He'll take you to eclectic avenue
Celebrity DJ Tommie Sunshine is returning to share his genre-less interpretation of dance music, writes David Momphard
Tommie Sunshine knows what's truly important in life: love and music. Not surprisingly, things such as talking to reporters while changing planes in Miami en route from his home in New York to a gig in Lima, Peru, are not so high on this musical all-rounder's list of priorities.
'Hold on just a minute,' he says after answering the phone. 'It's my girlfriend on the other line.'
Sunshine, 36, known to his girlfriend as Thomas Lorello, is recognised by clubbers for his sunglasses, long tresses and a salt-and-pepper beard.
Although he's been DJing his entire adult life, it's only been in the past few years that his brand of infectious electro and genre-less chaos has fired the imagination of many in the music world.
After hopscotching his way through South America, the dance music aficionado returns to Hong Kong after a year's absence for a third spell behind the decks at Volar tomorrow night.
'I just played at Roberto Cavalli's villa in Florence,' he says, back on the phone. Cavalli needed
to photograph a collection he'd designed for Swedish fashion company H&M, and wanted the photo shoot to be a party. Instead of staging one, he threw a real one with, as Sunshine puts it, 'every famous model on the planet' and celebrity photographer Terry Richardson. 'I DJed, the models danced and Terry took pictures all night long,' Sunshine says.
When Cavalli flies you to Florence you do it because you don't want to disappoint the Italian fashion designer - or the models. Similarly, when Bjork invites you to Reykjavik, Iceland, to play the wrap party for her world tour - you do it because she's a friend. It's hardly work.
But the reason the producer is getting so many gigs these days is because, according to the hirsute one's website, he has been continuously putting the needle on the record for the past decade or so during various spells in Atlanta, Chicago and many other US cities. And all this graft in the DJ booth and elsewhere has culminated in what he calls 'remixography', covering a who's who of the music industry past and present (and not just dance tracks) from the likes of Good Charlotte, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Fischerspooner, the Killers, My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult, Scissor Sisters, Shiny Toy Guns, Greenskeepers, and many other acts.
'I fortunately-slash-unfortunately suffer from a pretty substantial pot addiction,' Sunshine says. 'So anything that is pot music is pretty much fair game.'
Beyond that, the source material isn't really important, he says. 'If there's something in there that I think I can turn into something viable for the dance floor, then I do so. All that matters is, when I'm done with it, it's going to sound like Tommie Sunshine.'
He's just completed remixes for Junkie XL and Carlos Santana's new single, and is about to start work on Avril Lavigne's next release and a Felix da Housecat track. Previously, Sunshine turned Elvis Presley's Suspicious Minds into an even more danceable track.
While Sunshine's remixing skills have earned him respect, his DJ sets have earned him a rave reputation. 'I used to play in the second room at parties because I didn't know how to mix,' he says.
He would play everything, including old disco, early hip hop, old new wave, acid house, early electronica, industrial records, old soul and 'whatever I thought was supposed to be the next tune was the next tune'.
'My eclecticism stems from those days. I've never really done it differently.'
His music today, he says, can be distilled down to house music - albeit a twisted house music - shooting as much from the hip as ever. 'The way I play is an extension of the way I see the world: one minute things are groovy, and the next minute things are kind of banging - maybe a little over the top. But isn't that how life really is?'
Tommie Sunshine, tomorrow, 11pm, Volar, B/F, 39-44 D'Aguilar St, Central, free (members), HK$200 (non-members). Inquiries: 2810 1276