Best Dj: 1985 was about the time Oscar P began building his HOUSE music roots. Foundations were laid with trips to Chicago, black vinyl pressings, Djs he followed in Brooklyn, and the Legendary Paradise Garage. We caught up with Oscar P to discuss his new album, how things came together and if electronic music has indeed come full circle.
Best DJ: Oscar welcome, looks like a good year so far for you?
I definitely feel blessed this year. Many great things have happened. I mean you work hard, put in the hours, but things don't happen over night.
Lets talk about the new Album Bk 2 My Roots?
Every year I do an album project, because I come from a time in the music industry where this is what sets up my year as an artist. I'm also always looking for new ways to market myself, and the albums have become a signature of what I'm about creatively. It's my roots re-visited. I've never done a project on this vibe before with a classic feel. If you hear every song on the album, and it takes you back to a club you lived in, then I've done my job.
Best DJ: Your past albums have touched musically on a hybrid of NY, Chicago, and Detroit. Why?
My past albums have had the same flavor, but each year it gets more defined. The more you do something the better you get at it. Thats how life works. Those are the influences I had growing up, and now its come full circle. All you have to do is look at the Top 10 on any of the top sites, and you will see each city represented nearly every week, and the influences can be seen worldwide. I think New York has earned its place in history with the producers and Dj's that have come out of the city. Those cities have made an impact on me. Its also no secret South Africa has as well. You can hear it on my records. This disco era is also important to me and you can hear it in my tributes to that culture.
Best DJ: If I tell you its often said that Djs like Carl Craig had to go to Europe to get recognition and that seventy percent of techno house records made in the US were sold in Europe, what would you have to say?
Thats no surprise. I built my name in places like London, when I was younger. I traveled whenever I could to get out there and work, and build fans. The cats in Detroit and Chicago were doing this alot longer. But it was the same for my generation. I wasn't popular in New York until I left New York.
Best Dj: As a lover of Chicago based house music. The first time you heard French Kiss by Lil Louis, what effect did it have on you?
HUGE Impact. That record changed the game. It pushed the landscape, and showed us what could be possible.
Best DJ: You mention being infuenced by the legendary hot mix 5 radio show broadcast from Chicago, how about Detroit’s electrifying mojo?
Again HUGE. Derrick May, Kevin Saunderson, Carl Craig, Stacey Pullen, Eddie Flashin Folwkes. These guys were in a realm of their own. Even today they continue to push music foward and influence me. But the Hot Mix 5 was the awakening, the catalyst, the root, my kunta kinte. I heard that first. I first went to Chicago in 85, and I came back with a shoe box of casettes. I then RAN to Vinylmania, and played these tracks I recorded from the radio to Manny Lehman. I found 95% of these records, and I was hooked.
Best DJ: The song Time Machine on the new album. This was also the name of a past album by you in 2009..
I'm sure very producer has a story like this one. When I first recorded Time Machine, no one really got it. I had heard a track from Mike Dunn, that I loved with him shouting out the scene in Chicago. I was like man I need to make something like that. So I came up with the concept of building a time machine, and going back to every grew up in. The Djs. Todd Terry, MAW, Danny Tenaglia, Roger S, Doc Martin. But the track came out and nothing happened. Then over the years as it floated around, it grew on people. In the last 2 years its the first track that everyone asks me about wherever I go. It's really amazing. Today, with technology music travels fast, but since we have so much music coming out each week it also travels slow. We re-launch it to see what happens. I think the song came out too early. Remix single pack is coming. We just finished the video directed by SWIFT. It's crazy.
Best DJ: For the video peek go here:
Oscar P - Time Machine - Open Bar Music
Best DJ: A lot of people don't realize thats you on the vocals.
When I was younger, rapping, breakdancing, lofting, was the culture here. I did all of that. In the past few years I gravitated to spoken word type stuff, on some of my records.
Best DJ: The Message with C. Scott received a heavy response from top Djs all over the world. Was WMC the climax?
WMC was def the climax for it. It was first broken in by Tony Humphries, and Louie Vega, and by the time we were in Miami, it was getting action from David Morales, Frankie Knuckles, Marques Wyatt, Doc Martin, Aki Bergen, Todd Terry, Miguel Migs, DJ Spen. It's an old school vibe that works for a lot of people. MFSB were pioneers. The work we put into it was crazy. We had 2 musicians we found on the subway. It's not all samples, and most of it is replayed. We concentrated on certain sections, because we knew it would be impossible to do a proper full cover. I think we did a good job. Ask Tom Moulton who mastered the original. He said it was close, but he could hear it. I mean, thats a compliment.
Best DJ: What other tracks, and artists appear on the album?
Oh man. Gypsymen aka Todd Terry, Foremost Poets, Davidson Ospina, Christian Scott, DJ Ax, Charles Dockins, Rainy Payne, DC's Born I Music, Moba Sound. My albums are usually a collection of collaborations, re-mastered remixes, and some unreleased material. My fave on the album is The Love Track. I have been getting great responses on this one.
