Ibiza has been a yearly destination for EDM lovers, but few know that it is also where the dance music industry also gathers yearly for the International Music Summit, where mental health and substance abuse has always been a hot topic of discussion. After Avicii’s apparent suicide this year, legendary global ambassador of Dance Music, Pete Tong, brought up the timely question of whether or not it is “time to establish a support group or fellowship for those in the electronic music industry?”
“Ten years ago when we started IMS, all the talk was about how electronic dance music was going to break in America and conquer the world,” Tong said in his speech. “To a large extent that all happened and is still happening… but people were not supposed to die chasing the dream. I don’t come here today to say the party’s over — but this is a wakeup call to all those involved, to start looking around and see who might need help.”
A professional DJ’s lifestyle seems glamorous and fun, but it is also tempered with hidden pitfalls, which Tong examines when reflecting about Avicii’s meteoric rise. “Tim had no training,” he says, “there was no apprenticeship. He’d not even had a proper job. Some of you here today have seen his documentary True Stories. Whether it’s all entirely true or edited in a certain way — the journey and the results are pretty harrowing, particularly now that he’s not with us anymore … You travel around the world at an insane pace. You collect all the money. You lap up the adulation and drink the free champagne and everything else that goes with it. After a couple of years the anxiety builds as the schedule and demands get more and more intense. The entourage grows and there are now vast numbers of people and companies relying on your business. The bar is constantly being raised. You now rely on the alcohol, the drugs and the pills, just to get you through each day. You’re tired, constantly tired and sick, but you can’t stop.”
During his talk Tong also gave accolades to DJs like Moby, Erick Morillo and Luciano (click to read his statement on overcoming alcoholism and more) for overcoming their addictions and speaking about their journeys to help others and open their eyes that the DJ lifestyle can be a positive and healthy one without the use of drugs or alcohol. Using these positive examples of his fellow DJs, Tong urged the audience at this year’s International Music Summit in Ibiza to take an earnest look at themselves and their peers to understand and recognize if they too are going through similar struggles.
Tong gives credit to IMS for instituting Remedy State, a wellness retreat taking place as a precursor to IMS Ibiza and advocating self-care within the Arts & Entertainment industry through mindfulness, exercise, physical therapy, medical evaluation and nutrition. Tong says that the success of this year’s Remedy State “proves that our industry needs healing, and that people want to be healed.”
If you or someone you know is a musician and struggling, two sources to go to for information and help are MusiCares and the SIMS Foundation.