Osunlade is not just a House Music phenomenon, but one of the true artists of any genre or artform of our time. A working musician from the age of seventeen, he's released more than twenty albums of material and worked with artists from Patti Labelle to Roy Ayers. In the realm of dance music, you'll find few who are more respected, not just for his abilities to create but his faithfulness to his ideals and his muse.
Through the offices of our friends at traxsource.com, 5 Magazine's Shani Hebert caught up with Osunlade from his adopted home in Greece. Osunlade spoke frankly about music, art, his deeply held If´ beliefs, and a disenchantment with the music industry which led him first to Puerto Rico and now far from the United States altogether.
Growing up in St. Louis, what did you have in your tape collection and who were your musical influences?
Most of the music I heard growing up was my parents, of course... However, when I discovered my own influences and those things that touched me, it was Bill Evans, Sly Stone, Prince, The Beatles, Led Zepplin - practically anything that was near my ear.
Did you grown up in a musical household? Did your parents support your connection to music?
My parents loved music, but they were not musicians. They supported me 100% in my musical endeavors and desires.
How did you go from being a self-taught bassist and guitarist to working with Toni Basil and writing the score for Rockula?
I'm actually a pianist first - bass and guitar happened years later, as well I don't profess to play them as much as I play at them. Rockula was the first ever professional project I had. I was called by Toni Basil (who'd heard of me thru a friend I'd worked with earlier) to work on the music.
How did you get invited to work on Sesame Street? What would be a segment that everybody knows, if you can remember?Did you go on set or was it just studio work?
Sesame Street was again via Toni Basil (she was the choreographer then). No one would ever know the segment I contributed - it was simply a counting segment featuring several variations of feet and shoes, etc. I never worked or visited the set - it was all studio work.
As the first producer for Interscope, had you any idea that producing Gerardo would catapult you into producing so many others and give you four gold singles and multi-platinum status?
Never! I as well as many knew the record was a novelty one. However, the then-owner, Ted Fields assured us of his total commitment to the project, so this was a great start as he was then the third richest man in the state of California.
What was it like working with Patti LaBelle?
It was amazing, her energy was pure and I'd only to that point worked with one other artist/musician that was so professional and I felt I learned from.
What were your first realizations of materialism in the industry and what made you try and remove yourself from it?
From the start, I saw the makings of the business of music and how it has nothing to do with music. Taking meetings, shopping music to A&R who are afraid to make decisions based upon the security of their placement or lack thereof... Understanding also that most major labels are run from comities that are already secure and paid for generations beyond, and the release of an artist - especially a black artist - is of no concern to them.