Walking into Paul Oakenfold's home studio in the Hollywood Hills, it's hard to not notice the vast amount of movie posters cluttering the walls. Strolling through his expansive compound, he casually points to one from the John Travolta/Halle Berry crime thriller Swordfish. "That film in the corner there is the one that made all of this happen, actually," Oakenfold says. Unable to pass up the opportunity despite his lack of experience, he remembers throwing himself into creating the score for the 2001 film. After its success, he started getting calls for more work in Hollywood, to produce scores and cues for films as varied as The Matrix and Shrek. As for his record collection, half of it still sits in "the garage," he says in his heavy British accent. Most of his wax is representative of the 50-year-old's eclectic tastes as a DJ–the thing most people know him for.
Revered as a legend in electronic music since his late-'90s album Tranceport, Oakenfold has brought the rave sound around the world, from Goa to Ibiza, through massive festival performances and by scoring hit films and video games. The three-time Grammy-nominated DJ, producer and artist is currently part of Jägermeister's Ultimate Summer of Music tour, which is also sponsoring Fall Out Boy and country's Eli Young on their respective tours. Oakenfold's 20 stops across the States will promote his latest masterpiece, Trance Mission, to be released June 20 on his Perfecto Records.
Even for a DJ who has toured with the likes of Madonna and U2 and reaches 16 million listeners worldwide on his Planet Perfecto radio show, it's not illogical to wonder how he manages to stay current in this evolving world.
"Two face-lifts, one weave, and I dress in tight pants," he says with a chuckle. Ironically, much of his new influences come from old genres such as deep house. "The funny thing is I knew deep house the first time it was around," says Oakenfold. "I love trance, and it plays a big, important part of melodic music, but so does house, techno and even EDM. If it's got emotion that moves me, then I know it will connect with an audience."
That's where the idea for Trance Mission came from. After going on the road to play smaller venues and strip the big shows with great trance music, Oakenfold often got asked to play old classics. But that wasn't enough for him. The idea to cover trance anthems became a way to introduce the tracks to the current generation, in the process giving them a sonic face-lift.
"No one does cover versions in electronic music, and that was the challenge," Oakenfold says. "It's not challenging to me, remixing 12 classics, but it's a big challenge to cover the song and start with a blank canvas while keeping the integrity of the original. That's why I did it."
It took a long time to pick the perfect tracks to transform and get the right people on board, but the result is a seamless take on such songs as "Adagio for Strings," "Toca Me" and "Ready Steady Go"–which is exactly what you can expect to hear at Sutra this weekend. Over the years, Oakenfold has carved out a soft spot for the Costa Mesa dance club. Visiting us whenever he can has become one of his many missions on the DJ circuit.
"I love playing there because it's a really good club and the crowds are really up for it. Why is that?" he asks. "What's in the water down there?"
Paul Oakenfold performs at Sutra, 1870 Harbor Blvd., Costa Mesa, (949) 722-7103; www.sutraoc.com. Sat., 9 p.m. 21+.