One of the biggest things I was worried about when I stepped back from drinking was not being able to dance... I know I know there are other things to worry about, but I REALLY like dancing, like a lot. Which got me thinking, are there others who feel the same way? Are there other Sober dancers (wanna be) and Sober Dj's out there? Do they get the same amount of playing time? Do they have the same opportunities as those djs who do drink? I gotta know!
So, I've gone ahead and reached out to numerous sober musicians to interview them about their experiences and this is interview # 1 of The Sober Mix Series by Sober Saturdayz :)
Thomas Scott - Edmonton, AB
Q: How long have you been sober/sober curious for?
A: I have been alcohol free for over three and a half years. I became sober when I had a wake up call from my doctor with health concerns that were easily rectified if I made changes in my life. It was difficult in the beginning as I was not well and drinking was deeply ingrained into my social habits. It wasn’t until I had stopped for the requisite three and a half months to reset my body that I realized that I felt better and lighter without alcohol. I then set my mind to six months, then eight and finally a full year. At the end of that experiment and exercise, I was fortunate enough to be over the social cravings and then began my journey into self-discovery through this new recovery. It would take three years being sober to realize the depth of my own anxiety and mental health issues that became apparent. I then sough professional help and tackle it on a daily basis by using an arsenal of tools I have picked up along the way to work through it.
Q: How have you found it has affected your music career?
A: Being a sober DJ has many implications. There was a time where I thought I needed a shot and beer to start a night and would be wobbly, if not intoxicated, by the end of a set. This is very questionable. The notion that I would need or want something that I felt would set a tone, to feel loose, to feel the beat, I found out was not necessarily the case. I think my technical skills as a DJ became sharper, as it allowed me to interact with audiences in a more lucid state. In effect I became a better listener and I was more empathetic to the dance floor and the people moving to the music. Also my business and interactions with clients became more professional. No one really wants people they are hiring to do a job, to be intoxicated. Believe it or not I was the same fun times DJ and perhaps more so. As a result I have been able to seize opportunities as they came up, as I am clear headed and I am a full time professional DJ and entertainer with more work then I can do myself and now have a team of DJs who work with me to meet the demand.
Q: Did you notice a difference in your playing from when you drank to when you stepped back?
A: I have had instances when I used to drink that I would have people comment the next day after a night in the club and I was intoxicated, that my sets were pure fire. This may have been the case, however the issue is, I did not fully recall what had happened the night before. My dad, wisely said to me once, that if you can’t remember it, no matter how amazing it was to other people, it doesn’t count. It is better to be able to have a recollection of your actions and be accountable for them. I believe that when I stopped drinking it highlighted where I could improve my technic and performance. My craft as a DJ has evolved for the better. For example my track selection, being able to read a dance floor and transitions are more on point. Also DJing is social work and being able to interact with audiences is imperative to be able to deliver memorable experiences for them. In hindsight I have reasoned that with dulled senses it is difficult to deliver top tier entertainment.
Q: Do you find it difficult to play in places that serve alcohol?
A: I am fortunate that I am at a point with my recovery that this is not an issue. Being sober is good for me. I do not preach to anyone that they should not have fun with the use of alcohol. There is a part of my business where I work in bars where the whole premise is to provide alcohol as a part of the entertainment. I am ok with this. It is such a pervasive part of our socialization and there is no getting away from it. However being sober in a venue with intoxicated people can test anyone’s patience. Sometimes there is no reasoning with someone who is drunk. There is no changing bar scene, as it has been the case since the dawn of drink. The only remedy is finding other business elsewhere and getting out of bar and club work.
Q: What tools do you use to stay on track?
A: When I first started with my sobriety, I did research online and watched YouTube videos to give me instruction and inspiration. This was good for me to form new habits. However a difficulty for me was I had to continually remind people for the first six months that I was not drinking. This was the hardest thing, as people love to share a drink with the DJ and it was a relationship habit that was hard to break, as people didn’t really understand why I would stop in the first place. I had to site health reasons and that seemed to make sense for them. By the eight month I was being offered drinks less and at the end of the year it was normalized. As already mentioned with mental health and anxiety awareness I did find professional help and programs that were instrumental for my on going recover. Exercise, eating healthy, writing in a journal and meditation all help. I am also very fortunate as I have a very supportive family and network of friends that have been with me through out this journey. My addictive personality manifests itself in other areas of my life primarily with my diet and that is something I am currently struggling with. I am using the tools I developed when cutting out alcohol in my life to tackle these very real issues. It is a daily grind and I do my best and I am at peace with it all.
You can find information about my service and references on my website.
Instagram & Twitter: @thomasculture