Even before she signed with Universal Music Group’s 10:22 pm imprint last year, Chantel Jeffries was a DJ. Forget that the 26-year-old had already made quite the name for herself as a model, actress, YouTube star and social media fashion influencer. Music is, and has always been, a driving force in her life.
So much so that the lifelong audiophile earned the nickname “Ceejay The DJ” from her closest friends before ever once standing behind the decks as a professional.
And it wasn’t long before Jeffries turned that moniker into legit chances to showcase her musical prowess at high-profile gigs such as Coachella and Oscar parties — all of it bolstering the idea that producing was something she needed to take more seriously.
Throw in a bit of mentoring and encouragement from superstar friend Diplo, and Jeffries was ready for her inevitable “a-ha” DJ moment.
“It came when I decided to start putting out my own music,” she told PACIFIC recently from her Los Angeles home. “I was playing around with writing and production before that, but it wasn’t something that I definitely knew I was going to do. But after I made that decision, it changed everything.”
Last year, Jeffries co-wrote and produced her first single, Wait, which also featured an appearance from Migos rapper (and Cardi B’s husband) Offset. And in February, she released her fourth single, Facts, which featured YG, Rich The Kid and BIA, another track she both co-wrote and produced.
While having 4.3 million Instagram followers, and nearly 600K more on Twitter, is an undoubtedly advantageous head start, Jeffries is happy to let her work stand for itself.
And barring something unforeseen, there’s much more of it to come.
“I am working towards a bigger body of work,” she said. “I think for me, from the start until now, it’s been about finding my style and groove. I’ve been trying out different things, seeing what works, and taking it from there. But everything’s working towards that for sure.”
As it stands, the only thing in the way of Jeffries’ DJ career is, well, her. The multi-faceted talent, who has been romantically linked to Justin Bieber and basketball player Kyrie Irving, still models, retains an interest in acting, and has talked in the past of writing a book. And she’s just not the type of person who is willing to put limits on her artistry.
“I feel like all of these things are ways to express myself,” said Jeffries. “And I am someone who is very expressive creatively. I always say it’s like an equation and you’re just plugging in the different variables. I think everything goes hand-in-hand and when the time is right for each thing, I plan on doing it.”
For now, Jeffries’ immediate plan is to continue her 2019 Las Vegas residency with the Hakkasan Group (at OMNIA Nightclub Las Vegas at Caesars Palace, Wet Republic Ultra Pool at MGM Grand Hotel & Casino and Jewel Nightclub at ARIA Resort & Casino), as well as performing at their venues in San Diego (OMNIA Nightclub), Los Cabos and Bali. She’s also working on the finishing touches to a new single, something (like always) she’ll tease on social media before it drops.
And for anyone worried that the seemingly unlimited opportunities in front of Jeffries could derail the promising start to her latest endeavor, think again.
“I’ve always been someone who loves music so much,” she said. “DJing is such an amazing way to express your love for music. And creating something that is your own is such an amazing feeling. I love it. And it’s pretty much my life.”
Did you know?
Chantel Jeffries was born in South Carolina, but as the daughter of a Marine colonel, spent her formative years on San Diego’s Coronado Island. She believes the tombolo-connected community’s dedication to the arts was instrumental in her upbringing.
Chantel Jeffries was a Wilhelmina model and graduated from Florida International University with a degree in Communication and Fine Arts — earning a 4.0 in the process.
When: 9 p.m. March 30
Where: OMNIA San Diego, 454 Sixth Ave., downtown
Playing up International Women's Day
In honor of the March 8 celebration, here are some more notable female DJs
While still a male-dominated industry, there are plenty of amazing women working behind the decks these days. Alison Wonderland, Anna Lunoe, Nicole Moudaber, Maya Jane Coles, Tokimonsta, and Nina Kraviz, alongside longtime scene vets like Sandra Collins and Miss Kittin (and so many others) are leading the charge in evening the playing field. And in San Diego, DJs such as Lee K., Ayla Simone and Sam Blacky are among the city’s best and brightest.