Osunlade: “I even have my moments of prog rock”

The house DJ and Yoruba label-founder prepares for his London gig with Boddhi Satva

Osunlade is not your average house DJ. By which I mean, not only is he one of the coolest, most vibrant and expressive spinners in clubland – “being spontaneous works better for me”, he told me on a recent DJ foray into London – but he also brings some serious all-around music knowledge and experience to his work.

He was playing piano at seven, performing as a multi-instrumentalist in his own bands at 12, and embarking on a writing career by 17 – with the likes of Sesame Street, Patti LaBelle and even Gerardo (the Latino pop star who hit the big time with ‘Rico Suave’), benefitting from his skills. “That structure of writing and producing for the majors – that education remains important to me, “ he says. “As much as I hate the system of it, it helps me do what I do now.”

Born in St Louis, then working in the business in LA, New York became home for him in 1999. It was also the moment when he began to embrace the club scene. “The public performance part,” he laughs, “was kind of a mistake – I was booked for a gig and I was like, really, you’re going to pay me to play records?” But the music he then went on to produce for his brilliant Yoruba Records label was by no means an error.

With Europe so important to the quality end of house music clubs, Osunlade moved the operation to Greece, where he has now been able to “formulate my studios to be 100 per cent organic, acoustic, live”. As a result, he re-adopted the collective name Piscean Group (which goes all the way back to his original St Louis roots and also features a colleague from his time in LA, Daniel Crawford, on keyboards) for his first project out of there, Original Soundtrack, which was released on R2 Records in 2015.

Very much conceived like a film score, Osunlade describes it as “today’s ‘Trouble Man’ ”, born out of the music that he sees as closest to his heart. “If you’re in my house more than two days, you won’t hear anything other than ambient jazz... and some funk! Low key, slow, meditative... I even have my moments of prog rock.”