To no longer fear telling the truth…

The music business often acts as a pressure cooker, glorifying the clichéd rock and roll lifestyle and celebrating heroic hedonistic pursuits. It’s a difficult place to be ‘serious about change’, as the Hoffman tagline goes.

My determination to live life in the sun – literally and metaphorically – began in early childhood. It was split into two halves; the blue sea and wide boulevards of the South of France, followed by the urban sprawl of 60s architecture that characterises Croydon in South London.

I was born the youngest of four children in Stoke on Trent, in the Potteries. When I was four, my family moved to the South of France due to my father’s work with IBM. When I started at a local school, I had to learn French very quickly. I have happy memories of the three years we spent there living in the sunshine. In bleak contrast, our next move took us to Croydon, South London, where I spent the rest of my childhood. Once I finished school, I went on to study Institutional Management at North London Polytechnic, which gave me an understanding of events, promotion and marketing. By then I’d got the music bug, so extra-curricular activities included playing in a band and working as a DJ at house parties and local clubs.

After graduating, I got a job in the music business and moved rapidly from telesales to TV promotions taking artists to perform on programmes such as The Tube. By this time, as a DJ and promoter, I’d partnered with a friend called Ben Wolff to form The Boilerhouse Boys. I left my day job because my DJ work had expanded so much. There was never a dull moment and I have colourful memories of working clubs like Heaven at Charing Cross, Raw in the Tottenham Court Road, and The Fridge in Brixton. When the licensing laws changed in the late 80s so we could party all night, we organised warehouse parties and raves around the M25. We also started making remixes for the dance floor that were then taken up by daytime radio.

By the early 90s, Ben and I had morphed into writer-producers. We lived in New York for three years and came back to the UK mid-way through the decade to work with artists like Texas and Gabrielle before being offered a joint venture record label with Sony BMG. As my lifestyle became a bit more settled, I also met and married my wife Stevie. We had a son followed by a daughter – the so-called ‘King’s Wish’. In 2011, my wife and I took the children to live in Ibiza. I had such wonderful memories of my own childhood by the Mediterranean I wanted to pass on that ‘living in the sunshine feeling’ to my own family.

Ibiza life presented a challenge however, balancing enjoyment and work. As an all-night DJ, stimulants are everywhere, and they’re often justified as ‘required’ just to keep going…

By 2019, things weren’t going well on the home front. Stevie and I were in marriage counselling, and she suggested that I went on the Hoffman Process. But as it turned out, she went on the course first and after she returned and spoke so highly of it, I decided to go myself. I got a place in November 2019. Looking back, I can see now that I was at a crossroads, and doing the Hoffman was a life-changing decision. It took me down a much more positive road than the one I might otherwise have chosen.

I found the experience of forgiveness and letting go on the Process had a big impact. Two moments on the course stood out for me. The first was when we got into small groups and role-played being in a cafe discussing how the last year had been for us, speaking as if a year had passed since the Process. Before I could stop myself, I said: “life’s been great since I gave up drinking…” I was surprised that I said it, but I haven’t had a drink since!

The second was later that day when I felt the spontaneity and joy of being a child again during one of the really fun activities. I realised it was possible to access the best feelings without needing the stimulants.

I won’t say it’s been easy to stay away from alcohol and the hardest moment was getting back into the DJ box, where old patterns could easily have taken over. In the booth, the drink is free and it’s encouraged to have a shot with your fellow performers as they pop in to say hi.

I’ve stuck with it though; I came back from the Process more aware and more engaged. It gave me the courage to face my fears and deal with the reality of my life, and it set me free to build a better me.

The day I left the Process, I felt similar to the day I passed my driving test… I’d learned how to drive but I’d never driven a car on my own. It was as if I’d been given the tools to change but I knew it would take practice to embed the habits and create new neural pathways until sobriety became second nature. After all, just because someone gives you a box of effective tools doesn’t mean your car will fix itself.

Looking ahead…

One of the suggestions from my Process group was that I should try travelling solo, which I’d never done before. Chris Flack, a breathwork coach who was in my group, suggested a yoga retreat in India, a country I’d never visited before. Six weeks later, I found myself in the lotus position, doing alternate nostril breathing in Kerala and I really enjoyed it. I totally appreciated the mind/body connection you get with yoga and I continue to practise it regularly now.

Back in the UK, I also meditate daily and reflect on life and the progress I’m making on my own spiritual journey. I became a big fan of the American psychologist, author, Buddhist and meditation teacher Tara Brach.

My new interests have coalesced into a new project called ‘Breath to Beat’ that I’ve worked on with Chris Flack. We’ve developed a way of coupling breathwork with listening to music – synching breathing to the tempo of the track. It will hopefully act as a bridge for those who love music but who might shy away from the stereotypical ‘bells and smells’ wellness fraternity; music lovers who wish to experience music and allow the beat to help them reach a natural high – free from side effects.

We feel the project is timely as there’s a big debate in the electronic music business right now about how young people are often exploited by greedy managers and agents. Artists can be expected to do a marathon number of events in any given weekend, fuelled by stimulants, with no advice or emotional support. We hope to add our voice and more wellbeing resources to the industry, in the hope that we too can make a change for them, just like the Hoffman Process did for me.

Let The Positive Beats Go On…

Breath to Beat is in the development stage; you can sign up for updates here