Paul Oakenfold shares his thoughts on Avicii’s ‘True’
Paul Oakenfold’s career is long and storied, having risen to prominence during dance music’s first emergence, ultimately leading to an illustrious career as trance’s biggest producer. Labeled as a god and revered as one of the most influential voice’s in dance music, Oakenfold has been in the trenches for decades, establishing himself as the scene grew, remaining steadfast when it disappeared, and pushing it forward as it re-emerged. Known for pushing boundaries throughout his career, we gave Paul the floor to talk about a young producer who has played an equally integral role in defining the new wave of dance music, Avicii. Much as Oakenfold did in the past, Tim Berg has done what few of his peers had the courage to do — take risks — and who better to assess Avicii’s success then one of dance music’s most legendary personalities.
Hop past the break to read Paul Oakenfold’s thoughts on Avicii’s TRUE.
A lot of people have made the argument that not enough dance artists are taking risks and that things have become formulaic and stale. The truth is, it takes a lot of guts to change things up when you’ve found a level of tremendous success. In many cases it causes quite a stir. I can speak from experience having caused a national controversy for dropping drum n’ bass into a set during my residency at Cream or producing an album that wasn’t in the direction my fans anticipated. So with that, I’m really intrigued by Avicii’s decision to go the route he’s chosen on True.
The first thing that hits me listening to this album is that it’s not your typical electronic album. Avicii has taken a step further, which in our scene in the present moment is the most refreshing thing you could hear. Especially when everyone seems to be playing the same tracks or their own versions of the same tracks. Now, will everyone like this record? No. It’s not your typical album for our scene, but I think it’s a great record by one of electronic music’s shining stars.
The focus of the record is obviously on songs, which Avicii has a wonderful understanding of. Along with Ash Pournouri they have produced a real cutting edge moment in electronic music that will transcend into an out and out pop record. It doesn’t matter if the album versions can be played in clubs as is, because that’s not the point. The remixes that will work in the clubs are sure to come, but this will be the kind of record that can and will be played on various radio stations in America.
Take “Addicted to You” for instance. With its melodic guitar line and haunting vocals by Audra Mae I get the feeling that I’m listening to the classic “Jolene”. This is the typical record that I think could be played on radio stations across america because of its instant connectivity with the listener. It has a wonderful feeling and it’s very refreshing. It still has the typical Avicii uplifting moments, but what’s interesting is he doesn’t go to the typical big moment and instead he stays strong to the song and plays to the strength of the guitar, which is not what is going on in electronic music.
Listening to the album a few times, it leans very much towards the bluegrass feel. I don’t know if this is something that the guys set out to deliberately do because sometimes when you’re working in the studio and you’re writing with singers you find yourself in a strangely uncomfortable situation when you have a great song with great vocals but it’s not on the original route you may have set out on… Once you become comfortable with that and you allow the song to breathe and play to it’s strengths you realize the song works better that way.
Take the collaborations with Nile Rodgers for instance, it still has the typical Avicii top lines and the Nile Rodgers guitar lick but you find yourself listening to something that’s not a typical electronic style. To me it sounds very ’80s. It has swing moments with a lot of styles thrown in, but for some reason it works. You could even see this being played in the club scene in the Great Gatsby.
Now what I like about “Dear Boy” is that we get back to the four to the floor funky rhythm. This is a track I could play straight off the album and at the right time the crowd would go off. This has all the bells and whistles of the Avicii trademark.
“Hope There’s Someone” sits much more comfortably in the EDM world while “Hey Brother” is an out and out pop record which I think will be a massive hit. And winding up at the end of the record is “Long Road to Hell” with its driving piano, banjo licks and a strong female vocal and then you’re set up to start from the beginning of the album all over again. It’s a well crafted record.
I haven’t always liked everything that Avicii’s done, but this record is so relevant because it will move the dial. I admire when people push the envelope and this does. As we know, when he played “Wake Me Up” at Ultra it went down like a lead balloon but at least he had the balls to do it. Instead of backing down and going back to the drawing board he stuck with it and gave us an entire album of what he really wanted to do. It’s melodic, with great songs and great singers, and that’s what it’s all about.