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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings


Born in the mid-‘70s, I was exposed to many genres of music during my youth. While each category has shaped my perspective on music, I remain an ardent rap fan and hip hop devotee.

In fact, in the early stages of my blog, I formed a specific selection of hip hop-influenced content that falls under the Hip Hop and REBT section, generally related to my practice of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), as viewed through a hip hop lens.

Aside from rap, my earliest music influence related to the sound of Motown, which was largely referred to as “soul music,” and later classified as rhythm and blues (stylized “R&B”), when I was young. Most music artists I enjoyed in my beginning stages were black.

Still, being raised predominately in Texas, I was made familiar with country and western (now simply called “country”) music, as most of those artists were white. I’ve even been to the Grand Ole Opry and have seen a number of country music artists perform at concerts.

I mention race herein, mainly to provide context in relation to the eclecticism of musical influence that has impacted my preference. At any rate, it matters very little to me what race an artist is, because whether or not I enjoy the music is what’s important to me.

Admittedly, I’m not a fan of country music past the ‘00s, as it seems more like pop music or characterizations of southerners. That stated I adored pop music as a child. Though not a fan of hair bands of the ‘80s and early ‘90s, I could tolerate some rock and roll (now, “rock”) music which sounded like pop.

Mostly through friends and acquaintances, I heard other forms of music. In my teens, I’d come to appreciate alternative rock, dance-pop, grunge, reggae, dancehall reggae, ska, new wave, and an emerging category with many subgenres that was called “electronica” when I was in high school.

Electronica was often played at raves. In the mid-‘90s, these dance parties were mainly held at secretive venues such as warehouses, open fields on the outskirts of towns, or in select clubs, and were not analogous to the commercialized raves of today.

Disco music was on its final push when I was a child, though its tendrils were wrapped around various subgenres of electronica—a category that is now classified as electronic dance music (EDM). My personal favorite in the ‘90s and early ‘00s was house music.

It was in high school that a friend of a friend, who I’ll call “DJ F,” showed me the difference between hip hop-style turntablism and how a disc jockey (“DJ”) functioned. Differentiating the two is an act of hyper-critical distinction, like suggesting that a lyricist and rapper aren’t the same concepts.

Essentially, at that time, a DJ could play music at a radio station, “spin” music at a house party, create mixtapes (actual cassette tapes), or operate as the main provider of music for a musical act. A turntablist was a DJ, though also participated in the art of scratching.

When I was in high school, all turntablists were DJs, though not all DJs were turntablists. As well, in order to scratch, a turntablist needed to spin “wax” (vinyl records); because CD technology was slowly emerging and the only other common music medium was tapes, which weren’t for scratching.

DJ F spun at house parties, playing rap, R&B, and EDM. During weekdays, when he wasn’t DJing, DJ F sometimes let me play with his decks—usually at least two vinyl or CD consoles and a mixer, used for the seamless transition from one “track” (song) to another (“mixing”).

As well, DJ F let me sample his music selection while also giving me tips on how to improve my mixing skills. I remain grateful for his help. It was in high school that I began making mix CDs.

When not using his “gear” (equipment), I’d tinker with mixing through use of a dual cassette tape player on an at-home stereo. Stuffing tissue in the write-protect tab, or placing a single strip of adhesive tape over it when I couldn’t afford blank cassettes, I’d cross-sample music from various sources and make mixtapes for my friends—actual cassette tapes.

Though I wasn’t bold enough to DJ at house parties like DJ F, it was in high school that I became a DJ. Most of my musical content focused on rap and R&B, and my mixes were mainly distributed for free and to people I knew.

It was in the Marine Corps that I became more interested in EDM, as a pair of military police (MP) roommates a few doors away from my barracks room encouraged me to broaden my musical horizons. One lent me Daft Punk’s Homework CD and I was hooked from then on.

Aside from Daft Punk’s French house style, I was acquainted with other Marines who introduced me to techno, drum and bass, various forms of trance, hardstyle, happy hardcore, acid house, Chicago house, hard house, jungle, progressive house, breakbeat, and other subgenres of EDM.

Stationed in South America, I attended raves and concerts with various EDM acts. In Brasil, I purchased my own CD decks and other gear, as I began making mixes and volunteering for house party opportunities at the Marine house in which I lived.

