At the center of a dry lake bed just south of Las Vegas, the September sun was taking its toll on 32 people despite their being dressed all in white. It was the director shouting those much-needed words of encouragement via a megaphone after nearly four hours of nonstop dancing.
Not part of some religious cult, but rather, they were the extras in DJ/producer Paul Oakenfold’s newest music video. And I was one of them, doing my damnedest to keep my energy up for this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Before fatigue set in, our group merged to form a giant circle, slowly walking at the same pace to become one. This was followed by an impromptu dance party, with hair and glitter flying, everyone shaking, shimmying and shuffling to the sounds of a live DJ mixing it up for motivation.
“The track is actually not finished or named yet,” says Oakenfold, who himself doesn’t appear in the footage. “I’m planning to test it out on my upcoming We Are Planet Perfecto tour through North America.” He explains, “This video will be played as the visual background while I am DJing on the tour. I wanted to come at this video and song from a different angle. I wanted to score it like a movie, where the video is made first and the music follows.”
“It’s kind of ass-backward the way we’re doing it,” says Ryen McPherson of Shoot to Kill, a video production company (and a partner of WENDOH Media). “Like an old film style where you shoot the picture and give it to the orchestra. We’re finishing up his tour visuals and down the road we’re going to cut the music video out of it.” He adds, “We had to essentially create a two-hour music video for him in four acts and built the visuals around that as far as mood, pacing and style.”
Inspired by the film The Tree of Life starring Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain, Oakenfold envisioned a group of people converging to celebrate. “I wanted to capture the feeling you get of being absolutely in the moment and surrounded by nothing but love,” Oakenfold says, “kind of like a peak moment in the club where you can feel the energy surrounding you and it is nothing but positive emotion.”
And for the most part, despite the heat and my impending fishnet-stockings-suntan (which is still there in case you were curious), the group and I stayed positive during the shoot thanks to copious amounts of SunnyD and trips to an air-conditioned charter bus between takes.
“When dance music started as a culture, it was not about race, color, creed, nationality, profit, corporate sponsorship, radio or viability,” Oakenfold says. “It was about music: All people coming together to dance and celebrate life. There’s a lot of politics going on in the music industry right now, I’m just focused on putting out great music that hopefully my fans will love.”
That most of the participants were already Oakenfold fans motivated us to do a good job for the man, though determination did wane at one point when McPherson started shooting off fireworks in the background for one scene. The fear of everyone’s overly sprayed locks igniting brought back thoughts of Michael Jackson’s ill-fated Pepsi commercial in 1984. We didn’t want to ruin the shot, but if the footage makes it to the final cut, you may notice some of us—myself included—incorporating a special hands-over-heads dance move into our repertoire as the embers rained down. The Las Vegas lake-bed footage premiered at Oakenfold’s world tour kickoff Oct. 6 at Manhattan’s Provocateur Nightclub, and debuted in Las Vegas Oct. 8 at the penultimate Perfecto Saturday at Rain. See it again at Perfecto’s New Year’s Eve finale and down the road in the to-be-written song’s future music video. Also, keep an ear out for the We are Planet Perfecto album’s release on 11/11/11.
And keep an eye out for the redhead in the tutu.