sides of the album were mixed together at Cream in Liverpool to give a better indication of what we're about.
    "The commercial successes fund the underground projects, which is how it always tends to work in the dance business. The management side is usually sorted, so I just get in and make the music. I get to do all the good bits."

"I've been going to Bangkok regularly for four years and the last time I was there I spent a lot of time browsing around the markets. I went to as many as I could. A friend of mine who lives out there is an antiques dealer and he showed me round.
    "I ended up buying loads of ornamental pieces and having them shipped back. I bought vases, a table, a doctor's cabinet, lamps, candle holders and some Chinese tea mugs. The mugs have these filters which let all the heat out. I also picked up an old Thai telephone, which is incredible. It's a really weird shape. It doesn't actually work, it's just interesting. They're all just funky things to have around the house.
    "I spent £700, which I thought was ridiculously cheap for what I got, but it ended up costing me as much to ship them back as it did to buy them. On top of that, it was then another two-and-a-half grant to get them into the country because of the duty. Two-and-a-half grand! I was going mad. The customs accused me of forging the invoice because they're couldn't understand why everything was so cheap. I explained that my friend was a dealer and had managed to get everything for me at cost. But they're wouldn't wear it, so they did me for all the duty. In the end, I felt it had been a waste of time bringing it all back. I might as well have brought the stuff here. But that's this country for you, isn't it?

"It seemed as though every other week this year I was playing at a summer festival somewhere. Being outside is different to indoor events. Who wants to be in a club, breathing in smoke and shitty air when you can be outside, where the environment is so much better. Anyone would want that, wouldn't they? The people who put together festivals have woken up to the idea of getting dance tents and I think they work really well. It's the way forward for the festivals and I think it's really going to explode on the dance side next year. It's already helped to open up a lot of people's minds.
    "I really enjoy festivals because I'm very much into live bands. I've DJed for the likes of Rage Against The Machine and Cypress Hill in the past, and I'm definitely looking to sign a band to Perfecto next year. I'm usually playing in a dance tent, but I'll go and watch Supergrass, Oasis or whoever before I spin in the evening. Even on the dance stages, you've got acts like Tricky, Dreadzone, and Underworld. Neneh Cherry played at one of the festivals I was at and she was backed by a full band. It was almost like rock music and it went down so well.
    "My favourite festival this year was in Denmark. It lasted for four days and attracted about 90,000 people. It was put on by these old school rock 'n' roll-type people. But they were really open-minded towards dance music. They realised that things have to move forward."

"We had this great party up in the mountains in Ibiza. In fact, it was on the last mountain on the island. It started at three in the morning and went on until noon the next day, and it would have been fairly easy to find if it hadn't been pitch black. We had to hand out maps to help people. It was exciting just getting there. There was one road up the side of the mountain and the only way to get lost was to drive over the edge. Then you wouldn’t be lost, you'd be dead.
    "It was an underground party which represented what was really going on at that time. It was organised by a few friends and nobody really knew about it on Ibiza. We couldn't let regular clubs know because they'd probably have sent the police along to shut us down. But because the crowd at our party were the kind of people who started the whole scene there in 1986, they wouldn't want to go to the commercial clubs anyway. The last thing they want is to go to Ku when it's packed full of beer boys. They want to be outside, dancing out in the air. When the sun was rising over the sea behind us, we played Man With No Name and the feeling was just..."

"I'm a qualified chef in French cuisine and I also know how to run a restaurant, so I'm always looking to check out new eateries. My favourite place at the moment is The Ivy in Covent Garden. The service is great and the food is fantastic. The people who run it are really cool, so whether I go with a bunch of friends or just with my girlfriend, an excellent night out is guaranteed. That's obviously really important, especially when you're paying good money. I like to try different things every time I go and there's always something new available.
    "The menu is basically English with touches of French cuisine, but it doesn't have that French way of using a lot of very heavy sauces. When I tell people it's English food, they usually think that it's all bangers and mash. The Ivy actually does have dishes like that, but they also do things like oysters. It's mostly theatre people who eat there. I go as often as I can. It's just brilliant."

"Apart from restaurants and bars, I like to relax by going to the movies. I'm really into films. I love those chill hours you have in a cinema. But I think films are really diluted now. The stories are nowhere near as good as they used to be. It's like music. You don't get that many great songs these days.
    "The last really good film I saw was probably 'Il Postino' [Michael Radford's idealistic celebration of the relationship between the exiled poet Pablo Neruda and a simple postman, set in Italy in the Fifties]. It was a very simple story and was very beautifully made. I've been to the place where it was filmed and I really felt a part of what had been going on. At the moment, 'Il Postino' is my favourite film. But that will probably change in a couple of weeks."

"I've toured the Far East during December and January for the last six years. It's a great opportunity for me and my girlfriend to have a holiday and to spend some time together. I stay in each place for a week but I only play one or two gigs, so we generally get plenty of time to look around. I'm in clubs throughout the year, so the last thing I want to do is spend all my time in clubs at Christmas. This year, I'm doing Tokyo, Singapore, Australia, Hong Kong, and Bangkok. On New Year's Eve, I'll be playing in Sydney and then getting a flight to Melbourne to play there on the same night. If I do that I get a week's holiday, which can't be bad.
    "I don't want to keep going on about Bangkok, but there's a really good scene out there. You always see a lot of clubbers and travellers. It's quite a gay scene, which means you can really pump it. Everyone in Bangkok seems to be into upfront sounds. Even though there's always loads of people, they all understand the music, which is great.
    "The Goa scene is spreading all over, it's fast becoming worldwide, but I'm not saying there are never bad nights. When you go to places like the Philippines, they don't really understand what it's all about, so they're not really into it. Not yet.
    "One of my favourite nights of the year was this party in Bali. It was a theme party where everybody had to wear red. The house where it was held was painted different shades of red and the swimming pool was full of red balloons. It was amazing. They put me up in a place on the beach for a week. Bali is probably my favourite place of them all."

"I'm very into clothes, especially Italian designers. I always come back from the Far East with a load of new stuff to wear. I haven't actually bought all that much this year, though. I went into Joseph in London the other day and they had a Yamamoto jumper which I really liked, but at £400 a go they were simply taking the piss. I go shopping quite a lot, but it's not just for clothes. I basically enjoy shopping for just about anything."

I've been supporting Chelsea for almost 20 years now. It was really trendy to support them in the early Seventies, but I was too young to know what trendy was then. They were just my local team when I was growing up. As soon as I started supporting them, they started losing.
    "I've threatened to get a season ticket before but, at nearly £700, it's always been too expensive. Me and a mate got really excited because of the two signings in the summer [Ruud Gullit and Mark Hughes] and without really thinking it through, we just went and bought a couple. Then it was, 'Oh my God, what have we done?'.
    "But us Chelsea fans have to be dedicated. If I'm in say, Liverpool, I'll drive back on a Friday to go to the game and then head for Birmingham or wherever afterwards. It's hard, but I try to revolve my DJing around matches. I haven't missed a game yet this season.
    "Although we've got two good players now, we need a stronger all-round squad and for that you need money. Look at clubs like Newcastle or Blackburn. It takes money to get anywhere. We need to invest in players to achieve anything.
    "I keep telling myself the best is yet to come. We haven't had a really good game this season and I'm sure they're saving it until after Christmas, Chelsea might not always be brilliant, but I often think it could be worse. I could be a Manchester City supporter..."

"Last, but by no means least, is my girlfriend. She helps me out and is really important to me. She's so supportive. A lot of people ask, 'How do you do this, how do you do that?', well, she's got a lot to do with it. We've been together a good few years now. If anybody's changed my life, then it's her."