Something about the pulsating rhythms in my headphones and heard through monitors (speakers) put me at ease. It was as though an external stimulus was able to match the chaos of the internal noise in my mind.

I achieved synchronicity between my mind and the environment in which the music pounded, virtually without stopping, except for occasional “breakdowns” (caesura or percussion break). When DJing, I hyper-fixated on the music, which consumed most of my available resources for concentration.

Diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), it makes sense to me how my focus on two tracks playing simultaneously, and at high tempos, could keep me occupied for hours on end. As such, I’d lose track of time when mixing in my room.

This occurred in Peru, as well. When not DJing and instead dancing into the early hours of the morning, I’d get lost in the music and stumble into the Marine house, having to wring out sweat from my clothing before showering and then collapsing on the bed.

Though rave culture is often associated with substance use and abuse, I didn’t consume drugs or alcohol when partying. Aside from caffeine or guarana, music was my substance of choice when dancing.

When mixing, I’d use processed sugar received through many Chupa Chups lollipops—something to which my high school friend, “1/2 Ton,” introduced me. Leaving South America, I continued mixing though abandoned partying when stationed in San Diego, California.

A friend of mine from San Diego, who was influential in the underground hip hop scene, used to tease me by saying, “You’re not a DJ; you’re a knob-turner.” I took her mockery and incorporated it in my “drops,” saying, “You’re listenin’ to the knob-turner, CD-burner, 2-Nice!”

There, I made a number of mix CDs for fellow MPs. Surprisingly, some of my fellow veterans have reached out over the years and told me they still listened to my “Insomniac Trip” and “Welcome Back” mix series.

At my peak, I had around 2,000 CDs—the overwhelming majority of which were purchased content and not burned copies. And though I gave up DJing many years ago, I still enjoy listening to EDM, despite missing the so-called “Golden Era” of EDM and underground raves of old.

Recently, during a therapy session, a young client of mine attempted to explain to me what a rave was. I suppose the gray in my beard and bald head led the client to believe I was an old man who had no clue about the culture based on principles of PLUR (peace, love, unity, and respect).

This is where the aforementioned racial component plays a role. With few exceptions, those with whom I raved didn’t express interest in racial division. All were welcome when we partied.

Hearing my client explain rave, I initially thought, “The EDM festivals you attend aren’t even real raves,” and this served as a moment for REBT practice. Using the ABC Model-based therapeutic method, I understand that what the client said isn’t what caused a reflexive action in me.

Rather, the Act of the client presuming my ignorance about EDM was met with a Believe with which I disturbed myself, resulting in the Consequence of annoyance at the perceived insult. Unhelpful, unhealthy, and unproductive beliefs of this sort usually manifest in a should, must, or ought-like narrative.

I told myself something like, “You ought not to assume I don’t know about raves, because I was raving before you were ever alive.” Because I practice REBT daily, I’m aware that I’m a fallible human being who uses irrational thinking and who maintains ridiculous beliefs.

I quickly Disputed the nonsense I told myself through use of the no true Scotsman fallacy, admitting that I didn’t wield the scepter of rave authority. Simply because my client attended corporate raves and not the clandestine sort I once frequented didn’t mean her experience was less meaningful than my own.

Truly, the EDM festivals she attends are as real to modern day raving as any rave I attended when I was her age. It took me less than a minute to Dispute my unhelpful Belief and establish an Effective new belief.

Using the ABC formula (Action + Belief = Consequence ÷ Disputation = Effective new belief), I was able to transition from annoyance to playfulness in a brief moment. The client and I laughed a bit when I employed the technique related to use of self and shared a personal anecdote from my raving days.

Just as I used to pay close attention to music when mixing one track with another, I can smoothly transition a self-disturbing belief to a more helpful one when I pay attention to what it is I’m telling myself. Though I no longer DJ, I still mix it up in my mind—creating improved results through use of REBT.

Would you like to know more about how you can incorporate this technique into your own life? I may not be able to help you beatmatch so that your mix will wow others, yet I can assist with coupling helpful techniques (e.g., the ABC Model) with improved outcomes (e.g., playfulness versus annoyance).

If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.

As the world’s original EDM-influenced REBT psychotherapist—promoting content related to EDM, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.

At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!

Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW


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