For over 25 years Oscar P has been shaping his own path in the electronic music landscape, his definitive and diverse style a reflection of his multi-cultural influences and experiences. Raised in Williamsburg Brooklyn and Manhattan’s Washington Heights, Oscar’s music fuses a combination of Afro-Latino and deep house beats with nods to the underground scenes of NYC, Chicago, Detroit, and Africa. His devoted work ethic and a never-ending passion for all things music has driven him to accomplish amazing things in his career, such as top 40 releases on labels like Strictly Rhythm, Tool Room, Naughty Boy, and Balance Music, and remixes for major artists Jamiroquai, Adele, Omar, Mark Farina, KiNK, Soul Minority, Todd Terry, & Physics. He’s played at renowned venues around the world including The Works in Detroit, Output and Cielo in New York, Cinema Club in Bogota, and Stereo Montreal.
His work behind the scenes has made an equally important impact, as he operates two of the most respected underground house labels, Kolour Recordings and Open Bar Music, and co-produces West Coast Weekender, a boutique music conference and festival at his home base in San Diego, California. Attracting people from all over the world, West Coast Weekender is a celebration of music, dance, and culture, dedicated to creating an uplifting and positive experience for the underground music community.
FRISKY News caught up with Oscar P to take a glimpse into his world, and to see what it takes to make it in the underground house music industry today. Read on to find out more, and be sure to tune into his FRISKY Artist of the Week set, where he will be showcasing his signature style with deep and afro-house tracks from new and established artists. Tune in live on Tuesday April 28th @ 2 PM EST [convert timezone] or listen any time after on-demand with FRISKY Premium.
I’d love to start by hearing about what’s currently going on in your world – is there anything you’re excited about that you can share with us?
Right now currently like everyone else I’m trapped in my apartment, isolated with my wife and wondering WTF is happening to this planet and how long this is going to last. The Uncertainty is what kills you. The economy is now at a standstill. I see many small businesses closing and many people will not be able to bounce back from this. It’s very disturbing.
As you are involved in many different aspects of the industry at once, could you share some insight into how this is affecting you?
Absolutely. I wish I could talk more about what we do at the company….but really…is that important right now? Most producers that make a living are not playing the stock market or investing their money into other sources of income. So they are the most in danger of losing everything just to survive. its a difficult time. As far as West Coast Weekender we will have to make an announcement soon and push our event back like everyone else. We had a hopeful wait and see approach but that time has passed. An announcement will be made soon as we discuss new dates.
Do you think there are any conflicts between business and creativity? What do you think are some of the key factors that have kept you driven to succeed, and have ultimately contributed to your success?
Not really, because I divide the two sides weekly. It’s impossible to do everything at the same time…But things that I do every day to be successful? Things I try to practice daily?
KEEP TRACK OF MY TIME! You can’t buy time. Every week I have a system that sets up my work week. Mondays and Tuesdays are for distribution, contracts, and record labels. Wednesday mornings are for event promotions. Wed evenings and Thursdays are for studio production and remix work. Fridays to Sundays are for gigs, travel, or checking out events. I try to keep this schedule all year round. If I take care of the schedule, it takes care of me.
TREAT EVERYONE WITH RESPECT! Treat everyone professionally, no matter what. The guys and legends that came before us. There would be no ME or YOU without these guys. We are influenced by what we hear and you learn from the guys that came before us. Most people these days are very entitled. They want things overnight, but it doesn’t work that way.
SET GOALS BUT DON’T DAYDREAM! It’s more than ok to say…I want to be the best DJ in the world. I want that #1 slot on Traxsource or Beatport. If you are not thinking this way then pack your bags. Believe in yourself. However be realistic. If you don’t put in the work it’s not going to happen. Most people don’t set goals because there’s a chance, you may fail. Failure only comes when you don’t try. We grow from mistakes. Everyone makes them. We’re human. It’s OK.
DISCONNECT! This one is hard, but I’m working on it each day. Most people sleep with their phones by their beds. Getting notifications, tweets, emails. You need a break from the Matrix. It will still be there tomorrow. The work will still be there. My best ideas I get at the gym, or in the shower when I don’t have my phone. Now at night I leave my phone in the home office, but I still have to work on that some more.
