(Original Photo By: Shevin Dissanayake)
You may be familiar with 43-year-old, DJ/producer, Tommie Sunshine because of his unique appearance – those luscious sandy-blonde locks, or perhaps by his black shades that he seems to wear very often (both indoors and out). Others of you may know him from videos you’ve watched of music conferences, as he is usually either a moderator or speaker on panels. Lastly, you may recognize the name because of how outspoken he is on his Twitter for activism. This dude has been around for a long time. Whether you know him or not, you will learn that he is indeed a very unique and in-depth individual.
Growing up in Naperville, Illinois (a Southwest suburb of Chicago), Tommie was exposed to electronic music and underground raves at a young age. He recalls walking into venues and seeing tanks that were filled with nitrous oxide and other psychedelic drugs. A few of these venues are still standing today and have hosted some of the biggest electronic music shows in Chicago. He always considered himself an outcast and was completely okay with it. He never wanted to be popular, and therefore never really gave into peer pressure. Throughout high school he researched a lot of drugs, but was always too afraid to try any. However, once he graduated and got involved in the nightclub scene, alcohol became a huge part of his life. He would go to the clubs every night, get wasted, and not remember a thing. Eventually this alcoholism escalated into the frequent use of psychedelics such as acid and ecstasy, and then into the use of cocaine. He has traveled the world, but is unable to remember some places because of the intoxicated nights. He didn’t abuse drugs because he felt pressured, he used because he wanted to…because it was fun.
Fortunately Tommie had a wake up call about 10 years ago and realized that he loved himself way too much to abuse drugs anymore. He quit cold turkey and has been sober ever since. He never went to rehab, and only briefly stepped foot into one AA meeting. He realized that his real escape was not drugs; it was music. Electronic music saved his life. Even though he works in an industry that is surrounded by drugs and alcohol, he doesn’t even feel the temptation to partake in these activities anymore. He is not anti-drugs; he is a firm believer in personal responsibility, but understands that he personally is unable to partake in these activities from here on out.
If there is one thing you need to know about Tommie, it’s that he isn’t afraid to be honest and to voice his opinion. While he does use social media to promote new music and shows, his Twitter is mainly used as a platform to speak his mind. You will notice recently that he tweets and retweets a lot about the “Black Lives Matter” movement. This is because he is heavily involved in these protests. Even though others may not agree with his activism, he believes it is important for him to get involved because his opinion does matter. He encourages others to speak their voice and to get educated on current events, and what is happening in the world. You need to educate yourself so that you are prepared for that moment when something does affect you. Lastly, he encourages us to just love everyone. He is a firm believer in PLUR…not just the wardrobe that is associated with the acronym, but he really believes in the actual message behind it: Peace, Love, Unity, and Respect.
If you want to get a more in-depth look at Tommie’s musical journey, path to sobriety, and activism, we invite you to tune into Aspire to Inspire Live TOMORROW (Wednesday) night at 8pm EST.
Twitter Photo: Rukes