What should we tell our kids about raving? Kristan Caryl finds out, with help from rave parents including Bill Brewster, Dinky, Krysko and more…
The dance music lifestyle is a hedonistic one. The drink, the drugs, the endless hours spent in dark and sweaty dungeons all take their toll and take a while to get over. Even if you don’t do drugs, sleep deprivation alone does strange things to your brain, especially as you get older.
So what’s it like to return home to a dirty nappy, teething baby or a moody teenager who needs a lift into town? How does it change enjoyment of the night before? How does the night before impact on your private life? We asked a selection of DJs to reveal all. How did their own parents deal with the scary news that their offspring were chasing the DJ dream? And how will they react if their own kids want to follow in their footsteps?
The disco don wonders how to parent properly.
It all happened organically for me, so I went from working as a chef, to running a football magazine, to working for Mixmag and then moving to New York. My mum is old (my father’s long dead) and I have no idea what she thinks of it – she’s too far out of the loop to have an opinion. By the time I was earning a living mainly from DJing, my mum was so confused about what I did anyway.
I’ve been taking my children to festivals with me since they were tiny. My daughter’s been to at least 30 festivals over the years. They just knew what I did, I guess. When my daughter was nine, she asked if I was famous. Now she just takes the piss out of me.
My wife and I (who I met in Fabric) have always tried to tell them the truth about anything they want to know, but we’ve also always tried to keep the information age-appropriate. I never lie to them about this stuff, but I might occasionally gloss over certain things because they’re too young to understand. I think it would be completely hypocritical to say “don’t do drugs” and also irresponsible not to be honest.
I suppose there’s a slightly surreal element to it at times, but I often don’t have anything more than a bottle of water myself [when DJing], so although I’m part of it, I feel a certain distance from it compared to when I was younger.
I think the main thing I’d would advise my children is to have another skill or interest, because it’s a notoriously fickle world and you can go from flavour of the month to out of work in a very short space of time.
Distinguishing between real life and club life is important for this multi-faceted label boss, DJ and producer.
Since DJing was something I decided to do as an adult, there wasn’t much my parents could say. But I am African and what that means is that, culturally, the only acceptable career option is something like a doctor or lawyer. Though I always had musical aspirations from a very early age, it was not something that I could have expressed freely out loud. When I initially started getting involved in DJing in the early 90s, my father was highly critical, but when he heard my first record his attitude about it changed. At some point he also saw videos of me playing and thought it was cool. My mother always says as long as it’s making me happy, she’s good with it.
As a DJ, producer and record label owner, my business has always been run out of our home so my children have grown up with it. There is no wonder about what I do, it’s pretty clear to both my kids. They naturally love music and developed their own tastes pretty early on. They have both, at different times, asked to learn how to DJ and how to make music. In fact my son is heavily involved in making his own productions now. And yes they have seen me not fresh from a gig after having played all night, which means have some breakfast and let mummy sleep for a little while!
We are honest with our kids as is appropriate for their ages (nine and 13). We teach them about making good choices and being held accountable regardless. In that scenario some aspects of my life might come up in conversation and it makes sense to add that in the conversation. But my kids, like I think most kids of this generation, are incredibly informed about drugs and a lot of other things – my daughter even had a class on it in school – so I think it’s better for them because it is demystified, there is no reason to seek it out in rebellion or out of curiosity.
I am in my late 40s. I have seen a lot and done a lot. There are times when I am in the club when I feel incredibly old and question my life choice as a DJ. But I know who I am and when I am playing, if I can make a connection to the people spiritually, then all the drugs people are on, drunkenness etc doesn’t even penetrate my being. When I return to the ‘real world’, life goes on, bills have to be paid, kids have to go to school, meals have to be prepared, and honestly I don’t miss the clubs at all – in fact I hardly even go out unless it’s someone I consider really special.
My kids will do a lot of incredible things because they are loved and supported no matter what. They will also make some dumb ass choices for sure – we all did and do. If they want to DJ or not, they know that I will pass on whatever knowledge and insight I have, but I will also expect that they take their time and learn the craft. Regardless, I think the best thing I can do for my kids is give them my support and love, then they will be successful in anything.
Honesty is key for this long time Panorama Bar resident.
My parents always thought DJing was fun and since I was supporting myself and doing what I liked, they were super happy about it. They do understand what it is, as I have been touring as a DJ for so long. They are still fine with it, but they sometimes seem concerned of the amount of traveling and my health.
