When MTV News caught up with British DJ and producer Paul Oakenfold last weekend in Miami, he was right where we expected him to be: poolside at the Raleigh Hotel, both a fan and an artist amid the many revelers and dance-music industry types making their annual pilgrimage to the Winter Music Conference.
Even for a dance-music icon, Oakenfold has seen and done it all: He's toured around the world and worked with U2, Madonna, Justin Timberlake, New Order and dozens of other stars. He's scored films and video games; he's held club residencies in England, Spain and now Las Vegas.
Still, with such a rich past, it was pleasing to hear Oakenfold say how exciting dance music is these days.
"The great thing about Madonna, when I produced 'Celebration,' she understood that the way forward was through electronic music," Oakenfold said. "Hats off to her for realizing that. With the rock singers, we've always been involved in some respect, because a lot of rock records have been remixed and done really well in Europe and the rest of the world. It's more the urban world now is knocking on the DJ's door." For proof of the latter statement, look no further than the work of French DJ/producer David Guetta, who's recently worked with the Black Eyed Peas ("I Gotta Feeling"), Akon ("Sexy Chick"), Kid Cudi ("Memories"), and Kelly Rowland ("When Love Takes Over").
For Oakenfold, it's all par for the course. Over the years he's worked on songs with Nelly Furtado, Pharrell Williams, Ice Cube and even the late, legendary writer Hunter S. Thompson. And he's got a similar team of A-listers on his forthcoming album, Pop Killer.
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"I have some interesting people, actually," he said. "From the Red Hot Chili Peppers to Ryan Tedder, the lead singer of OneRepublic, and Cee-Lo, who's in Gnarls Barkley."
Not appearing on the album but certainly another notable name that the producer worked with is the late actress Brittany Murphy, whose Oakenfold-helmed dance hit "Faster Kill Pussycat" (from the producer's 2006 Lively Mind LP) was a showcase for the actress' largely overlooked talent as a singer.
"That song did really well," Oakenfold said. "It's a shame, because she was not only a wonderful person but a fantastic vocalist. She was very open to embracing someone else's material, and she was the first actress I had worked with in terms of directing and producing a piece of music. She was very open-minded. The world never got to hear how good of a singer she really was."