Ski Oakenfull : Producer / Writer / Remixer
Variously described as ‘nu-jazz house kingpin’, ‘Love God’ and plain old ‘Dominic’ to his Mum & Dad, Ski is a highly gifted keyboard player, writer and producer. He first made an impact in 1991 with the K-Creative, one of the initial singings to the then newly established Talkin’ Loud Records. Co-writing & co-producing their debut album ‘QED’, he toured extensively throughout Europe and Japan. After his tenure with the K-Creative ended, Ski joined UK soul-funk band Raw Stylus as keys man (touring & recording with legendary Steely Dan producer Gary Katz) and regularly performed with the in house band at Gilles Peterson’s seminal club nights at Bar Rumba in London alongside visiting luminaries such as Guru from Gangstarr and iconic Brazilian superstar Flora Purim.
1994 saw Ski join ex-label mates Galliano as keyboard player. His relationship with the band grew, culminating in him co-writing and co-producing their final album ‘4’. The next few years saw Ski develop his writing & production skills further including writing sessions with Incognito and the release of the club classic ‘Justify’ on Bob Jones’ short lived yet much missed Black on Black label. Ski also contributed tracks to a unique global collaborative project called ‘Sun Sun’. This featured exclusive material from some the finest exponents of alternative contemporary dance music including DJ Cam, Bob Sinclair, Kruder & Dorfmeister and DJ Die (Reprazent). It was Ski’s contribution, a deep & funky rolling number called ‘Montreux a Marseilles’ that brought him to the attention of Sony Columbia. They immediately signed him up and he recorded a version of the late Joe Henderson’s jazz classic ‘Tres Con Deo La’ featuring the vocal talents of Valerie Etienne. This was well received throughout Europe and it caught the ears of Philly’s very own aqua boogie monster, King Britt, who supplied a beautiful remix.
The last couple of years have witnessed Ski produce & co-write Valerie Etienne’s debut album ‘For What it is’ and become an in demand remixer. His distinctly idiosyncratic approach has benefited a host of artists including house don Cevin Fisher on his classic cut ‘The Way We Used To’ and soul vocalist Maysa Leak. Ski’s combination of both a deep technical understanding of contemporary production and recording techniques and a thorough musical adroitness can be witnessed in the dark brooding beatfest for Helicopter Girl’s ‘Glove Compartment’, a deep rolling rub on the massive ‘American Dream’ by Jakatta, a twisted jazz outing for Ninja Tune’s Funki Porcini on ‘The Great Drive By’, a tuff digital Afro-beat reworking of ‘Onwards’ by the Afro Celt Sound System (from their current Grammy nominated album ‘Vol 3’), a bubbling disco version of ‘I’ll Be Waiting’ by Shena & Full Intention for Rulin/ Ministry of Sound and an incredibly infectious disco-house odyssey on ‘World’s Collide’ by Incognito for Talkin’ Loud which will have DJ’s from Brooklyn to Berlin to Bermondsy flipping out. Ski has also given the UK’s very own Speeka (AKA Rob & Matt from the UK’s leading hip hop night Scratch) the definitive reworking on ‘Sunshine’, a track lifted from their acclaimed debut album ‘Bespoke’ on Ultimate Dilemma Records. Think King Britt meets Vikter Duplaix meets Herbert uptown with a nod to Jan Hammer & George Duke!
Last year Ski released his debut album ‘Life Changes’. The album showed Ski as a true musical polymath, embracing influences and inspiration from house, disco, electro, jazz, soul and funk. ‘Life Changes’ is the distillation of musical experience, innovation, absorption and adventure. The album moves steadily from the Rhodes drenched boogie darkness of ‘Fifths’ (an underground hit throughout Europe, played by everyone from Jazzanova to Coldcut to Timo Mass. It also became the most played un-playlisted track on MTV) and the deep urgency of ‘Soul Vibration’ (featuring vocals by North London’s very own poet laureate, Earl Zinger) to the spatial grooves of ‘Seratonin’ and the serenely soulful energy of ‘Where Did The Love Go?’ (featuring vocals from Fire Island’s Marc Antony features mixes from Restless Soul (AKA Phil Asher), EDP, Bruce Keen & house legend Robert Owens).
Not confined to the studio, Ski plays a mean live set. Indeed, he was chosen to play at the first of Gilles Peterson’s monthly ‘Worldwide’ residency at London’s Cargo. Recorded live for Radio 1, the show was a resounding success and proved to many that a live band with live vocals can definitely cut it in a club environment. Ski also played the legendary Roskilde Festival in Denmark in the summer of 2001 to a rapturous response. To put in such a performance after a 13 hour drive from Calais shows the guys dedication to his craft (his Lear Jet was being re-sprayed that day). Ski is also an in demand keyboard player laying down his black ‘n’ white pressure for Arthur Baker, 2 banks of 4, Incognito, Numbers, Skitz & UFO.
He has just completed producing Rose Smith’s debut album for Glasgow Underground Records and is preparing new tracks for his second album. Alongside all this, Ski has gone truly global with forthcoming remixes of Swedish disco crew Slippery People, Japan’s Shiba Experiment and the new number one single from the Sugababes.