Days before he is set to appear at the Winter Music Conference, Paul Oakenfold answers the telephone in Amsterdam with a cheery and Seinfeldesque "Helloooo!" These days the famous knob-twiddler, who has been producing music and remixing tracks for the better part of twenty years now, has a new love. Paul Oakenfold loves to score, and his infatuation with putting music to film has taken him far away from the club scene in Ibiza that he helped to create.
"I deliberately took a step back from DJing about three years ago. I've been on the road quite a lot of late because I was busy promoting my new album. But generally, I'm more into scoring," he declares in a laconic drawl. "I'm working on this Japanese animated movie at the moment. I'll be working here until I leave for Miami for the conference. This is where my head's at now," says Oakenfold.
His reputation among the film set is stellar, thanks to top notch contributions to the soundtracks of dark action flicks like The Matrix Reloaded and Collateral. The upcoming Japanime project he's tweaking doesn't fall far from the noir-tinged, leather-clad tree. "If you can imagine Matrix in animation form... Japanese animation is huge! The idea of working on a cutting edge animated film really interested me," he says, excitement seeping through his crisp London accent.
This week, Oakenfold has stepped away from the silver screen and slid back behind the turntables for a full slate of events from The Shelbourne to Mokai to the Ice Palace. Undoubtedly, Oakenfold will be playing tracks from his most recent album, A Lively Mind.
The album's standout track, "Faster Kill Pussycat," features vocals by Brittany Murphy. Yes, that Brittany Murphy -- Tai from Clueless, the sexy siren in Sin City. And surprisingly, she kills it. "I needed to have someone really good on the record, because that wouldn't look good for me otherwise. I was looking to find someone sort of cutting edge, someone who had never been on a record before. I wanted to kind of touch on film work because I'd been doing a lot of it. So we met, and decided to give it a go. I was blown away! She was a singer before she was trying to become an actress. She's never released a record, but she got sidetracked into becoming an actress," Oakenfold explains.
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Keeping with his tradition of working with a variety of vocalists, A Lively Mind also features collaborations with Pharrell Williams and Grandmaster Flash. Oakenfold has produced remixes for everyone from U2 to Madonna to Snoop Dogg to The Doors. But his favorite collaboration wasn't with a musician.
"Oh, Hunter S. Thompson was my high point. It was a wonderful thing to reach him, track him down, and convince him to work with me. He really embraced the idea of going to a whole new genre and audience. We met up at midnight at this hotel, and we'd worked from midnight to six. It wasn't normal, and I really learned a lot from talking to him. It was very interesting. I was kind of a bit nervous, I was like what is he gonna do, throw his drink on me? But his mind state started off really well, and with the course of the night it kind of deteriorated as we stayed up later and later.
"I think Hunter S. Thompson, the man, became a character," Oakenfold muses. "Over the years he turned himself into a character and he felt that he had to live up to that character. And I was trying to get around that and get to know the man. I think I did. It was a wonderful experience." --Patrice Yursik