The content of the Editorial & Opinion section does not necessarily represent the views of The EDM Sauce.
This is my own experience. My opinion. Not trying to teach, preach, discriminate, persuade, or anything. Just putting it all out there.
I love drugs. I love MDMA, I love acid, I love cocaine, I love ketamine, I love meth, I love nitrous and I LOVE heroin.
I love getting fucked up.
I love girls who hate their fathers.
I love manipulating people to get what I want.
I am a drug addict.
And honestly for a long time I was a terrible person.
I was the guy at the party who would steal your wallet then spend all night helping you look for it.
And although none of this has anything to do with EDM, in some ways it has everything to do with EDM. Because this scene, the music and the people, nearly ruined my life and then saved my life.
I started going to EDM shows in 2008 mainly because of my love of ecstacy. Back then it was ecstasy, Molly (“pure” MDMA) was hard to come by, there were sketch pills that rarely contained any MDMA, and I loved it. I went to see jam bands, indie artists, house, trance, whatever. And doing drugs added to the excitement. It gave me energy but mostly it made everything fun and easy for me, a person who was otherwise really awkward in a social setting. I thought I was shit and yet thought I deserved the world. In my eyes my life was boring, lame and unimpressive; but drugs offered an escape.
To be honest though, my parents are awesome and my childhood was fine. I don't have an grand excuse… though I know a lot of people do.
I attended the concerts for the drugs. At shows I could get high, make new (usually equally as high) friends, relieve stress and feel pride for being part of the counter-culture. I was rebelling the fuck out of my life, at least for 3 days out of the week. I would plan out festivals and concerts weeks and months in advance. I would have my cover stories for my parents made up and moves planned out. I was a master at chess. I could handle my shit, too. No one really knew that I was getting totally fucked up for half the week. And I felt like I was living the dream.
Of course, there was the problem of the other 50% of my week. After awhile I couldn't have fun at work, or at home, or at school. If it was even possible I became more awkward in social settings without drugs to rely on. I was getting addicted to the lifestyle and drugs. My life started to crumble before my eyes. My grades started slip, relationships started to implode, I couldn't hold a Job, and I could not bare to admit the embarrassment that I had a serious problem.
My cash flow was impacted. This was an obvious problem as I could no longer afford to buy the drugs I so desperately wanted. I should add, at this point it was no longer just smoking pot and taking ecstasy and acid at concerts. I started taking painkillers to medicate the depression I was falling deeper into. Painkillers introduced me to new people. And these new people introduced me to heroin. It was not long before I was a full junkie shooting dope to just be able to function. It was not about getting high anymore. It was about not wanting to die every time I woke up.
“I can’t drink in moderation, and I have no interest in being a civilized drinker, I like dive bars, I like doing tequila shots with homeless people, I like doing bags of drugs that I find behind toilets – which has happened a few times.”~ Moby
My time as a heroin addict was pretty short. This is mostly because heroin addicts always run out of money pretty fast. I wasn't a great drug dealer because I usually did all the drugs I was supposed to sell, and I couldn't hold down a job to pay for any of that. I'm a fairly smart guy, and I figured that I would find out a way to get the money I needed. Crime.
My plan was not successful. I wont go into details but the results were shit. Life shattering. Parents weeping. Friends shocked. Local News coverage. Jail.
In short, readers, I was totally utterly fucked.
Looking back it's hard to pinpoint where things had gotten so bad. Plenty of people did drugs with me and never became addicts. I don't know any statistics and if I did they wouldn't matter. If you are the 1 out of 100, you're fucked. If you're the one out of a million, you're still fucked. At the time it didn't seem like a big deal, but along the way I chose drugs over my friends, my family, my girlfriend, my school, my job. It sounds huge and obvious looking back, but it was all little decisions made in various moments over the years that led me to this point.
Some people are able to take a break from drugs and continue to party. For me this was not the case. I needed to change, or face the reality I was going to die or spend the rest of my life in jail. I needed to get sober.
