House DJs Discuss the Mental and Physical Toll of Touring

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Pete Tong
Pete Tong at Blue Marlin Ibiza. (Photo credit: Alex Caballero)

In 2016, Avicii surprised the dance community when he retired from touring at the age of 26 due to health concerns. Now, more DJs have shared their struggles in a new documentary from Pioneer DJ’s DJsounds.

Why We DJ – Slaves To The Rhythm explores what drives DJs to put themselves through rigorous schedules and the toll it has on their health.

“I’m addicted to the feeling of connecting with a crowd and controlling the vibe,” says legendary DJ Erick Morillo.

The New York City native’s sentiments are echoed in the documentary by renowned house DJs like Pete Tong, Carl Cox, Seth Troxler, and Ben Pearce.

With their addiction to performing comes consequences, however. The side effects include deprivation, loneliness, drug and alcohol abuse, and pressure from fans and management.

“I was deeply unhappy,” Pearce says. “I was drinking every day and basically chugging my life down the drain. And I think it got to the point that I knew that if I didn’t do something about it, I wouldn’t be around much longer.”

Tong adds: “It’s a very hard job to get any sympathy for because everyone has this image in their heads of private jets and spraying champagne. But the touring life of a DJ is really hard.”

The documentary was premiered on Wednesday during the Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE) in association with Help Musicians UK and the Association for Electronic Music. Both groups are dedicated to helping musicians with mental health issues.

Watch it below.

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