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Fast and furious: Why Solomun will retire after Sonar 2017

A cautionary tale for all DJs

  • Words: Marcus Dowling | Illustration: Patch Keyes
  • 29 May 2016

On May 29, Solomun announced that he was retiring from touring and live events after Sonar Festival 2017. Stardom is psychologically and physically difficult for any artist, especially in the fast-paced and oft hedonistic world of dance music, and his retirement is the result of complete overwork. It's sad news - there's obviously something implicitly wrong if a musician has to step away from the circuit in such circumstances - but in hindsight, it was all too obviously going to happen.

It's important to contemplate just how crowded Somomun's schedule was over the past five years. Between January 1, 2011 and January 1, 2016 alone, Somomun played somewhere in the vicinity of 220 DJ sets in 261 weeks, travelling back and forth across the globe, entering all number of different time zones. This period also saw the Bosnian undertake tour concepts like an American bus journey in January 2012 that saw him play 26 shows in 27 days. Even with a whole management and support team behind him, constantly working at that kind of level will have been insanely taxing.

And indeed it was. Somomun suffered from acute pancreatitis due to alcoholism in 2013, and had his gallbladder removed a year later. When it came to the release of his second studio album 'Something We All Adore' in 2011, the producer told FuseTV that he was pushing for a "perfect" sound on the album, which obviously requires a level of focus that, given his plethora of health concerns, will have caused a great deal of stress. He told GQ Magazine that playing high-pressure live sets made him "so nervous," and that drinking gave him the "encouragement and self-confidence" to play live. A 2012 Austin Times interview revealed that he was "so busy," had "no time off," and oftentimes "forgot what city or country he was in." And a more recent quote for Dubai's The National had Somomun admitting that he's "very intense," and has "no problem being [in the studio] for 60 hours without sleep." The evidence is clear: Somomun's working environment drove him to the edge and eventually pushed him over it.

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