With a career that spans decades and includes three Grammy noms, over 10 million in global record sales, and a pioneering Las Vegas residency, Paul Oakenfold can basically do whatever he wants. This fall, the DJ is putting the weight of his career behind a musical cause most personal to him: trance in America.
“The sound that’s being played at the moment has these [aspects] that are very similar to trance,” Oakenfold explains. “But it seems that everyone’s playing the same tracks. I was looking into it a lot deeper and thinking what can you bring that’s different but also exciting young and new, introducing a sound that’s incredibly popular around the world but not necessarily in America.”
Beginning in October, Oakenfold will launch North American club tour in support of a to-be-recorded album, “Trance Mission,” a collection of re-worked trance classics from the ‘90s and early ‘00s designed to appeal to diehards who remember the tunes the first time around while also bringing new fans into the trance fold.
“We’re not talking about remixes, we’re talking about covers,” he explains, asserting that the classics he takes on won’t already be played out. “I don’t think people are crying out to hear another remix of a trance classic. I have no intention of doing that and that doesn’t inspire me. I’m going to bring totally new production and new sounds and current technology rather than just going and taking an old track and remixing it.”
Oakenfold bemoans the repetitiveness in the current crop of remixers and compares it to the remixing trends of the heyday of trance ten years ago. Instead, he prefers the opportunities proper covers provide the listener.
“Look at Michael Bublé,” Oakenfold proposes. “He takes classic Frank Sinatra, puts a twist to it, and the younger generation buys into it and they love it. I’m not comparing myself to Michael Bublé, I’m comparing the way you approach it. That’s the key to making something work. That’s the key behind the tour.”
Working with a team of seasoned trancers and producers, Oakenfold is still in the process of researching the catalogs of dance music to find a variety of songs to re-work for the “Trance Mission” album. Currently at about 50, he says only 10 will make the album.
Another part of the Trance Mission tour’s ethos is a refocus on the music itself. Playing small clubs and theaters on this tour, Oakenfold is skipping the big stage production and light shows that have become standard at EDM shows in 2013. That’s not to say Oakenfold has a problem with the North American EDM explosion.
“It’s the best play to be in the world at the moment,” he says. “It’s very inspiring and it’s just getting bigger.”
After the Trance Mission project, Oakenfold will focus his attentions on his long-awaited third artist album, “Pop Killer,” expected to include collaborations with El-P, Miguel and Azealia Banks. He says his album won’t feature the “usual suspects” of guest vocalists, part of his ongoing quest to do something outside the box even as that box gets bigger and more popular.
“House music is pop music now,” he says “On my last two albums, I was left of center, now we’re mainstream.”
The Trance Mission tour kicks off in October. The album is expected early 2014.
Trance Mission Tour Dates
10/26/13 - Ruby Skye, San Francisco CA
10/31/13 - The Catalyst, Santa Cruz CA
11/1/13 - Rialto Theater, Tucson AZ
11/2/13 - Avalon, Hollywood CA
11/7/13 - Beta, Denver CO
11/8/13 - Voyeur, San Diego CA
11/9/13 - HHH Festival, Mexico City MX
11/15/13 - Gossip, Vancouver BC
11/16/13 - SET Nightclub, Edmonton AB
11/21/11 - Whisper, Philadelphia PA
11/22/13 - Elekctricity, Pontiac MI
11/23/13 - The MID, Chicago IL
11/24/13 - Cielo, New York NY
12/13/13 - Phoenix, Charlotte NC
12/14/13 - Gryphon, Hollywood FL
12/19/13 - Bear Booth Theater, Anchorage AK
12/21/13 - Foundation Room, Seattle WA