We Are Essex

Dominic's story

Dominic Gentry headshot

"I got to the point that I was playing to a thousand people at 3 in the morning in an amazing city but I was just going through the motions"

I’ve been a musician for the last fifteen years, touring and producing under the name Attaque. I started off making techno and electro. I was DJ-ing every weekend in a different city; places like Tokyo, Paris or Barcelona. So I spent 10 years touring and playing festivals. It took its toll a little bit. I’m happy in my job and my studies, I still produce music but I’m not living that life anymore. I got to the point that I was playing to a thousand people at 3 in the morning in an amazing city but I was just going through the motions. I wasn’t really into it, I wasn’t present. So many people ask me why I’m not doing it anymore, doing all this amazing stuff and play these amazing places, but my heart isn’t in it anymore. I felt like I had imposter syndrome. I never thought I would feel my true self studying at uni and working for a local council, but things change and I feel like this is my true self. It’s a good place to be.

I got 1 GCSE at school. I didn’t take to education at all; I bunked off all the time. I dropped out of a Media Studies course. I then did a Music Production course and then started the first year of university and dropped out of that as well. I’ve never been academic. I always told myself I couldn’t be academic. I never ever thought I’d end up in this position, and this is the happiest I’ve ever been. It’s mad, but I think all of those experiences I’ve had in my life have culminated in where I am now. I’m ready to be educated, I can bring in all the influences I’ve learnt and they all attribute to my work and what I’m doing.

I got a job working with young people with behavioural problems and mental health problems, and I realised that I was really out of my depth. I didn’t understand the human psyche enough to be able to truly help these people. I chose this uni because it really felt like my course, Therapeutic Communication and Therapeutic Organisations, was designed for me; it felt so specific to what I was doing. So that’s why I chose Essex.

I recently changed job actually. I’m now a Family Support Practitioner for Suffolk County Council. So I’m helping children and families on the edge of care where there’s been a family breakdown. Most of your essays are based around clients you’re working with or case studies. It just made my job so much better. I can really understand these young people that I’m working with who are having troubles. Every theory that I learn and every essay I have to do I feel validates what I am doing and helps me understand my clients better.

I’m very proud to have fathered 2 amazing, adventurous boys. They’re really adventurous and feral and fun. I took them out of school for 4 months and took them around Cambodia, India, Vietnam and Thailand, so they’re quite adventurous boys! I went to Australia for a year when I was eighteen and then I travelled across Russia and Mongolia. I went all the way to China – I started on the train in Colchester and 4 months later ended up in China! So yeah, I guess I’ve always been quite adventurous. I didn’t do the whole education/ university thing back then. So now this feels like an adventure to me; it’s new and exciting.

Whatever I’m doing I put 100% into it, if I don’t do that I don’t think it’s worth it. I think having the most enthusiasm for what you’re doing is the most important thing. If I could go back I would tell myself not to give myself a hard time! At the start I had such a hang up that I wasn’t intelligent, I wasn’t articulate and I couldn’t study so I would just fail. I was convinced I’d mess up, but I ended up getting a Dean’s of Excellence Award for my first year and I just got 80 on an essay!

I don’t really know what’s next? I want to travel more and have more experiences with my children. They really want to go and climb. We’ve done Ben Nevis and Snowdon, so they want to do Scafell Pike in the Lake District, so more adventures and exploring. I’m already thinking about doing a Masters as well but I’m not sure whether to go down the Psychodynamic Counselling route or the Psychology route? So I’m thinking about that. Who knows?


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