November 2012. Drug — especially ketamine — consumption at parties in London hits a new “high”, literally. And acclaimed artists on labels such as Crosstown Rebels step up and deliver the perfect lounge-back low-swing: Fur Coat’s “You And I – Cocaine and Ketamine” with its slurry voices is an iconic anthem for the high society. Tracks which seem to be the lullaby of our generation eschew responsibility, thus reflecting the irony of todays fast-lane-drop-out society, by consuming even more. It seems as if values have gone completely overboard, with almost everybody heading freely into “the more the better”.
Even hardliners tone down and talk about legalization, as it seems drug use — whether legal or illegal — is just part of our everyday life. Instead of changing our habits spinning out of control, it’s simply become acceptable to be out of it. It’s so normal to see passed out people on the dancefloor and ambulances driving in and out of festival grounds at a steady rhythm that no-one even mentions it anymore. As it’s not only become normal to accept the wide-spread drug use, it’s also become normal to use “recreational drugs”, which are, as the fun name suggests, simply something to unwind with, whether that’s on a Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday or Tuesday. As long as it’s fun!
Hardly anybody is questioning their habits, and neither DJs nor event organizers or anyone else in the industry for that matter is trying to use their influential position to take a stand against drug (ab)use. With excesses being socially accepted, be it binge-drinking, taking uppers, downers, anti-depressants, or whichever medication suits our very needs, it’s a tough one to actually be the party pooper who speaks up and questions the procedure. As about 70 % of the population use some kind of drug, whether it be legal or illegal, there is hardly anybody left to speak up to. So…
Whilst old veterans in the scene simply see drug preferences and fashions shift whilst use is on the rise, newbees often feel estranged by the excesses, yet do not find alternatives. Does being into electronic music mean being into taking drugs? Is it not all about the music? It almost seems like it, something that outsiders often misinterpret and judge as “it’s impossible to stand this bumbumbum without being drugged up”, thus leading to major discrimination throughout the nation: Electronic music has a stigma stuck to it, and anyone who’s tried to shovel through prejudices stating “I really like the music though”, knows what we are trying to say.
Does being into electronic music mean being into drugs?
And maybe it’s true. Music sounds amazing on E. And being on K or LSD certainly stimulates parts of the brain that might not be activated normally. Those of us who know…, let’s be honest: The brain is majorly stimulated under the influence, and each stimulant has their own spectrum of kicks, tricks and challenges, something people definitely get hooked on, each of them caught in their own mind trip.
Is this what it’s all about? The adventure to go out on Friday and to get back on Sunday only half-way remembering things, analyzing the weird mind warps that make up our reality, and then slide back into the tumbling trot of everyday routine… until it’s Friday again, hooray?
And what would be the alternative? Is there one? Can we enjoy the party without the kicks? A very good question. Just to ask it, though, and to emphasize, that YES, drug use can be questioned — and should be questioned. It just seems to have become a routinely habit, and not fun for most, as they are just chasing some weird-ass shadow down an alleyway to nowhere really. Some people feel, especially industry folk including DJs , promoters, warehouse owners, security and the EDM media should take some social responsibility and project onto the party-goers.
I’m so high I can’t mix, and it’s fine! I’m having a laugh!
Says Tina, a clubber: “Where is our generation heading towards with drugs such as ketamine so freely available to everyone all the time. The kids are turning into zombies and there is NO awareness from anywhere. No big artists or promoters who the kids look up speak out against it, or at least how to do it safely – only mostly the opposite! Saying ‘it’s absolutely fine, look at me, I am so high I can’t even mix and it’s fine!’ Time for a change and to come together as a scene and say that it is really not all okay to do bags of ketamine every weekend, it’s extremely dangerous and without no-one even knowing the consequence. We need to take some sort of responsibility for this.”
It’s easy to misjudge sincere words of concern as motherly outcry that should not be listened to, as it’s not taking into account that people need and want to make their own mistakes. As it’s always been, people, young of age, move out and venture into the world with the best intentions to take it and make it their oyster, as protagonists, DJs, superstars, dancers, designers, or whatever it is that makes us tick.
