The biggest DJ to emerge from Rave? Oakenfold was one of the brave pioneers to take a chance on the new sounds discovered overseas.
Paul Oakenfold needs no introduction. Classed as the “world’s biggest DJ”, Oakey, who currently resides in LA, has remixed and produced everyone from U2, Madonna, Muse and The Rolling Stones to dance acts such as Grace, Massive Attack and Underworld. In the late Eighties he was most famously known for producing arguably The Happy Mondays’ finest album to date, ‘Pills ‘N’ Thrills And Bellyaches’. Here in his own words is what the Eighties, acid house and the Mondays meant to him…
“I first got into DJing in the late Seventies when I was about seventeen or eighteen. A friend of mine called Trevor Fung was DJing at this club in Covent Garden and he kind of opened the door for me. A few years later I went to New York for a holiday and came back really inspired by the likes of Grandmaster Flash and Afrika Bambaataa. I kind of caught the tail end of it all but for me it was where I wanted to be and that whole period was a very inspiring time to be in New York. Then after a couple of years I started DJing in this little club in London called The Future where the likes of the Mondays, Inspiral Carpets, The Cure and The Stone Roses all used to hang out because I was remixing indie music. I was playing what you call mash up today. They often hung out and before long they started asking me to remix their stuff.
That whole period was exciting but just really crazy especially working with the Mondays. I was producing a band in Los Angeles whose manager was doing more drugs than Shaun (Ryder) and Bez put together. I had this huge responsibility trying to hold down seven band members and Tony Wilson was breathing down my back. It was hard and it was stressful but it was well worth it and we had this mutual respect.
At times we were like, “Enough fucking about. That’s wrong, let’s get this right, you’ve gotta re-do it.” We were just pushing them but they believed in us. Shaun’s lyrics were amazing. He could put words together and he came up with phrases which became street talk like, “Call the cops” and “You’re twisting my melon man”. They became phrases people used in clubland during the acid house movement and these boys were a big part of all that. They made a great record and in my opinion The Happy Mondays are a great band.
Admittedly, there were some heavy drugs going on but - and I’m not glorifying drugs in any way, no fucking way am I doing that - it all just clicked and what came out of all that madness was a really special record.”
I was playing what you call mash up today
You can visit JUNOdownload.com to listen to and purchase a selection of the Acid House classics discussed in our retrospective.