Tommie Sunshine Talks Activism, Music, and The Power of Everyone’s Voice [TMN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW]

It takes a lot to put yourself out there every day – to fight the verbal barbs of the internet community day in and day out, to brazenly express your opinion, even if you might experience unwanted backlash. No one knows this truth better than dance music journeyman Tommie Sunshine. Aside from putting music out regularly  over the course of a few decades, he’s also become quite engaged in the latest uprising of social activism that we’ve seen sweep our nation, and beyond.

One night, we were reading a string of  his passionately charged tweets, and decided to ask him to elaborate in a one-on-one interview. The end result was an in-depth look at his upbringing, dance music, and the state of the world we live in today.

TMN: Hey Tommie, thank you so much for taking some time to sit down with us tonight. Throughout the past year, we’ve noticed how big of a role activism has played in your career, and we’d love to get some insight on that. First off, tell us how this all started for you:

TS: The main reason why this of all things connects with me personally is – when I was 12 years old, I was lucky enough to have a cousin who sat me down on a family vacation. He ran with all the big figures of the 60′s. He went to school with Abbie Hoffman at Michigan State, and he was a huge part of the revolution of that time. At 12 years old, I was lucky enough to get this crash course from him of books, films, and albums.

He was like, “track down all these things, and when you read the books, if you don’t understand them, read them again in two years. And keep reading them until you get it. Once you get it – keep reading them. As you get older, there will be things that you won’t believe you missed that.

“Listen to these albums. Digest the artwork. Like, listen to the lyrics. Feel the music and understand it.” He was like “same thing with the films. Really watch these until you get what’s going on here.”

There was too many to mention, but by the time I was 14, my musical landscape was Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead and Jimi, and The Doors. Which, in the 80′s, it wasn’t that far out of the 60′s. Classic rock radio was still playing it, so I wasn’t so much of an outcast for listening to the music.

Where I hit the road bumps was…here I am living in super upper middle class suburbia, southwest of Chicago, reading William Burroughs, Kerouac, Ginsberg, and Tom Wolfe. I was completely stewed in all this counter-culture. What I was reading was so far ahead of what my life experience was at that time, but one of the biggest things that impressed upon me, was the thing that they were all fighting for the most. Besides Vietnam, which was the obvious thing, what all of those kids were trying to do was fighting for racial equality. At that point, in the 60′s, most white people in America didn’t even really think of black people as so much as human.

This was a real tough time. When we discussed all this, he did not instill a romanticized view of the 60′s revolution, he was very candid about the fact that they fucking blew it. He explained to me how they blew it. How it went into the 70′s, and all these things they fought for, they forgot about.

All the people who were young and fought for that went and got high paying jobs, became the same gluttonous pigs that their parents were, and forgot about everything they were trying to change.
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Catey Shaw – Human Contact (Speaker of the House Remix) [TMN PREMIERE]

Human Contact
Catey Shaw
Human Contact (Speaker Of The House Remix)

New York’s Catey Shaw‘s tune “Human Contact” has gotten a sick disco reanimation thanks to Speaker of the House. Newly formed for this premiere, “Human Contact” is a deep indie pop soiree meant for those who want to community build through the mediums of music and dance, because surely, you will be dancing. Upbeat house grooves with piano chords and other instrumentation make this one a perfect hump day jam to ease the day along. Deep house tends to be pretty simplistic, and although this is so too, there’s more layers to this exciting flip. Highly enjoyable? You bet. After you listen, if you would like to get the song you can do so here. Speaker of the House is one of my favorite deep house producers because of his unique style, which certainly sticks out in this remix.

If you’re digging this remix, or any of the others, head over to iTunes and pre-order the entire EP!

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[Groove] Mark Johns – 5 South (Prod. Alexander Lewis) ft. Brasstracks

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Mark Johns
5 South (Prod. Alexander Lewis) Ft. Brasstracks

Mark Johns is slowly gaining recognition with her sultry vocals, and the latest song she’s penned enlists the talents of Alexander Lewis and Brasstracks for a powerhouse of a Candid Music Group production team. Juggling a little deep house groove, this new song is quite the switch up from “In Paris.” It continues to showcase her range as a prime vocalist for the constantly evolving futuristic approach to music that’s gradually becoming a staple, especially in the SoundCloud community. It was rather nice of her to give US a present for her 21st birthday, and “5 South” delivers splendidly with the bright horns of the Brasstracks crew and the wavy craftsmanship of Alexander Lewis. Don’t miss out on the free download and be ready to see quite a bit more Mark Johns in the future!

