Dance

Ben Turner, Blaise James Fight for Wellness, Launch Remedy State Retreat at IMS

REMEDY STATE
Maria Jose Govea

REMEDY STATE

In 2016, a British study commissioned by Help Musicians UK found that musicians are on average three times as likely to suffer from anxiety and depression. For industry professionals in the dance music world, this news was less than shocking.

“I can count over 25 people, in my 27 years of being in the music industry, [that I was] in some way connected [to] who have committed suicide,” Ben Turner says. The 44-year-old has worked in dance music since he was 17. As a former music journalist, current manager for Richie Hawtin, director of Bestival and founder of the annual International Music Summit (IMS), he's seen first-hand the stresses and strains that weigh on the shoulders of performers and professionals alike. Now, he's trying to do something about it.

Enter Remedy State, a three-day holistic retreat designed by and for dance music professionals, in association with Pioneer DJ, that aims to help party-addled bodies, brains and spirits to regain center while learning how to keep that clarity once the beat kicks back in.

Attendees will meet with nutritionists and dietitians, practice daily yoga and meditation, enjoy plant-based meals and attend keynote lectures and motivational talks. They'll undergo adrenal tests and receive a one-on-one consultation with a certified doctor who specializes in holistic practices. Everyone involved has personally worked with Turner or his partner Blaise James, and every moment will cater to the particular ills and ailments of those who travel the globe, working tireless hours in the dance music industry.

“If I had a nickel for every house track that talks about the mind, body and the soul,” James laughs. “Music is an incredibly powerful, uplifting force that is capable of providing people opportunities to express themselves, to connect with others, to give something back to the world, but I noticed that, in stark contrast to what a positive force music could be, the lifestyle surrounding music was oftentimes a very destructive lifestyle. That was the biggest crux of why we wanted to do this.”

Remedy State will make its debut before this year's IMS Ibiza, though if participants enjoy the experience, Turner and James would love to bring it to other industry gatherings about the world.

“I've always loved going to Ibiza and always enjoyed leaving,” Turner says. “You've got health and hedonism in one island, the highs and the lows. We purposely avoided the hippy side of a Wellness retreat, because that's already on offer all around the island. We really wanted to focus on things like nutritional therapy, integrated medicine using Ayurveda principles, and also focus on the pressures of work. We brought together a lot of different ideas into one place, that's the bit we're most excited about.”

Remedy State's programming was spearheaded by James, now 29, who met Turner some years ago when he was OWSLA’s label manager. He was turned on to transcendental meditation at a particularly hectic time in his life by a colleague. He says the results were nearly instant.

“I know it's crazy to say, but even after only a few days of practicing, I felt much more focused, much more creative, and I felt much more in touch with myself, others and the world,” James says. “I felt like I became a better DJ because my head was more clear, and I was more focused on what I'm doing. I felt like I became a better public speaker, because I was again more focused on what I was doing, and my mind was a lot more calm.”

Impressed, he began integrating a vegan diet and daily yoga practice. Then he read a book by Richard Barret, one of the speakers he's scheduled to appear at Remedy State. Barret outlined his theory that wellness, spirituality and creativity are intrinsically linked. He believes, and studies have shown, that all children are born with an inherent creative spirit, though as we grow older, the everyday struggles of life and most basic of Maslow's hierarchy of needs kind of beat this creativity out of us, leaving us feeling a sort of emptiness.

“When I read Richard's books, I realized the reason I wasn't feeling a lot of fulfillment was because, while I had mastered the needs of the ego, I hadn't yet started thinking about the desires of my soul,” James says. “I had to start thinking about my own self expression, my connection with other people and my contribution to the world.”

It's James' hope that Barret's talk will particularly resonate with the artists and industry professionals who come out to Remedy State. He also hopes they'll be as impressed with Dr. Ahmed Ali as he was upon their first meeting at an Ayurvedic retreat in the doctor's native India.

After one quick look at James’ tongue and eyes, Dr. Ali correctly deduced that he'd broken his arm at 10 and suffered a sport concussion at 12. James was so impressed, he helped Ali nab a U.S. work visa to further treat him for three months. Now, he wants to share Ali's insights and medical practices with as many people as possible.

“I stumbled onto this magic thing, this wizardly person, and it's my duty to bring this person to the forefront and shine a light on him,” James says. “Music is my life … it only made natural sense that I combine these two things that I've become passionate about, because we all know the people of the music industry are not the healthiest bunch. I figured here is an opportunity for me to take what I've learned and share it with the community that I care so much about.”

Turner is equally passionate about the changes he's made in his life and sharing the positive effects they've bestowed on his personal and professional career. The Brit moved to California some years ago, and he believes the abundance of health food and prominent hiking culture have given him a better life.

“I love my job as much now as I did when I was bright eyed and innocent and 17. I want to keep doing it, but I want to keep doing it in a more informed and educated way about the pressures of all of it on my body and my mind,” he says. “(This event) is not just aimed at people like me who are trying to avoid burn out. It's for the young guys who just want to feel on top of their game at all times. That's one of the things I'm loving the most about this.”

In the spirit of keeping things musically minded, Tuner and James invited DJs and industry professionals to join the speakers on panels, guide Q&As and give workshops of their own. Stuart Sandeman is one such participating producer. He’s released with Hot Creations, Get Physical and Avotre as Wildkats, though today, he works as a breathing coach and he’s bringing these skills to Remedy State.

"Having toured internationally, I know too well the industry pressures and the highs and lows,” he says. “It’s so easy to develop unhealthy habits in this industry with nocturnal hours, crazy schedules, job insecurity, a culture of drink and drugs and all those solitary hours spent in front of a computer or on the road. This can take a huge toll on your physical and mental health, we have seen this with a number of artists now. Adopting a conscious approach to wellness in the dance music industry has been a huge game changer for my well-being and the artists I work with.”

Turner, James and the rest of the Remedy State crew are beyond excited to welcome guests to the beautiful setting of Sa Talaia in the Es Puig area of Ibiza, Sunday to Wednesday, May 20 to 23. It will be as relaxing and replenishing a retreat as possible, but just because there will be DJs on the premises does not mean there will be dancing.

“It would be it inaccurate to say that Remedy State is going to be simply three days of detox or just drinking juice and going to the stream room,” James says. “That stuff is great, but the whole idea here is to really start a dialogue that will lead to more sustained positive health choices, and not just come here for three days, be really healthy, and then go back to doing everything you were doing because you have those three days of being healthy - We're also not trying to say don't party, don't drink or don’t do drugs. I think it's just about having a conversation about balance of it all.”

“I've got a long way to go,” Turner says of his own journey. “It's all about progress. You can't you can't just change overnight, but if we can all get 20 percent better at looking after ourselves, hopefully we'll all be a lot more effective.”

See pictures of the space at Sa Talaia below. To reserve a spot or learn more, visit RemedyState.com.

Maria Jose Govea
REMEDY STATE

Billboard Dance 100