Oakenfold Interview Part 2
Published on November 30, 2007 by Carolina Galli
Continued from here… PO – Just put on the TV, listen to the music on commercials or go to the movies to see how much electronic music is involved in films. The last five years, the reason I moved to Hollywood is I’m doing more and more film. I’ve got my music on the SAAB ad, the Pepsi-Cola ad and that’s just me. Look at Kanye West, who just sampled Daft Punk on his new single. It’s there, it’s just not as visible as R&B, hip-hop and rock because it’s DJ driven and led. Listen to arguably one of the biggest pop stars in the US, Britney Spears, and she’s used nearly all electronic producers. The new single is electronic. Timbaland is using all electronic sounds. It’s huge in the undercurrent – I played the Hollywood Bowl in September, and we sold it out with 15,000 people. It’s just not in your face. And with mainstream radio, they’re so safe. They’d rather play the same old record than try something new. I mean, you know that. I think if you consciously look, you’ll find it there without realizing it’s there. CZ – I’m talking about the cultural impact. PO – Well, it’s not American culture, is it? American culture is hip-hop. You’ve got white, suburban kids acting, talking and playing the role of the rapper. I was in South Beach, and you see bunches of white kids walking down the street, acting and dressing as if they were rappers, which is American culture. In England – in Europe – dance music is the culture, and it’s a completely different vibe. It’s hard to say. If you hear it on the radio a lot more, and that’s where the change came in England…rock music was the force that dominated radio and when dance music exploded on the radio, turntables were out-selling guitars three to one. And it’s cheaper to make dance music then rock. With rap, you can’t relate to a gun shooting in Compton, living in west Hempstead – our police don’t even carry guns. Dance culture became youth culture in the early ‘90s, and it was for a long time. But it’s no longer. Rock is more popular in the UK, where there’s an overload – it’s gone the complete opposite way, where you’ll get a couple of electronic records and the rest of it is rock. There’s been a big decline in hip-hop, as well. You have the artists over there, and their records are playing on the radio, but their albums are not selling. "[Electronic music] is huge in the undercurrent – I played the Hollywood Bowl in September, and we sold it out with 15,000 people." CZ – How are you, personally, pushing electronic music forward? PO – In terms of marketing and promotion, touring is still the same. You can’t get away from it – you have to tour the record. I’ve been a lot more open to using my music in commercials and film. I’m exposing it in different ways. Ok, “Starry Eyed Surprise” and “Ready, Steady Go” – they were big records that were played on commercial radio. I have a Top 10 pop record with “Starry Eyed Surprise.” I’m not looking to be a pop star. I don’t feel comfortable with that. I just want to make good music, push the barriers and challenge myself in terms of, ‘Can I do that for mainstream radio?’ I was doing some remixes for mainstream American radio, which was a big challenge for me – Can I do it? And then the next thing, I’ll do a Britney Spears mix that was a lot more underground and that will work for the dancefloors in the clubs. I suppose that’s why I get asked by a lot of the big artists to do their mixes. CZ – To give them the Oakenfold treatment. PO – You retain the integrity of the band, or the artist, but you make sure it works on the dancefloor. If the record’s not right, I won’t do it in the first place – because obviously, my name’s on it as well. There’s no point in me taking a Britney Spears vocal and speeding it up so that she sounds all Mickey Mouse – it doesn’t work. You’ll know it’s a U2 record, but it certainly works for the dancefloor. CZ – Did you use different technology and styling to do the new remixes? PO – The first thing you usually change when it’s bands is the live drums – you have to change them. You program your drums, you change the arrangement, the structure. You arrange it in a completely different way with the song. I’ll do a dub, a half vocal and a full vocal so you’ve got options. Usually, the record company will come back and ask me to do a radio edit. I’ve done a radio edit on the last Justin Timberlake, Britney and Madonna that I can play on dance radio or so radio has an alternative mix to play. CZ – So you’re big in with doing the pop remix artists right now? PO – No, I have just done a complete unknown artist called The Bad Apples. I did Blue October, which is a small rock band. When I get asked to do the mixes, if I like the song, then I’ll do it. I’m just giving you some of the names that you might know. Yeah, you’re right – Santana, Britney Spears were the last two we did. If we spoke two months ago, I would be saying Bad Apples and Blue October. CZ – How are you picking these records to rework? PO – Usually, the record company or the management will ask. CZ – Are there any artists you’re touting as up-and-coming? PO – Yes. I’m excited about the Bad Apples because their record comes out next year and they’re an electronic rock band. There’s an artist which is Johnny Cash meets Eminem called Spitfire and I’ve done a couple of productions on his record, which comes out next year. Those are two unknown acts that I was really excited working with. CZ – I can pick your brain for hours because we’re fascinated with what you’ve done. I think we’ve got it here. Thank you. PO – Thanks Dennis, take care.