Last week we published The Secret DJ: Book Two, the follow-up to the anonymous author’s acclaimed debut. We called the Secret DJ in Ibiza to ask some questions…
Hi Secret DJ thanks for talking to us, how is life on the island during COVID?
Oh hello. Is it bad to say I enjoyed lockdown? I don’t begrudge the tourists, the island needs the money, but once they get here as far as they are concerned the virus doesn’t exist anymore. Which it didn’t, actually, we’d got rid of it, but it came back along with the tourists. Our cases are still fairly low, however. Who knows long-term though?
I had it fairly early, back when it was cool yeah? (Laughs). So I have to report you really, really do not want it. I can see how it kills. I’m fairly robust and I couldn’t breathe for a solid three days. Horrible experience. I wish all those dickheads who lurch about with no masks or distancing could get a whiff just for five minutes what it is like to have it. I tell you, they would change their tune in seconds. On the plus side, there are worse places to deal with it all!
(Laughs) Why not? It’s 90% uninhabited. Tourists don’t really venture much further than a few overcrowded, overdone spots. It’s very, very easy to never see any if you know the place. It’s just a familiar place for me. Spent a lot of time here over the years. Truthfully? Brexit. I just didn’t sign up to live in America. Nothing against it per se. It’s just that if I wanted to be American, I’d move there. I don’t want it to be imposed on me. I just didn’t like what Brexit is fundamentally about.
Empowering the lowest common denominator for the sake of making cash for the very richest. At the expense of the most vulnerable. I mean you only have to see the absolute travesty they made of the COVID scenario to understand my choice. I actually looked at places all over the world. I’m not rich by any means, so fairly modest places. But the familiarity of Ibiza just kept calling. Feels like home, and has been on and off for quite a while. Felt it was time to commit to being a European.
The rumour is that The Secret DJ: Book Two is quite explosive…
I know, I started that rumour (laughs). It’s not a hype thing so much, just the first book was, how can I put it… safer? Because I was learning as I went, like what you can and can’t write about. I’ve been a journalist quite a while on the side. Nothing major but I understand the biz of writing. A book is different, but it helped having already worked within the constraints of journalism.
So I tried resolutely with the first one for it to be entertaining absolutely first and foremost. For that to happen with true stories it immediately limits what you can do, quite a bit. Only small parts of things you have experienced are interesting enough to entertain. So for this second one, I’m more confident about the process, and also have a lot more observations about the industry. It’s still got a lot of rock ’n’ rollery and staggering nitwits, and none dafter than me, but this time we go in a bit deeper with the biz.
Can you give us a preview?
In short? No (laughs).
Fair enough, the first book was something of a sleeper hit. It’s been out… is it two years? Lots of famous people endorsing it and glowing reviews, were you happy with how it went?
Oof, well. Yes and no. Definitely pleased it survived. It managed to inch its way up the charts by merit, which is definitely a warm feeling. The bitter side of me is annoyed that it could maybe have really popped with a bit of push. No one takes punts anymore though. Those days are long gone. The publishing biz is very very similar to the music biz. A sort of trawler fishing technique. Put 100 things out, cross your fingers, if one is a hit, it pays for the other 99. Seems mad doesn’t it when you look at it like that? Not a very efficient system.
Feels a bit more bespoke this time around. I like the vibe of Velocity Press. I guess there is only so much you can do in advance, and ultimately it is for the people to decide. Something I guess I am familiar with as a DJ. The crowd call the shots and make the party, and always have. So …happy? Yeah. Defo.
In the first book it says in the acknowledgements about your family “…if I still have a family, after they read this”. How did it go down with them?
Oh, that’s probing! Ouch. It’s hard to say. My dear old Dad’s main objection was the repeated truncation of ‘because’ into ‘cos’. Nothing rock and roll (laughs). Annoyed by grammar! How can I explain? It’s simply not designed to have a person in mind when you read it. If you think you know who I am, and then start it, it’s a completely different experience to everyone else who starts and finishes it without a clue. If you attribute the actions and events to a person, it is essentially a sort of biography, but how can it be properly biographical if it is not attributed to a person?
So all the booksellers are putting it in the wrong section. This is the biggest detraction I’ve had about it. “Oh, you/whoever it is, you are not famous enough to write this”. What on earth has fame got to do with an industry expose? Or really, to do with writing full stop? It’s not a biography! Which is something say… a family member reading it can never understand.
I’m not really a character in it, not if you look hard at it. I’m an observer. The main thing is, you can immediately tell those who have judged it without reading it. These days hip cats need something to be hyped to be arsed to get involved. This isn’t written for them. It’s for people with no baggage. Seekers. Curious types.
Is the anonymous part really difficult?
Nah! Not in any real sense. It’s inconvenient now and then. No more than that. It wasn’t my idea, it was a legal condition. I understand why. We are all Americans now no matter where we were born, and all good Americans sue. We didn’t used to, back when we were British. Now everyone sees a payday wherever they can. It’s not like it’s made pots of cash anyway, they’d be disappointed if they did try sue.
Personally, the secrecy is not important to me. If you walk up to me in the street we can laugh and joke about it. But the legal stuff stands, so I won’t joke about it at all if you write it down in public or on social media because that is a professional scenario.
So that confuses some people. I get it if they aren’t interested in my legal issues or care how it might snowball, but if you wondered why I had to block you, there it is. Can’t have it. Not written down. Anyway, no one likes a grass innit (laughs). My hands are tied really. It is funny sometimes, other times very boring. I think the worst part is, for some people, it turns it into a quiz. It’s nearly 100,000 words mate! Big quiz! But to that type of brain, the sort who has to be on top all the time, if they think they know who it is, then they don’t have to read the book. Job done. Mad innit?
To this kind of person, the entire 35 years in the industry is boiled down to a single question and a single answer. Learn the answer, right or wrong it doesn’t matter, which is the awful part! Learn the ‘answer’ and the entire thing is written off. Pun intended. That is utterly deranged to my mind. But oh-so-very modern. People are swamped by info. They will jump through hoops to avoid taking in any more than they have to.
Best of luck with number two!
Ooh, MATRON! Thanks. Best get that gag in before some poor overworked sub-editor. It’s a great adventure. Not something I was expecting a few years ago. I’ll take all the luck I can get, thanks very much.