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Paul Oakenfold on Cooking, Beckham, the RAVE Act & The UK Press

Author: Seb Bayne
Saturday, April 26, 2003
Though only hindsight will prove whether Paul Oakenfold's refusal to cancel his gig on the Great Wall of China was foolhardy or brave, his willingness to ignore the country's SARS threat proves he's certainly not lost his appetite for stretching dance culture's boundaries.

Ever since helping invent rave culture in the late 80s, he's pioneered, championed and driven club culture forwards, in the process becoming the world's definitive superstar DJ as well as the most reviled, at least in media terms. Not that he's concerned, he told Skrufff's man-in Beijing Seb Bayne.

"I don't read the UK dance music magazines anymore and I have not read them for a long, long time. The journalism is not great and I don't think much of what they say is based on fact," he said.

"All I can do as an individual is try my hardest. The most important thing for me is the people who come to the clubs. I have my friends, my life, and I just get on with it."

Dance industry folklore suggests that 'just getting on with it' can on occasion bring him up to £100,000 ($150,0000 for spinning records for 2 hours, though he famously played for free in Alaska a couple of years ago, during his first major US tour. And with just 400 people attending his China Wall gig, the Alaska gig was certainly a more meaningful comparison.

"There are many reasons I take on gigs like this, I am not doing it for the money rather to be part of a flourishing dance music scene and being fortunate enough to play music in these far out regions," he continued.

"Also for the challenge and giving people an opportunity to hear what I do. I enjoy that. I don't just do big shows and when I get the opportunity to play small shows in far out regions I always look forward to them in particular."

Seb was chatting to him before the China Wall show, as Oakenfold prepared to fly into Beijing.

Skrufff (Seb Bayne): I read in a Beijing magazine that the last time you came to china, you were working with some local artists, is that right-

Paul Oakenfold: "A friend of mine is actively helping me look for Chinese singers and songs, I'm always looking for new talent. I've also spoken to local artists about remixing as well as telling local DJs who are making music to give it to me and I'll check it out. I was also given a CD last time I was there by a local 18 year old female singer. The melody of the song was really good but her English was not that great. My suggestion to her was to learn better English."

Skrufff: When Bunkka was released in the UK, the reviews were fairly mixed, yet the record won Album of the Year at the American Dancestar Awards and sold over 100,000 copies in the UK, do you see that as ironic-

Paul Oakenfold: "I'm not telling you something you don't know about the UK press, when I say that they have this knack of building people up and then destroying them. I think the press didn't really listen to the album they just judged it before they heard it. I think they expected a trance record and they didn't get one."

Skrufff: How much do you feel more like-minded with the 'can do' attitude of Americans-

Paul Oakenfold: I like the way it is in America where if you work hard and are good at what you do then people respect that, get behind you and say 'Well done'. In the UK we don't do that. It's good to help and support people and in the US they do more of that than in the UK. We (the UK) tend to moan all the time."

Skrufff: One of the more unusual guests on Bunkka was American writer Hunter S. Thompson (author of 'Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas') what was it like working with him-

Paul Oakenfold: "Firstly it was an honour because I am a big fan of Hunter's writing, and many people have asked to work with him before and he doesn't always agree to work with them. I contacted him and told him that there were many young people around the world familiar with his work and explained that I felt it would be good opportunity<