We scour our mailbox for the most deserving recipient of the Attack readership’s collective advice in the first experiment in crowdsourced answers to all kinds of production and creative problems. No query is too small, no question too personal…

This month’s question comes from a reader unhappy with his life as a touring DJ. Join the discussion in the comments below.

dear attack,

i’m reaching out with a problem that some people might laugh at but others might understand.

my problem is i’m living the dream and for want of a better word i’m lonely.

i’m a pro dj and producer who makes most of his money from gigging. i’m knackered most of the time, i’m not into booze and drugs any more so i’m not bothered about partying with everyone i meet and i’m bored of the lifestyle even though i’m only 33. i miss home and i miss my family.

don’t get me wrong, i’ve loved the chances i’ve had. i’ve really enjoyed the last 15 years or so of my life in house music and i’ve never taken my chances for granted but i’m finding myself sitting backstage with other djs or in hotel rooms alone thinking of home and wandering what the fuck i should do with my life

i’ve thought about jacking it in more than once but i still love music and i don’t know what else i’d really do. loads of my mates have given up and got proper jobs because they had no choice so it makes me feel guilty that i’m not happy even though i’m making an ok living.

what do I do? keep at it? do something else? stop moaning?

thanks guys

anonymous for obvious reasons!!!

 

Submit your questions through the contact page.

26th February, 2015

Comments

  • Start a label and mentor some new artists into the spotlight!

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  • you are not alone man,
    I think this is something that’s happening in all aspects of life of the human beings.
    Not only musicians or DJs. The world is turning around so fast and we are in constant search for instant gratification that it’s really hard to stop and feel sastified with what we have, even value our lifes.

    The life seems to be a lil’ bit meaningless, the world is very unstable nowadays, the values are changing, the education, the societies, why we should be the opposite?. We were educated with the wrong values and desires, in a consumer market & posessions; We are beginning to feel the spiritual emptiness.

    I believe that would be really hard to face the upcoming troubles or deceptions that you will maybe have, if you don’t feel yourself really sastified.
    But at the same time you need to take a decission, I feel you.

    Sometime it’s hard to accept that we change, doen’t mean that we don’t love something, but maybe we are changing and change is one of the firsts principles of life, our cells are changing right now, dying, borning constantly, so we do and we may accept it.

    I would say… (like If I say it to me…)
    Put a edge in the horizon. Keep doing it, but limiting yourself, i.e. “I WILL DO IT FOR THE REST OF 2015, IF IN THE END I STILL FEEL THE SAME, I LEAVE” of that way you free a bit your mind about thinking what do you do, or the responsability of making a decission, at the same time you can focus in your work, (because something without real dedication and passion is something that anyone can do) of that way, maybe you enjoy it more, also free your mind of auto-pressures and also be more objetive to shape your mind of what you really wish.

    Sorry for the long tale.
    We should do what we do, with love and passion, but first we must be in peace with ourselves.

    best.
    Alex.

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  • Great letter. I had a similar experience when I was younger. Won a big load of cash in a lawsuit and suddenly found my struggling artist peers not being able to connect with me anymore. I traveled the world, lived the dream, ultimately it was a fairly empty experience.

    The big takeaway though is that I’ve scratched an itch that otherwise would have held me back as I grew older. I always wanted to travel, lived inside travel books and TV shows… and then I did it. Take a similar approach to music. You love music and you did it. You have the ability to really turn a page and start writing a new chapter knowing that the music chapter was done right. That’s something most people never get to do, they spend most of their lives scribbling about music in the margin of their office job chapter, then their first kid chapter, then they lose the drive to write music at all anymore.

    Maybe go to school and pick up some skills in an artistic craft in which music production knowledge will blend nicely. Study interactive design or Oculus rift development or something. Grow as an artist by stretching your production skills into a new area through education. Grow old having evolved your skill set into a more comfy position in some hip design firm or something.

    Last piece of wisdom, pick up a book called “Guide to the Good Life” about stoic philosophy. A little philosophy is a great way to open doors in your head that you didn’t know you had.

