Music

Chantel Jeffries Is Your New Favorite DJ Headed to Radio

The 24-year-old talks her new single “Wait,” being mentored by Diplo, and numerology.

Chantel Jeffries has an ear for music. Whether spinning at Coachella parties or hanging easy at a kickback with friends, she just can’t seem to dodge the role of DJ. She first made waves as a social media darling, having garnered an impressive 4 million followers on Instagram and has just released her first single “Wait” is out now and features Migos’ Offset and Louisville rapper Vory. It's a song she both co-wrote and produced; a glorious crossroads where Atlanta Hip-Hop meets European House.  This unique blending of genres is sure to become a hallmark of Jeffries's as she releases her highly anticipated debut EP, Calculated Luck, out later this year. 

Her emergence as a legitimate DJ is an amazing thing. For one, it marks another step closer to greater female representation in electronic music, where the majority of DJs are men. And two, so often the confines of genres seem to stifle the creative potential of music and its ability to bring people together. But if there's anyone who can make that happen in the Instagram age, it's Chantel. 

In a wide-ranging interview with L'Officiel USA, Jeffries discusses making her debut single, being mentored by Diplo, and numerology. 

What first drew you to DJing?

Just listening to so many different things and having a huge music library, so people would always joke around and call me Ceejay The DJ. I was always the DJ by default at gatherings and parties, so it kind of just took on a life of its own. Eventually, I had so many of my friends [who] were DJs and [they] kind of encouraged me to pick it up.

 

What were some of your earliest musical influences?

My parents would play Motown, [and] Spanish music. Moving all over the country growing up, I picked up different musical influences. I [also] went through a punk-rock phase.

 

Is that what we can expect from your upcoming releases? Lots of different influences blended together?

Yeah! I go through phases where I'll listen to one type of music for a week or two straight and I'll just be really inspired by that, then jump to something totally different, kind of finding the key things I like from each and seeing how I can put them together. I think that's really what you can expect from any of my stuff.

 

What inspired your debut single "Wait?" Was it a theme or an experience?

It's actually a funny story because I was at a studio and before I went to the session I was on my phone looking at Twitter and saw this old Vine where [these guys] were making a beat. They were pressing the button on a crosswalk and it was saying "Wait, Wait, Wait,"—and [they] start dancing all crazy. So I went to the studio and it kind of took off from there. Just the word "Wait" is kind of where the whole entire song came from.

 

What was it like working with Offset and Vory?

Vory is amazing. It's actually crazy how that happened because Louis Bell and I were working on the track and producing it, and Vory happened to be in the studio at the same time in another session. He stopped by and goes, "Oh this is so sick, do you mind if I lay some melodies down on it?" I was like sure! So he sat there and started playing melodies and you know, words just started coming. We had such a great synergy so from there we kind of just kept working together.

 

How would you describe the vibe of the song to someone who hasn't heard it yet?

The song [has] a European vibe. It's a little more on the House side just because it is a higher BPM. But it's definitely a pop feel. I love that I could incorporate Offset because it gives it more of like an urban tone and I think it really opens up a whole new audience for people to actually hear something they normally wouldn't hear in Hip-Hop.

So you're marrying the two different genres?

Exactly. That was kind of my goal from the beginning because I like all this type of music and I feel like a lot of people would like it too, they just wouldn't necessarily go looking for it. So it's kind of a way for them to gradually work their way into listening to other stuff.

 

What direction are you headed in terms of visuals?

[When] we were shooting stuff for the song it was very science-themed. I designed this really cool lab coat/fashion piece. I see a lot of designers taking that route and making really cool lab-coat-type things. It's cool how you can take something that's so industrial and make it fashion and cool.

 

What would you say is the ideal place to listen to the song?

I see it being played in a lot of different settings: chilling with your friends or riding around, but you could also listen to it at a party. It's one of those songs where you can dance to it but you could also just relax if you want.

"There's a difference between what I want to hear and what other people like, so my job as a DJ is finding a way so they can hear new stuff."

Do you follow astrology?

I do. I'm a very true Libra. My numerology is super accurate as well, mine's a 6. My friends, everyone around me is a 6. 

 

Speaking of friends, who are some people who support you?

I have different people that I would ask for different things whether it's lyrics or a song itself. Someone that I get a lot of inspiration from is Diplo. [He]'s one of my really good friends [and] actually one of the first people that have been with me from the beginning as far as DJing [goes]. I always looked up to him as someone who finds musical influences in really cool places and does a really cool job of pulling different artists together. I always play him my stuff.

 

Is there a piece of advice that Diplo has maybe given you?

I think it's just an overall mentorship. For me, it's seeing his drive and seeing how motivated he is. The guy is traveling so much and still makes amazing music. We work out all the time together. He will land and go straight to the gym, or like, the other day we were working out and he went straight from the gym and flew to Germany. Literally to the airport. I see that and it just gives me the motivation to use my time wisely.

What do you feel is your main objective as a DJ?

There's a difference between what I want to hear and what other people like, so my job as a DJ is finding a way to segue so they can hear new stuff. You can't just throw [things] at them without any precursor. You want to ease people into [hearing] new things they aren't familiar with otherwise they might not give [them] a chance.

 

What are some of the songs you play during a set that gets the crowd going?

It really depends on the crowd. Sometimes I'm DJing hip-hop and I know the songs that I really like for that, it's really like BlocBoy JB, and obviously Migos. I'm really loving this ZHU and Tame Impala song called "My Life." Every time I play it everyone's like Oh my God! What is this?! It’s such a great song.

 

What are you most excited about?

Developing my music and my platform to be able to say things to people in a different way.

 

 

 

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