The Yak meets Osunlade, musical shaman, chameleon and long-time Bali lover.
SO, O – you have been to Bali a few times now? Any first impressions you remember? Or how you would describe the Bali vibe?
Like all my visits to the island, my first impression is a peaceful one, the island has a natural draw to me, the energy of the island itself as well as the people, the culture and everything as a whole is simply bliss; one of my top three destinations in the world.
You performed a live set with Balinese musicians last time at Potato Head Beach Club. How did this come together? Any surprises?
We basically planned this last year as part of a future endeavour. No real surprises besides discovering Bali has some very talented musicians.
Growing up – how did you first find music as the thing you wanted to do?
It was the only thing that mattered to me as long as I can remember; I started playing piano at age seven and never looked back.
Who were your strongest influences musically in your formative years?
Prince would probably be the sole influence in my early years, I was drawn to the fact that most of his music was produced and performed solely by the artist. Being an only child and mostly spending time alone, music was my best friend and discovering the way to manage it without depending on others was important for me.
Once upon a time you were doing music for Sesame Street? How did that happen and what did you learn from it?
Nothing more than right place right time. I was living with Toni Basil of Oh Mickey fame, she was choreographing for the show. I made some simple beats, that’s all; never went to the set or met anyone there – again right place, right time. It’s funny how much this comes up in my life. As a child I never watched the show myself, in our hood there were better multiracial children’s shows with Soul and Funk and everything ’70s, so Sesame Street for me was always a white off-brand show, kinda corny to say the least. When asked about it, I’m amazed at how many abroad grew up with it and how it shaped so many lives… still a weird one to answer as it has less meaning to me than others.
You now live between Santorini and Toronto some of the time – how and why did you decide to plant roots there?
I live in Santorini, not Toronto… that was a fleeting period during a past relationship and never really my home. Santorini on the other hand is the only place I’ve felt 100 percent at home – there is a mystical vibration that I connect with more than any other place. I live here as it’s a small, quiet island with less than 1,500 people. . .having a hectic life, I require down time with no distractions. Home provides me this, not to mention the music I’ve created here is far beyond and more complete in essence than I’ve ever experienced.
How do you see the music industry these days with the Internet and constantly changing times? How do you see the future unfolding?
I’ve been in this business since ‘88 and have seen so many changes that the one thing I have learned is that you never really know how or what to expect from it. The internet has definitely changed the industry just as it has the world and how we relate to everything. Today the scene is diluted with so many less talented people creating music, which is a downfall. However there are more live acts emerging and an array of great musicians happening, so we take the good with the bad. In terms of business in the industry, it’s definitely lacking in monetary value as we the independent artists make very little and most returns are funds that support the next project, even the major labels suffer. What used to be a huge market is now basically anyone’s playground. The great thing is that we still have great music in the world so no matter how the industry shapes you. I’m ok with the final outcome.
What’s new in the pipeline?
A new album which features a 15-piece orchestra.
What’s your dream?
I am living it.
Mr Osunlade, many thanks. J.H.