After three years of work — in Los Angeles, London and Amsterdam — British DJ and producer Paul Oakenfold will finally release his second artist album, A Lively Mind, on April 11th. The dance-infused, twelve-track follow up to 2002's Bunkka features a host of musical guests, including Pharrell Williams, Grandmaster Flash and one unexpected chanteuse --actress Brittany Murphy, of 8 Mile and Sin City.
"I wanted to work with interesting and different people," Oakenfold says from his canal-side home in Amsterdam. "The last album [had] Hunter S. Thompson, Ice Cube, Nelly and Perry Farrell. I just like taking people from different genres and working with them."
Oakenfold chose Murphy to sing on the sultry electronic number "Faster Kill Pussycat," a song he wrote years ago but put off until finding the perfect vocal match. "I was looking for someone that was different and original and from a different genre," says the DJ, admitting he initially had no idea the actress could sing. "A friend of mine hooked us up . . . I think people are going to be shocked if she gets around to doing her own record — which she's told me she is going to."
Pharrell Williams lends some lines to another track, "Sex 'n Money." Originally a hip-hop cut, Oakenfold reworked the number, immersing it in bubbling beats. "My background was hip-hop, and I did want to speak to my roots in some respect. So that's why Pharrell and Flash are on the record."
To expand the album's sound, Oakenfold hit the streets of Los Angeles, his adopted hometown, trolling the clubs for undiscovered vocalists. One in particular was Ashley, frontman for electronic rockers Bad Apples, who appears on "Vulnerable." The two crossed paths at Metal Skool, a Sunset Strip hair-metal club night. "I love Metal Skool," Oakey raves of the Key Club's Monday night event. "I used to go there a lot."
Oakenfold plans to hit the road in support of A Lively Mind in March, beginning with Miami's UltraFest 2006 and wrapping up at California's Coachella festival on April 29th and 30th.