Exclusive Interview: D.O.D discusses mental health in the music industry

“I want to spread the word that it’s absolutely ok to not be ok.”

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, one name has proved tougher to ignore than any other in the world of dance music; D.O.D. The British producer (real name Dan O’Donnell) has aggressively delivered his unique signature sound (dubbed as #FutureJack) into the ears of fans all across the world, with Swedish House Mafia legend Axwell labelling Dan as “the future of dance music” in 2017 – high praise indeed!

But aside from his rippling releases, including his flurry of productions – including the popular thumper ‘Sixes’ – on the Swede’s ‘Axtone Records’ imprint, another issue rests close to Dan’s heart, one that has been magnified by the tragic circumstances surrounding the death of Avicii earlier this year. Mental health is a topic the Lancashire-born DJ is keen to tackle, and as an industry, the importance of eradicating any stigma attached to mental illness has never proved more paramount.

Whilst many DJs may choose to shy away from such a raw and sensitive subject, D.O.D prefers to address the issue head on. Donating all profits from his upcoming show at Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE) to mental health charity, MIND, Dan discusses the impacts of depression, the events surrounding Tim Bergling’s death, and why his upcoming evening will prove to be nothing but ‘Good vibes only!’

HERE is what happened when We Rave You met D.O.D…


Dan! Tell us a bit about your ADE night and what we can expect?

“Expect nothing but good vibes with good people! Plus huge artists… We’ve got Shapov, Corey James, Tom Staar, Norii and loads more joining, so I really have gone ALL OUT with the line-up.”

What will these amazing artists bring to the night?

“Diversity and great, original music. I’ve chosen the line up from artists who I’m friends with behind the DJ life but also who I respect massively as talented music producers and DJs!”


Why did you decide to donate all profits from the show to MIND?

“I’ve not opened up publicly about this before but now seems like an appropriate time. I’ve been going through a very rough patch the last 12 months with health problems which has made touring pretty much impossible. However, I’ve continued to plough through and with the support from those close around me, I’ve been able to stay in a positive mental state. Only recently I feel like I’m showing improvements with my health conditions, I’m hoping to be fully recovered in the next few months.

Other people who have mental health issues don’t have the support, or don’t feel like they have the support from others. Some people simply find it difficult to open up about their issues and get the help they need. Mental Health charities like MIND is one which offers support for those in need. Mental health charity organisations are super underfunded and they need as much help as possible.”

How do you feel that artists such as yourself – and events like this – can help those suffering from mental illness in terms of letting them know that – as you tweeted – it’s ok to not be ok!

“There’s a social stigma attached to mental health issues, which is just crazy. I want to spread the word that it’s absolutely ok to not be ok, but you also have to talk to others about how you’re feeling. There is help out there for those in need, no one needs to suffer. Even if I don’t raise a huge amount of money, I’ve raised awareness which is just as important.”


Following his death this year, Avicii’s struggles with mental health were well publicised. Do you feel that the impact of his passing has made the industry sit up and take notice of mental health problems, and treat them more seriously?

“Most definitely, but it’s very unfortunate that this has happened through the loss of not only a super talented artist, but a human being.”

You’re always busy yourself, touring around and always on the road. What advice would you give to people on how to chill out when you’re in this industry? What do you like to do to relax?

“My advice would be to keep fit and healthy, get lots of sleep and drink plenty of water. This personally works great for me, I find it helps creativity when producing music. Of course go out and let loose, that’s what being young is all about, discovering yourself.

When I’m not touring I love to spend time with family & friends, mainly eating out and the occasional glass of red wine. Honestly though, I actually find it really difficult to chill out when I’m not on the road. 80% of the time you’ll find me in the studio developing my signature Future Jack sound!”

Finally, ‘D.O.D & Friends’ is going to be massive! Give me 3 words (and 3 words only!) to describe the night!

“Good vibes only!”


When we last caught up with Dan in March of this year, he was just about to go on stage at his Axtone Miami show, and with the sun shining, the world was still oblivious to the events that would occur just one month later when Avicii passed away in Oman. Despite this, producers like D.O.D provide a beacon of light and hope to those suffering from mental illness, helping to raise awareness of the work organisations like MIND provide. If more figures in the public spotlight can follow his example, the social stigma attached to these kind of health problems will evaporate, as suffers realise that opening up, and talking about your issues, is the best kind of remedy available.

With the fast-rising UK superstar set to pack his sizzling Amsterdam event at Martin’s Social Club full of his incredible tracks such as ‘Incline’, and ‘Glow’, the jam-packed choice of the ADE event schedule often means the chopping and changing of nights in order to fit in the chance of seeing all your favourite DJs during the course of the week. One thing you can be sure of, is that if there’s one night this October that will truly prove to be Unforgettable’… it’s ‘D.O.D & Friends’, and with even MORE surprise acts still to be announced, your final chance to snap up a ticket is right here!

(BA Hons Journalism), 30, London. NCTJ-accredited journalist and dance music lover specialising in interviews, features, editorial work, and reviews. www.journojake.com

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