Book Review: The Secret DJ

It’s hard to define ‘The Secret DJ’ into a category. One thing for certain, though, is that it’s a worthy read.

I picked this book up in my local HMV last week. I had seen it on the shelves before, and thought about buying it before. It was £3.99. It would have been a waste not to. As the author himself says, there is not much writing about the lives of DJs or the world of EDM. This is certainly the best book I’ve read on the subject matter. It’s incredibly rare that I will go from buying a book to having finished reading it in under seven days.

‘The Secret DJ’ is an intense biopic documenting the highs and the crushing lows of the music industry, and life itself, from the perspective of a DJ who wishes to remain anonymous, dressed up loosely as a thriller. I could easily see this being a TV show. The 12 chapters are less like continuations, more like episodes. The DJ himself has admitted that this is the case, certain aspects of the story have been shuffled around, and some of the people involved have been condensed into one so that the story is easy to follow.

But it is not only that. There are deep, meaningful passages about the meaning of humanity and what society really believes and how it actually works, based upon his own life experiences. Although at times it feels like he just enjoys having a good rant about the naivety of youth, and the bad, rude and self-righteous behaviours of my generation, it always comes back around to having a deeper point, whether it is about the development of the internet or the position of humanity and music in the post-truth world.

The book is divided into two, rather like an old cassette or record. The A-Side has the greatest hits. The man at the top of the world, the ridiculous characters such as Tour Manager, who crash every party across the world, and have a great time doing it. Yes, there are obvious underlying problems, and rather like all music, the DJ hints at a darker meaning and a bad side to fame the whole time. The drug use is heavy and fun at times, but also dangerous and covering up many other issues. It’s fascinating to see an insight into the person on the other side of a nightclub, the one who makes the magic happen. He’s there to make everyone have a good time. That’s a lot of pressure.

The B-Side has the crushing fall. The Secret DJ goes deep into the world of drugs, mainly prescription drugs. He doesn’t only take it from his own perspective, but also that of society. He details in pretty graphic detail how his battle with prescription drugs finished his career as he had known it, and almost finished him. More than once. By the end, he has gone to a very dark place. But he emerges from the other side, ready to keep fighting and defeating the challenges which lay before him. Suddenly, all of his warnings and life lessons take on a whole new meaning.

The main take away from this book is a message of love. Music is the only thing which can truly unite people. And together, people are the only beings which can help other people. We need to be there for each other, and music is a great way of doing that. And spare a thought for the DJ in the club who’s not getting paid nearly enough money to try and make your night the best of your life. It might look like the best job in the world, but god, it’s harder than you think.

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