Autobiographies from Dance Music’s Biggest Icons

Mar 16, 2022

5 min read

Carl Cox MixingCarl Cox Mixing

True dance music fans know it takes time to learn the history celebrated by our favorite tunes. Surprisingly much of the real story is rarely picked up on the dance floor. Unless you’re accustomed to holding deep conversations near roaring subwoofers, the best place to familiarize yourself with the icons we love is from the stories they tell with their own mouths. That being particularly challenging when they’re on the go, the next best place to learn about them is in a book. 

Unfortunately, DJs aren’t always inclined to write out their stories, which relegates their memory to the endangered brain cells of whoever they meet along the way. As a matter of fact, despite the avid enthusiasm of the fan or the number of times they meet their favorite artist, it’s just impossible to fully appreciate how they got to where they are. That’s why autobiographies are such important cultural artifacts. To share some of the top ones available, Festival Insider perused many of the first-hand accounts of the brightest stars in the scene. 

Read on to check out a few of our favorites!

My Life in Lasers: Outrageous Stories and Essential Lessons from the World of Electronic Music

Gareth Emery Playing PianoGareth Emery Playing Piano

By Gareth Emery

Written as an accompaniment to his 2020 blockbuster album The Lasers, Gareth Emery’s memoir is a seamless masterpiece and a fresh lens on the lessons he learned along the way. Each chapter points to a different song on the album, packing emotion into the memories he shares. For fans, this is about as personal as Gareth gets. Between the highs and lows, the book charts his long struggle to bring his dreams to fruition with milestones from his most defining moments along the way. 

Follow Gareth Emery on Facebook | Instagram | Spotify

Buy My Life In Lasers: Outrageous stories and essential lessons from the world of electronic music here.


Laurent GarnierLaurent Garnier

By Laurent Garnier

When 80’s French house and techno legend Laurent Garnier wrote his first-hand account of the dance scene, Europe went nuts. Today the book is a bestseller in six countries. In it, readers get to visit London’s historic Mud Club and Manchester’s infamous Hacienda. You’ll also follow his antics from Paris to Detroit to New York and more. Further perspective comes in written chunks from Jeff Mills, Mad Mike, François Kervorkian, James Murphy, and David Guetta - to name a few.

Follow Laurent Garnier on Facebook | Instagram | Spotify

Buy ElectroChoc here.

Porcelain: A Memoir 

Moby Close UpMoby Close Up

By Moby

When the loudest vegan in dance music writes a book about drugs, orgies, and his transition from an icon of the stage to animal rights activist, it’s sure to rubber a few necks. In Porcelain: A Memoir, Moby talks about the perpetual struggle artists face when aiming to put superstardom to good use. He makes it clear that the challenges he encountered along the way were socially complex and towering in his early days. He also takes a hard look at the memories that broke him and the gold he found in life to fill the spaces in between. 

Follow Moby on Facebook | Instagram | Spotify

Buy Porcelain: A Memoir here.

Oh Yes, Oh Yes! 

Carl Cox Black and WhiteCarl Cox Black and White

By Carl Cox

To lovers of house and techno, few names carry more street cred than the marvelous Carl Cox. His big grins and stage crushing sets are a fixture for dance music fans, and in his autobiography Oh Yes! Oh Yes, he lays out the club moments that inspired him, the people who helped him get heard early in his career, and the wild shenanigans that ensued when he took his talents from clubs in Europe to the international stage. 

Follow Carl Cox on Facebook | Instagram | Spotify

Buy Oh Yes, Oh Yes! here.

House Music… The Real Story 

Jesse Saunders PlayingJesse Saunders Playing

By Jesse Saunders

If you’re captivated by those early stories of the House music underground, Jesse Saunders’ autobiography is the book for you. It reads like a conversation with a buddy at the bar but packs a historical whalup that shines compared to most other literature on the topic. In a world where the origins of House Music are constantly being convoluted and misunderstood House Music… The Real Story provides a clean cut that future music scholars will find indispensable. 

Follow Jesse Saunders on Facebook | Instagram | Spotify

Buy House Music... The Real Story here.

The Story of the Streets 

Mike Skinner Close upMike Skinner Close up

Linda Nylind

By Mike Skinner

Gritty, sometimes funny, and always authentic: Mike Skinner’s The Story of the Streets is like a time capsule for the underdog. It follows Skinner through the bowels of the budding dance music scene in Europe and reminds us that even though big budget-wielding straight white men create much of what is heard in house and techno today, it wasn’t always that way. In fact, if we trace it to the root, fans can rediscover the potency of struggle and emotion first expressed by those who blazed trails for the DJs of today. 

Follow Mike Skinner on Facebook | Instagram | Spotify

Buy The Story of the Streets here.

Le Freak: An Upside Down Story of Family, Disco, and Destiny

Nile Rodgers with RecordsNile Rodgers with Records

By Nile Rodgers

In Nile Rodgers’ memoir, he chronicles the fusion of punk, funk, and cutting edge rock that he helped forge in the fires of dance music’s infancy. Riddled with sex, drugs, and (most importantly) the best music of a generation, Le Freak marks the passage of the famed pop legend from Chic to Daft Punk and beyond. Want to hear what it was like to jam with Jimmy Hendrix in Greenwich Village? How about witnessing the origins of Madonna? If you said yes to either question, this book is for you!

Follow Nile Rodgers on Facebook | Instagram | Spotify

Buy Le Freak: An Upside Down Story of Family, Disco and Destiny here.

What autobiographies have you been reading from the greatest names in dance music? Let us know in the comments below!