Adam Matthews of the Village Voice has written what is probably the most in depth feature on Dave “Disco D” Shayman to date.
Matthews outlines a series of events that led up to Shayman eventually taking his own life:
As autumn approached, Disco grew profoundly depressed. He had told friends that depression ran in his family. His maternal grandfather, the late Brandeis University physics professor Stephan Berko, had been afflicted. Albert Einstein had sponsored Berko’s green card after he survived the Holocaust. Berko, who’d been in Auschwitz and Dachau, returned to Europe nearly half a century later for a visit to one of the sites of his internment. Shortly after returning to America, Disco told friends, Berko grew despondent and committed suicide. (A New York Times obituary notice in 1991 said only that Berko died in his sleep. Asked about it, Disco’s mother, Deborah Amdur, agrees that he died in his sleep but declines to discuss it further, and wouldn’t say whether Berko, her father, suffered from depression.) At the time, Disco was just 10.
Disco’s bipolar disorder first emerged when he was in his early twenties, his mother says. During his manic periods, he was intensely productive. But his creativity dried up when he became depressed. He would take his meds for a while, but after complaining that they numbed him, he would stop and try to regulate himself with weed.
By January 2007, things seemed hopeless. Unable to afford the overhead for the studio and his various business ventures, he’d moved in with his mother and stepfather in Washington, D.C.
Heaped onto his debilitating depression, this final humiliation compounded his sense of failure. In mid-January, over IM, he told his friend Jared Selter, “I was hot in 2004, but now I’ve lost it.” He was so sure he’d lost his ability to make music, he even had his ears examined. The doctor assured him his ears were fine; Selter told him he was making the best music of his career. But Disco still confided that two years earlier, when he’d fallen into a deep depression around the time he scored “Ski Mask Way,” he’d attempted suicideâ€”it wasn’t his first attempt.
By the time Selter’s girlfriend, Isla Cheadle, logged on the next day, his condition had worsened. The conversation, she recalls, went something like this:
Isla: “How is DC going?”
Disco: “Not good, not good.”
Isla: “So what are you going to do?”
Disco: “I’m thinking asphyxiation.”
Isla: “Disco, please.”
“We were on for a little longer,” Cheadle says. “I logged off. At this point, it was hard for me.”
Only days later, on January 23, 2007, Disco was found in his mother and stepfather’s basement. He had hung himself. He was 26.
Read the full feature, with insight from those close to D, here.