Rev Shines At Home – Creative Isolation

When you’re young, it seems as though you’re constantly in contact with your friends on a regular basis finding out the scoop of the week, what record they’ve finally found or pair of kicks that they’ve copped to add to the collection. But as we get older, those calls seem to be much less frequent and social media has become the way of keeping tabs on everyone and what they’ve got going on. All of my previous guests in the At Home – Creative Isolation series conducted here on Nostalgia King are all long time friends and artists who have inspired or influenced me in some way creatively or in life, and that rotating inspiration is what keeps each of us going. Sadly with the worldwide pandemic which we’re all experiencing at the moment, it made me realize that as a friend, I haven’t done my part in reaching out on a regular basis to people just to check in, have a laugh and see how they are doing in general. That alone is one of the reasons why I began the series, to check in on folks and to see how they are getting along mentally, physically and creatively. It gives me a moment to reconnect with them as well as hopefully sending out good energy into the world for other artists out there who may be struggling creatively during this time and pull some inspiration from these featured guests.

My next guest who really needs no introduction but for those not in the know or those who need a little jolt to the noggin, Rev Shines is an all around thoroughbred in the DJ / record world, with absolutely great tastes in just about everything that he’s into and knows how to make it all work. He’s the connect that your connect talks about in high regards and has put a lot of the well known record guys up on pieces that they never would’ve known about. His Mass Education For Your Ears mixtape from 2007 kept diggers digging in search of grails while his 2018 sold out 12″ release with Conway once again solidified why he’s nice on the beats and a talent that can’t be denied. In the present pandemic era though, Rev has been keeping busy with his Good News Daily mixes to keep ears open and give listeners something different to listen to when there’s so much content in circulation of DJ’s going live. The series dives deep into his crates with curated themes to give short but sweet 30 minute sets each day. Just enough to wet the appetite of the listeners ear and short enough to make sure that they’ll tune in on the following day to get another dose.

But enough of the formalities, ladies and gentle, Rev Shines!


Skeme – Now that DJ opportunities have come to a standstill, how are you shifting your creative time to fill the void of being out late nights and finding new records?

Rev Shines – Like many people around the world, I’m unable to perform my normal work duties right now, but during this time of “isolation” (I’m very fortunate to have my amazing partner, Adriana and two Bengal cats to keep me company), I’ve been able to clear my head of most “work” and just create whatever I want. Revisiting LP’s and discovering gems that I’ve been sleeping on has been especially fun.

Skeme – What does an average day look like for you during the quarantine?

Rev Shines – A day in the life of Rev Shines! I start the day with coffee and light grub, then move around with a walk in the sunshine before I lock myself in the studio. I typically spend 2-3 hour chunks listening to music and working on my own music and take breaks to stretch, go outside with the cats, and eat snacks.

Skeme – How are you staying mentally and physically healthy?

Rev Shines – On the physical tip, pre-Corona I walked two miles/day a few times a week, and have kept that up during isolation. Stretching and light exercises have been really important too (Or so my physical therapist told me) and try to incorporate this also. I’ve actually dropped just under 15 lbs in a few weeks and that alone will keep me motivated to stay healthy.
On the mental, spending more time with my partner Adriana has been really great, but we’ve also been strict to find space and time for ourselves alone – The daily walks, gardening and reading have been good activities for finding solitude.

Skeme – Do you have a specific place at home where you work or spend most of your day?

Rev Shines – Most of my time during quarantine has been spent in my music studio which houses all of my equipment and about 1/3 of my record collection (About 2,500 records in this space). It’s been great to have limitless time to really utilize and explore the possibilities of my creative space. With the daily grind of the pre-Corona “Normal life”, I never had time relax and get inspired in here, so feel very grateful and a big reason why I haven’t felt bored or burnt out!

Skeme – I see a lot of posts from people who say that they haven’t put on real clothes in weeks because they aren’t leaving the house. Is this the same for you, and do you find yourself caring less with getting dressed? Or do you still have a routine that keeps you balanced with a sense of normalcy?

Rev Shines –  The first week of quarantine, I was feeling super motivated to be as creative as possible since I wasn’t sure how long we’d be on lock-down. Because I was just hitting the ground running each morning, eager to start listening to music and make beats, I found myself in my pajamas most of the day. Once we realized that this was going to last for a while, I created a rough morning routine: Breakfast, neighborhood walk, shower and fresh clothes (I’m a pretty casual dude though, and pretty much stay in sweats and tees). Doing that plus a shave/cut every 4 days or so are mandatory. Buy clippers if you don’t own a set!

Skeme – What’s inspiring you at the moment to stay creative and productive so that when this period of isolation is over, you can set right back in and keep it moving?

Rev Shines – For me, it’s important to stay tuned into a high-level of what’s happening with the virus and to have empathy for so many people that are affected directly – But also not to let the news take over my mind and spirit. With so many other creatives quarantined and tapping into social media, I feel like my network has instantly been expanded, chatting with other producers, listening to up-and-coming MCs, watching live Q+A’s, etc. I’ve also enjoyed just being present in my own space, and managing my own time. I’m staying open to all ideas about how to keep my momentum up once we return to “normalcy”.

Skeme – I’ve been paying close attention to your Good News Daily mixes that you’ve been doing. How do you go about picking what to play for each set?

Rev Shines – Thanks to you and everyone else who’s been tuning into my Good News Daily mixes! They started out as a hodgepodge of whatever I had been playing and listening to at the moment. Not long after though, I went really deep into my record collection and pulling out things I don’t always get a chance to play. Then, events started happening like the unfortunate passing of musical greats Manu Dibango, Mike Longo & Bill Withers, or most recently the now legendary battle between Preemo & The RZA. Sometimes this makes picking the tracks easier but it can also complicate things a bit. Either way, it’s been fun responding in real-time with these mixes. It’s also a perfect way to keep my skills sharp.

Skeme – With most DJs going live and streaming to fill the void of playing in clubs, do you think this will ultimately affect the club-going experience in the future?

Rev Shines – On one hand, I feel like the party floodgates could open and there will be tons of events that will need DJs. On the other, I’m not totally sure if people (myself included) are gonna be super eager to get back out into large social gatherings. I’ve always been kind of slow to get on board with technology, but now’s the time for DJ’s and other entertainers to familiarize ourselves with as many social media channels and ways to charge for our art via the web. We’re creatives, most of us should be able to use our abilities and adapt to the next wave. I’m also putting more energy into things like production and edits that I can do from home, to supplement gig income.

Like everyone else, I have no clue where things will be in a year, month, week, or even tomorrow, but for now I’m gonna keep on keeping on.