Few musicians have reached the heights Paul Oakenfold has experienced.
He's gone down in history as the DJ who played the highest set ever — at Mount Everest's Base Camp.
He started spinning records in 1980. He's been nominated for Grammys and received several prestigious music awards, dabbling in everything from headlining massive festivals to writing scores for soundtracks.
We caught up with him to talk about putting out his new album and why he's looking forward to playing for a Mile High crowd — even if it's not all that high by his standards.
Westword: Obviously, you've had a very long career. What have you been up to lately?
Paul Oakenfold: I’ve been doing a lot. I climbed to the base camp at Mount Everest and did the highest DJ show on earth, and we raised $75,000 for children locally and in England. They cut the budgets at schools with music, and I wanted to support that cause, so I did that. Then I deejayed at Area 51 last year, and I did the Special Olympics in Abu Dhabi, which was a huge and wonderful event to be a part of. I've been making music for films and games, and I finally finished my new artist album, which I’m really excited about.
I'd imagine that took a long time to put together with your tour schedule and everything else.
A while now, off and on. I kind of stop and start. With touring, it’s not easy to get the studio time in, but I’m happy to get back in the saddle, so to speak.
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What can you tell us about the album?
It’s similar in the respect that I’ve got some familiar names and some names that are new. It’s driven by my love of film, so it’s very filmic, very down-tempo. It’s built around strong songs and great singers.
Tell us more about playing Everest. How did you get there?
There was an easy way to get there. You fly up there, you have a couple of hours, and then you fly back. And I thought, “There's no point in doing that.” So I trained for six months. I never hiked or slept in a sleeping bag in my life. I was born in London and lived in cities, from New York to Amsterdam to Los Angeles. As much as I love the outdoors, it’s never really been for me.
When I realized that I committed to doing Mount Everest, I started to train in high altitudes, and then I stopped drinking. I didn’t want to let anyone down, because we shot a documentary about it (Soundtrek Everest). I stopped off at all these monasteries and recorded these instruments that monks would use back in the day. It led me to making a piece of music, a soundtrack, that will come out alongside the film, and it was a truly wonderful adventure.
We didn’t know if the equipment would work, because it’s never been tested at that altitude. We carried it up there. When I say "we," the sherpas did. They’re wonderful, they’re experts in that, and we pulled it off. It was amazing, actually.
What was playing Area 51 like?
I was just curious. It was a very well-organized event. It was the first of its kind. They asked me to perform. I’d never been there, and I was curious to see what was going on. It was a good festival. Small, but good.
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Now I’ve got to the point where I can choose where I want to go and what I want to do in the world, and I love it. The traveling gets me down a bit, but I’m still enjoying performing and doing shows, and I’m lucky that people after many years are still enjoying what I do.
What can you tell us about coming to play in Denver?
I’m going to play some new music from the album. I’ve been coming to Denver for many years. It’s always a great crowd, and I enjoy myself there. Denver, here I come!
Paul Oakenfold plays at 9 p.m. Saturday, January 11, at Temple Nightclub, 1136 Broadway. Tickets are $20 and available at Temple's website.