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  • You have various choices but only one life. So stop writing made up letters that may or may not represent the core demographic of your website and go and do something more interesting instead, like play with your kids, which is, at the end of the day, what being a humanoid is really all about.

    ; )

    I love attack btw. And long sentences.

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  • These are some pretty profound responses – probably the only comments section of a website I actually enjoy reading!!

    What Alex said about setting a period of time to test the waters and see if you want to continue – that’s what I would say is a good idea.

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  • How is this in any way relatable for the budding producer/dj?

    Surely most of the people who visit this site would want to live the above guy’s dream.

    Sounds like Attack just making up another Help! article when there plenty of real/genuine submissions.

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  • I agree with Mike here: is this relevant to the majority of Attack’s readership?

    Be thankful that you are doing a job you enjoy and one that most aspiring musicians never realise. Try making something different to what you’re used to.

    I think this is very much a case of ‘first world problems’; if you’re unhappy touring the world as professional dj/being able to produce music all day then go and see a therapist. That or quit!

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  • I don’t know, I think it’s relevant.

    It’s a bit elephant in the room, that for the huge majority of even famous/established DJs, DJing is not really a sustainable way of making a living.

    What happens when you’re 40 with kids, can you still go touring and out every Friday and Saturday?

    What happens when the inevitable “trend” of dance music being popular subsides and clubs stop booking every weekend? I still remember the time after D&B but before dubstep took off, where every local club stopped bookings full stop.

    Thinking about sustainability, and security, of your income is important.

    Is it important for Attack, or even for me right now? I’m not sure, I barely touch my 1210’s once a month, let alone deck in another club!

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  • hey man here and now enjoi this dream if it’s really you dream because can be our dream or the others dream but maybe it’s not yours, so you need to live what you really want and live your dreams and if your dream it’s be arround your family do it you only live once remember? it’s even with the family! cheers and enjoi life!!!!

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  • I think it’s relevant. We all get lost in the dream every once in a while (some more often than others, I supposse.). Stories like this really help me to regain focus on the beauty of making music as an end in itself.

    We have all met musicians who are so eager to be recognized that you can’t help but wonder as to what need they are really trying to fulfill, right?

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  • that’s the reason why i’m happy with dj-ing unregularly in my free-time (i have a normal 40-hours-per-week-job). if you’re connected to your local scene and you know the right parties you can play what the fuck you want. without pressure. from disco to dubstep to idm to hiphop to funk in one set. i really don’t want to do it as a job, it would kill the fun.
    i think what you experience is normal and comes in nearly every job from time to time. maybe alex (2nd comment) is right, just make a date where you’ll see if you’re still interested in dj-ing.

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  • There are 3 ways to know if you are in the right job. Beauty, gain and good.

    Beauty is a job we enjoy
    Gain is a job that supports our life financially
    And good is if it creates value for ourselves and others.

    Doesn’t matter if your a top dj or a school cook if one of these elements are out then the result is suffering.

    Placing value at the top of your priorities is the key. It may be true you are a top dj. That is a fact. But where is the value? The same way if I point at a horse and tell you its a horse. Fact. But if I tell you that a horse can be ridden then that is value.

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  • Be greatful and count your blessings. Shit can and will change in an instant. Plan for the future while enjoying the day. Or even better, go try doing a truly crappy job for awhile and watch how fast you run back to your “unfulfilling” DJ job.

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  • Been there, done that, nearly ended up losing my mental health. I invested the little money I had left into learning how to be a kick-ass electrician. Now run my own building business employing 12. I’m happier now than I ever was during those crazy days. Don’t get me wrong; I loved them. But there’s a time and place for everything. Endless gin, champagne and weed, along with the euphoria of blasting a 10,000+ crowd was a blast in my late 20s. Now I’m a balding 40-something with a people carrier and very little free time, but I like the 8-5. The guys who I work with take the piss out of my past life but they’re more grounded than some of the prima donnas I used to have to sit backstage with.

    Long story short: Do it, enjoy it, and when it’s not what you want any more, move on with good grace and find the next stage in life. Nowt worse than a bitter musician.