My kids are very young (two and three) so it’s still early for them to understand, but they have seen videos of me. They know I am touring and they were in my tummy at my gigs until very late in my pregnancy. I played sat on a chair in Panorama Garden when I was eight and a half months pregnant!
When they get older I am sure I’ll tell them some crazy stories. I’ll be totally honest and will provide the information they need to make their choices. I can’t tell them not to do drugs. Even if I have not done any drugs I feel high after coming home from these club spaces, so it’s nice to see your kids after being in a party environment. They bring me calm.
The Warehouse Project resident reckons any hobby is better than boredom for young kids.
Where I grew up, and being a parent now, I can see how the most dangerous thing for a young teenager back home was boredom. Although I lived in villages close to the Yorkshire dales I went to school in a really rough town, and hung out around that town. Heroin was rife. Many older brothers and sisters of my friends fell into it. We’d be around them a lot, but a core group of friends discovered rave in ‘91/92 and that was it. If we were being little scamps trying to get money, it was to buy records. When I got to about 16 or 17 and could sneak into raves around Leeds, my mum knew what I was up to. At that age you genuinely think your parents weren’t young themselves, but she’s told me since that she felt much happier I was out in this scene rather than out drinking in the town.
I don’t think I’m going to hold back on anything I tell my son (depending on the age I’m telling him, of course), but eventually I’ll be telling all I reckon. The early years especially, but even the whole 20 years so far, I’ve been part of such an inclusive culture that has truly shaped who I am. I’ve been all round the world for ‘work’ but never thought of it as such. I can pretty much go to any major city on the planet and meet up with people from all walks of life that I know and hang out with as friends, or kindred spirits I suppose. Some of them I’ve only met once or twice, but as anyone who’s been involved in the same will tell you, that’s all it takes… to be able to give this kind of brief synopsis of the benefits of immersing yourself in any scene, music or otherwise, it’s a no-brainer.
Having started DJing as a teenager, the Beste Modus and Unison Wax boss knows her own daughter will soon be wanting to follow.
I never planned being a DJ, I always did it just as a hobby. When I finished school I didn’t know what I wanted to do but my teachers told me to try software development and I finished university as the only girl in my year with one of the best degrees. My parents have been so proud of me but they never understood why I didn’t start my own company. When I quit my job to just make a living out of music they were pretty shocked, but it was more because I have a daughter and they probably thought I wasn’t able to put enough food on the table. But I think they kinda knew I was ending up as a DJ a long time before I knew it.
My mom was always proud of me but I think my dad doesn’t really trust this job. When we met for Christmas, I said to him: “Dad, I’m 37 now I don’t really need any prezzies or money from you, keep it for yourself.” And he answered: “OK, if you don’t want the money, keep it for your daughter, ‘cause winter is coming and she might need new clothes…” as if I wasn’t able to afford new clothes for her.
My daughter knows what I’m doing ’cause she came with me three or four times when I was DJing at an open air where people were able to bring their kids. And of course she watched my Boiler Rooms. She loves it. When she is talking about my job with her friends, I can tell that she’s very proud of me.
Of course she has seen me many times coming home just from a gig. Music is such a big part of my life, I will definitely have to tell them about my early years without her. I will of course keep some stories as my secrets but I think I would be absolutely honest about drugs. I believe that if I forbid her to take any I only make it more interesting for them. Thank god I have always been very responsible with drugs and never took too much or even every weekend.
I really hope that she will also be very responsible and not overdose if she’s trying drugs. It scares me sometimes if I see young girls in clubs taking lines like the tall boys who have been doing it for ages. There’s nothing worse than overdosing. That’s why I hope she will be honest with me and tell me if she took some drugs. I’d rather know what’s going on and have it kind of under control than she is doing it behind my back and I don’t know anything about it.
I always love to come home and have some quiet time with my daughter. I guess after 22 years of going out and also DJing I’ve seen and heard almost everything and it’s nice to have a normal life next to all the party madness. What I also love about having kids is the structured everyday schedule. I think this is also a big reason why I never struggled with depression or anything, ’cause my life is very structured with my daily routine.
Sharing is caring for the Retrofit label head.
My parents were always supportive of my choices. While DJing and bedroom producing as a hobby in my late teens and early 20s I also worked a few industry jobs such as music PR, record shops and distribution before turning to production and DJing as a full time career – so I kind of eased into it via more ‘normal’ jobs. They are still happy about it now, although it’s led me to living abroad and doing a lot of international travel, so I’m sure they’d rather I was at home in the UK a bit more.
