For Lily Chavarria, AKA Chicago’s rising young talent DJ Chava, pursuing a career in djing wasn’t about trying to cling to fame or endless club clout. To Chava, teaching herself and falling in love with the art of djing was about following her own path and preserving her own livelihood.
Before one impulsive night in college where a girlfriend of hers took her to her first nightclub—and her career prospects changed forever—Chava was on track to study and pursue biochemistry.
“I really did not know what I wanted to do [then]. I was just doing it because that's what was expected. Especially being from a Mexican family with parents who have never been to college,” said Chava. “It was kind of just like, you have to do this, you have to pursue this career, you have to make money. Being an artist or following your dreams as an independent business owner, that's not ever really a thing.”
Chava’s work ethic however, embedded into her personality via her Latina upbringing, is what encouraged her hustler mindset when it came time to conquer djing. In just two short years and via teaching herself the craft, Chava went from djing her first house party — a memorable experience where she recalls getting her aux cord unplugged in the middle of her set — to buying and flipping a Kanye West Life Of Pablo tour ticket for double the price in order to buy her first set of DJ gear — to monthly residencies within Chicago’s hottest nightclubs and becoming singer Tatiana Hazel’s trusted DJ. (Which also led to them becoming best friends.)
“When I decided to drop out of community college. I was like, "You know what? All I want to do is this. I can't stop playing," said Chava. “I would spend like four, six hours practicing, learning, by myself, it never bored me. I never felt like I had to practice like I had to do this, it was all coming from inside of me.”
The music that inspires Chava is all across the board genre wise, and is what makes her sets so distinctly infectious and fun. She claims she listened to so much rap and hip hop growing up that “it was insane” but also loved the addicting BPM of reggaeton (she’s a self professed Daddy Yankee stan) and would always be on the hunt for young, fresh artists to incorporate into her sets to hopefully put her audiences onto something new.
The past year for Chava has been one of immense growth and earned recognition, becoming one of the first names mentioned when one asks about women DJs in Chicago. Going forward, Chava hopes to keep earning her accolades, but while keeping her inner self in balance as well.
“There's days I just think about my career and that's it. I never let myself enjoy the moment. My mind is always onto the next. So right now I'm working on being able to be there in the moment,” said Chava. “If I sense myself falling out of place, I need that moment of stillness, inspiration, where I’m not thinking about work, I'm not thinking about relationships, nothing, I'm just thinking about myself. Because sometimes I put people in front of me, more than I put myself in front of them, and I need me time.”
Chava’s prioritization of her time, self worth but also her business goes back to her immense value of family and how she was raised.
“My father never wanted his daughter to rely on anyone else—to bring me an opportunity, to bring me money, to keep me. He doesn’t want to see me vulnerable, ever,” said Chava. “So that's why I have the personality that I have, that defense mechanism, because my [family] built it in me, and that’s why I grind.”