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  • Please visit to your doctor. This sounds like undiagnosed depression.

    If your doctor feels treatment is worthwhile. Take the pills for a minimum of six months. Then re-evaluate your position.

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  • Don’t get me wrong – I am not having a go at the guy you sent the letter/email in. I’m sure it can be a pretty unfulfilled and lonely ‘job’ even though to the every day man that is hard to believe.

    My frustration is more with Attack Mag here. If this is a true letter and thats a big IF. Are there not more relevant subject to be discussing than ‘how do I deal with being flown round the world and live the dream’ idea posted above?

    Only one person has come along with any experience of being a big DJ. You’re touching a very small demographic/percentage of people that can even enter the conversation.

    I for one know that are loads of good Help questions sent in all the time to Attack (myself included) and you’ve picked this one?

    When your other articles (which are brilliant) discuss how to create basslines or certain style drums etc then surely questions like ‘How best to send music to labels’, ‘How do I present myself professionally on social media’, ‘DJ etiquette’ etc would be far better suited.

    Anyway just my two pence.

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  • I just want to reiterate what JJ says above. This sounds like some classic warning signs of depression: boredom, guilt, dissatisfaction with an apparently good life, etc. I might be wrong, but I’d definitely recommend discussing it with your GP. It can affect anyone and has nothing to do with career success or wealth. I’ve seen friends go through similar things and it’s not always easy to self-diagnose but discussing it with someone always helps.

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  • sounds tough dude.

    maybe you need to evolve?

    if you still love music, why not try creating it in another way? something other than DJing.

    if the lifestyle is getting you down but you still want to be creative – work on a live show, collaborate with some people, create a new experience for audiences. if you have fans then they will follow you into your adventures. if they don’t then at least you tried to push some boundaries.

    maybe you’re playing it safe – stuck in a groove if you’ll forgive the pun.

    also – take a break. it’ll give you perspective.

    take some of your skills and move in to another area – production or recording or something… ?

    just thoughts. 🙂

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  • If you don’t want it, give it away.

    Get a more fulfilling job in an office, behind a bar or wiping old peoples butts in a nursing home.

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  • I love you guys, and i check the site daily hoping there are new articles cause i find them interesting and I’ve learned a lot from them. but this letter stinks of bullshit. Sorry to say, it’s my point of view, but I think you just made it up.

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  • take a break. pack a backpack, go out travelling into nature for a while. meet an old friend. read a book.

    if this doesn’t help you, go to look for professional help.

    i wish you all the best, and good luck whatever your decision will be.

    @attack: thanks for giving a different view with publishing this letter. the experience the writer of the letter is talking about is part of being an artist, really being it, not dreaming about it, and it is far more important to deal with feelings and thoughts like he has to make art, any art, than to know how to build better basslines, for example. because if you don’t reach the core of yourself, and that is, as an artist, doubt, you will never be an artist. even if you make the greatest music in history, it will have no value.

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  • So many haters in the comments, looking down on this issue which seems to be a big issue with a lot of DJ’s from what I’ve heard. Bit of a shame but that’s the internet for you. Made up or not, it is relevant, especially for DJ’s who want to make it big.

    As for the letter writer, I suggest you go see your doctor! Depression is no laughing matter, and asking for help is not a weakness. There is help out there, you just need to ask for it. Be it meds, CBT or Counseling.

    I’d also suggest maybe looking at your career and having a think about what you want. Do you want to tour for the rest of your life? Or is there other avenues to move into? Label ownership, A&R maybe, becoming more production focused? You might just need a kick up the arse to change stuff up.

    Good Luck!

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  • Echoing some of the more supportive comments here. If the live side of music aint doing it any more, how about label management, management full-stop, writing and production with much less of the on-the-road commitment, A&R… I also liked the idea of mentorship. You’ve obviously gone far… that experience (the plus and the minuses) could change the life of kids coming up through the ranks. Sounds like time for a change either way. At least this way you get to stay doing music.

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  • You’re in luck, our company is looking for another working drone to sit behind a computer for 8 hrs a day to perform menial tasks while looking out over a parking lot.

