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Talking Tequila With Trance Music Legend Paul Oakenfold

Paul Oakenfold — the world-renowned DJ/ music producer — is a man of many layers. He’s most famous as an electronic dance music artist, having performed at Stonehenge, the Great Wall of China, Mount Everest, and clubs around the world. No big deal. Peel back another layer and you’ll discover that he’s also a qualified chef, a former A&R honcho for Champion Records (he signed DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, as well as Salt-N-Pepa), and the co-owner of award-winning Perfectomundo Tequila. His cool is undeniable.

With Cinco de Mayo behind us and summer on the way, we decided to ask the tequila aficionado to explain why a Brit ended up feeling such a deep connection to the agave-based spirit and how he’s spending his days under quarantine (hello, new record). Oakenfold will also be joining this Thursday, May 7th, at 4 pm PST on Instagram Live via @UPROXXLIFE to guide us through a mini tequila cocktail session.

How’s quarantine life been for you? What’s keeping you motivated and occupied?

I’m in the studio a lot, making music and trying to finish my record. That’s really my priority. During downtime, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, spending time rearranging all my books, and — this will sound strange — but doing a lot of washing [clothes]. Which I kind of enjoy, to be honest with you. I’m doing things I’ve never had time to do because I was too busy to do them. When I was a kid, I used to take my clothes to the laundry and now I’m doing these sorts of things and it’s taking me back to my early days.

You mentioned you’re working on a new record. Is there a set release date?

We’re trying to get singles out as soon as possible. I don’t want to hold onto it too long. In the studio, I’m always trying new things. It’s a little bit more difficult lately — because I like to be in the room with my fellow musicians and now we’re doing stuff from afar. There are two ways you can go. You can hang on to your record until after we’ve got over the worst, then everyone will be releasing music or I’m just going to release it as it comes and enjoy the moment of sharing it with people.

That’s a good game plan. We really don’t know when this will all wrap up. So, why withhold all your new music from the world?

Yeah, exactly.

You’ve done so much in your career from DJing back-to-back with Carl Cox at Stonehenge to performing at Mount Everest. Then, of course, you have your own tequila, Perfectomundo. So, how did this come about?

A few years ago, I went down to the distillery in Mexico. I met the guy who ran the distillery for 50 years. He taught me the process and shared his knowledge. I liked the idea and got involved with the design of the bottle, the name we chose is named after my record company — “perfecto mundo” is Spanish for “perfect world.” My role as one of the owners of the company is simply to share and enjoy it.

Nice! Do you have a preference such as a reposado, blanco, añejo, or even mezcal?

Yes, I do. I’m not much of a mezcal drinker. It’s too woody and smoky for me. My preference is over ice and I prefer añejo. Now, if I’m going to mix it, I’ll go for the blanco and use fresh-squeezed pineapple, orange, or watermelon juice. I don’t really like to shoot it. I’m not that kind of drinker.

You bring up a good point about your preference. Some people are under the impression of tequila is made strictly for doing shots, not something you can drink neat like a cognac. What was your first introduction to tequila as a slow sip?

Funny you mention cognac. I’m a fully qualified chef, so I was all about having a nice cocktail. In England, you’d have a fine cognac, whiskey, or whatever, after dinner. When the tequila opportunity came, I wanted something smooth for when you’re with friends and sip tequila.

My first experience with tequila was not good. It was a blend and cheap tequila. I had a hangover from hell. I was like, “I don’t like this drink. It’s not for me.” So, that’s why initially when I got asked to be involved with Perfectomundo, I was like, “no.” I really wasn’t a tequila drinker. I was a vodka drinker. Then, when I went down to the distillery, I tried a few different options.

And that flipped your perspective on it?

Also, I don’t feel drunk or high. I feel really good on it. With that being said, I have a couple and I have a glass of water and that can be enough for me. I don’t need to go crazy on it. I just like the buzz it gives me. I’ve tried to switch it up a bit with vodka, but it’s a completely different buzz. There was a moment when gin came back into fashion. I was drinking a lot of gin in England because gin and tonic was the drink of choice back in the day. But for me, there’s nothing like a blanco with fresh juice.