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Six things we learned from the new Secret DJ book

Mixmag columnist The Secret DJ’s new book is out now, and it’s a wild ride behind the scenes of electronic music and club culture

  • Duncan Dick
  • 14 December 2020

We’ve come long way from The Second Summer Of Love

The main theme of the new book is how Acid House, a youth movement looking to change the world, mutated into a global business, with everyone from tech billionaires and petro-states to property developers twisting the culture to their own ends. The Secret DJ Book Two charts four decades of involvement ‘behind the scene’, from the very first raves and those early warehouse parties, hearing tracks like ‘Stakker Humanoid’ played for the first time, to the way the 90s club boom put the lunatics firmly in charge of the asylum, to the blow-out of the Millennium (“a collective brain fart on the part of many of the UK’s biggest promoters”) and through the following two decades of commercialisation and fragmentation.

​The Secret DJ really, really, doesn’t like EDM


Described variously as ‘the endless honking of the idiot trumpet’, ‘white stadium Elvis, gyrating to distract from the fact Black culture is being stolen outright,’ ‘a Michael Bay film in audio form’, the Secret DJ is, well, somewhat scathing about the last decade’s stadium sized take on electronic music. Don’t expect them to be throwing a cake any time soon

​A DJ’s life on the road isn’t always a glamorous adventure

Between encounters with Russian mobsters, the never-ending carousel of motorway service station embarrassment, and an excruciating experience with a venomous arachnid that will make you laugh almost as hard as you wince, the Secret DJ shows definitively that life as a touring DJ isn’t all Champagne, Instagram, and late check-outs.

​The revelations about Erick Morillo may well be the tip of the iceberg when it comes to predators in dance music

One of the most powerful sections of the book is when the SDJ hands over to a selection of women in dance music to tell their own stories, first-hand, of what goes on in an industry that still doesn’t do enough to ensure the safety and happiness of the people who work in it. What emerges is how the power imbalance between ‘stars’, often supported and facilitated by a network of enablers, and ‘workers’, many in insecure jobs, creates an environment that helps predators get away with abuse, often over a long period of time.

​DJ sabotage is real

The new book lifts the lid on the lengths that some DJs will go to sabotage their peers, from small scale acts of aggression like messing with the set-up in the booth or turning the power off ‘accidentally’, to full scale character assassination and wild rumourmongering, to just playing a really, really stinking warm-up that kills the vibe stone dead. It’s a jungle out there.

Coronavirus could be a chance to rediscover the acid house spirit

The book ties in with the introspective mood that’s sweeping electronic music right now with clubs closed and gigs cancelled, and ends on a call to arms to anyone who cares about the dancefloor to remember that when (if) things get back to normal, they can be different, they can be better, and that we can still have an ‘industry’ without losing sight of why we love the culture in the first place.

The Secret DJ Book Two is available now direct from Velocity Press and all good bookshops

A virtual launch party will be held on Mixcloud Live on December 17

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