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  • Everybody here had something i found interesting in one way or another especially those who mentioned the aspect of self worth.. I am experiencing the same kinds of things and let me tell you its a complicated cocktail of many personal issues adding up and working against you. The only thing that WORKS for this is precision. I bet your very creative and compassionate about everything you do , but be warned without structure and schedules not planning your day those issues your having will creep back up and take control because you let fear trump your LOVE… Next time you sit down to work plan your agenda in the most meticulous ways you can possibly supply your work flow… example… rather than fidgeting with randomization or chance or luck don’t leave it up to luck , because if your scared luck has left you. Instead be specific and precise and try to accomplish each task in a sensible scientific way… human beings forget that just because we know the psychology of the mind it doesn’t always mean its not hindering our judgment in some way.. I read this wonderful article somewhere about what music does to us to psychologically to make ourselves perceive a “GOOD TRACK” is good….. basically i came to the conclusion that if you always truly know why you like something you’ll be able to express similar emotional responses in your music to others.. if you don’t and just wing it then id say you need to Wake up realize what your up against and see the big picture quickly… In the past i had some accomplishments as well in music, but what i learned when i fell was that if you come in fear your worst nightmares will become reality.. Im in the same hole only I’m digging my way out in any way i can.. JUST THI NK LOGICALLY 🙂

    BEST OF LUCK

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  • The previous comment, was one of the kind that helps, in my opinion.
    Real experiences with supportive suggestions.

    I come back to this article everyday, and some of the comments doesn’t seem to be of help.

    My problem is similar, (maybe the same), but related to self-steem and the quality of the stuff I release. It’s like I’m not getting the level that I pretend. I’m not amateur, I do this since over a decade, but not getting the quality/style/sound that I expect, frustrates me, and makes me think that I’m not committed to music and also gives me a feeling that I don’t like music production anymore or that I don’t love it enough, then I keep doing other things to free my mind, but I can’t quit. The next day I’m up again wanting to surpass the issue and make music and then over… and over.. and over…

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  • if you are the alex with the second comment, i found yours to be pretty helpful. I can’t share any experience, i’m just a small producer, releasing stuff on a small label, however what many of you write is the kind of stuff that allways kept me from really pursuing a career in music.

    to you alex:

    i kind of struggled with this kind of self-esteem related stuff too. I also produce music since quite a while and for me things changed when i realized that i had to let it go. not to stop it but to let go all my own expections towards my own stuff. when i stoped focusing on what i wanted to sound like, in which genre i wanted to compose, or caring about the quality. I had to realize that acutally, i am not doing music for anybody but me. and it helped me a lot to not acutally just know it but to feel it.
    To the author of the letter: Since i cannot share a lot of experience concering professional djing (but maybe it is not necessary) i just wanted to tell you that i think that you can really feel what you yourself want to do, how you want to decide in the one or the other direction. And maybe it is about the image that you have of yourself, why you feel indecisive, e.g. don’t want to waste the chance…

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  • ALex, I think the answer lies somewhere in the conscious . If you are not getting the result you must micromanage your steps of the process in which you make music, and decifer at exactly which point in the signal, your losing that “magic”. I think this happens to people who can usually conquer tasks with pure hard work. this is not a question of blood and sweat but rather understanding of theory groove signal flow relative volume loudness curves, and all the other minutia that are involved . What I’ve learned most in the past months was yes i DO KNOW an awful lot about music and recording but that understanding only goes as far as its implementation. What i needed to do was decide that this is what I actually want to do and DO IT. Don’t waste your time winging stuff, or toggling through presets all night. rather focus on completion of very small tasks one by one.. Example ” set your rms levels correctly as accurately as possible and i mean accurate. just because it went over 3 db once but still sounds good is not good enough because what happens is those little deficiencies add up and turn into farts. one could argue I’m wrong but lets say you have plans to further process your signals or decide to change or add something guess what you can’t because you have a few small deficiencies that ate the headroom out of what was left in your track… Thats how you get worked into a corner and panic. the best advice i got from mix engineers was to never sacrifice a single audible deficiency because even thinking about that little problem takes your focus away just a bit but enough to side track your mojo and cause your idea to plumet into bad vibes. Any ways , the only time i feel depressed is when I’m unable to accomplish or have failed to get something done and the real truth was lack of understanding or taking small short cuts and not being aware enough I WAS EVEN DOING IT.. if you can’t explain why something doesnt sound right then i think you’ve got some googling to doL) and i don’t mean porn! cheers to the struggle:)

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  • Thanks, WIZARD and moex, yes I’m the same Alex of the second comment.

