They say routine is good for mental health, and techno is nothing if not routine
I am often asked what sort of things help me with my mental health. I think people expect me to say walking, nature, swimming. And all of those things dohelp, all of those things I need, but also: techno music. People never expect techno.
I actually used to hate techno; would rather die than listen to it, until I was sober for a year. It seems somewhat paradoxical to give up booze and suddenly start hanging out on vodka-sticky dancefloors. But, just like an SSRI, mix a high BPM into my bloodstream and my mood will lift.
There’s a physical element to techno that is lacking in other genres. There is, of course, joy to be found in sliding across one’s kitchen floor in socks, bellowing out pop lyrics into the handle of a broom; but just as the physicality of exercise takes one out of the mind, so does the bodily response to the thud, thud, thud of techno. The rattling of the ribcage; the beat of the music in your chest – as if you had the world’s most muscular, obnoxious heart. There’s no space for bad thoughts, doubt or worry when the senses are assailed.
Last weekend I felt awful. I spent the entirety of Saturday in a duvet-cave. The banality of life, the relentlessness. Boris Johnson. On Sunday, I dragged myself from bed, threw some stuff in a bag and set off to Wilderness festival.
A couple of years before I had been revived, Lazarus by way of lasers, dancing at 2am in the festival’s Valley – a literal valley – green beams scanning the night sky, pushing through trees in the black. Again, this is not something I envisioned a few years ago: I’m a huge Girls Aloud fan. But from that valley full of noise, I progressed to the thump of industrial techno at the infamous Berghain in Berlin. The sweaty basements of east London or repurposed gasholders. Wilderness worked again this year. (I did the wild swimming, too.)
They say routine is good for mental health, and techno is nothing if not routine. A 10-minute techno track is the embodiment of keeping going. And there are barely any lyrics to drag the mind to places it isn’t helpful to go.
A bonus is that techno often takes place in the kind of Brutalist spaces or decrepit warehouses that also sing to my soul, but it can be equally helpful throwing my hood up, earpods in, and walking around at night listening to a playlist that smacks as my heels hit the pavement. Try it.