Even as a kid, David Hollands had a fascination with collecting sounds he could play with later. Growing up in Muncie, Ind., he'd replace his boom-box batteries and add a new cassette tape on family car trips to Wisconsin to visit his grandparents.
"I'd record the music I would hear on stations going through Chicago and Milwaukee," says Hollands. "I'd scan the radio looking for sounds I could archive." Holland's parents might have guessed their son would grow up to be a DJ.
Today, Hollands isn't just any DJ. He's become one of the most successful club DJs in New York City. His distinct "tech house" style contrasts soulful house music with mechanical techno rhythms. Hollands returns to the Midwest this Friday, Jan. 28, when he performs at Madison's Inferno nightclub.
Hollands' DJ roots date back to his late-1980s high school years, when the rock band he was in broke up.
"We had gear left over that no one knew what to do with," he recounted during a telephone interview last week. "I took a lot of it and decided to use it for DJ shows."
In the early 1990s Hollands attended Ball State University in Muncie, where his dad worked as a professor. "I kind of made a business out of being a DJ in college," he says. "I even had my own business card."
After graduating in 1993, Hollands pursued the craft full-time. He says he adopted his signature tech house style right away. "I've always loved house music for the song elements you find in it and the way it makes you want to dance," he says. "But I found a lot of house music sounded the same over time. I loved techno, too, but alone, it sounded too mechanical to me. So I looked for the gray area in between both of them."
In Madison, Hollands says he'll use new gear that lets him remix tracks live. He's come a long way from batteries and boom boxes.