Says Neil: “Passion! For something. Is something that our scene has always promoted. The music is something that can change your life. You get into it, and you get caught, and you love it so much so want to be part of it, every day. You aspire. You get some turntables, teach yourself mixing whilst travelling to clubs every weekend to hear and see what those who inspire you are up to.”
To go further and further is one of the motivations, to never stop, to never wake up and return to normality… Whilst office staff step into their hamster wheel, the scene is a joyful celebration of alternative, or escapism, of glamour, of madness. And yes, that’s something most young people are drawn to, feel attracted to, and look up to. The alternative. Which life do you prefer? The life of a clerk, or the life of a jet-setting DJ? Whilst the image of each of those professions are stereotypes summoned up and enhanced by mass-media, we all love to get caught up in a dreamy fantasy. But life ain’t just peaches. And drugs are drugs, they don’t work.
Caner – Free Thinker / Events Producer (Owls Way/Down Under) agrees and adds that “there is lots that can be done and this can be done collectively by individuals taking responsibility for their personal actions. This is not an anti-drugs campaign, the idea is creating social awareness about this problem and how people can avoid embarrassing situations. Recently, I have observed promoters feeling proud to have someone passed out, pissing themselves, completely out of it in their parties. Yes, we do experience this sort of problem in our scene for long time, but today it has become the norm. I love my scene and I think together, by individually taking a little responsibility, we can be part of a positive change, and help avoiding those disconcerting scenes and heartbreaking episodes we are experiencing — people getting targeted by people with bad intensions robbed and worse; losing their jobs ; going into depressions and end up in dark places”
Which life do you prefer? The life of a clerk, or the life of a jet-setting DJ?
Alone the fact that Fur Coat are called Fur Coat is very tongue-in-cheek and shows that they love to play with contradictories — and this is what our society is all about. On one hand, people cry out saying: “This is so wrong… how can you wear fur coats, take ket, consume blindly, eat animals, etc….”, whilst on the other, most people simply do it — even though they know better? And to top it all off, those who act out double standard morals are on “top of the game“, whatever this means. They are on MTV, in the Olympics, hugely successful, with a little “fine-tuning” on the side, cheekily, here and there, everywhere. We all know what’s going on, and we all adhere to it as we do not speak up against these practices. As long as no-one takes a photo of a white nostril, it’s all picture perfect… Heroin-chic models, coked up politicians, you name it. Bla bla…
The younger you are, the truer to yourself you are, the more you see through falsities, and question them, the more you desperately look for a message between the lines. Only to hardly ever find one except: ‘Consuming makes you happy’. We are not alone: Most people are clever enough to see through hypocrisy, double-standards and twisted promotion of wrong values, as seen on TV. But they are not strong enough to stand up and take responsibility.
Ponders Spencer: “To say, ‘Hey, I am trying to be myself, but I am not willing to be one zombie more’ takes some balls. But why? Maybe it’s because generally, the cool people, those we look up to and admire, do not stand up, proudly, proclaiming… ‘Hey, there is an alternative! You can be yourself, really being yourself, and it feels so good you don’t even need drugs…!’”
Instead, the media celebrates the fallen angels by the pound — the younger and more desperate their drugged up story, the more coverage. It does not surprise that people turn to drugs in the end… It’s almost impossible to stand this hypocritical society without tuning into the same madness. Or is it?
To be yourself can feel so good you get high on it
Says Lea, an “aging” DJ of 37: “I firmly believe it’s possible to be a DJ and play not taking drugs, and actually be a beacon for those in the scene. As it stands right now, there are just a few routes down the road, the beaten path, of destiny. You can either be a drug-taking kid, and pull out of it when you wanna pull out of it, or be part of the huge league of zombies. Chances are you are being someone very grounded, with lots of interests and prospects and ideas, and in the end, the drug-taking element of electronic music, life, universe, will be of less and less importance. You are entitled to your legitimate experience, and hopefully you will be taking something out of it that’s worth telling your grandchildren about, but chances are that you will also encounter difficulties no one really articulates. No-one knows what long-terms effects are, and the price can be really high.”
