From producing lofty piano house to raging breakbeat, this next artist in our AKA Series is immensely respected in the electronic music scene. Get fully acquainted with none other than Paul Woolford AKA Special Request.
It’s a well-known fact that artists, once hitting a certain level of notoriety, will be carrying around the genres associated with them for years. This can become a heavy cross to bear, especially for DJs looking to experiment without alienating their devoted fanbase. Some producers have turned to using alternative monikers for exploring different styles. And others had fame in a previous guise before their current status. AKA is a series profiling the sometimes slightly lesser-known (or high-profile) past lives and aliases of established producers and DJs. We’re shining a light on the alter-egos of some of the biggest names in the scene, from where they first came from to where they are now. Some of them might surprise you!
Paul Woolford is such a multi-genre connoisseur that his main form seems somewhat elusive – but his fans couldn’t care less. By now everyone in the electronic music scene knows who he is, whether it’s through Special Request’s snarling breakbeat techno or his namesake’s lofty piano house. Regardless of tastes, what everyone can agree on is that Paul is one of the most respected producers and DJs around, having built his career all the way from the early millennium and conserving a typical output that would rival the most prolific of producers with nothing else to do in lockdown.
His musical résumé is, unsurprisingly, astonishing. From hitting the UK Singles Charts in July with a Diplo collaboration under his Paul Woolford alias to serving up a dystopian breakbeat rave remix of Lana Del Rey as Special Request, any keen admirer will be hitting just the tip of the iceberg when they decide to dip into his back catalogue.
But if you’re looking to rummage deep, it might take you quite a while just to get further back than 2019; last year, Paul put out not one but four albums under his Special Request pseudonym, detonating a quadrant of dance-floor missiles that made headway onto the USBs of every DJ around the country with a myriad of scandalous tracks that could make the hairs stand up on up the back of your neck whilst stirring the rest of the body into a full-on workout. It was clear by the tail end of the year that this side of his career had now become the most beguiling with his dedicated audience, but this didn’t stop him from easily slipping back into the studio for the ensuing pop wonder of “Looking For Me”.
The chameleonic nature of Paul’s musical breadth seems to have landed him a status which now no longer needs further verification from those facing the booth or those who work behind it. Now with a completely unidentifiable but enduring formula for success, Paul continues to attract thousands of engrossed dancers to his shows. Whether it’s through his provocative rhythms under Special Request or through his infectious house melodies as his original moniker, Paul incites the very best kind of mayhem when he entertains the crowds.
And perhaps the most ridiculous thing is, he has even more aliases lurking on the periphery – but we’ll let you investigate that on your own. In the meantime, here’s our two favourite tracks from his generous yield.
Making perpetual rounds at clubs and festivals up and down the country throughout 2013, this piano-house classic takes dramatic riffs, heartfelt vocals and a blissed-out drop to make for a timeless release.
If any producer is looking for a masterclass in heavenly disorder, you’ll find it here. An explosive juggernaut from one of the four albums he released in 2019, Vortex 150 was a viral wonder simply hell-bent on a good time.