Interview with Paul Oakenfold

DJ Paul Oakenfold at the Green Man, Burning Man 2007

DJ Paul Oakenfold at the Green Man, Burning Man 2007

The Reno Gazette Journal has interviewed mega-DJ Paul Oakenfold, whose White Ocean camp boasts an incredible lineup of world class talent. Oakey has been to Burning Man 9 times, and he’s been looking for similar parties all over the world. He’s yet to find one. When he first came to Burning Man in the 1990’s, BMOrg were worried that he would spread the word to the rave community, which they didn’t want there. Well, too late for that now. Thanks primarily to ravers, Burning Man has become a major event on the global festival scene and now takes in $30 million a year.

See the original RGJ post for a really excellent video from 2013 about the history of electronic music at Burning Man, which includes interviews with Oakey and Rockstar Librarian.

Re-blogged from the Reno Gazette-Journal:


While the art and culture of Burning Man has been largely shared, photographed and talked about throughout the years, there’s another element that has been growing steadily at the event: music.

In a recent chat with world-renowned British disc-jockey Paul Oakenfold, who has also attended Burning Man nine times since the mid-1990s, the musician spoke at length about what the music scene is like at Burning Man, why he enjoys performing there and what to look forward to this year.

Electronic music is everywhere at Burning Man. It has changed the event and is even felt beyond its borders.

Question: You’ve performed all over the world and in a variety of venues and clubs. What drew you to performing at Burning Man?

Answer: First of all, to be part of a creative community really appealed to me. When I was first invited to come, I loved the idea of what it stood for in terms of people expressing themselves and being creative in any shape or form.

Second of all, curiosity. I’ve played all over the world, I’ve been fortunate and lucky to play some great festivals, and I was very curious about what Burning Man was about and how I would enjoy it. I’ve looked for Burning Mans all around the world; once we went, and we experienced our first burn, we couldn’t wait for the next year.

I thought there had to be other festivals like it in the world, and I’m still looking, and I haven’t found one.

Q:What makes it so unique?

A: It’s an arts festival. It’s unique and artistic. Imagine 60,000 to 70,000 creative people coming together and wearing a different state of mind — maybe more carefree mind, maybe more of an open mind— and get(ting) lost in the spirit and energy of what’s so romantic about once a year going to the desert. It changes every year. The experience plays a part of because you know what goes on, but there’s always new things to find, explore, be a part of and get involved in whatever way you choose.

Q: Since you’ve been attending since the 1990s, what changes have you experienced throughout the years at Burning Man?

A: More people, more professional setups, bigger camps, tour buses. We got told off when we first came because we got off a tour bus and people didn’t like it, and they made us aware of it. That’s how you travel when you’re in music with your friends and six or seven people. It was the easiest way for us, coming in from England, to fly into Los Angeles and we hired a tour bus, rather than an RV with six guys, it made sense to us. It wasn’t seen as the right way to do it.

But now you see loads of tour buses there. Also, with San Francisco being the tech hub and a lot of people becoming rich from it, they got involved. And, as we get older we want comfort, you want to use your own toilet in your RV or tour bus. You want your own showers and clean towels. As much as the organization does the best they can, and they do a good job, but it’s the nature of who we are as people.

I don’t want to sleep on the floor in the desert in a tent. I’m all for art, but I’ve worked hard in my life and want a bit of comfort. I like a pillow.

Q:This year, you’re promoting a pretty incredible lineup at the White Ocean camp. What can you tell me about this?

A: White Ocean is a camp that has come together with a few friends that want to express and be part of Burning Man in the right, creative and artistic way. The guys build their own art cars, they respect 100 percent what it’s all about, and they also want to put on a party where we can share music.

My role is to bring in and share music from around the world in the form of electronic music, so there’s some names you’re familiar with and some that you’re not. Some of the DJs are from Argentina, Italy, England; there are DJs from around the world sharing their music, being creative and giving people great experience through the night.

Q: How did it all come together?

A: Embracing change and being a part of the community. Music is such a forefront now at what goes on in the current, new generation of America — when you turn on the radio, or in movies and in television— the backdrop is all electronic music at the moment. We are in a great creative moment as a community at the moment because we’re collaborating with one another and sounds are changing. It’s a very creative place.

It naturally sits comfortably with what Burning Man is all about in terms of people being artistic, free and it wasn’t a case of getting a great lineup; it was a case of a lot of DJs wanting to play at White Ocean because they know we will have a great setup, be professional and respect what Burning Man is all about, and it is an artistic lineup unlike other festivals.

A lot of thought and process went into it and every night will be different sounds or different theme sounds on different nights — to give everyone a round shaped idea of where music, in terms of art, is at the moment.

Q: What are some of the highlights your camp is offering this year?

A: We’re going to Burning Man and have fun for the week and be really creative and build something. Let’s discover, explore, be part of a community, and let’s make friends — forever or just for that moment — it’s a special moment that you will remember and be a part of and that appeals to a lot of people.

I’m playing Wednesday, but a lot of thought has gone into this from the team so I would suggest coming and being a part of it. We all like to explore and hang out and White Ocean will be on a lot of people’s minds.


By burnersxxx Posted in Music

4 comments on “Interview with Paul Oakenfold

  1. Pingback: 2014 World’s Top 10 DJs | Burners.Me: Me, Burners and The Man

  2. Huge thank you to White Ocean, Oakey and friends. Love that you broke the week into different themes, very fun. Thanks from bring Psy aka Goa back in full force. Excited to swing by on Friday for what my wife and I call – The Music of the Playa.

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