No matter where you go, there you are. That’s the central theme of As I AM: The Life and Times of DJ AM, a documentary on Adam Goldstein, who battled addiction, obesity and depression before becoming one of the first rock-star DJs and then succumbing to a drug overdose in 2009 at age 36. Kevin Kerslake directs, and aided by his experience making the 2011 EDM doc The Electric Daisy Carnival Experience, he positions Goldstein as a DJ icon who popularized the “mash-up” format and pioneered the seven-figure Vegas residency. But Kerslake’s work directing early Nirvana videos looms over the film as well: Like Kurt Cobain, Goldstein had demons, and no dancefloor could exorcise them — teenage crack addiction, a suicide attempt, and later, post-traumatic stress from surviving a deadly 2008 plane crash.
The film cleverly revolves around Goldstein telling his story at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting; interviews with friends and family fill in the rest, piecing together a harrowing explanation of how a light so bright can be snuffed out. The result is a haunting tribute to an underappreciated innovator.
This story originally appeared in the May 2 issue of Billboard.