    I feel pretty solid to give advice for others, because I feel that I have experience, in all the aspects of music creation, hardware, software, styles, concepts, techniques, djing and so on… Actually I have all the tools that anyone can wish for making music, even I dare to say, too much more than an individual needs, I’m grateful for that and I know exactly what I want to get (talking about sound), but taking decissions for myself is another story, very difficult. Sometimes I feel that I need to keep it going, and sometimes I feel that is time to quit.

    Like you’ve said WIZARD, I’ve studied and learned a LOT about music production throughout the years but the value is in applying it before being frustrated.

    I make music, as I told before, since over a decade with a professional hardware studio built, but I get stuck when I want something and I don’t get it, or taking 2 hours to sculpt a kick or a bassline.
    I have 2 options, not being so picky and paying less attention to those details and focusing in the composition (which leads to overall unsatisfied final results) OR paying attention until I get exactly what I want (which leads to get what I want for the base, but not finishing the project and being unmotivated before finish it).

    As you can see, all this is a mess… :-p

    Sometimes I feel, that I need some rigid guidelines to progress, because I feel I can do pretty decent stuff, but I get stuck always in the same place that is not getting exactly the sound what I want for each instrument plus the overall mix.
    If I would have a mentor/tutor guiding the process (and with that I mean an artist/producer that I really admire and able to help me to get exactly the result that I’m looking for) it would be very helpful. I’ve tried it with a couple of producers/teachers but it didn’t work because in the end I always felt that I had more to share with them than they with me. So, I think should be someone that I really love the stuff that produce.

    But well,, I went too much far… 😉
    the neverending story,
    anyways… I keep studing every day, reading, producing, trying to overcome it…

    best!

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  • Try taking a look at your skills and your connections and see what you can do about spicing up your creativity and work lifestyle. For example, maybe DJing house music and the whole scene that comes with that has gotten boring and you could look at branching out – maybe someone you know knows an indie video game developer and you could try branching out to scoring video games; or films; maybe a promoter you know is also involved in theater and you could try composing a house-influenced opera or ballet or something; maybe you have connections to people in a more avant garde scene and you could branch out to doing noise or ambient shows or take your production skills and apply them to doing art installations in galleries or god knows what else… the point I’m trying to make here is to think outside the box. Take a look at your skills, your connections, your fan following, etc. and see what you could do to make things more interesting and engaging for you and get away from the world of constant flying, clubs, and backstage boredom that many DJs, from what I’ve seen/heard live in.

    Maybe nothing else will make you the kind of living that DJing and producing has, but then you could shift your philosophy: maybe spinning house is how you pay the bills and the rest of your time you focus on building something that is more emotionally and creatively satisfying for you. Everyone grows, everyone changes. You can’t keep doing exactly the same thing forever and expect it to be satisfying.

    So you’re bored with DJing. What could you do that you wouldn’t be bored with? Would cutting back on the DJing enough to keep you above water financially but allow you more free time to pursue other interests be possible?

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  • Look into finding something to fill that spiritual hole.
    Read “Bhagavad Gita AS IT IS”, take a walk in nature, or begin to make music that is a deeper form of meaningful purpose in your self search.

    You will find what you’re looking for.

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  • What a first world problem. What you think how many people are unlucky with their jobs? Being a DJ isn´t by far NOT the worst job in the world. Afterall it´s just a job like many others. Grow up!

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  • Go with a professional therapist, you are probably suffering from depression. If you did drugs at some point the brain develops imbalances in neurotransmitters and it can take some years to recover.

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