Paul has been on Dance music’s frontline since the release of Leftfield’s debut single ‘Not Forgotten’ in 1989. With partner Neil Barnes, the duo went onto become one of the most globally successful and respected acts in Dance music, along the way shaping styles and creating sounds that have influenced heavily and been borrowed from literally. As a DJ, remixer and producer in his own right, Paul employs the same approach to being different, fresh and exciting as he has throughout his vocation and the success he has enjoyed has come through an absolute understanding of the music, the clubs and the people.
Paul spent the late seventies and the early eighties soaking up the wide variety of music that the vibrant gig and club scene of his hometown Margate offered. This meant he was able to hear everything from Punk, Reggae’s bass-led rhythms, as well as Jazz-Funk, Soul and an emerging underground electronic music scene. Eventually he ran his own nights, based around a lot of new and experimental European electronic music and post-Punk assortment.
The early 80’s were spent living in London with underground clubs and early warehouse parties providing the night-time excitement and the places to hear new music like Electro, Hip-Hop, reggae, soundtracks, jazz, funk, northern soul. A trip to the states as session percussionist with the Brand New Heavies in the late eighties, enabled him to visit clubs like The Sound Factory, Red Zone and Save The Robots and many other underground happenings of the NYC club scene in the late 80’s, opening him up to the exotic American scene and House music in particular.
Back in the UK and Ibiza this new breed of dance music was bubbling away on a small scale, but it’s highly potent cocktail of repetitive beats and exiting electronic sounds would explode on contact with a simmering British boredom and the Ecstasy boom. For Paul, the abundance of music arriving from the States and Europe, the excitement of the clubs and hearing British DJ’s mixing it up and doing things differently, persuaded him to become involved in the music himself.
“Suddenly at those early Acid-House parties, it seemed that everything I’d ever been into came together under one roof,and everything was good’ Cue Leftfield...
As dance acts go they don’t come any bigger and few have had such an enormous impact on the international scene. By not repeating themselves, Leftfield delivered two key albums - for which they received Brit & Mercury nominations for Best UK Dance Acts in both 1996 & 2000 - that helped shift Dance music’s sound into new and dynamic phases and as such the reputation and the respect that the name Leftfield still commands to this day, is literally second to none.
Their debut album ‘Leftism' (1995) redrew the borders for dance music, pioneering a radical hybrid that drew intuitively on rib-shaking dub, futuristic techno, house and breaks and with its timeless qualities, is regularly declared ‘The Greatest Dance Album Of All Time’. Its included collaboration with Sex Pistol John Lydon on ‘Open Up’ was the first ever dance/rock crossover not to sacrifice any of the attitude of either genre. Their second album ‘Rhythm & Stealth’ (1999), contained an equally exciting new blend of crisp, cutting-edge electronic sounds and alongside vocal contributions from Afrika Bambaata and Roots Manuva, included the fearsome electro-breaks beast ‘Phat Planet’, with which Leftfield once again wiped all pretenders away. Sales are in excess of 1,000,000 copies worldwide for each album.
With the Leftfield sound dictating much of clubland’s sound they were in-demand as remixers and subsequently deconstructed then dusted their magic over an assortment of artists that included David Bowie,Stereo MCs, Inner City, Tricky ,Renegade Soundwave and many more. During the Leftfield years the duo also formed their own label Hard Hands which itself was at the front of the scene and aside their own music was responsible for issuing over 60 other releases by underground artists that included Pressure Drop, Dark Globe and Full Moon Scientist.
As well as Leftfield scoring music for the soundtracks of the internationally successful Trainspotting and director Danny Boyle’s follow-up Shallow Grave, their music has been used on the big screen in the films Tomb Raider, The Beach, Hackers, Hackers 2 and Vanilla Sky. It has also been utilised in a number of television commercials, most notably the now infamous ‘White Horses’ ad for Guinness, for which the fearsome rumbling intro of ‘Phat Planet’ was also the teasing first taste listeners got of Leftfield’s then imminent second album. This critically acclaimed unison has since been voted ‘The Greatest Television Ad Of All Time’ in myriad charts, programmes and polls. Other Leftfield music used in advertising clips has been for Volkswagen’s Lupo car (‘6/8 War’) and the atmospheric intro of ‘Release The Pressure’.
The impact of Leftfield’s debut single helped secure Paul DJ bookings and he quickly earned himself a reputation for spinning a choice of solid tunes and raising the temperature on dancefloors worldwide. Throughout the decade he played regularly across the planet at clubs and festivals, including all the large UK outdoor events like Tribal Gathering, Homelands, Witness in Dublin (now the Oxygen Festival) and the Brighton Essential Festival. The overtaking demands of Leftfield meant that DJ’ing took a back seat through the turn of the decade, although he maintained a residency at London’s Fabric between 1999-2003.
Since Leftfield parted ways in 2001, Paul has been in demand as a DJ, remixer and producer in his own right, turning out killer dancefloor ammunition for, among others, Slam (‘Alien Radio’), Dub Pistols (‘Six Million Ways’) and Bolz Bolz (‘Take A Walk’ - which went on to be synched to a Smirnoff commercial), plus the sunset-tinted ‘Adios Ayer‘ for long-time friend Jose Padilla (Café Del Mar) and a rework of Massive Attack’s ‘Butterfly Caught’. In 2004 he produced a single for the curious alliance of funk renegade Afrika Bambaata and robo-synth-pop pioneer Gary Numan, who teamed up on a new version of Numan’s 1979 track ‘Metal’, resulting in an electro floor-curler with a commanding presence.
Paul has been operating in the shadows for the last ten years, DJ'ing and remixing whilst working on various solo work. He is just as comfortable playing cutting edge electronics to 200 kids in a sweaty warehouse as he is DJ'ing to large festival crowds.
When Paul DJ’s, it’s still predominantly a diverse mixture of electronically infused Techno, House and beyond. The linear connection being the all important funk and sonic subversive element. But appreciating so many different types of music, has always made it hard to pinpoint Paul Daley as a particular style DJ (or producer, or remixer…) and is key to his ability at keeping a dancefloor on the edge.
“My laws are still the same as when I was DJ’ing at my sister’s house parties in the mid seventies which is, if the people aren’t dancing then it’s not happening. I still get the same buzz I got when I was 12 years old playing records in my bedroom, it’s the same feeling but I’m sharing it with 100’s of other people”
Paul understands and encourages new music from underground labels from all over the world, anyone who comes to listen to a set should not expect to hear some kind of 90’s revival (he didn't hold down a 3 year residency at Fabric for nothing...), his sets and records represent an energy of someone half his age with twice as much musical experience.
Anyone fortunate enough to catch his summer residency at Ibiza’s uber cool country club ”The Underground” over the last 5 years bears witness to this.
Those who have heard Paul play understand his love and sincerity to the music. This has always outweighed taking an obvious commercial route as a DJ and this attitude continues to this day.