Tristan Splichal studies the cello and the mixing deck

Mike Paulus

Many musicians strive to master multiple instruments, often spanning different musical genres and skill sets. Some take it a notch further. Take Eau Claire eighth-grader Tristan Splichal, for instance, who’s just as comfortable with bows and strings as he is with phasers, flangers, and beat matching. This lanky 13-year-old’s been hard at work learning the cello for the past two years. But in the last 12 months, he’s also charged headlong into DJing and mixing EDM (electronic dance music).

“They definitely help each other,” writes Tristan – who cites DJ Hurricane (of Beastie Boys fame) and KSHMR as major influences – in an email. “Your main objectives as a DJ are to seamlessly merge multiple songs, and slap new effects onto the songs’ existing ingredients along the way. ... Being classically trained on the cello has enabled me to know and better understand how all music is built and progresses. Creating natural transitions, reading waveforms, and layering new sounds, are all easier to do when you actually play an instrument.”

Tristan started out mixing with an app and his family’s music library, but later saved up for his own mixing deck and PA system. Of his son’s musical duality, Tristan’s father Jason says, “My wife and I love that Tristan has discovered a new positive artistic outlet – something that challenges him intellectually and emotionally.”

This past Halloween, to have some fun and put his skills, Tristan DJed from their front porch for trick-or-treaters (complete with a light show and fog machines). “He prepared for months,” Jason says, “and the neighborhood loved it.”

What’s next? “I would love to expand my passion by having regular gigs,” Tristan says, ‘but honestly that’s not something that’s very popular around here. People don’t normally consider hiring a 13-year-old for their parties, either.”

For now, Tristan says he’s content to toil away on both the cello and the mixer, just to see himself get better.

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