Best DJ: South Africa seems to be very present on your Open Bar Music artist roster.
I'll hopefully be in SA later this year late October. SA is a hotbed of talent. I'm an A&R man at heart, so I love discovering and exposing talent. So in the past year we've introduced Ocean Deep, Lifa Bekwa, Vincemo, Tinozz, ZuluMafia, Dj Ouder, the Candi Bean crew and many talented individuals to the states. I see these guys growing in the music business, and I see them now working with many other labels as well. Thats a great sign. But I just open the door. They have to take their talent and build once the door is open.
BEST DJ: After all these years how do you handle critique?
In all walks of life, you need people to tell you that you suck as much as you need people to tell you that they love you. It goes hand in hand, but that how you grow. I have a solid team around me. People who will slap the ego out of me if I get out of line. It gets the job done. That fear of getting slapped...we dont want that. hahahahahah.
Best DJ: Any upcoming tour dates?
Right now I'm working on an album tour with stops Texas, Hawaii, San Diego, Denver, Berlin, UK, and South Africa towards the end of the year which Im highly excited about. Will be announcing details, and dates soon. The schedule changes each day as we get more offers each week.
Best DJ: What's been the biggest track you played out?
Right now anything by J Paul Getto, Martin Buttrich, Jimpster, Todd Terry, Ospina, Da Capo, Maurice Joshua, Will Montone, Rocco, Pezzner, Cajmere, Migs, Aki Bergen, I'm digging what Franco Du Mulero and Hector Romero are doing, the list is too long. I love house music. All forms, all cultures.
Best Dj: The underground sound seems to be using a lot of 80’s loops right now? Listening to Soul Clap and Art Dept last season at DC 10, and a lot of those noises come from the older machines.
The Nu-Disco sound is huge. Soul Clap are my boys, and I am so happy to see them blow up. I saw those guys put in the work. Recently I saw Art Dept at a Verboten party. Great show. I love those styles. The thing about House music is, its ever-evolving, each generation brings in something new taking it to the future from elements of the past. The cycle comes full circle. That's the great thing about this. Everyday in the music business we we evolve, just like music. Thats a powerful thing.
Best Dj: the future of digital music, where is it going?
Streaming. Streaming. Streaming. For me its in here and now. Its in the details. I think the future is being created in the studio right now. Like we talked about Nu-Disco. People were doing this years ago. It just exploded the the last 2 years. This was the future back then.
Best Dj: You also have a love of soulful vocalists?
YES! I've worked with many great singer-songwriters. Arnold Jarvis, MJ White, Vicky Martin, David Walker, but my favorite collaborator is Marcus Pearson from the UK. We've done some amazing projects together. We just released his new album MY LIFE. You must listen to it.
Best DJ: For a quick listen of the new album go here. Listen on Traxsource
Best DJ: Are you playing on laptop, or CDs?
Generally CDs. I was raised on mixing with the pitch, so gravitating to cds from wax was easy. Though I'm on Ableton alot these days.
Best DJ: What are the next productions / remixes we can expect from Oscar P?
Just finished remixes for Paso Doble, Distant People, Luis Machuca, Benji Candelario, J Fortino, and I'm about to start work on others.
Best DJ: OK. Picture this scene OP. A mothership is about to land with all the musically departed. A Who's Who of spirits from the past to collaborate with you in your studio. Come on, anything is possible. Who is your dream team?
Hmmmm. Do they all have to be dead?
BEST DJ: Nope, go for it.
On Guitars Randy Rhodes, and Jimmy Hendrix. On Piano Johnny Hammond. On Drum Machine Kenny Dope and Todd Terry. On Vocals I gotta have Seal, Jamiroquai, and Michael H. from INXS all together. Then For Remixers to the end product....Carl Craig, Stimming, Nina Kravitz, and Black Coffee. Ok I'll stop...dammit!
Best DJ: Tell us something your fans don't know about you?
I was a hell of a dancer back in my time, and thats where all this started for me. The club circle. The baby powder. SSSSHHHHHH.
Oscar P's BK 2 My Roots Album - is out NOW online at a digital store near you.
BK 2 My Roots Tour
8/4 - Voyager Room, Houston, Texas
8/10 - Norad - Denver
8/11 - Dive @ Candelas, San Diego, CA
8/12 - Souleil, San Diego, CA
8/17 - Lotus Downtown, Hawaii
8/23 - LeThai (Downtown), Las Vegas
8/26 - Huntington Beach, CA
9/7 - Mocca, Cologne, Germany
9/8 - Mocca @ Prince Charles, Berlin
10/4-9 - Mi Casa, Su Casa, Playa De Carmen, Mexico
11/3 - Vardos Club, Soweto, South Africa
11/4 - Shikisha - U Town, South Africa
Date Pending - House 22 - Pretoria, South Africa
Date Pending - White House - East Rand, South Africa