This week we welcome Ski Oakenfull to the Dusk Dubs family.
Ski is an Artist, Keyboard player, Producer, Remixer and Composer living in London. Having started his career with The K-Creative who were signed to Gilles Peterson's Talkin' Loud label in 1991, he went on to release two solo albums, Life Changes & Rising Son, play keyboards with bands such as Galliano, Raw Stylus & Two Banks of Four, remix over 50 tracks, and work at Xenomania. He currently releases music on his own label, Primaudial Records, plays live with The Bays, writes & produces with artists such as Incognito, Joey Negro, Valerie Etienne. He has an Ambient Electronic project called Ayota, and also does a bit of DJing in his spare time. Alongside his production work, Ski holds the position of Head of Education at Point Blank Music School where he writes courses in electronic music for their BA (Hons) degree programmes. He has also made over a hundred videos for the school’s YouTube channel which have racked up over six million views..
"What a challenge to try to define my musical 'DNA' through a two hour selection of tracks! Still, it is a great honour to have been asked, and I have found it to be a very satisfying experience. I hope that the playlist works as an enjoyable listen as well as marking crucial points in the evolution of my musical appreciation. The hardest thing was knowing where to start and choosing what to miss out. I could have included artists such as Howard Jones, Depeche Mode & Tears for Fears who I loved as a teenager for example, but instead I tried to focus on tracks that had the biggest impact on me when I first discovered them and have subsequently become musical reference points for my own compositions.
Looking back at my selection, it seems that the one common thread is Jazz, whether that's Johnny Marr's guitar chords, Larry Heard's synth pads or Ryuichi Sakamoto's piano riffs. Jazz can define an attitude as well as a sound, so maybe this explains my choices. I'd just like to say a massive thanks to all the friends, DJs, podcasters, musicians, producers, colleagues and students who have expanded my musical vocabularly over the years. I am eternally grateful, and I can't wait to hear what's round the corner !" [[ Ski ]]
You can find Ski HERE:
1. Dauwd – What’s There
This immaculately produced future-garage track from Dauwd blew me away when I first heard it on Giles Peterson's radio show in 2012. Dauwd sets the bar extremely high with his precision programming.
2. Lone – Pulsar
I've been a massive fan of Lone since I watched his first Boiler Room set. He manages to create a perfect blend of soulful 90's house with delicate ambient textures. In this track from his 'Ambivert Tools Volume Four EP' I can really hear the influence of 'Papua New Guinea' by Future Sound of London, especially when the breakbeat comes in.
3. Larry Heard - What About This Love?
Larry Heard represents the side of House Music I really love, especially some of his early releases on Gherkin Records. This track from 1989 is sublime, with the trademark jazzy, soulful chords and smooth vocal performed by Larry himself.
4. Yellow Magic Orchestra – Technopolis
My first introduction to Yellow Magic Orchestra was age 15 when a friend played me the album BGM. I've been hooked every since, and consider them to be true electronic music pioneers. This track written by Ryuchi Sakamoto is a standout for me, and perfectly captures the mid bubble technological excitement of Japan in the late 70's.
5. Herbie Hancock – Nobu
Herbie is without doubt my biggest infuence as a keyboard player, artist and composer. He has always pushed the boundaries with musical experimentation and technology, and this track from the Japanese released 1974 album 'Dedication' is the perfect example. The solo performance features Herbie riffing and improvising on a Fender Rhodes along with a techno arpeggio from one of his Arp synths. It was a big inspiration for my track from 2000 'Fifths'.
6. Steve Reich, Pat Metheny - Electric Counterpoint: I. Fast
I was first exposed to the music of Steve Reich while studying Music A-Level with my teacher at the time Pete Stollery. I don't think it should be underestimated the influence Steve Reich and other minimalists have had on dance music, and this particular track was honoured with its use in The Orb's 1991 ambient house track 'Little Fluffty Clouds'.
7. Alva Noto, Ryuichi Sakamoto - Logic Moon
Alongside Herbie Hancock, Ryuichi Sakamoto is another massive hero of mine who I was lucky enough to meet at Sonar festval in 2018. Sakamoto has collaborated with German born Carsten Nicolai aka Alva Noto on a series of albums which have inspired my own Ayota project. Their tracks generally feature the ambient piano improvisations of Ryuichi combined with the glitchy electronic processing of Carsten.
8. David Sylvian - Red Guitar
David Sylvian, lead singer of the group Japan left in 1982 to pursue a solo career and released his first album in 1984 entitled 'Brilliant Trees'. This track was a top 20 single and features the jazzy piano of Ryuichi Sakamoto and distinctive bassline of Wayne Braithwaite. Check YouTube for some amazing behind the scenes footage of the recording session at Hansa studios in Berlin
9. Jungle Brothers - Straight Out The Jungle
As a teenager the late eighties were an exciting time for me, as both house and hip hop started to explode. Followng the rise of bands like Public Enemy, KRS One and EPMD, the 'Native Tongues' movement brought a new chilled, jazzy sound to hip hop. In this track, the Jungle Brothers use the seductive guitar riff from Mandrill's 'Mango Meat' to produce an all time classic.