As I was getting sober, I would listen to the music and reminisce. I wondered if I ever really liked the music at all. But I quickly realized I actually loved it. Listening to (to name a few that especially helped me) Kaskade, Deadmau5, Pretty Lights, Above & Beyond, Tiesto, Jack Beats, Wolfgang Gartner, Afrojack, Markus Schulz, and Avicii, I felt emotions that I'd never felt when I was rolling my balls off in a crowd. Sometimes I cried. Sometimes I was happy, even sentimental. Before I thought that drugs stimulated these emotions. But without any drugs, totally broken, I realized drugs had been a wall in between me and the music. I became hopeful. And soon that hope turned into faith that things were going to be okay. That I was going to be okay.
As my love for the music grew, I wanted to go back to live events more than ever. I was terrified though. What if I couldn't stop myself? Could I even dance sober? Will people judge me? The questions and self-doubt were endless. But in 2012, I went to City Bisco in Philly and it would end up being the first show I'd ever attended where I didn't get fucked up.
“What happened was a mixture of things, to be honest with you, I went through the finality of a divorce. It was completely overwhelming. I lost a lot of weight and I was not feeling well. I was feeling ill, feeling sick and I just sort of lost my luster, if you will. I was in a really dark place emotionally and health wise and it just all took its toll. Not to mention the partying which I need to get out of my life. That’s another area which I’m working on. I lost control for a little while.” ~ Eric Morillo
It was was weird and it was awkward and it sucked. A lot. Sure I would love to say that I went and had a great time with total confidence but that just wasn't the case. I smelled the smoke, saw the drugs and people who were under the influence and it was difficult. I wanted to get high, more than anything. I was scared and vulnerable. But at that moment I chose to ignore the fear and I decided to focus on the music. What genre is this? What BPM is this track? What song was the DJ transitioning into? I would recall facts about each DJ. Pretty much anything to distract myself.
After a few sets of music I started to get comfortable. I realized that I could dance while sober, even if it looked like I was stroking out. I realized that people did not look at me different or even care. For the first time it was not all about me. It was about the music.
The next morning was when I got the best surprise of all – I remembered everything.
An actual real memory that involved emotions and that was special because of its uniqueness. Parts of it were boring or sweaty, but it was real and totally my own.
From that point on I never looked back. It would be a lie to say I never have slipped up since, because that is what addicts, in recovery or not, do. I have so many memories of incredible experiences. I remember the first time a live performance moved me to tears in sobriety, which was Above & Beyond at Electric Zoo 2013. I remember being able to meet some of my favorite artists and have coherent conversations with them instead of blindly begging for an autograph while trying not to swallow my tongue. But most of all I was able to see how incredibly special and filled with love the Electronic Music generation really is. I made connections with people that were more than locking eyes with a stranger when you both ‘were really feeling it'. I made friendships that lasted far beyond the end of the night and that are not constrained by distance or music preference. I really learned that EDM is a melting pot for all the freaks, geeks, cool kids, bros, ravers, hipsters and uniqueness that makes up our incredible microcosm of a world. I was finally able to truly understand what Kaskade was saying when he talked about how music was the most powerful drug of all.
“You can still enjoy this performance and have a great experience sober.”~Kaskade
It has been a long journey and because I had to fight so hard for it, I appreciate my life, my family, my job and my school. I still get caught up with going to events and constantly need to remind myself that life is a balancing act, and I more so than others need to maintain that balance or else I might fall back into old habits. I have friends who are sober and friends who aren't and I love them both the same. I don't judge anyone who enjoys doing drugs as long as they respect my decision not to. I have learned more about myself through EDM culture than almost any other aspect of my life.
I read the headlines like everyone else. The media says that EDM is dangerous, that we are a culture of drug use and irresponsibility and wild antics. I am, or I guess was, the person they are talking about. Maybe you are too, but who cares because we are also a culture of freedom of expression, love, friendship and understanding. All of these things can be true at the same time. EDM attracts all different kinds of people, those who are there for the music and friendship as well as those who are there for the drugs and general debauchery (to quote Jack Beats). Good and bad,we are all in the same place, under a sky full of stars sharing the special bond of this thing we call music.
Without drugs, I never would have found EDM.
With drugs, I would never have interviewed Tiesto.
Isn't that crazy? Life is a trip…I cannot wait to see what comes next.