OPEN THE DOOR FOR NEW TALENT! Bottom-line, without new talent, or new faces you don’t find the next big star. There is no industry without new people coming into it. Think about it. How many people want to be producers or become Djs? This feeds everything. New Blood. But when you are on the top floor you have to send the elevator down, and let others come up. A lot of guys did it for me. You do it where you can. It’s very important. But I must stress that people who want open doors also have to earn it! There are no free rides in the elevator. When you earn something people respond to that. It resonates. This guy isn’t trying to take from me, he’s trying to contribute, and be a part of it.
JUST DO THE WORK! Stop complaining. Stop worrying about what everyone else has. Stop thinking why him, not me? Stop procrastinating. Most people have success because they work hard. Most guys that you think came out of nowhere didn’t. You just didn’t see the journey. The time you spend on this stuff, if you applied it to doing the actual work. That’s 90% of the game right there.
What is a valuable lesson you have had to learn along the way?
This business revolves around relationships and your reputation. Every year I’m amazed at how someone from 20-25 years ago affects my life today because of strong long-lasting relationships. It’s the most important thing in my life. If people respect you, it will take you far.
Can you share with us some of your most influential moments in music that inspired your life’s direction?
Learning about my African heritage was a game-changer. I was born in the Dominican Republic and came to America at 2 years of age. The Caribbean was a hub for slavery into the US. About 600,000 slaves were transported to America. About 310,000 of these Africans were imported into the Thirteen Colonies before 1776. About 40% directly and the rest 60% from the Caribbean. We speak Spanish, but we are not Spanish. We are of African descent. I used to sit and wonder where my talent for creating music came from. I never learned this in school and my parents were not musicians. My father’s side came from a small town called Elías Piña off the border of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Music is in my DNA!
What are some of the aspects of the early days that you would like to see more of in today’s scene?
Teamwork. You may have heard this one before. But it’s true. There is No I In TEAM! I have several people who work with me, and who look after my best interests. Everyone from my wife, to my business partners, to my distribution staff. They help the machine run. No one does this alone. I could not be here and do what I do without them. You may not always see them, but without them I really couldn’t do this. They are essential and irreplaceable. When you find people like that and have them in your life…treat them the way you want to be treated.
What would you say is the most rewarding part of working in the electronic music industry?
If you want to be successful don’t work for just money. Think bigger. The work I have done for free over the last 20 years is what got me here. It built my resume. I know this because I have done it. Today I work on things that get me up in the morning. It doesn’t mean you have to be a fool, and let people take advantage of you, but a great body of work will bring you money. Sure the bills have to be paid, but if you don’t feel the project, don’t take the remix gig. Believe me it shows in the work. People hear it and see it. Being successful in life means having Passion for what you do.
Sometimes Passion can overcome talent. But you can’t invent passion for your work. You either have it or you don’t. I have seen talented people, way more talented than me not succeed because they have no passion for the game. If you don’t respect the game, don’t expect the game to respect you.
When it comes to the music you produce, release, and share, what are the qualities that you think are most important for it to have? Regardless of genre, is there an underlying factor that remains the same?
Work ethic = staying power. These days talent is everywhere. But the guy who puts in the work is the last man standing.
What are your goals with your labels Kolour Recordings and Open Bar Music?
My goal is to be in business 50 years and go down as one of the best independents labels in history. Not who made the most money. Not who had the mosts hits. But having real musical legacy. I’ve gone through the eras of vinyl, cassettes, cds, and now digital. It’s about the long game.
If there was one thing that you would want people to know about Oscar P – what would it be?
I beat my own drum! Not everything works for everyone. There’s no ONE way to succeed. Everyone is unique. Every situation is unique. You learn from people who are doing it. But what works for them, may not work for you. You have to analyze it, try a few things and see what you can apply to yourself and your situations.
What can you tell us about your Artist of the Week mix for FRISKY?
I’m very diverse musically as a DJ. The 2 hour set showcases new and established artists in the deep house and afro house genres. I hope people enjoy them as much as I did making them.
You can find music from Oscar P at Bandcamp