My boy is just three next month, so he’s a little too young to grasp the concept. He’s been to a few of my more low-key gigs, like Ibiza beach bar venues or some more kid-friendly festivals, which he found fairly amusing. Although now I think about it the last time he kept grabbing me and trying to pull me away from the decks, so I had him removed from the booth by his mum.
I think I’ll tell him anything he’s interested to know. At the moment I like to think I’ll be totally open with him – maybe that’ll change as he gets older, but I doubt it. I think the more honest communication with your kids the better. Plus I look forward to being one of those embarrassing dads boring his teenage mates or girlfriends with tales of my antiquated adventures.
At the end of the day pretty much all young people are going to get exposed to drugs through friends and peers at some point so it’s best for parents to be available with honest advice if they have it. Straight up prohibition or avoidance of the subject can increase divides between teenagers and parents. I think if it comes to my attention that he is experimenting I would give him ‘the talk’, let him know what I think is and isn’t OK and tell him it’s fine to come to me for advice if he wants to.
Personally I really like having the balance of work and private life, it’s great to be a part of the wild, glamorous clubbing and DJ world and come back to wholesome activities, like feeding the ducks or reading books together. I think it makes me appreciate both worlds – if I was still only clubbing and travelling loads or had given all of that up just to be a parent I might not enjoy either as much. Of course, after kids you have to be responsible, you need to have your wits about you at all times – as a parent you never know when you might be called upon day or night to be there for them, so knowing your limits is a must. Also, young kids are totally exhausting, so getting plenty of sleep is important.
The Classic co-boss has a lifetime of lessons to share in order to help guide his children.
My career was never really a conversation I had with my parents. I never had that kind of relationship with them as I was living in London, away from home, doing my own thing, so it wasn’t until they started to see my name on flyers that they started to become inquisitive. My dad has always been fascinated by it all. He came to Space at Bar Rumba a couple of times and I took him on tour to Japan once. He loves to talk about the industry and understand how it all works. Both my mum and dad are proud, so that feels good.
It took years for my children to understand the actual concept of my career and they still get confused by the difference between DJing, producing, remixing and A&R. It’s only really recently that they’ve started to grasp it all. They came to Glastonbury and Croatia with me last year, and my oldest had a bit of a light bulb moment: Dad actually has a cool job. They ask me about fan moments, and whether the gig was good. My youngest always asks and is super interested. When they were young I came in late from my residency at The End and we built a Lego rave at seven in the morning, which was loads of fun.
I’m selective with what I tell them [about my younger raving days]. I talk about my travels and my friends, but it doesn’t go beyond that. We’ve had a few ‘difficult’ conversations, but I’m very guarded about the information. There’s nothing they need to know really, but I can use my experience to guide them as they grow up.
I’ll openly answer non-personal questions they may have, as we have that kind of relationship. I lost a close friend from alcohol abuse and they are very aware of the grief that I went through throughout that experience and it being part of the reason why I don’t drink now. We talk about addiction and reasons for that. I think it’s good to keep them well versed in such things so they can make educated decisions as they get older.
I’m not sure whether I really want to encourage them to be involved in the music industry as I am not the world’s biggest fan. My oldest has been working on music though, and that excited me, but he wants to get into film, so who knows where that will lead – they are very similar industries.
The Danish dub techno don says no to drugs.
My parents always supported me. They knew I was obsessed with music already when I was very young, like seven and eight years old. When I started to save up money for a sound system and big speakers it was quite natural for them. Maybe they got kinda surprised when they found out how loud these home-made speakers could play when I turned up the volume in their basement, where I lived the last couple of years before moving out.
I think when I moved to Copenhagen in 1996 they knew that this industry was what I wanted to do. Not only DJing, but working with this kind of music in general: record shops, labels, producing, etc. When I started to play all over Europe beginning around 2000, I think they realised that this was maybe a little more than just a hobby. Today they think it’s really cool that I have seen and visited so many parts of the world.
My children know what I do. I have always been open about my jobs and career – why shouldn’t I? When they got a little older, around five and six, I started to explain the different roles I have had, and what I’m doing now. Many times they have seen me tired after a long weekend, or gigs, but never super wasted, drunk or anything like this. The last five years I usually only travel for DJing on the weekends when I don’t have my kids.
I haven’t told them about all I have done over the 25 years of working in this business, but if they are curious I can tell them all – I have nothing to hide. I will always tell them to stay away from drugs. I have never tried them myself, it’s not a thing for me. Music has always been my drug. I have seen many people going down that route in different ways. Not nice.
The best thing is always to come home again. It still gives me a lot of energy to do the shows, travel and all, but when you get older you appreciate more and more what you’ve got back home: the real thing.