[Interview] Onsunlade lays down the groundwork of NY Deep House, Greece, and his records.
Osunlade has proven that insight, passion, and emotional vision can curate a path to artistic success. I got the chance to talk on the phone with him about his career, his travels, his album, and record labels.
You just got back from Australia, tell us a bit about kicking off the New Year down under.
I was in Australia for about a week during New Year's. I do it quite often actually, it's something I’m accustomed to. I’ve been doing it for the past three or four years and sometimes I go during summer. It’s cool, I’m actually heading back there next week. It’s one of my favorite spots. I really enjoy it.
You grew up in St. Louis then moved to LA. How were your early musical interactions working with TV and Pop Artists?
I was a young kid just hustling. Whatever I could get on and put my name on it. That’s what I was pushing for. Most of the projects I was working on was mostly with friends. Then after the initial step of learning production, labels started calling me. After being schooled, and learning more about it, I realized that I needed to learn the music business. It’s sad that isn’t the same today, but its still good to know where it all comes from. I utilize all of the lessons that I’ve ever had, and apply it to my career. There is something about the respect of the art and the people that do it. I can’t say its changed completely, but the way that we do now, has really changed.
Once you moved to New York, what inspired the shift from TV and Pop music to producing and DJing deep house?
I was living in L.A. still but recording in New York at the time. I’ve always been open to house music. It was always in our our ears in St. Louis. While living in New York, I came across a big distribution company, and I ended up starting Yoruba Records with these guys.
The inspiration came after a long hiatus from it all. I realized that working with major label artists was not what my spirit wanted to convey. When you work with those big label guys, they usually give you an outline of what they want. So I ended up taking a few years of sabbatical.
During that time I was going to the clubs, and listening to more of this music. Then I thought to myself, ‘These guys are using real baselines, African percussion, ethic rhythms, and it's a good vibe.’ It was so organic and soulful. House music, in general to me, it has a heartbeat, it has a soul. It doesn’t matter what you put on top of that heartbeat. It still has a soul to it. My idea was to take what I learned, and make soul at a house tempo. That’s where it all kind of came from.
You are now currently living in Greece. The nightlife in Greece is really getting some attention recently. Tell us a bit about what living and experiencing life like it is over there.
I’ve lived in Greece for the past eleven years. Greece is really isolated, and the culture is really great. The political complications come from the fact because we never pay taxes, everything is the buddy system, everything is out of the E.U.’s pocket. It affects everyone though, even when I don’t technically work there.
Currently, I live on an island, and most people just work three or four weeks and then really live off the tourism. One of the reasons I moved there though was because they are so deeply in tune with house music. They have a long history in the culture and they know it. When I go to a club and I wanna see somebody deep, the crowd knows what they want. If I really want to see someone like that, and then he’s shit, everyone will just stand there and look at the DJ. I truly love how emerged they are into the music.
But If you want peace, despite everything going on over there, Greece is the place to go. It is the most beautiful place in the world. There is a special energy going on over there. It keeps me alive.
Where would you like to travel to that you have never been before?
I'm doing that right now actually. I thought to myself recently, I’m gonna to go. I’m going to go to all the places that I’ve never been. I did Alaska, I’m going to Iceland. I’m in the States right now. I getting to see all my friends, hanging out, and then going to see places. The world is so huge, its so beautiful, and there are so many cultures. I want to absorb everything. Things that I don’t know. I’m a traveling man. I'm doing it.
You’re imprint Yoruba Records is known as a staple in the house community. How did the idea come to you and what was it like watching that idea come to life?
It's strictly about the music. I don’t have some sort of idea where I’d like the music to go. The idea of having a record label is to put out a thought to the people. The biggest reward is seeing the artist grow. It’s the things that you put into the artists, and that they are going the direction that you’re going. It doesn’t matter that it’s sometimes a totally different demographic sonically. We’re a family. My artists are my family. They are my kids. We’re there for each other. That’s the most important thing. Be true to you and try to surprise yourself.
Yorba Soul is strictly for non-house stuff. Yoruba is strictly house. The goal is to give different vehicles to my artists. A lot of my artist do different many things. They are known for house music typically, but with what they do, and where is goes, I like it. I tell them, ‘I dig this, lets do it.’ Who knows what it will become. My intent is to make everything honest.
What has been one of the biggest challenges in your career as a musician?
Right now actually. I’m working on my next album and it’s with a full orchestra. Working with an orchestra is a bitch. There's like 100+ tracks, and I’m like “Really?!!?!” I’ve been doing this last album for the past three years, and the past year has been almost all strings. It’s a lot going on. But I’m absolutely thrilled with what’s going with it. There is a lot of power in this album.
Are you working on any new ideas or unique projects in the future?
Just a few things for this year. The labels are releasing something every few weeks. That’s pretty much it. My focus has really just been on the album for me, along with a few remix releases. One remix I’m doing has this really nice steel pan element. But overall, the album is my main focus right now. Hopefully it will come out sometime at the end of the year. So stay tuned.
Onsunlade will be playing at EQ Nightclub March 4th. He is planning on bringing some of the finest, deep, ethnic, soulful, bass heavy, and pulsating bass line tracks. Tracks with a groove, a soul, and that heartbeat. Get your tickets here. More info here.