Paul Oakenfold Prepares for His First Electric ForestArticle by: Evan Levy
Tue June 23, 2015 | 00:00 AM
When Electric Forest returns to Michigan this week, Paul Oakenfold will be ready to play his set and also experience everything the festival has to offer, "just like everyone else." While this is his first time rocking the crowds in the forest, the EDM icon tells Fest300 he’s confident it’ll be a memorable adventure.
“I’ve heard so many wonderful things about it,” he asserts. “I’ve been very lucky that they invited me to play it. I think it feels more like a Burning Man kind of event. It’s a bit more creative and I’m into anything where it falls on the creative side.” Oakenfold notes he isn’t the kind of DJ who will play a show and hide backstage: He plans on walking the grounds and taking it all in. “I [usually] put a cap on, keep my head down and get involved [in the scene],” he says. “I like to do the same things as everyone else. I like to explore and hang out, so I can be a part of it.”
The upcoming performance at Electric Forest is part of the 25th anniversary celebration of Oakenfold’s groundbreaking electronic music record label, Perfecto Records. The DJ says it’s been a long road filled with many “ups and downs,” but he’s happy with what his label has achieved during that time. “We’re a big part of the electronic community; we’re the longest lasting label out there,” he declares. “We’ve sold over 10 million records, and we’re moving forward signing new acts.”
Looking back at all he’s accomplished since founding Perfecto, Oakenfold says one of his favorite moments was putting together a performance at the Great Wall of China on April 19, 2003. “That took us over a year to get to the point where the Chinese government agreed to hold a party on the Great Wall, so those kinds of things are difficult to put into place,” he explains. “It was a wonderful achievement personally for myself because a lot of travelers from all over the world came, and it was one of those [special] moments where people would [proudly] say, ‘yeah, I was there’.”
Speaking of memorable moments, Oakenfold tells us about being chosen to open for U2 on their Zoo TV world tour in 1992. “I never thought a rock band would entertain the idea of having an electronic act, but they did, and it went really well,” he reminisces. “I was playing to 50 or 60,000 people every night. People didn’t come to see me, but I was very lucky to get that opportunity and I know that. It was a really big deal.” The DJ adds that being on the same bill with U2 was an important turning point for electronic music. “I realized when I suddenly went on tour with the biggest rock band in the world playing stadiums that change was coming.” Oakenfold says he still keeps in touch with the band and recently attended a couple of their concerts earlier this month.
If you can’t make it to Rothbury for Oakenfold’s late-night set at 12:30am on the last night of Electric Forest, you can experience some of his greatest tracks on the compilation 25 Years of Perfecto Records. The two-CD set is now available at PerfectoRecords.net.