“The DJ was really this power center, the digital shaman presiding over the energy and the intensity of the experience. It was so tribal.” – Jason Bentley
April 23rd, 2015 Take away the million dollar Vegas residencies, the sponsorship contracts and the TV shows; take away the lucrative commercial deals, the marquee corporate endorsements and the bon vivant lifestyle; take away the A-list engagement parties for J Lo and Christina Aguilera, the fashionable birthday bashes for Madonna and Tom Cruise and the Hollywood girlfriends and what you have left is a deeply tortured yet talented mind – with the ability to create an existential freestyle beat experience that made throngs of devotees very happy. With the ethos of bringing music madness to the masses, simply put Adam Michael Goldstein aka DJ AM was kill’n it with electronic FLAVA. But that madness almost didn’t happen if not for a series of self-help rescues from the personal demons that rarely if ever left.
“What I like to do is what makes me happy, hurts no one and helps others. Those are the questions I ask myself with any kind of major decision.”
– DJ AM
AS I AM: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF DJ AM navigates the rough waters of Adam’s addictions both musically and as the poster boy for addictive personalities and recovery. Channelling the frenetic pacing of a hot house techno beat, Director, Kevin Kerslake cleverly leverages the posthumous off camera in treatment lyrical musings from Adam together with influential music insiders as we hear the struggles and witness the rise of an infinitely talented DJ prodigy dropping skillz at the latest “it-spot”. Now at the forefront of a DJ movement but still swimming upstream seeking new musical territories to conquer, Adam single-handedly rebranded the antiquated club DJ template into a high flying corporate doyen by creating stylistic events that pushed pay scales from hundreds to thousands to millions with the latest Serato wizardry. And yet with all this success he still wasn’t able to crack the holy grail of the black music scene. The pressure of being the big cog in the unforgiving music industry money wheel will always come at a price and that price for Adam was paid by relapsing.
VERDICT 3.5 / 5: The cautionary tale of music icons struggling with addiction is a well-worn path in the musical biopic genre. Amy Winehouse, Jimmy Hendrix, Michael Jackson, Jim Morrison and Janice Joplin quick come to mind. Less familiar but no less important was the impact Adam Goldstein made in his short lived career as the preeminent celebrity DJ. Surreal animation sequences into the murky underbelly of his inner turmoil plays out with unnerving clarity. It’s never easy capturing the many sides of a musical prodigy in his prime and yet Kerslake delivers layered instalments of personal torment, self-help wisdom, family dysfunction and the insular world of the music industry all wrapped up in an ear warping FLAVA mash-ups.
FINAL THOUGHT: Without sobriety, there is no DJ AM.
Genre: Documentary, Biopic, Music
Director: Kevin Kerslake
Writer: Kevin Kerslake
Cinematographer: Kevin Kerslake
Producer(s): Kevin Kerslake, Robert Bruce, Dan Franklin, Joel Marcus
Co-Producer(s): John Shecter, Kevin Scott, John Beug, Kate Franklin, Pascucci
Executive Producer(s): Andrea Gross, Todd Andrew Alstrup, Sacha Cohen, Noel Lohr, Cheryl Sirulnick
Premiere: INTERNATIONAL PREMIERE
Canadian Release Date: April 25th, 2015
Runtime: 95 minutes
Cast: Cosmo Baker, Milo Berger, Erik Meltzer, Josh Webb, Shifty, Shannon Southworth, Ethan Browne, Seth Binzer, Stuart Potash, Nadia Angelini, Pasquale Rotella, Westley Turbovich, Jason Bentley, Redfoo, Michelle Sinclair, Bianca White, Anthony Belanger, Mike Peretta, Ben Baller, Marisa Meola, Shane Powers, Eddie Garcia, Bret Mazur, Ian fletcher, Kevin Scott, Mark Ronson , Jackson James, Alain Macklovitch, Paul Oakenfold, Jeffrey Townes, Clark Kent, Scott Oster, Larry Graham, Sam Ronson, Stretch Armstrong, Rob Patterson, Andrew Brown, Dr. Drew Pinsky, Chris Holmes, Stone Rokk, Homes James, Chelby Dufourg, Niko Achtipes, Westley Pentz, Daniel Kutz, Mike Brillstein, Mix Master Mike, Cheryl Sirulnick, Jon Favreau, Bernadine Fried, Jus Ske, Eric Millstein, Eli Escobar, Sophia Bjorkman, Chris Clancy, Jerry Chamales, Steve Aoki, A.J. Bertenshaw, Ronnie Bruland, Dianne Copeland, Nancy Veloric.