BIMM presented a feature panel discussion with legendary DJ and producer Paul Oakenfold and Alon Shulman on 26th April 2019. The session took place during the Brighton Music Conference (BMC) which was located at the British Airways i360 on Brighton Seafront.
Paul has been twice voted No 1 DJ in the world and has remixed over 100 artists including Moby, Madonna, Massive Attack and U2. He is also a three time Grammy Award and two-time World Music Awards nominee.
Alon is the CEO of the Universe brand (promoting award-winning events and experiences with over 400 of the World’s leading DJ’s and acts) as well as the author of “The Second Summer of Love – How Dance Music Took Over The World”, which is released this week with a foreword by Paul and exclusive interviews with the likes of Fatboy Slim, Moby, Danny Rampling, Nick Halkes, Carl Loben and Carl Cox.
Some of the people interviewed in the book were present for the panel including Nick Halkes (Founder of XL Recordings and artist manager for Liam Howlett (The Prodigy), Rusty Egan, Carl Loben and Danny Rampling.
The beginning of the session saw Alon and Paul discuss some of the key figures that led to the explosion of the dance/rave scene. They discussed influences in the early club scene including Nancy Noise and Alfredo Fiorito, as well as the renowned Ibiza nightclub Amnesia which was the foundation for an exploding club scene. The DJs playing at these clubs didn’t want to lose the spirit and the energy that was found in Ibiza, so decided to bring it back to the UK. Some that returned to the UK with a new found purpose, Paul included, set up their own clubs and found their own moments in the UK.
Alon quoted record producer and DJ Mark Moore – “Roll on the future where a new wave of British club goers start turning out their own music, having experienced for themselves what actually makes people dance. The new music is coming sooner than you think.”
They then continued to speak about Paul’s acid-house club night Spectrum in London as well as what motivated him to continue despite the challenges he faced. Paul had a belief that they could achieve something, and even if they didn’t – at least they tried. Paul was involved in something new and exciting and believed in its potential.
Six weeks after setting up the club night, they owed £12,000, however on the 7th week they broke even, and after that night exploded, it became a monster. It became an important and defining part of their lives as well as the scene.
Eventually Paul hooked up with Massive attack in Bristol, because he loved the scene that they were part of. Paul worked on ‘Unfinished Symphony’, and continued working with Tricky. Bristol at the time was coming out with some of the best music in the UK.
The discussion then moved to the topic of Paul’s transition to doing residencies in Las Vegas and building the night club scene there. At the time there was only one club, so Paul approached the casino owners, told them he wouldn’t play anywhere else in US, and said he’d bring the audience to Vegas. Paul assembled the right team, it wasn’t about him DJing as much as it was about the show (which encompassed the identity of Vegas). Eventually they had 3000 – 5000 people every week. Paul stayed there for 2 years so the other casinos could see what they were doing. They started to build nightclubs, and on the 3rd year Paul flipped tactics and just started doing pool parties, which became very successful.
Paul discussed the tough lifestyle of travelling DJs, with endless late nights and the repetitive loop of moving between airports and hotels. Paul had had enough and wanted to build something more stable.
Paul also spoke about his first remix blowing up and not getting paid a penny. He advised students to learn the music business so that you don’t get ripped off and know what to expect.
Halfway through the session, Danny Rampling joined the panel with Paul and Alon. Danny was an important part of the growing culture and is credited as one of the original founders and DJs in the UK’s rave/club scene.
He was asked: “Why has dance music stayed the dominant underground and mainstream sound?”
Danny spoke about the how the movement was so positive, it changed youth culture. Originally it had longevity because of the positivity. People just love dancing and the spirit of togetherness. There is a booming commercial element, but it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, so there will always be an underground. Danny then reiterated the pure alchemy and energy of clubs like Amnesia in Ibiza, again mentioning Alfredo’s influence. It captured everyone’s attention in a wave of fun. It was a very depressed economic time in Britain, and it was all of these components that led to the magic.
Danny gave some advice to students and up and coming DJs, including to stick to their core values and help to break other DJs.
Quote from Alon Shulman’s book – “Just know that when the latest DJ plays the latest tune in the latest venue to a 21st century born crowd who might be enjoying their first night out ever and raises his or her hand in the air and smiles, they are subconsciously and unknowingly giving a salute to people and places that made the scene possible, made it what it is. And from somewhere not too far away…the great Frankie Knuckles is smiling back at them. Winning over our hearts and minds is one thing, now its about keeping us dancing.”
At the end of the panel, College Principal for BIMM Brighton, Martin Wright joined the panel onstage who mentioned that they had waived their fees for joining the panel and instead chose for it to be donated to a wonderful charity in Brighton ‘Martlet’s Hospice’, who look after terminal patients and provide end of life care. The group then had their pictures taken.
The full panel signed advance copies of Shulman’s book after the panel had finished.
We thank both Alon and Paul for their incredible insights provided to BIMM students at the Brighton Music Conference this year.
We look forward to working with them in the future as they continue to seek out and build up new talent in the field of dance music. With a possible paid internship being offered to BIMM students, and with Paul now seeking out new musical talent at the college, we couldn’t be more excited to connect our students with some of the most influential figures in the industry.
The Second Summer Of Love by Alon Shulman (John Blake Publishing) is available through all high street and online booksellers.