Sometimes the music business seems like it’s not a very friendly place. It can be difficult to know whom to trust, and this can feel isolating. I can’t possibly underscore enough the importance of finding people who can serve as mentors in some way, shape, or form. Had I not done so I would have probably given up several times over by now. Fortunately I have several artists in my life who paved the way – long before I’d opened up a music production program on my laptop – who have been kind enough to show me love, knowledge, respect, and guidance. Sunshine Jones is one whom I admire deeply.
I can’t remember when I first met Sunshine. I know that I first saw him play live on New Years’ Eve from 2003 into 2004 during Dubtribe Sound System’s farewell (for the time) tour at Polo’s Blue Cube in San Francisco. Somehow as a raver growing up in the Northeast I’d missed out on the Dubtribe phenomena, as my ear and dancing shoes were geared towards the more pumping sounds of Chicago DJs; the peeps I enjoyed from the West Coast at that time were the likes of DJ Dan, Donald Glaude, etc.
I don’t recall if we were introduced that evening or not, but San Francisco is a small town and we had some friends in common so sooner or later we became acquainted. I was having my first taste of success throwing underground parties that were pretty popular and Sunshine took my grandiosity in stride with a knowing smirk and a glint in his eye. He would later tell me that when he met me it wouldn’t have surprised him if I came out to a DJ set wearing a codpiece. If you don’t know what that is, google it.
Perhaps owing to Sunshine’s grace and tolerance we developed a friendship. I recall a lot of afternoon chats over cups of tea in the Lower Haight and Castro, with a huge range of conversational topics. It was great to get to know one of the most humble, sensitive, focused people I’ve met in a deep way. In April of 2007 Sunshine got me booked to open for him and Doc Martin at Remedy. This was such a big deal for me; when I moved to SF I would go out every Friday night to Remedy and breakdance my heart out. I felt honored and privileged to be there sharing the decks with such legends, and we began a professional relationship in addition to our friendship.
Over the next few years we did a few gigs together (one was called Depth Charge and had the coolest flyer ever – it even has the original Rock It Science clip art logo!) and when Dubtribe reunited I had the honor of doing their first couple of bookings back in San Francisco. By this time I was learning to produce and launching a label. Sunshine was very open with his experiences doing the same. It was great to have someone to bounce ideas off of. It was a natural fit to have him remix the 2nd release on my then-new label Rock It Science Laboratories, for which he did a gorgeous disco version of my buddy Native Intelligence’s tune Peak Time.
My last couple of years in San Francisco were difficult in many ways. As I’d expanded into bigger clubs and began playing out of town a lot of the local bookings from independent promoters which I relied on dried up. My label wasn’t growing as fast as I wanted it to, and my production wasn’t catching on quickly. I felt discouraged, and would often ask Sunshine for feedback, advice, or just stories from when he was coming up (if you’re lucky you may get to hear some of them…this man has some incredible things to share.) One day he was asking me what was so bad and I explained that I didn’t feel as though my music was getting me anywhere, and that nobody was hitting me up for remix work. With tears in my eyes I admitted that I was thinking about folding my label and giving up. Right then and there he asked me if I would do a remix for him on his forthcoming album.
I was and am very grateful for the opportunity. Needless to say, I have yet to give up. I got the album (Gas Masks and Crazy Girls) and was in love with Fall Down immediately. With any song I like, it’s a bit daunting to do a remix because I don’t want to tarnish the original track. My goal in this remix was to make something that was true to the original while showcasing some of the sounds I had been tinkering with at the time. In this case I felt that a spaced out, minimal version of the track would be beautiful, while still preserving some of the warm soulfulness of the song. I hope I achieved that vision.
With trepidation I turned over the remix to Sunshine and was so happy when he told me he loved it. It was even more of a boost when I got the word that the remix would be officially released by Holland’s Cosmic Disco Records! My confidence in my production has grown a lot since then, and the move I’ve made to Los Angeles has been quite fruitful. I don’t feel so downtrodden and instead feel as though I’m striding in the direction of my dream while reaching my goals along the way. However it is without a doubt that I submit that I would be nowhere at all without the support of those who came before me.
Please get to know the writer of this amazing song, and tune in with him on Sunday evenings as he bares his soul for the world on his 90hz.org Sunday Soul broadcast. Sunshine, thank you so much for all of the love, tolerance, guidance, and respect you’ve shown me. I am a better man for knowing you.