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Lucy Mason – Lost and Found [TMN PREMIERE]

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It seems like such an easy formula, doesn’t it? Take some booming percussion, a gorgeous voice, and some light synths or string work to accentuate the lead singer’s tone, and we can call it day. While some may think that’s an easy feat, it takes something truly distinctive and noteworthy to do that well, and Lucy Mason has that down pat.

Facing an extreme amount of saturation can’t be an easy feat these days for a musician within any genre. Whether you’re a singer/songwriter, a producer, or a folk band, the cold, hard truth is – there are a lot of artists out there, and the internet gives everyone an equal opportunity to get heard. One thing that’s often not considered though is the internet’s keen ability to highlight those who shine, which is exactly what has happened for this London-based artist.

After just releasing two tracks, this honeyed vocalist has racked up a sizable amount of plays on soundcloud, and it’s not hard to see or hear why. Her latest release, which we’re more than pleased to bring you today, showcases her ability to to envelope a listener in a few, quick minutes. Calling on associations of She & Him, James Vincent McMorrow, and Feist, this up-and-comer has us staring down the rest of the week googly-eyed with her infectious tune “Lost and Found.”

When asked about this song, Mason had this to say:

I feel like I’ve really found my sound as an artist and this song is a result of pushing myself further and working out what it is I really want to say

This is obviously just the beginning for this quickly rising talent, so make sure to keep tabs by following her on Soundcloud.

Lost & Found
All You Want (Demo)
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[Chill] Nosaj Thing – Cold Stares ft. Chance The Rapper

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Nosaj Thing
Cold Stares ft. Chance The Rapper

Nosaj Thing and Chance The Rapper have linked up before on the breathtaking song “Paranoia,” secretly nestled in his spectacular Acid Rap project, so seeing these two names together again is seriously exciting. “Cold Stares” is a cut off of Nosaj Things’s upcoming third studio album, Fated, and is slotted for a May 5th release. There’s a cohesiveness between these two artists that simply delivers chilled out perfection every time they work. “Cold Stares” enlists Chance for a short verse and slight crooning over the silky smooth Nosaj production that’s sure to melt you on every listen. This one is a must hear, so don’t waste anymore time and hit play above to enjoy this transcendent fresh tune.

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DiRTY RADiO – Can’t Let Go [TMN PREMIERE]

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DiRTY RADiO
Can't Let Go (Beat by: Calvin Harris)

Aww yeah, ninjas. It’s the only time of the week known for having a sexual innuendo attached to it. Whether it was meant to or not, Hump Day make most of us giggle, contemplating what type of adult activities we’re going to get into later. Well, this Hump Day, all you need to focus on is a romantic meal, some scented candles, and maybe some fresh rose pedals. As far as the music goes, DiRTY RADiO has you more than covered with their new tune, “Can’t Let Go.”

Set to the backdrop of Calvin Harris’ “Love Souvenir,” (before his captain-of-industry-edm days), this tune has all the 70′s love-infused funk one would hope for. The bassline provides the perfect backbone for the sensual, longing harmonies, fully enveloping us for a solid four minutes. We can all breathe a collective “thank you” to this Vancouver based trio for that, tipping our collective hats with a wink and smile.

When asked about using Harris’ tune, the boys had this to say:

Before Calvin Harris was a massive EDM producer, he was making the dopest slow jam beats no one was listening to. “Love Souvenir” from his 2007 album “I Created Disco” is a perfect example. This has always been a favorite instrumental of ours and even though it came out a while back, we couldn’t resist writing on top of it.
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[Soothing] James Blake – I Am Sold (GARREN Remix)

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I Am Sold (GARREN Remix)
James Blake

GARREN has established quite the reputation for his work, and even had people stealing it at one point. Thankfully, that situation was rectified, and he’s begun to truly receive the credit that’s been long overdue to him. Every remix he’s released lays a warm blanket of lush synths and refined drum work over our delicate ears and tucks us in at night safe and sound.

His new take on James Blake‘s “I Am Sold” continues this tradition with the aptitude of James himself along with clear influences from Cashmere Cat and more forward thinking artists. His groundwork for success is strong, and while he still is slightly under the radar, there’s no doubt that his time going unnoticed will be short lived. He has demonstrated mastery of exactly what sound he’s going for, and we need to hear more. Grab the free download here.

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