It takes a remarkable mind to carve out an expansive multi-decade career with little sign of slowing down. That mind belongs to Tommie Sunshine. A man known for his long, flowing hair and proclivity to swirling, rambunctious house music. He is a legend and mainstay within Dance Music.
Over the last nine years, Tommie has built his label, Brooklyn Fire, into the premiere purveyor of cutting-edge House Music. Whether it’s a bit bassier or a bit wacky and tech-y or your standard batch of House, Brooklyn Fire has found and promoted these sounds, always ahead of the curve. It comes as no surprise that today marks the 400th release.
The milestone is achieved with the release of Tommie Sunshine’s collaboration with Breikthru. “Brick By Brick” brings listeners a boisterous, bass-heavy tune that is befitting of such a milestone. The track is an absolute mind-melter with the right amount of punch and driving rhythm that will get the surliest of dancefloors moving in unison.
In honor of “Brick By Brick” and its milestone status, we were honored with an interview of the legend himself, Tommie Sunshine. He provides us behind-the-scenes knowledge of Brookly Fire, industry advice, and an insightfulness that can only come from someone with his impressive resume.
Thanks for taking the time out of your day to answer these questions! 400 releases that’s quite the milestone. Are there any particular favorites?
That’s like asking a parent to pick a favorite kid. If the artist is still with us & still releasing with us that’s a pretty good sign that they are one of my favorites. Also it should be noted that we had a lot of artists long before they broke; we released Brohug’s first original music, TJR was on BF001, Sam O Neall (now one half of Moksi), Wuki, Notaker, Dirtcaps, Afro Bros, KANDY & Mahalo all released with us before they broke.
Was it a conscious decision to have the 400th release be “brick by brick”? A song that utilizes samples “let’s build this house” & “brick by brick” a kind of metaphor or nod to what you built with Brooklyn fire.
Life is about building, learning, creating. Brooklyn Fire has been a force that has surpassed my expectations & is getting ready for a new chapter. Breikthru are part of this new chapter & this is the best way to crack into the 400’s!
You’ve witnessed the dance scene evolve to its current form. What have been the biggest challenges? Is there anything you miss from the pre-streaming era? How has the role of a label head changed?
There are more people doing this now than ever before. Most of them don’t understand the culture where it came from. That puts us an advantage. Pre-streaming music was VERY different, but that was then & this is now & I love the new challenges! I also feel like running a label & actually being the one listening to the demos & making the decisions is dissimilar to many other labels where they slap someone’s name in the bio & they have almost nothing to do with the day-to-day. I could never let that happen; Brooklyn Fire is my baby.
How did Brooklyn fire come to fruition? What was the inspiration to start it?
I had been calling almost every remix I was doing ’04-’09 “Tommie Sunshine’s Brooklyn Fire Re-Touch” & felt like that was the best name for it. Josh (known as his Heavy Bass moniker, Figure) & I wanted to start something that was different & released different music from the rest of the labels out there at the time. His music morphed into something different & I urged him to dive deep into that. I carried on our mission & here we are NINE YEARS LATER still holding it down.
Are there any artists that Brooklyn fire has recently released that you think are primed for a breakout or deserve more attention?
Hate to pick favorites but The Guidance, SLATIN, Haus Of Panda, B!tch Be Cool, Benwah, On Deck, Fahjah, MureKian, Victor Tellagio & Collin Oliver are all set to pop in 2020!
With your impressive career, any advice you can give to aspiring musicians or tastemaker label heads?
Do your thing & listen to no one, including me. There is a general famine of originality & I count the artists we’ve signed as being of the few who continue to innovate for the sake of their art, not to cash in or “make it’. While the industry is worried about ROI’s & social numbers, we keep searching for great new music & release our findings. 2020 is going to be another high point in Electronic Music & we intend on surfing the wave once again!