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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 Canada’s Pacific Northwest, the B.C.-based electronic talent TOR (aka Tor Sjogren).

TOR, Vancouver, B.C., Eleuthera Music

What’s it like where you’re living? How did you spend most of your time? I’m in Vancouver and there was a full lockdown the first few months, which eased off for the summer and came back in the fall. I’ve spent most of my time in my apartment. The first few months were rough for me and a bit of a write-off, but after that I was able to be productive in the studio finishing my album. I was also able to enjoy some outdoor activities close to home during the summer, but otherwise trying to be as productive as possible.

Did you lose important gigs, or income-producing work? Like everyone, I lost all my gigs, I had shows booked around the U.S. and Canada along with some festivals. However, we’ve been very fortunate in Canada to have a good support system over the pandemic, which enabled me to work on making music and learning the ins and outs for running a label to release independently. 

Are you doing anything now that can or will produce music-related income? Have you learned anything in the downtime? I learned a lot this year about all the behind-the-scenes things that need to happen to put out an album properly and the details of running a label. I made some good connections and brought some great people on to help with the process, and I likely wouldn’t have had the time or energy to dive into all this if everything else hadn’t come to a halt.  

What are you doing now that’s ultimately constructive to your music life/career? For example, any releases during this period? The new album rollout for Oasis Sky is underway, so it’s been really exciting to start putting all this planning into action and seeing the results so far. And we’re excited about the new video for the latest single, “Riverline.”

In the studio, what’s your set-up? I’m working all in-the-box and my main DAW is Cubase, which I’ve been using forever. I’m comfortable with the set-up and some familiar plug-ins, the SoundToys bundle, FabFilter for EQ and multiband compression, Kush UBK for dramatic compression, and Diva & Repro from u-he for most of my synths.

What’s your creation process in the studio? It’s always a bit different to start, sometimes I’ll start with drums and build around that. A lot of times I’ll start by working out a chord progression and beatbox a drum pattern into my phone. Sometimes I’ll get inspired by a sample and build around that. I’ve found the character of a sound can be as important as the musical aspect to get excited about and get ideas flowing, so I work on mixing and shaping sounds and writing as all part of the same process usually. 

What’s your typical DJ set-up? A lot of the shows I get booked for are for live originals, so I use Ableton Live with all my tracks broken up into stems, which I can mix and adapt independently, which is a lot of fun. I also love playing DJ sets as a separate thing, which can be more immediate or versatile, say, if I had found a new track or made a quick edit of something that day and try it out that night. The sets tend to be a bit higher-energy and I explore different styles than my originals and I’ve got a Pioneer set-up to work it all out on. 

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve realized during this period of social distancing? Just how important it is to take care of your mental health. I’m usually pretty even-keeled, but this year has been an emotional roller-coaster and creating peaceful surroundings and learning to incorporate quiet times away from screens and newsfeeds, especially in the mornings, has helped a lot. 

Have you done anything online recently? I ended up doing a few live-streams from my apartment over the course of the year, but mostly I’ve been happy to stay off the radar a bit and focus inwards on the studio and label work to come back stronger with a bunch of new music. 

Any advice on staying sane & relatively positive through this situation? I’ve found that creating a calm environment and making time to be still and quiet to be very important. Being surrounded by plants and flowers and artwork and peaceful music has also helped. I’ve kept positive by trusting the process, trying not to be hard on myself when things aren’t happening and accepting those bad days along with the good. In the end, it will all come together!

To check out more Life in Lockdown interviews, click here.

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