Interview: “It was a sound and style that had never been heard before…” 909originals catches up with Paul Oakenfold on the 25th anniversary of the Goa Mix
In the early hours of 18 December 1994, 25 years ago today, BBC Radio 1 broadcast what has come to be regarded as arguably the most influential Essential Mix of all-time, and a benchmark setter for mixes in general, Paul Oakenfold‘s celebrated Goa Mix.
As you might expect from its title, the mix was influenced by the Goa party scene in India, which grew out of the hippie movement – where a blend of musical styles such as new beat, industrial and psychedelic rhythms came together to forge a unique ‘psytrance’ sound.
Oakenfold, who had been invited to play in Goa in the early 90s – and “was really inspired by the music in the scene”, he tells 909originals – was ideally placed to put together a mix to reflect the scene’s sonic nuances. Like in Ibiza in the mid 1980s, there was something fresh and evocative about this musical movement.
And as with acid house previously, he had a reputation for laying down a marker when it came to establishing new genres.
As Oakenfold explains, Goa music was starting to permeate through the UK scene at clubs such as Megatripolis, but was yet to achieve mainstream recognition; something that he was eager to change.
“I started an offshoot of Perfecto [his record label], called Perfecto Fluoro, where I signed a lot of the big artists in the scene,” he says. “We had a top 40 pop record with Man With No Name, which was huge at the time.”
The Essential Mix was launched in October 1993, and was a progressive step for the British national broadcaster as it sought to engage with a more on-trend audience – a two-hour DJ mix, by a different ‘name’ each week, that would showcase the breadth of the electronic music offering at the time.
For the Goa Mix, however, Oakenfold (who had already made two Essential Mix appearances) wanted to create something that offered more than just dancefloor classics.
“The process for the Essential Mix is that they come and ask you to do a mix. It’s left totally up to you to do what you want in terms of sound and direction,” he explains.
Thus, the net result was less a ‘mix’ than a two-hour storyline with defined peaks and troughs; euphoric and introspective moments.
“The preparation to put the Goa Mix together took me a while,” says Oakenfold. “I tried many arrangements and tracks to see if they would work in key and flow with the story I wanted to tell. I finally came up with a selection and a journey that works really well.”
The conceived project would be theatrical in its scope, and with this in mind, as well as classic trance cuts by Marmion, Salt Tank, Grace and others, the mix is peppered with snippets from film, including pieces by Polish soundtrack composer Wojciech Kilar and Blade Runner‘s memorable ‘Tears in Rain’ speech. Indeed, Ridley Scott’s 1982 epic is referenced on several occasions.
“The Goa Mix is based around a cinematic experience,” says Oakenfold. “Movie scores have always been close to my heart, and work very well with trance music. I’ve been scoring movies for many years now.
“Blade Runner is a classic film and I love the score, so it seemed a natural fit.”
Following its broadcast, the mix would go on to be released on Cream Records the following summer (across two CDs), while Oakenfold also revisited it for a re-release in 2011, featuring new transitions and a couple of extra tracks.
But the original BBC broadcast is the one that countless listeners (ourselves included) return to time and again – repeatedly swept away by its aural redolence.
“It played an important part in the development of trance,” Oakenfold says.
“The Goa Mix is a sound and style that had never been heard before, where it combined score with electronic music. It was the first of its kind. I think that’s what makes it so unique and so different. No one’s ever heard of anything like it.”
- Mr. V – Give Me Life (Full Vocal, Full Monty Mix) (re-edit)
- Grace – Orange (Original Perfecto Mix)
- Li Kwan – Point Zero (Original Extended Mix)
- The Disco Evangelists – De Niro (The Spaceflight Remix)
- Virtual Symmetry – The V.S. (Original Mix)
- Vangelis – Tears In Rain (re-edit)
- Salt Tank – Eugina (re-edit)
- Hallucinogen – LSD (Original Version)
- Saint Etienne – Only Love Can Break Your Heart (A Mix Of Two Halves)
- Wojciech Kilar – Vampire Hunters (re-edit)
- Electrotete – Alcatraz
- Vangelis – Main Titles (from the Blade Runner soundtrack) (re-edit)
- Man With No Name – Floor-Essence (Dayglo Mix)
- Scorpio Rising – Dubcatcher (Oakenfold Instrum. Edit)
- Man With No Name – Evolution
- Goldie presents Metalheadz – Inner City Life (Full Length Mix)
- Wojciech Kilar – Love Remembered
- Voodoo People – Co-Incidence
- The Infinity Project – Stimuli (Original Mix) (re-edit)
- Trance Team – Wake Up (Trance Mix)
- V-Tracks – Heretic Voices (Original Mix)
- Marmion – Schoneberg (Marmion Remix) (re-edit)
- Karl Biscuit – Hiérophone (re-edit)
- Vangelis – Rachel’s Song
- Virus – Sun (Oakenfold/Osborne Mix)
- Man With No Name – Deliverance
- Perfecto Allstarz – Reach Up (Papa’s Got A Brand New Pig Bag) (Indian Summer Remix) (re-edit)
- Para-Dizer – Song Of Liberation (Exit EEE Remix) (re-edit)
- Dead Can Dance – Sanvean
- 4 Voice – Eternal Spirit (Southern Mix) (re-edit)
- Man With No Name – Sugar Rush (Original Mix) (re-edit)
[Thanks to Paul for the interview, and to Alon for his help in organising it. Main image sourced from paul-oakenfold.prezly.com]