Good day world! Hopefully everyone has been maintaining safe and healthy, spending quality time with family and of course for us artistic types, hopefully staying busy creating. After all, even during these times of lockdown, art and culture are what people need most in their lives outside of the bare necessities. Our next special guest here in our At Home – Creative Isolation series runs a similar parallel with myself as not only being a DJ but also a musical journalist who reviews many of the new releases on his Flea Market Funk site. In addition to writing, you can find him playing parties across New York and New Jersey and co-runs one of the best dance nights in New York, SHAKE!. As a man who wears multiple hats which includes much more than writing about music and playing music, we’re honored that he took time out of his schedule to shed some light on how he’s staying mentally, physically and creatively healthy during the pandemic and hopefully you, the reader will be able to apply some of what he’s going through to your creative output. Ladies and gentlemen, coming to you live from Greenville Studios, DJ Prestige!
Skeme – As a DJ and writer, being out and playing parties as well as reviewing new records for Flea Market Funk is a major part of your life. 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?
Prestige – Honestly, I’m actually taking time to try to do things as a normal person, which is weird to me. Normal like ordering a pizza on a Friday night. Even when I had late nights, I still got up early, wrote, did social media promoting, answered emails, check out records sent to me, links to new music to review, etc. That all still goes on. However, when this all hit, I was lucky to be able to pick up some work. It wasn’t all smooth though, but I eventually settled into something which is way out of my wheelhouse. That’s challenging for sure. It’s work, and it’s from Monday to Friday. I talk about my routine a bit below. I have been writing an awful lot too, creative, and otherwise. I started the Records In The Time of Corona interview series, talking to global record shops about how and what they are doing in this very weird time. It’s still a way for us to connect. Our industry and community are really going through it. Even though we can’t visit the shops, we can still be in touch with each other, share music over the internet or phone, and get a piece of it that way. I hope that these interviews help fill the void of not going to a shop as best as they can. I’ve also got back to more Big Ups interviews and have been making a bunch of mixes. That’s a great way to be creative for me; digging through my own crates and getting very deep with the mixes. Not just the same records you hear on mixes over and over. I have a Jazzy Joints Volume 2 I’m working on, and I do mixes for Friends and Lovers radio every two weeks. I did a Loft tribute set for IMR Radio in Paris this past weekend, which was a lot of fun. I’m doing the Analog Blend with Rabble & Lion Coffee. We pair a bag of whole bean specialty coffee with a 45. It started out on April and has got some subscribers. If you like coffee and vinyl, you’ll dig, hit us up. I do the monthly playlist on Spotify, so that’s a fun and creative way to spread some music and vibes.
Skeme – With labels and pressing plants closed for the moment, are you finding it difficult to find content to write about on Flea Market Funk or has there not been a drop off of music being released?
Prestige – There’s still enough to write about in my opinion. There were releases scheduled, so my emails have not stopped with people trying to promote music. I’m sure eventually things will slow down, but what I will do is focus on more interviews, more Op-Ed, more culture pieces to make up for the lack of releases. I really want to get this Big Ups book going, but it’ll always be a work in progress for now.
Skeme – Do you have a specific place at home where you work or spend most of your day?
Prestige – Greenville Studios. It’s the top floor of the house, and it’s where all my records, my equipment, my desk and computers, and a lounge are located. I also have a separate listening room where I can just go and play records on an audiophile system if I have the time. I’ve been doing that a lot on the weekends because there are no gigs and really no place to go. If I wasn’t doing a M-F, 9 to 5 thing, I’d probably be spending almost all my time here. I’d be reading, creating, doing more graphic design pieces, etc. I try to get that time when I can, juggling a bunch of other stuff though at the moment.
Skeme – Now that you’re not leaving the house as much, do you find yourself caring less with getting dressed or do you still have a routine that keeps you balanced? 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
Prestige – My routine is the same, although it’s modified a bit. I get up at 6 am every day no matter what. I make a French Press of coffee. I grind the beans by hand, it’s very cathartic. I’ve been drinking the coffee we roast at Rabble & Lion, but also a company called Devoción from Brooklyn. I then go up and start writing. I’m out the door by 8 am Monday to Friday and back by 5 or 6pm. I then start the routine with the family and maybe after that I can make a mix or read a bit. Maybe listen to a record. Weekends I do the same, but try to take more time for the records, etc. As far as changing, I have been in shorts and sweats at home any time I am in this house. When DJing online I have put on jeans, lol. What inspires me to be creative is the same that has inspired me all along. Do different things. Not doing the same stuff as everyone else. DJing online is great, but I can’t compete with Preemo, D-Nice, or the RZA on a Saturday night. I have to really find my niche and do something different, like a Sunday afternoon. Whether it’s writing new content for Flea Market Funk, making a mix, or playing a set, it’s got to be what others aren’t doing.
Skeme – With most DJ’s 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?
Prestige – I do. Everyone is now a bedroom DJ. Look online, there are tons of DJs, famous and not famous online every single hour of the day. Some notables DJs are on constantly. I can’t compete with that. I’ve even seen interviews with legends saying to stop asking for donations when you DJ. Why? We have all got to do what we can to survive in this time. If you ask for a Venmo donation, I see nothing wrong with that. You’re doing what you can do to survive at the moment. Not all of us are sitting on piles of cash from years of DJing and can just DJ for free on the internet all day while getting paid from a TV or radio show. We hustle, we work as DJs, and we enjoy what we do. Shouldn’t we still be able to profit from it? This is still a free market, so let’s all do what we have to do to make it work. My state has not yet got their gig unemployment or PUA together, so the world is still turning and we have to make money. Also, there are DJs out there killing it online. Philly is hitting it hard. Cosmos Baker, crushing it on Fridays. Rich Medina has the online gig on lock. With the visuals too! Scratch Bastid has always done online stuff, but his interludes are becoming next level. Big Ups to them. So much positivity and that’s what we need. Also, this week, the bedroom DJ was featured in The New Yorker, so you know that it’s hit the mainstream now. (D Nice kinda put the bar too high to reach from the get-go, so we all just have to find our slice of the pie anyway we can). I’d also say that if you are a DJ out of work, put your damn pride aside and do what you have to do to make money right now. It’s not going to go back the way it was for a while. Maybe not ever. Until this is all settled, we have standardized testing, ways we know that we can get some sort of control of this crisis and real information from science, not just words floating around by unqualified, failed business people, I’m not going to put myself back out there like I did before. Do I miss DJing? Yes. Do I want to die or contribute to someone else’s death because they are rushing to open businesses, bars, clubs open? No. Many of these places we played at may or may not be able to survive this crisis. That’s real talk. The future of the DJ is uncertain, so my advice is to be prepared for not being able to DJ as we did for a while. Keep diggin’ though, even if it’s in your own collection. Stay creative. Stay safe and healthy.