Vegas an inspiring place for star DJ

Five years ago, he would have turned Las Vegas down, dismissing the city as a pretty face with little behind its bright smile.

But these days, Paul Oakenfold has come around.

The superstar DJ has bearhugged a town that he once kept at arm’s length.

“The casinos didn’t understand clubbing until recently. There was no focus,” Oakenfold says of Vegas in a recent e-mail exchange. “Utopia and Ice were the only clubs, both of which were off the Strip. The casinos needed to find their way by securing the best staff and artists, and have done so in the last couple of years.”

And so Oakenfold’s tune has changed.

“There are more clubs in Vegas than any city in the USA,” he notes. “Without a doubt, it’s the club capital in the USA.”

If this be the case, Oakenfold has attempted to make Rain at the Palms its statehouse.

He’s fast approaching the one-year anniversary of his “Perfecto Las Vegas” residency, where his approach to his music is distinct to the city.

“I look to break new music as a resident in-house,” Oakenfold says. “That’s important. I also support local talent, known or unknown. For example, I’m playing the new Brittany Starr single, plus the new remix from The Killers.”

To commemorate his stint here, Oakenfold recently has issued the two-disc “Perfecto Vegas” set, a seamless, hard-hitting mix that largely forsakes pop hooks and vocals in favor of a sweaty Saturday night soundtrack that seldom comes up for air.

“The release was all about supporting and playing new music, and the CD represents that quite clearly,” Oakenfold says. “It’s just gone to number one on iTunes ahead of one of my all-time heroes, Michael Jackson, who I had the pleasure of working with on a remix.”

Currently, Oakenfold is on the road opening for Madonna on her “Sticky and Sweet” world tour, performing in stadiums, exploring the more populist side of himself.

“The Madonna shows, musically, are completely different to Planet Perfecto,” he says. “Very simply, as a warm-up to Madonna, the set is far more commercial. It has to be. It’s my job. Planet Perfecto allows me to be more experimental and free.”

And with Oakie having extended his Vegas run through 2010, that freedom will continue to reign.

“I think, for me, Las Vegas is the future,” he says. “It’s very creative and inspiring. It’s open-minded to taking clubbing to the next level in terms of a show and not just a DJ spinning records. It’s the perfect place for me.”

Contact reporter Jason Bracelin at jbracelin@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0476.

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