Find out Why Chantel Jeffries Is the EDM Industry’s Millennial Tour de Force
Written By: Keri Bridgwater
Photographed By: Corey Wilson
Styled By: Janelle Arreola
Makeup By: Chantel Jeffries
Hair By: Athena Alberto
With her undeniable Age of Instagram star power––followers currently number 4.4 million on the platform alone––the rise of social media darling-turned-producer-and-DJ, Chantel Jeffries, has been swift. Not only has the multi-talented 26-year-old carved out a career in the boy’s club world of electronic music, but she also helped fly the flag for female creatives in the process; she’s collaborated with respected rappers, too—like Offset—and was the first to sign on to 10:22pm/Capitol Records. Her latest single, feel-good hit “Chase The Summer,” dropped on June 5 this year and racked up 1 million global streams on Spotify alone less than a week later. She spins A-list events from Coachella to the Vanity Fair Oscars Party, landed on the coveted 2019 Hakkasan Group Las Vegas roster and then there’s her capsule collection for trendy Gen Z-focused e-retailer, superdown.
So just how did this self-professed former mathlete (and current “Rick & Morty” enthusiast), hit the big time? Signed by Wilhelmina Modeling Agency in her early 20s, she featured in A$AP Rocky’s 2016 Guess campaign, modeled Khloé Kardashian’s Good American denim line and has been a brand ambassador for L’Oréal since 2017. An extensive music library and SoundCloud playlists were integral in Jeffries’ emergence as Ceejay The DJ (also dubbed the ‘Aux Cord Lord’ by friends). “I like to go with the flow and never get too caught up in putting pressure on myself,” Jeffries says. “I’ve always been into music and the arts. At the time when this all started, I was doing more acting and modeling, but people said they liked the music I was putting out on my social media, so I started making playlists because everyone asked me to. And then people started thinking I was a DJ, and then I said, ‘Well, let’s see where this goes,’ and so I just went with it.”
In an industry where men make up the majority of DJs, Jeffries says that aside from finding her niche and the type of music she wanted to make––influences have ranged from Euro-house to dancehall––breaking in was the hardest part. “I had a lot of good friends that were supportive, though,” she explains. “It’s something I love about the community—everyone’s supportive, everyone loves to collaborate and everyone has such good energy. Diplo’s a great friend and has been a mentor for sure—he’s helped me with direction and feedback, so I definitely look to him for advice. In this community, I feel like everyone’s friends with everyone, though; it’s like one big family.”
When it comes to writing, producing and crafting her sound in the studio, Jeffries has the hottest industry names at her fingertips—she collaborated with hip-hop heavyweights YG, Rich The Kid and Boricua-Italian trap star BIA on 2018 track, “Facts,” while her latest single, “Chase The Summer” features R&B artist, Jeremih. She says the inspiration for the song, which held a solid spot on the US iTunes’ “Best Of The Week” and currently has over 4.7 million views on YouTube, was to make people feel happy and excited for summertime. “It’s definitely one of my favorites that I’ve done so far. It just has this great summer vibe, and it’s been well-received, so I’m happy about that. The music video’s doing great, too. It has all my friends in it (Alissa Violet, Cindy Kimberly, Mackenzie Altig) and we had a really good time filming in LA and the Dominican Republic. It’s actually the first shoppable video and features my collection with superdown.”
As stylish in the studio as she is behind the decks, music and fashion go hand-in-hand for Jeffries, who’s above-mentioned capsule collection of sexy but straightforward separates and accessories––think mini-dresses, on-trend bodysuits and strappy sandals––debuted on new e-retail site, superdown. Created by Revolve founders Michael Mente and Mike Karanikolas, and already a favorite among bloggers and social influencers, it was the perfect platform for Jeffries. “I like fun, simple staples, and these pieces represent my style perfectly. I love superdown as a brand—Revolve, too. They were great to work with and really brought my vision to life.” Jeffries, who’s also “really liking Balenciaga right now,” has been digging Artistic Director Demna Gvasalia’s ‘I Love Techno’ Spring/Summer 2019 collection. At work, though, she favors sneakers. “I can’t wear high heels DJing, even though I love them, but I’m such an active person anyway, always jumping around. A little dress and sneakers are usually my go-to. DJing burns a lot of calories so that, plus eating clean, really helps me stay in shape on the road.”
And the road—or the skies (she often travels to gigs by private jet)—is something Jeffries has seen a lot of this year thanks to her ‘dream come true’ residency in Las Vegas with hospitality heavyweights, Hakkasan Group. “The residency is amazing—I LOVE Vegas. Hakkasan is beyond next level; they make it such a great experience. The vibe is great, too, because everyone’s going there to have a good time, and there are always friends in town, so I get to see a lot of people traveling in and out. It’s been unreal.”
The Entertainment Capital of the World isn’t the only city Jeffries has graced with her presence in 2019. A New Year’s Eve Party on St. Barts notwithstanding, she’s played everywhere from Miami and Montreal to San Diego—most recently at OMNIA’s AftertheCon party in July. “A lot of people know I was born in Coronado because of my dad being in the military, but I actually lived there until I was 10,” she explains. “It was a great place to grow up—beautiful weather, the people were super nice and it was really safe. I used to ride my bike to school at Coronado School of the Arts, ride to the beach, go ice skating at The Del. So many amazing memories—I try to [go] back whenever I can.”
With such a packed schedule, Jeffries doesn’t get much downtime, but when she does, watching movies and going down the rabbit hole on Tumblr are on top of the list. “I’m a HUGE movie person and love watching films. It’s one of my favorite pastimes. I’ll dedicate a month to a different director and watch all their movies, especially when I’m on the road.” She loves reading (anything science-based or spiritual) and is a big fan of the Audible app. “Honestly, I like going on Tumblr, too,” she confesses, a little shyly. “I get ideas––maybe for a song, a sound I’m working on, a single or a video. I like it because there’s all this really great visual content that isn’t related to anyone I know, so I get inspired without getting caught up in anything, any drama. It’s definitely one of my hobbies.”
Jeffries, also a self-professed cat lady (she has one, but her roommate has three) is super close to her younger sister, Selah, who currently lives with her in Los Angeles. On the subject of family, Jeffries shares that some of her earliest musical influences stem from her parents.
“When I was young, we took a lot of road trips and my parents moved a lot, so we’d be in the car for a long time. Mom and Dad would always bring CDs and cassette tapes instead of listening to the radio, so I grew up listening to a lot of gospel music, Motown, disco, a lot of throwback stuff.” She says her dad, a now-retired USMC Colonel, always catches her shows in Miami. “He comes out and he has a really good time, but my mom, who lives on the West Coast, prefers Kenny G and going to jazz festivals. My dad wakes up in the morning, though, and puts on music videos and he knows ALL about it,” she laughs.
Coy about future plans and projects (she wants them to be a surprise for fans), Jeffries shared that her birthday is coming up on Sep. 30. “I have a few shows that week—I’m doing Miami, New York and Vegas, so I’ll bring my friends out, and we’ll celebrate on the road, and we’ll have a good time.”