Since buying his first record aged fourteen in the mid 90's, Peter Oakden can already look back at an illustrious career, with him being one of the brightest young names on the UK's underground house scene. Peter's past few years have included a residency at the prestigious Ministry of Sound Red Sea back in 2006, working for Hed Kandi's deep and soulful sister label Stereo Sushi in 2007 (he helped out with marketing and promotion for album releases and events in the midlands and north as well as resident DJ'ing duties). More recently he has played at many events and countries around the globe - USA, Slovenia, Spain, Greece, Lithuania, Portugal and Africa to name but a few, not forgetting his regular weekly bookings in the UK.
In 2008 he teamed up with close friend Jay Grooves to form Soul Free Productions then went on to release various records and remixes together, which got supported by the likes of Tony Humphries. Building up from this success, Soul Free Records was launched a short time later, which again, also gained sudden elusive support from Phil Asher, Osunlade, Ralf Gum, Anthony Nicholson and Groove Assassin amongst others, and all this within the labels first eight months… Soul Free Records is already growing into one of the UK's most sought after independent labels dedicated to releasing QUALITY MUSIC with SOUL.
Question: Would you mind having a few words as an introduction to who you are, and where you're from?
Answer: Hi! My name is Peter Oakden. I am 27 years old, born in Stoke-on-Trent, England. I am of an English/Creole mix and I now reside in Birmingham, which is England's second city.
Question: How and when did you get into music?
Answer: Well my father was a singer, songwriter and musician and started his own band in the 60's and is also totally self-taught. I realise getting older how much of a massive impact this has had on my older brother and myself. My father makes sure he keeps up with every release on the label; he's a good critic to have. Because of my father I would listen to the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Jimmy Hendrix as a pre-teen which was different for a young black kid from Stoke believe me - ha ha. My musical influences were so wide as a child, which in hindsight was a really great thing.
I bought my first record in the early 90's however my first house music record was in 1996 with my friend (Jay Grooves) and my brother taking turns to spend our pocket money's on a vinyl each weekend. After a year or so being bedroom DJ's we decided to chase the dream. The three of us decided to start handing out mix tapes to local bars and clubs, it wasn't long until we were playing in one of the busiest spots in the city centre aged just 15, 16 & 16 (yes this was illegal - lol)… All three of us have successfully been in the music industry since then. I could go on for a long time but in general that is where most of it all began.
Question: What are your influences and heroes (producer/artist/musician…)?
Answer: I stated a few influences earlier, but once I started getting into the dance music side of things I had the likes of Danny Rampling and his "Love Groove Dance Party" around, so that sets the vibe of my early house influence from what I listened to on the radio.
My influences from a producer, artist or musician point of view… Well there are way, way too many to mention from all the different types of music I listen too, so I will name a few that I heavily appreciate on the deep and soulful scene at the moment… Julian Bendall, Ricky Reid, Phil Asher, Henrik Schwarz, Osunlade, Deetron, Peven Everett, Josh Milan, Reel People, Motor City Drum Ensemble, Theo Parrish, Jazzanova…
Question: Where do you find ideas and inspiration for your projects/productions?
Answer: My ideas and inspiration just come from within, it just happens. Some producers start with a specific ideas but I don't do that I just start from scratch and go for it… If it works it works if it doesn't it doesn't. I'm fortunate to have some very successful and experienced producers as mentors who are always giving me advice and advising me 'to be you'.
Question: How did Black Sauce start, how did you guys come together?
Answer: Black Sauce comprises of myself, Ricky Reid (Soul Renegades) and Julian Bendall (Bah Samba). I have known Julian for nearly 2 years and Ricky just a little while longer. However it all started in the winter of 09/10 when Julian did keys to an idea that I had, and a few months later Ricky did some vocals for it. Once Julian heard Ricky's voice and the vibe that we created between us he suggested that we started a band, it made perfect sense. So this idea went on to be fully released in August 2010, which was the Top 10 debut release for Black Sauce.
We have some great plans for the future of Black Sauce which all evolve around making real house music that will stand the test of time, stepping outside the box and doing something we believe in and love making. Our Black Sauce motto is 'be different' which says it all really.
