Interviews

Osunlade

Osunlade is an intelligent, spiritually minded and classically trained musician, DJ and producer. Drawing influence from the wider sphere of world music and live instrumentation, Osunlade isn't a created professional persona, he really is at one with his art.

African beats, Jazz, Soul and captivating vocals are all part of the Osunlade sound, a sound with uncommon depth for house music but one that remains focused on the dance floor.

Here he tells gives us the 'scoop' on his new artist album, why he is so in love the work of the contemporary surreal artist Wangechi Mutu, his grumbles on remixes and why you won't be able to stop dancing to his new Strictly Rhythm Ibiza mix. Here's what the legendary producer had to say first hand...

Question: It's been a while since we last chatted, so what have good things have been occurring in the past year?

Answer: Oh, everything! I've just taken some time off to live and relax, working on the next album and doing this mix! It's been quite a big production, and having a few small tours here and there.

Question: You say you're working on your new album after "Rebirth". Is this a new artist album?

Answer: Yes it is. It's actually complete, but I'm still living with it. I've done about maybe 23 tracks but it'll be about 11 or 12. It's pretty much done, just making the final selections, tweaking mixes, sequencing the entire project. Getting art ideas and just trying to formulate a product. When I do an album I try to get a full idea completed so I can live with it and see it as a full album.

Question: Does your album have a name yet?

Answer: Yeah it's called "Romantique'

Question: Ok, will you be creating the artwork as you did last time?

Answer: Yes. It's going to be a difficult one, I'm trying to incorporate some art of a very lovely artist. I'm in love with Wangechi Mutu she does really strong, some people say dark, collages. It's really amazing and I like her work because it's not your typical idea of beauty. So I'm trying to formulate a situation where I get in contact with her to use some of the images. I hear she's quite difficult to deal with! She's Kenya born and New York based.

Question: Now I wanted to ask you something. You did an interview recently where you said "I think the music business itself is non-existent." I don't know if you remember saying that. What did you mean by this? Is it because of the new digital age?

Answer: Well, as I speak now, I probably meant I grew up in the major label forum. That's totally gone. The digital music age is definitely the way now, but I think the formula now is quite strange from the original make up of the music business. The form of music business that I know, it's gone! It's dead. It's kind of a sad thing that you have so many labels popping up, it's like they have new artists, new producers that are not really musicians, producers. No one's really taking the role of quality assurance I guess I would say. Anyone can put a record out, or have a label, there's no overhead, there's no promotion outside of the digital site. The song is Top 10 because they sold 200 downloads! There's not much structure. I think I've made a conscience decision to not make another house artist album. I think this is it for me, it's time to let the new guys take over and there are some I really appreciate. This is my last one.

Question: So does that mean Osunlade is turning his back on his deep house fans?

Answer: No, I'm not going to do another artist album but I will still produce music for other artists on the label. I probably won't do much remixing, I've not done many in the past 2 years. I've done about 2 or 3 in that period, I'm phasing out of it.

Question: I caught somewhere else that you have an opinion on remixes as well.

Answer: Yeah the one thing I dislike is how in the house music genre, everything comes with the 'Original Mix'. The actually title of the said says 'Original Mix'. That's kind of discerning to me. There are so many versions of the song that the original version has to be called 'Original Mix'. If a song is good then you don't need a package with 7 remixes! It's just quality versus quantity. It's an over load of nothingness! I'm adamant about spending at least 30 hours a week searching for music whether it's house, jazz, whatever. I'm a big supporter of dying music and finding new artists. It's important for me to stay on top of what's going on. I'll spend so much time looking through electronic music and I may find maybe 3 tracks that I'll actually use, and that's kind of sad. Whatpeopleplay.com is my favourite site, the referencing is great, the pack shots are good, good reviews. Whereas with others sites, you spend hours and hours going through these genres and the genres are incorrect! There's just too much.

Question: So, why do you think Osunlade and Strictly Rhythm are such a good match?

Answer: Well it goes back to quality. Strictly Rhythm is a name people associate with quality. It has a long standing catalogue and it's the new house label for people like myself, Quentin Harris, and these kinds of artists have built careers with quality music. There aren't many other labels doing that, you hear about these artists who are coming up and getting a great buzz, then you listen to the music and it's just 12 minutes of drum loops and that's not a song!

Question: So let's talk about Ibiza. You are doing the Ibiza mix for Strictly Rhythm. For you, what tracks would you say would sum up Ibiza for you? Either your own, or others.

Answer: I really like Johnny White "Desensitise" which is on the first mix CD. "Kinky e79" is good and I also like the new version of "Warning".

Question: If you were to pick one of those tracks for the best mood, which one would it be?

Answer: I'd say "Kinky e79", there's something wrong with you if you don't dance to that!

Question: Have you spent a lot of time on the island?

Answer: No, not really. I was there 2 years ago with Simon Dunmore and we had a great time. I've gone about 3 or 4 times.

Question: I would have thought that being the artist you are, you would have gone there more. It's quite a spiritual place.

Answer: Oh yeah, I love it, I love the locals, there are a lot of hippies and I'm basically a hippy at heart so I totally understand the culture there. But I think with Ibiza you think of a club scene which is totally not my thing.

Question: Ok, did you film something there last year?

Answer: Yes I did. I filmed the video for "My Reflection" with my own drummers from the band.

Question: Now I wanted to ask you about the album now. There's a lot of your productions on there, which would you say are you most proud of?

"Momma's groove", "Butterfly" I'm really proud of, the new mix of "Pride" I just did, I'm really loving that one.

Question: So just tell me about the feeling of both CDs and how they flow.

Answer: Well the first one is more of deep soulful kind of thing and the second one is like a club. My idea was one preparing for the club and then one at the club. So one where you are having dinner, in a restaurant, at home or on the beach and the other is like, yeah, let's do it!

Question: Was it difficult to select from the vast Strictly catalogue?

Answer: Well what I tried to do is incorporate the newer versions of older classics or things that are upcoming. So I got to put my own remixes and new versions on there.

Question: Are there any exclusives on the album?

Answer: Yeah "The pride" is an exclusive, the "Hey hey" mix is an exclusive as well and the "Manoo dub" as well.

Question: I'd now like to ask you about forthcoming project, what singles are you putting out?

Answer: Yeah I've got a four song EP that I'm working on, I've not got a title, it's more tracky stuff than vocals. I've found a guy in London who is more a long the lines of South African sounds.

Question: Is that project done then?

Answer: Yeah it is, I've just got to work on the mastering and cover art. Cover art is almost the hardest things after the music is done. I spend a lot of time on the imagery and that it works with the song and the idea of the project. So until I get the cover art, because I like to live with it, put it on my iPod, and visualise it as a project for myself before I put it out.

Question: So what is the project called?

Answer: There's "Jungle beats" and the other project, the guy is called At 1 and the project is called "Kina mawazo".

Question: What about European gigs? Where will we see you playing in the next few months?

Answer: I'm in Paris on the 4th of June, Switzerland on the 5th, Athens on the 6th and London on the 25th, 26th in Amsterdam at the Awakenings Festival and back in London on 27th for a Prince Tribute Party.

Question: A Prince Tribute party? Why are you playing at that?

Answer: Well Kyri from R2 and I, he's done a few actually, we are just big Prince fans. We've got a pretty good vibe, and it's not just Prince music, it's Prince inspired. So anything that sounds like that Minneapolis sound.

Taken by Toni Tambourine (Defected Records)

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