Student DJ mixes music and academics
Dazzling colored lights illuminated the dance floor, strobe lights flickered and sound waves of throwback hip hop ricocheted off the walls. Gilbert Adam Guillen, a 21-year-old SF State student, had the crowd getting down by dropping beats, leaving them in awe at the Horizon Lounge.
Guillen, a senior majoring in health education at SF State, is a barista and student by day and a DJ performer by night. Guillen is currently working with Underworld Productions, a company that focuses on promoting and hosting clubs from Los Angeles to San Francisco. The production company relocates him to new clubs every week throughout the Bay Area, such as Horizon or Hue Lounge and Night Club.
He believes that staying original as an artist is an important element, so his stage name, Adam Treblig, has a unique story of its own.
“I wanted something that was really going to set me and my name apart from anybody else,” Guillen said. “So my middle name is Adam and my first name is Gilbert, so Gilbert backwards is Treblig, so I decided to go with Adam Treblig.”
His father, Gilbert Guillen Sr., first introduced Guillen to DJing at age 10.
“I love how he taught me how to be open to everything because you can get bigger crowds,” Guillen said. “You get new people like that.”
As he got older, he started playing school events, like pep rallies and football games at La Puente High School in California’s San Gabriel Valley.
“I’m very proud of him,” Guillen Sr. said. “I know how much he loves his music and he’s done a lot more with it by posting his mixes and doing competitions. It’s something that is in his blood.”
In 2011, Guillen’s passion for music grew after performing for a crowd of 15,000 attendees at the annual Youth Day convention held by the Religious Education Congress in Anaheim. Although the gospel event had never had a DJ perform, Guillen said the event coordinators allowed it in hope that it would make gospel music trendier.
“You just have to be comfortable in front of a small crowd or no crowd if you’re ever going to play in front of a huge crowd,” Guillen said. “You have to understand the difference. You have to know where you came from and you have to know where you want to go.”
Following his move to the Bay Area, Guillen won the 2014 Campus DJ regional final at SF State, a competition that includes DJs from more than 210 colleges, according to Campus DJ’s website. His triumph earned him a spot in the final 12 in Hollywood.
“You’re up on stage, and people are just staring you down, and there are so many lights on you, and you’re just nervous,” Guillen said. “When I had my name called out, I (kind of) hesitated. I didn’t believe it.”
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After the competition, Guillen took a four-month hiatus from music because he said he felt he needed to focus more on family and education. He eventually realized he couldn’t give up on what makes him happy.
“I almost lost interest, but what really brought it back was the way music brought me out of things, so as soon as I left it, I came back to it right away,” Guillen said. “It was the only thing that really grounded me in my life and the only thing that made me confident to do anything.”
Mark Saur, Guillen’s roommate and a biology major at SF State, said Guillen puts a lot of time and passion into his craft.
“I believe that the way he makes his music is through emotion,” Saur said. “He always has a headset on, and he’s always mixing day and night.”
Guillen said he plans to continue his dream as a DJ and focus on his academics. He also said he plans to participate in the 2016 Campus DJ competition and will spin in nightclubs as preparation. He said he loves to play at clubs because of the opportunity, not for the money.
“In five years I see myself playing in bigger clubs, having people come see my name,” Guillen said. “When I play I like to instill a message. I like it when people feel something when I play my music.”