I don't get the chance to tell the guys this very often but I genuinely feel blessed to have such talented producers and musicians that have done so much to be making music with me. I genuinely do learn something from them every single day, which is priceless.
Question: You are also a DJ and have played all over the globe. How important is this for you, are you still frequently DJ'ing abroad?
Answer: Yes I have been fortunate enough to play in some amazing countries and clubs, meeting beautiful people and making really good friends along the way. For me DJ'ing is a MUST. It's what I started doing when I first got into house music and I will always dj to people for as long as I possibly can. There is nothing better than watching people react to amazing music and having fun.
To be honest my gigs over 2010 were really sparse compared to the previous few years, it started of really well and faded away after the summer. I think it was a culmination of many things including the recession, which hit the global economy really hard. I have had many conversations this year with high profile DJ friends on how tough it has been recently. However I have a feeling that 2011 will be a strong year. March 2011 will be my first tour of the year, which will be in Central Europe.
Question: About a year ago, you launched Soul Free Records. Can you tell us about the motives and aim of the label?
Answer: The label was launched off the back of a few successful remixes and releases, more of a natural progression really. I admit that I did rush into things to begin with but it's the only way you learn I suppose, by making mistakes. However after just a year I see the label and how it is run in a totally different light. I know have a full vision.
I just aim to release good quality music. I know that over time the label will grow and grow. I will meet more people that will make the label a better one. In year one of the label I have learned that I need patience and things happen at the right time and for the right reasons, but of course you got to earn it too.
Question: How would you best describe/characterize the label?
Answer: 'QUALITY MUSIC' with 'SOUL'. I know a hell of allot of music can fit into that criteria, and I allow it too. So yes the label would release any type for music allowing it features these key ingredients.
Question: Soul Free Records is currently digital only, are there any plans to release vinyl for the collectors out there?
Answer: Well after the "Abigail" release back in August I got bombarded for vinyl copies of this record so I decided to come up with an idea to release vinyl through the label yes. However this will only be for special limited edition presses of Black Sauce material, so watch out for that soon…
Question: How important is media coverage (reviews, interviews etc.) for you and Soul Free Records, what is the importance of being on top of the charts in online stores and on DJ playlists for an independent label like Soul free Records?
Answer: Media coverage weather it be a major magazine or underground blog, a record review or DJ/producer interview it's all extremely important. I think being seen and heard on your scene is vital for your musical survival. People like Mike here at Spirit of House for example do an extraordinary job. It's all for the love of the music and its artists too. How amazing is that! These guys fully deserve some kind of award for their contributions, seriously. They are easily overlooked.
Well being charted is getting recognition from fellow producers and DJ's on good work so it's amazing to get that as an independent label and as a producer also.
Question: What is the most memorable moment in your career so far?
Answer: Gosh that's a tough one, there's too many already. Ok, I will pick one from this year… Being in the studio as Black Sauce for the first time recording on the legendary Kraftwork desk. It was memorable.
Question: What can we expect from Peter Oakden, Black Sauce and Soul Free Records in the future?
Answer: Well over the next year or so I will be working mainly on my own projects. It's taken up until now that I feel I have fully found 'my' sound. So now I am ready to share it. I'm currently working on projects for Phil Asher's Restless Soul and Jose Carretas's Son Liva amongst others. Lets see what the future holds for Peter Oakden.
The three of us are really looking forward to the future Black Sauce projects. We have an exciting year coming up we have allot of exciting fresh music waiting in the midst.
And from the label… We will have Ricky Reid & Craig Smith kicking off 2011 releasing the follow up to there "Common Occupation EP", again pushing their trademark sound. And that's all I'm giving away - ha ha!
The future holds allot of potential for the label, I hope it fully lives up to that, I will work damn hard to make it happen.
Question: What is your perception of the current situation of the music scene and the things that need to evolve?
Answer: This is a question you see a lot of recently and for obvious reasons. I know that people have different ears and appreciate different types of music, but I personally feel that the underground scene is saturated with terrible boring music right now.
People need to evolve within themselves and have the courage to be who they are. Not to copy. To be original and fresh.
Question: Anything else you would like to share with us:
Answer: A big thank you to Spirit of House. And a massive thanks to all those who have supported the label in its first year, with out you nothing would be possible.
Peace & Love - P