DJ, producer and fashion influencer Chantel Jeffries is having a whirlwind summer after signing with Universal Music Group’s imprint 10:22pm, and releasing her first three singles in anticipation of her forthcoming LP, Calculated Luck. Jeffries’ bouncy style fuses bright beats with features from some of the most sought-out artists in the game, notably teaming up with Offset for her debut track, “Wait.”
This month, the 24-year-old dropped a Euro-dance inspired banger called “Better,” featuring BlocBoy JB and Vory. As her track quickly gained popularity, Jeffries discovered one particular remix on Twitter — from 10-year-old sensation DJ Livia — that caught her eye.
We caught up with Jeffries to discuss her music, her goals as a DJ/producer, and the “Better” remix, premiering on Billboard below.
You’ve amassed a big social following as not only an in-demand DJ — landing gigs like the Vanity Fair Oscar Party and Coachella — but also a fashion influencer and model, with over 4 million followers on Instagram. How has the Internet influenced your career in music?
I think the Internet has influenced my career so heavily because before we had the whole world at our fingertips, you were only exposed to things from people that were around you or the town you were in, or things like that. And then when the Internet was booming with MySpace, SoundCloud, Apple Music and Spotify, it opened up a whole new world to be able to really dive in and find things that you truly like, without too much influence from anyone else.
I was exposed to a lot of different types of music living all around the US growing up, and my parents were into a lot of different types of music be it gospel or country. But with the Internet and social media, I was able to explore that and be able to find people that were up-and-coming and listen to their stuff.
Speaking of up-and-coming, how did you come across DJ Livia’s remix of “Better”?
I saw her in a video on Twitter, and I was like “Wow this is so cool.” It’s a different style of DJing from what I do, but I still think it’s so amazing because she’s so young and so talented in her sector with scratching and stuff like that. It’s so cool to see you can make a video like that anywhere, even in your house, and people can resonate with it and it can go viral. And, it can happen overnight so that’s really cool too.
Do you see parts of yourself in DJ Livia or feel a connection to her?
I see someone who has such a great stage presence from such a young age and that’s always been me. My mom sends me old videos, and I was always performing. I was standing on the table and making everyone watch my performances since I was so small. And I was always great in front of the camera as the one providing the entertainment, whatever way it was. I loved music and I was always dancing and singing. At the time I didn’t know anything about DJing and it wasn’t the way it is now with technology. I definitely think it’s something about having that stage presence and that X factor where you’re not shy, you like to be in front of the camera and it doesn’t bother you at all — you [actually] perform better, it gives you energy. I definitely think that what she does is so cool because it’s different, and she’s a girl, and she’s young and she has her own flavor.
What inspired “Better,” and how did you get involved with Vory and BlocBoy JB?
The inspiration for my last three songs was kinda like a Euro-dance vibe, and then me bringing some more urban hip-hop aspects to it. Me and Vory had been catching a really good vibe in the studio since we’ve been doing a bunch of stuff together and we were having a conversation, talking about this girl and there was another guy in the picture. Vory was like “No, I’m way better than him. I know I could be the better guy.” I’m like “Okay so why don’t we make this the hook, and this should be the concept behind the song.” So we did “Better,” we tried it with a couple different people as the feature on the song, and I think it’s really cool with BlocBoy.
The song does have a perfect mix of dance and hip-hop sounds.
I was looking for a really good juxtaposition and a way to bring two different types music listeners into one song. Somebody was telling me that they only listen to hip-hop, but they really liked my song. I was like, “This isn’t a traditional hip hop song, it has more of a Euro-dance vibe.” And they’re like “I really like it I haven’t heard anything like it.” People just stick to what they know sometimes, and it’s my job to introduce people to something different — that’s what I try to do.
You’re playing a series of summer sets at Las Vegas venues Wet Republic and OMNIA. What makes the scene stand out compared to your LA and New York shows?
Vegas is a really interesting crowd because when you think of Vegas, it’s the mecca of everyone from all over the world coming together to have the ultimate party experience. So you get different types of people, and my sets have a mixture of hip-hop and traditional EDM music. In Vegas, they know the classics, so you wanna play stuff where people are familiar and they can dance and have a good time. But I also want to play a song that hits so hard that even if they don’t know it, they’re gonna wanna Shazam it and add it to their library.
In LA and New York, people are more up on the newer music so at those venues they want to hear all the newest stuff. They want to hear the new Travis Scott, they want to hear the new Drake, the new Kanye, they want to hear all these underground rappers that have a hot song out right now. In Vegas, you want those big drop moments since people are going there for their bachelor party or their bachelorette, and they’re trying to go as hard as possible. It gives you an opportunity to play the big bangers.
Can you give any hints about your set? What’s your go to old-school track?
On the hip-hop side, definitely Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, DMX, some Jay-Z. There’s always the classics. Then we have the Vegas classics like House of Pain’s “Jump Around.” There’s just some interesting songs that you don’t expect unless you go to Vegas, because people love it. It’s not something you hear anywhere else.
What’s coming up for you in the future?
I’m coming to New York soon for the VMAs. It’s always a great time and there’s so much going on. There’s some surprises there. I’m super excited about my next song that I’ve been working on. It’s an end-of-summer song, and a little bit more EDM than the other ones, but it’s probably one of my favorites that I’ve ever done.