November 3, 2017 Off By Editor

In a revealing new documentary investigating the reality of what being a professional DJ is really like, from the hype and parties to relentless touring and the toll that can take on both physical and mental health.  

“It’s a crazy life… I think there’s an expiration date on your own sanity and trying to keep human with being a DJ.” – Seth Troxler

In an online world of glossy YouTube videos and Instagram-ready stories, where life appears to be one giant VIP party, does the reality of being a professional DJ live up to the hype? It’s a career envied by millions, but it’s one where the job and the accompanying lifestyle are inseparable and often indistinguishable. How can DJs handle the pressure, knowing every night they’re expected to rock the crowd, no matter how they’re feeling? And how do they cope when the party, and possibly the success, ends? ‘Why We DJ – Slaves To The Rhythm’, a film from DJsounds.com, investigates.

Following the success of last year’s ‘The Underground Sound of Paris’, DJsounds.com is back with a new documentary. ‘Why We DJ – Slaves To The Rhythm’ delves deep into the psyche of the DJ, exploring the motivations that drive people to pursue a career behind the decks and the effects stardom can have on their mental health.

In refreshingly candid, sometimes even brave, interviews from artist managers, tour managers, music industry professionals and DJs including Carl Cox, Luciano, Seth Troxler, Erick Morillo, B.Traits and Pete Tong MBE, in ‘Why We DJ – Slaves To The Rhythm’ we hear stories of the lofty highs and plunging lows DJs can experience on a daily basis.

The reason I’m playing this song is because I feel it, I understand it and I want you to enjoy it. Carl Cox

Through their testimony, plus insight from Dr Alinka Greasley, Associate Professor of Music Psychology at the University of Leeds, UK, the documentary questions the impact of a DJ’s nomadic lifestyle – always moving from gig to gig to perform for thousands of adoring fans before returning to the solitude of travel – and what kind of long-term effects that lifestyle can have on their mental health, relationships and general wellbeing.

Ben Pearce is one of the DJs who lays bare his story in the 40-minute film. “I was drinking every day and chucking my life down the drain. It got to a point that I knew that if I didn’t do something about it, I wouldn’t be around much longer,” says Pearce, while Canadian DJ, B.Traits, also explains how rapid success affected her personality: “I went through this quite depressive stage. I had anxiety all the time, every day.”

‘Why We DJ – Slaves To The Rhythm’ provides an honest look at the lives of professional DJs from the point of view of the people subjected to a relentless schedule of travel, sleep deprivation and creative pressure, while constantly under the social media spotlight. For the first time, the film examines how DJs can suffer from conditions such as imposter syndrome, opening up the discussion about the sometimes-dark places artists can easily find themselves in when they’re off stage.

‘Why We DJ – Slaves To The Rhythm’ will premiere at a very special screening during the Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE) on Wednesday 18th October 2017 from 18:00-20:00 CET. The event will be held opposite to the DeLaMar Theater at the YouTube Lounge (in The Koopstroobar) in partnership with AFEM and Help Musicians UK. The documentary will then be available to watch for via YouTube & DJsounds.com

If you’ve been affected by any of the issues raised in the film, the following organisations may be able to provide advice and help:

The Association for Electronic Music

Help Musicians UK

Your Green Room