World class mash-ups

Team Canada DJs represent with mix of styles

Interview: Team Canada DJs opening for Kid Koala @ Elixir, Thursday

Like the generations before him who became musicians after seeing a guitar virtuoso in performance,
D.R. One’s passion for deejaying started at a hip hop show when he was an impressionable 13-year-old.

“I went to a hip-hop show, and saw this guy deejay,” said D.R. One in an interview with the Journal. “Common’s deejay did a crazy routine half way through the set ... I was pretty blown away.”
Today D.R. One takes tracks from guitarists like Jimmy Page and David Gilmour to create mash-ups. As Team Canada, which is based in Montreal, D.R. One and Grandtheft use tracks from Queen
to NWA, to blend different styles of music into song.

D.R. One started practising his craft after he purchased his first turntable set more than a decade ago. He learned different methods of deejaying by watching videos of other deejays, such as DJ Dusty of Ottawa, and imitating their techniques. “At the time there wasn’t a lot of sharing of techniques—
we kinda figured things out for ourselves. Scratch videos were just guys in their bedrooms scratching.
Thirteen years ago scratching was still pretty new, and videos would circulate. [The videos] were really
bootlegged, and shitty quality.” Through a Kingston connection, D.R. One and Grandtheft put on shows together at Elixir.

“About two years ago Grandtheft and I just put some gigs together. I worked for the Elixir all the time
and got guys to cover for me when I couldn’t go. I started sending Grandtheft down [to Kingston]
and Elixir liked him a lot. “Kingston was kinda the catalyst for us getting together. Two years ago, in January, [Grandtheft and I] decided to call ourselves something. We came up with Team Canada.”

Team Canada is an intense group, both on stage and off. On stage, the group performs with four turntables. Off stage, D.R. One and Grandtheft get together five days a week to discuss current music fixations and possible tracks to mash-up.

“We usually get together ... at each other’s houses. We sit there with our laptops and go through our huge banks of music and talk about whether we should mash-up this song, or this one. We give each other ideas. To make a good mash-up, D.R. One explained, there has to be some consistency between songs both musically and lyrically. “We listen to the radio all the time to try to get ideas. We have oldie stations on our radio dials. When we hang out in clubs, it’s always the same music. I listen to a lot of classic rock songs, like Led Zeppelin and the Stones.”

Team Canada is currently working on a mash-up for the Rolling Stones’ song “Start Me Up.”

Don’t expect it to show up on an album anytime soon, though. The group released Classic Material,
Vol. 1, last year, which is only available in select stores and at their shows. Clothing label Triple
5 Soul paid for the recording and printing of the record in exchange for advertising. Because Team
Canada relies on samples of other artists’ work, it’s next to impossible to release their mash-ups without running into copyright issues.

“It’s like [DJ Danger Mouse’s] Grey Album. We’re not making money off the disc, so I don’t think people will come after us. We’ve spoken to record labels about releasing an official album of mash-ups, but it would be a licensing nightmare—you have to get all the artists and their labels to okay everything, from using the track, to royalties.”

Despite having recorded versions of their songs, Team Canada’s sets remain undetermined. D.R. One
and Grandtheft improvise on tour. “We’re always freestyling [on stage]. It’s never planned out. We’ve got a few tricks, but for themost part we just go off.” “We have a cool four-turnatable show, and we come up with some pretty cool mixes.”

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