January 28 2018

In the Mood for Osunlade

New York-Le Bain
We chat with legendary American producer and DJ Osunlade before he plays Le Bain on Friday, March 2nd.
LE BAIN: You once said, "Mood is everything for me. Life is a mood." What’s your current mood and creative state of mind?
OSUNLADE: It's true, everything contributes to the creative process. I’ve not been creatively inspired as of late as I’ve been working on a new album for more than four years and it's taking its toll in some degrees, leaving me to step back from creating to soak it all in and decide where to go next. Since December, things slowly started to turn and I’ve had a renewed spark of creativity, so the new year is starting off on a good note with some new perspective and sounds.
"I am a creature of habit, which for me is comfort and aesthetics."
You had been based in Greece for a decade until you moved in 2016. Can you tell us about the winter on the island of Santorini?
The winter on the island is the true paradise people speak about and normally miss as most visit during the summer tourist season. It's the time when the island is moody and only the locals are around. It's magical in ways I can't really explain beyond saying it's given me the best years musically and the most peaceful ever.

Are you back in your hometown St. Louis, MO? No more back-and-forth between your studio there and the one in Santorini?
Yes, I’ve recently relocated to St. Louis as a hub, so the studios have been consolidated into one.

Stability and balance are very important to you as a human being and as an artist, but is there some occasion when you look for uncertainty and instability? Is it when you travel?
I am a creature of habit, which for me is comfort and aesthetics. I find it hard to do anything while touring. It's difficult enough balancing rest and space for the mind. Life seems to bring more than its share of instability for my taste.
Osunlade's "Yoruba Soul Radio"

You lived in Los Angeles for a while in the early '90s, becoming a very successful music producer and working mostly for others. But you quit that life and chose another path, creating your label, Yoruba Records, in 1999. As of today, how would you describe your relationship with Los Angeles? 
It's strange, my relationship with LA. I love it more now than when I lived there. LA for me was hard knocks, as I was in the belly of the music biz beast, so I lived a very different hustle than today. I will say that LA is a much nicer city full of talent that wasn’t there in the '90s. It seems that the breakdown of major labels opened the door for an influx of new artists and collectives that have shaped a new frontier for the city. It still feels industry, but less than before.

Speaking of Yoruba Records, what’s coming up in 2018?
New releases from veteran artists mostly. A few releases from myself, but my main attention is for a new imprint I started a few years back, Yoruba Soul Records, which is a 7-inch label focused on soul and more organic music from the label. All no-house materials I create get lost due to the house distribution we have for Yoruba, so I decided to give this music the attention it deserves. For now it's vinyl only but will be available digitally this year. The plan is to release music from local artists from St. Louis and give them a vehicle to express themselves, as well my next album which is a funk release, Nadirah Shakoor’s debut album, Jimmy Abneys debut on vinyl finally, etc., will be the focus.

You once said the trumpeter Don Cherry had a huge influence on you...
I love Don Cherry not in such a different way than other jazz musicians I dig, but he had a way of creating jazz with ambient meditative spiritual sonics. This is a special gift.

On Friday, March 2nd, Le Bain presents Osunlade
opening set by Sonny Daze
The Standard, High Line | 10pm