“Just to be someone who is aware of these things, and communicates these experiences, and maybe offers alternatives makes you stick out of the crowd. I became pregnant but luckily I already quit any kind of drug way before this, even coffee, and all of a sudden had a sober vision of nightlife. And of myself. And I loved it, to be absolutely in control of my destiny. I did not feel excluded, or bored, or repulsed at all, just relieved I found the way out, and to be able to still enjoy my scene! I hope I can serve as an example. I have done drugs, they almost broke me, but I got out as I got bored and appalled by my own suffering, and this is — sorry to say it guys — the absolute exception. Most people just end up screwed up. It’s hard to escape even for someone sane, so try not to bury yourself in madness, go and be strong and yourself and don’t get too involved. Music is not drugs, and drugs are not music. Amen.”
In The Talk Hole:
Mathias Schaffhäuser, Ware label head, producer and DJ for almost 20 years, Cologne mastermind and always a correct key figure of the German techno and house scene, as he stands out with his intricate and headstrong take on electronic music talks to Meoko about his attitude towards drugs. Read on to find out more and do not forget to check his new records: His “Nuevo Romance” just came out on NOICE, and the records by his new project “Fanatico” and his remix for Ziggy Kinder on WARE are leading Schaffhäuser’s label into a new height.
What is your motivation to be a DJ, a producer and label honcho?
Schaffhäuser: To be honest, I am a huge fan. I still get enchanted by new music, and it always motivates me — I totally enjoy making music, it’s so much fun, after all.
How do you enjoy being part of a scene full of drugs, not ever taking part of the consuming frenzy?
Schaffhäuser: For me it’s not that extreme. To be honest, you would have to ask me: “How do you enjoy living in a world full of drugs?” Drugs are being taken everywhere, not only in the techno house scene but in the music scene in general, in the teacher’s room, in Parliament, in a normal pub, in the back room of a supermarket and in the bosses’ head office. It’s a total demonization to always think of our music scene as utterly extreme. Think drug consumption at pop and rock events and afterwork parties, and you get the full picture. And, please, don’t forget “mom’s little helpers”. Drugs are part of everyday life, not a night life phenomenon. Drugs also are called “medicine” and prescribed by doctors and sold in pharmacies.
How do you do this job without taking drugs? Also considering that it’s very hectic and heavy, flying around the globe, changing timezones, and switching day and night time?
Schaffhäuser: I believe I would not be capable to be on drugs and go on stage, and manage everything that goes with that. If I took drugs, I would go mental, completely. I need a clear head to get everything sorted, everything else would be scary as f%^&. And to take drugs to stay awake or clear during work is not an option for me
Do you play afterhours, and if so, how do you feel in this environment?
Schaffhäuser: I always make the sam
kind of experience wh
ch is that the crowd is not half as wasted as people say. I love to play at 8 in the morning and never had any trouble at all.
Are you really 100% clean or do you have some cultivated little fascination with something, be it sex, chocolate or collectable rock records?
Schaffhäuser: I am totally addicted to crisps.
What kind of recommendation can you give those who are caught in drugs?
Schaffhäuser: I am sure I have no new recognitions and I am surely not the most suitable to give advice. And most people who are addicted to something or have problems with something know most of the important facts about this matter anyway. The nature of being high though is that it escapes logic and undermines reasoning. Which can be the fascination with it, but of course this becomes a tough one as soon as you reach the turning point, and fall, which causes great difficulty. It’s a great skill to be able to hold the balance and know for oneself what is okay, and how much of it, and what should be avoided. But if someone is really hooked, these ‘wise’ recommendations do not really help at all.
Did you lose friends?
Schaffhäuser: Luckily no one has died, but to drugs I definitely lost a few.
Words by Katrin Ritcher