We had the good fortune of connecting with California Star Chaney and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi California Star, why did you pursue a creative career?
Music and travel are my two biggest passions, and I’m so fortunate to pursue them in unison. I feel the same energy when I’m DJing as I do when I’m writing about a place or destination I love: It’s a greater reminder that no matter our differences in life, we have the power to create one collective energy. With music, there’s no greater feeling than playing the right song at the right time. It’s a moment you almost can’t describe. I’ve felt that same vibrant energy spending an afternoon at a multi-generation, all-women weaving ceremony in the mountains of Peru, salsa dancing in a warehouse in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, and at the wild celebration of life that is Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I’m blown away by how music travels the world and the way rhythms can have a million meanings to so many people. I love that with my hands on the turntable, I’m responsible for orchestrating that experience and connection. I feel my most authentic self when I’m traveling, the most alive when I’m in a new place, and I take that energy back to the DJ booth each time.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’m a Los Angeles native and I currently live in Brooklyn, NY. I’ve been DJing for over three years, making the circuit of lower east side bars and venues, New York Fashion Week runway shows and after parties, and events for LA Fashion Magazine. At the same time, I’ve been pursuing my dream of becoming a travel journalist, where I am currently an editor at the award-winning travel website, Fathom. I report on the best hotels, restaurants, bucket-list adventures and cultural experiences around the world to inspire and spark passion in other travelers who love being out in the world. For me, travel is not about the bragging right of racking up stamps in a passport or likes on Instagram. It’s about gaining new perspectives and a sense of belonging in the unknown, and familiar. With music and travel, it all comes down to connection. It’s that feeling when you pack your bags, are up in the air or on the road, that you’re stepping out of the ordinary. It’s what makes it feel so good to dance to a song you love, and when you arrive at the place you’ve been dreaming of. That feeling is what I hope to share with my readers and friends on the dance floor. I’ve always wanted to be a performer of some sort. Growing up, I would write my own songs and even asked my parents if I could build a stage in my bedroom. They moved to LA when my dad was pursuing his career in music as a singer/songwriter and incredible guitarist. I spent my early childhood seeing shows in Hollywood, most noteworthy (and a concert I wish I could remember) was the ‘95 Rolling Stones show at the Hollywood Bowl when I was six months old. We would spend Friday nights eating at Rainbow Bar & Grill, spotting famous musicians eating dinner before a show. I grew up encouraged to be an artist and express my creativity, enrolled in after-school painting and drawing classes, rather than team sports. I feel like my unique upbringing fostered an originality and authenticity that is vital to my work today. It allows me to unapologetically follow my interests and to make space for what lights me up each day. Music is my outlet that I feel the most proud of myself when I succeed. Pursuing that passion also means taking risks, learning from my mistakes, and looking to those who inspire me to continue to grow. When I learned to DJ, I became enthralled with the art of mixing different rhythms together, building energy, and creating unique and unexpected mixes of music genres. Was my first set perfect with no mistakes? Absolutely not. But I put everything into it and the energy I created was what mattered most, also having fun. I’ve learned to take the time to listen, read a room, and not make any immediate judgments. This is why I love meeting new people when I travel. Everyone has a unique rhythm and it takes time to create a synergy between one another. I carry this skill in my role as a travel journalist. In the same way I want my music to carry you to another place, I want my writing to illuminate that sense even stronger. My ear for music carries over to my attention for detail in writing and my curiosity for travel. Similar to my love of music with a good beat, I love discovering new places that have a unique vibe, an energy you want to be around, and exploring the food, music, and culture. As I grow my career, I’m most excited for the opportunity to connect with new communities, DJ in beautiful places and venues, and share my experiences and connections along the way. It has taken a lot of courage to chart my own course, and I am grateful everyday as to where I’ve come and what’s on the horizon.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I would start with taking them to see great music in LA. Whether a sunset show by a favorite DJ on the Santa Monica pier, or an incredible rock show at the Hollywood Bowl or The Greek. I love that LA has such a variety and caters to all tastes in music. You can always find incredible food, culture, and a spontaneous energy wherever you go. The sunshine helps with that. DTLA feels like a city-within-a city. There’s no shortage of amazing hotels to stay that feel like a destination in themselves including Ace Hotel (which hosts amazing concerts), The Hoxton, NoMad, and The Proper Hotel, a second outpost of the Santa Monica stunner which is opening later this year. Since I live in a big concrete city, the beach is the first place I go when I’m home in LA. My absolute favorite is Surfrider Beach in Malibu, especially when I make a pitstop at the Surfrider Hotel with the most amazing rooftop overlooking the waves. My favorite drink is a spicy margarita, and Malibu Farm makes the best with cucumber-lime salt— It’s perfection.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My loving and endlessly supportive boyfriend Alex, who is always by my side, even when my set ends at 4 a.m. My incredible family who believes in me and are always dancing to my beat. Gabriel Levy, the trusting and generous owner of Rumpus Room who agreed to give me an opening slot at his club as my DJ debut. Pavia Rosati and Jeralyn Gerba, the brilliant founders of Fathom, who inspire me to travel deeper, and follow my passions with purpose and fun along the way.
Instagram: @californiachaney/ @djcaliforniastar
Other: Link to my writing: https://fathomaway.com/search/?q=california+chaney
Beach Photos: Jessie Chaney DJ Photos: Amy Kallman