Photography by Swabreen Bakr
There’s a generation of young people around now that are constant hustlers, they’re trying to make their careers on their own terms while doing work that fulfills a goal that gives them more than just monetary rewards; the Philadelphia Creatives encompass that generation of people.
I met Chaisely about a little over a year ago, she’s a DJ and creator of Chick-Decks.com an online resource for her fellow female DJs. In our interview she breaks down the challenges female DJs face, what trends she’s sick of, and recommends some hot tracks to listen to, plus some advice for aspiring female DJs. Check it out!
What is your background? What got you interested in DJing? Were you self-taught?
Music has always played a really important role in my life. I started dancing at the age of 3 and continued until college. I wanted to be a ballerina growing up, but the company I was with told me it wasn’t a realistic goal for someone who’s only 5ft. Before I even thought of DJing I liked to produce and mix beats. I was also a huge nerd for mixtapes. I used to throw house parties in high-school just so I could play my CD mixes. I didn’t realize at the time, that that was DJing. During my junior year of college, I was living in NYC; while I was out one night I saw a girl at a small club manning an iPod. She didn’t have tables or any of the usual gear, but that’s when it dawned on me that I could do the same. I shopped around for the necessary gear and bought everything the next week. Everything I know was self-taught, with a few new tricks here and there that I pick up from other DJs that I get to know.
What challenges do you think women face as DJs?
Not always being taken seriously, this has been a male dominated industry since its inception. I really work on my craft because I know some people are waiting for me to mess up. Some people are skeptical of how talented a female can be on the tables. Also, getting hit on. Not everyone treats you with the respect that you deserve. Overall though, I feel that the feedback is pretty positive. People are so excited to see a female on the tables because of the fact that you don’t see it often.
What are some important things that you learned in that time that you’ve been working as a professional DJ?
I’ve definitely picked up a lot of technical skills, I know how my gear works and how to fix it if something goes wrong. I’ve also learned some cool tricks and and shortcuts. I’m not a big scratcher, I get really into doing cool things with blending tracks and mixing. Because I didn’t know the programs when I first started, I learned how to do everything the hard way. I love to using my tables as instruments.
What advice would you give to young women who want to get involved in DJing?
Just go for it! There have been times when I thought that I had to be a certain way, look a certain and sound a certain way. A lot of people are surprised to find out that I’m a DJ. It’s all about the music, not about playing a certain “DJ” role. I seem unlikely but that doesn’t stop me. You just have to go for it. But go after it for the right reasons. Know that DJing is A LOT of work, fun, but definitely work. You’re DJing every weekend for 5 hours at a time by yourself, dealing with people screaming at you for requests, and lugging heavy a** gear around. It’s not always as glamorous as everyone thinks. You have to hustle, hard. It’s the nature of the beast. If you’re still interested, you’ll be a great DJ!
Who or what inspires you?
My inspiration is my family. I want to make them proud at the end of the day and that is what drives me. I have three younger sisters, and as the oldest I feel as though I owe it to them to be a good role model. I want to show them that with hard work you can accomplish your goals and live a happy and successful life. Family is something that is bigger than any trend or popular figure.
What’s the scene like? What trends are prevalent? What trend are you sick of?
- People love DJ’s right now. It’s really bizarre. When I started DJing I knew nothing of the culture. I just knew I loved music and that I could actually get paid to play the music that I loved. People now look at DJ’s the same way they look at their favorite hip-hop artists or producers. It seems like everyone is a DJ these days.
- The trends that are prevalent right now? Good question. I don’t really follow any specific trend. I just go by what sounds good, even though a track or genre might be crazy popular at the time that doesn’t always mean it sounds good. I’m always getting complimented on my music library, as if I produced every track. But that’s a big part of a DJ’s job is to collect a great library of tracks. I get really methodical with the tracks I choose & mix. My library isn’t too trendy honestly but I still have a great mix of genres and tracks that are both new and old.
- Trends that I’m sick of? Skrillex, dubstep and Diplo. Yes, I said it. I’m probably going to get hate mail now. Lol
Talk about the concept behind Chick Decks? How does it help/support female DJs?
I love business as much as I love music. While in college at Philadelphia University I started an online consignment shop for students to sell and trade clothes to one another. I shut it down when I transferred to Penn State a year and a half later. My family is full of successful entrepreneurs, so that’s the lifestyle that’s always made sense to me.
When I realized that DJing was what I wanted to do full-time I began to notice that there was this huge niche of female DJs with no place to go. The DJ industry is dominated by men, how sites and products are marketed are by and for men. Even the females that are represented on most sites are super-sexed, again for the men. Most women that are in the DJ game are talented and hard working and aren’t interested in having their tits hanging out.
I wanted to make a place that professional female DJs could go to share their craft and know that they are being represented in a professional and supportive way. Chick Decks is not only for the DJs but also so fans and those looking to hire a female DJ can find them more easily. With Chick Decks, we hope to change how the industry looks at female DJs and to promote this new culture of hard-working ladies. I recently came across a list of the ‘World’s 30 Richest DJs,’ none of which was a woman…
What’s the response to the project been like?
Overall the response has been really positive. We are incredibly new and are still in the process of building our technical infrastructure so we’ve been pretty quiet about the project thus far. Yet, we’ve had just under 1,000 unique views in the past 3 weeks since launching our signup page. That’s really exciting for us!
What are some of your favorite tracks at the moment?
My favorite tracks right now? So tough…
1. Ask Yourself by Julio Bashmore
2. You Know You Like It (Bondax Remix) by Alunageorge
3. Van Vogue by Azealia Banks
4. Dickie Riddim by Schlachthofbronx ft. Warrior Queen
5. I think She Ready by FKi ft. Iggy Azalea
What are your goals?
I’d love to be able to travel more as a DJ. And of course, see Chick Decks through to success.
What’s next for you?
Along with DJing and Chick Decks I’m really looking forward to getting back into producing. I also have plans for other non-DJ related tech projects.