OSUNLADE with JOJOFLORES , MILES MOORE and live performances by ERRO , IVANA SANTILLI , NADIRAH SHAKOOR , CAROLYN PUNTER and KING SUNSHINE at the Palais Royale (1601 Lakeshore West), Saturday (June 21). $15 before 11 pm, $20 after. email@example.com Rating: NNNNN
Toward the end of our conversation, esteemed deep house producer Osunlade drops a bomb that only the most tapped in would be expecting. "I've decided to retire from DJing altogether in October, so after that whenever you see me it will be in a band," he declares over the phone from his new home in Puerto Rico.
"It's been a great lesson, but for almost three years now I've been on the road, and it's taken a big toll on me. There's only so far you can go with DJing. The interaction that comes with doing something live is totally an elevated thing compared to it."
Osunlade's career has already followed a unique arc, so why not go off on another unexpected tangent? Unlike most house producers, he wasn't a DJ who threw together a few singles in order to get credibility and overseas gigs; he was already a respected producer in the mainstream R&B and hiphop arena who made house on the side for himself. Luckily, the right people heard it and encouraged him to record Paradigm, his debut full-length album that has deeply influenced DJs across the world with its rich melodic sensibilities, bubbling Afro-Latin rhythms and accents of live instrumentation.
Not to say that he's not a capable DJ. He's been spinning since he was 12 as a hobby, so he's got the technical skills, and he's also got the vision to program a memorable DJ set. On the other hand, live instruments have always been an important part of his sound, so it makes sense that he'd want to take that to its next level.
The past year has been one of re-invention and renewal for Osunlade, not only in terms of his interest in live music, but also in his decision to relocate a year ago from New York City to Puerto Rico.
"It's a perfect retreat for me. I'm not really so fond of living in America. My social and political views don't really coincide with the way people live and the way the government is. I felt as long as I lived there I was condoning things I don't believe in.
"Being in Puerto Rico is definitely changing the way I'm working, which is another reason why I moved. I wanted to change, and to expand more. It's made it a little more difficult because it's an island and everything has to be shipped in. As well, the musicians here sometimes have blinders on - they're not as open as I'd expected. Overall, though, it's a great thing for my life."
The party Saturday is partly a showcase for Gotsoul Recordings, a label started by Montreal's jojoflores last year. Osunlade produced the first single and has great faith in the label, but don't expect to see much new music from him on it other than remixes. He wants to save his own material for his own label, Yoruba.
"Jojo was the first person to bring me to Canada, and upon our first meeting there was a real kinship. When he spoke about doing a label, I expressed my interest in assisting him in any way. I feel like he's one of my musical family, and it's not every day you feel like that about somebody in the business. When I do, I like to do everything I can to help."