Before mash-ups became club staples, DJ Adam Freeland was merging streams of breakbeat, techno, house and drum n’ bass. Now, his sets include indie rock, hip hop and pretty much every sound that touches his ear.

“If I can get a bit of a rock record into a set, and it works, why not,” he said. “I’m not good on sitting on one thing — if I played a whole set of the same sound, I’d be bored.”

Freeland’s had a lot of experience with rock. Along with remixing the Doors’ Hello, I Love You and tracks from Nirvana and the White Stripes, he’s working on an album with Pixies’ guitarist Joey Santiago and Tommy Lee. When picking rock tracks, Freeland said it’s tough to define which elements work.


“Sometimes the beats aren’t tough enough, so I’ll do a lot of re-edits,” he said. “There are a lot of factors — the vibe might be right, the tempo too, but the beat is not there, so I’ll put a beat underneath it.”

Given the breadth of technology now available to DJs, Freeland can pre-edit tracks on his way to a gig. The wide availability of music available today also means audiences are more open. Freeland said though they may have enthusiastic fans, DJs sticking to a single genre sound stale. In the 90s, many DJs spent their time mixing pre-made tracks that stuck to a certain sound pallet and track structure. In comparison, much of the “new blood” began as producers, and are more artists than DJs.

“I think a lot of big name DJs from the 90s that continue to be big names sound dated compared to the fresh blood coming through,” he said. “(But when) I hear fresh, new blood, it makes those DJs sound like dinosaurs.”

See it live: Adam Freeland plays Celebrities Night Club tonight.

Rob McMahon is a freelance writer. A graduate of UBC’s Journalism program, he contributes to Metro and other publications. Top music memories include a road trip to Coachella and catching Lollapalooza ‘95.