When the Coronavirus shut us down, clubs and festivals ceased, and everyone was essentially forced inside with no definitive end in sight, DJ Times wondered: How is our tribe coping? How are DJs getting by?
So, we sent out our “Coronavirus Questionnaire” to DJ/producers from all musical genres to find out. During this period, DJ Times will continue presenting the questionnaire responses from talented music-makers from all over the world. Here’s our latest entry, this time from Sweden, the Stockholm-based multi-talent Sailor & I (aka Alexander Sjödin).
What’s it like where you’re living? Sweden took a different strategy than most of the other countries in the world. Instead of a full-scale lockdown, they tried to do something in-between. I don’t like to speculate whether this was a good or bad decision – I guess time will tell. First six months, when my gigs were cancelled, I had just finished my new album, Diving for Lost Treasure, so I decided already in March that this was an opportunity to gain new experiences. So, I started to work in a high school as a teacher – and it was a great experience! At some point, I thought of finally starting to study to become a psychologist; but after a while, I got into making music again which led me to start doing live-streams on Twitch.
Did you lose important gigs, or income-producing work? I’ve lost a lot of income, especially from gigs. Luckily, I had a couple of TV/film placements in 2020, so I still had a good year financially.
Are you doing anything now that can or will produce music-related income? Have you learned anything in the downtime? Right now, I just launched my Twitch channel, which will be my focus, besides releasing music, in 2021. It took me almost a month to prepare and set things up, but now I’m up and running! It’s one of those things I always thought about doing, but never did because there was always something else that needed my focus. Starting streaming was much related to having more time left to learn new things.
What are you doing now that’s ultimately constructive to your music life/career? For example, any releases during this period? Yes, a few, like my recent single, “Call to Arms,” and the CamelPhat remix of “Best of Me,” my collab with ARTBAT, will be available March 5. Other than that, it’s all about streaming. I have a fixed schedule of three times a week, to make it easier for people to plan and make sure they don’t miss out on a streaming session. But I’m streaming almost every day when I’m in the studio. To me, it makes sense to connect to other people – even when I’m making music, I don’t get distracted. It’s also very nice to share knowledge.
In the studio, what’s your set-up? For recording, iMac 2017 (40GB RAM, 2TB SSD), RME Fireface 400 interface, Ableton Live, Logic Pro, and Revox C279 mixer. For synths, Prophet-5 Rev. 3.2, Minimoog Model D vintage, Yamaha CS-50, Roland Juno-6, Solina String Ensemble, Yamaha DX7, Korg Poly-800 and Casio CZ-1000. For drum machines, Linndrum LM-2, Oberheim DX, Roland TR-77, Roland CR-78, Boss DR-110, and Elka Rhythm machine. For guitars and basses, Fender Mustang guitar, Squier Mustang bass and Fender Jaguar Baritone guitar. For effects and pedals, Roland RE-501 chorus/echo, Boss RV-10, and Golden Age Pre-73.
What’s your creation process in the studio? My process is a lot about brainstorming ideas and building songs from there. I usually just plug in a random instrument and then things start to happen. This is what my streaming activity on Twitch is all about.
What’s your typical live/DJ set-up? Most of the time I do a hybrid set, where I play live for 60 to 90 minutes and then I DJ until they ask me to stop. When I play live, I use Ableton, running loops and stems from there and creating arrangements on the fly and improvising with synths, guitars, drum machines and vocals.
What’s the most surprising thing you’ve realized during this period of social distancing? How easily “castles made of sand” fall apart. This entire scene that’s focused on being the artist playing most shows, earning the most money, and getting most exposure is a dangerous path – both for the industry itself and for the mental health of everyone involved trying to compete. I think this situation might have some upsides in the long run, to give everyone a new perspective of what is really important.
Have you seen any DJ video streams that impressed you? On Twitch, I have watched a few different streams. But something I watch daily is the show of my friends, Super Flu. They’re doing a great Home Office show.
Any themed tunes recommended for the moment? A few months ago, I discovered the band The Blue Nile and their album, Hats. It’s basically the only thing that I’ve been listening to since then.
Any advice on staying sane & relatively positive through this situation? Connect to other people – don’t isolate. If you’re feeling lonely, call a friend. When it comes to business-wise, keep doing what you love. If that is doing DJ sets, make them online and build your audience over the platforms. If you need money, look for a side job.
To check out more Life in Lockdown interviews, click here.
DJ Times Magazine is copyright © 2021 by DJ Publishing, Inc. www.djtimes.com