10. A Tribe Called Quest - Jazz (We've Got)
Hot on the heals of The JBs came the legendary group 'A Tribe Called Quest' who took jazz vinyl sampling to the next level. This is one of their early tracks and provided an anchor for what was to become the 'Acid Jazz' and Talkin Loud scene.
11. Yusef Lateef - Brother John
My first band 'The K-Creative' were signed to Gilles Peterson's Talkin' Loud label in 1990 off the back of a demo DAT tape passed to him at a gig by a friend of ours. Gilles was always keen to play us tracks from his huge record collection, and this was one that we ended up covering for our first single "To Be Free (Brother John)". It was only later that I realised that Yusef Lateef had been such an influential educator alongside his prolific career as an artist and musician.
12. Weather Report - Non-Stop Home
Weather Report were truly a jazz-fusion supergroup led by keyboard wizard Joe Zawinal and saxophone legend Wayne Shorter. This track is from arguably their funkiest album 'Sweetnighter' and has been sampled in over twenty tracks. One of my favourites is Afronaught's 'Transcend Me'.
13. Joe Henderson - Tress-Cun-Deo-La
For a period of time in the late 90's I was obsessed by two albums from sax player Joe Henderson, namely 'Power to the People' (1969) and 'Multiple' (1973). The first track on Multiple, 'Tress-Cun-Deo-La' featured a very memorable vocal line which I asked my friend and collaborator Valerie Etienne to sing for me. This later developed into a single which was released on Columbia France in 2000.
14. Steely Dan – Aja
After The K-Ceative disbanded in 1992, I joined the group 'Raw Stylus' led by Jules Brookes and Ron Aslan. Up until that point I'd never really dug Steely Dan as I thought they sounded a but too 'clean' and muso. However, whilst on a European tour with Raw Stylus, Jules lent me the Aja album which I listened to on headphones while traveling through the Swiss mountains, and I never looked back. The lead track 'Aja' is possibily one of my favourite tracks of all time, and the drum solo by Steve Gadd never ceases to amaze me.
15. Louis Cole - Freaky Times
The first time I heard of Louis Cole was when my friend Rob Mullarky posted a video of himself practicing the bassline to "Weird part of the night" for a gig he was playing. Louis is a unique talent who is part of an amazing jazz and funk scene in LA involving musicians such as Genevieve Artardi, Jacob Mann and Sam Wilkes. He plays amazing solo shows, one of which I was lucky enough to witness at Kansas Smitty's last year. This track is from his album 'Time' released on Brainfeeder last year.
16. The Police - Voices In My Head
I loved The Police as a child, and their albums still sound fresh to me now. I think they were an example of a band who all stood out as individuals but worked so well together. The combination of Stewart Copeland's incredible drum feel and sound, Andy Summer's jazzy guitar arpeggios and Sting's dubby basslines and songwriting skills make them one of the best pop groups of the eighties. This track is killer and has been sampled many times.
17. Joe Jackson - Steppin' Out
Steppin' Out', written in 1981 by Joe Jackson while he was living in New York could be part of the soundtrack to 'Catcher In the Rye' if the Salinger estate ever allowed the book to be made into a film. The jazzy piano chords written over the Kraftwerky Prophet 5 synth bassline work so well to conjure up the dazzle of neon lights in NYC. It's such a timeless pop song.
18. Joni Mitchell - Harry's House-Centerpiece
This track is from my favourite Joni Mitchell album 'The Hissing of Summer Lawns' and alongside 'Hejira' and the live album 'Shadows and Light' capture the jazzier side of her catalogue. In fact some of Steely Dan associated musicians such as Larry Carlton, Jeff Baxter and Joe Sample all make appearances on the album which gives it a real west-coast laid back sound.
19. Ariel Pink - Mature Themes
I'm a big fan of the comedian Adam Buxton who has a great taste in music, and he once tweeted a live KCRW version of this track a few years ago. I'd never heard of Ariel Pink before but started digging into his previous albums and became a fan. He's a vituoso musician who can write quite complicated compositions alongside simple pop songs like this one. He also manages to stay completely lofi and experimental. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3UvB9s5eyB4
20. The Smiths - The Headmaster Ritual
After growing up with a lot of synth pop music in my early teens, The Smiths made me want to give up learning the piano and switch to guitar. Although I liked Morrissey's lyrics, it's Johnny Marr's chords and melodies that really draw me towards the band. It was after seeing Radiohead playing a cover of this particular track on YouTube that I fell in love with it. I heard that Johnny Marr was trying to emulate the chords of Joni Mitchell with this song.
21. Mitski - Two Slow Dancers
I was introduced to Mitski after listening to an episode of the 'Song Exploder' podcast where she discussed her song 'Your Best American Girl'. I love her approach to songwriting and think her voice is sublime. This track is the last track on her most recent album 'Be The Cowboy'.