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Interview by Ara Feducia

Tell us about yourself and the work you do.

I grew up in Washington State and left college the first year to join the Navy. It was a whirlwind of amazing for nine years then I wound up with an assignment in Hawai‘i. The three years flew by and I got very attached here couldn’t leave so I separated from the service and figured it out ever since. That was in 2002.

Now I am in my seventh year as the senior marketing director for a liquor distributor called Young’s Market Company of Hawai‘i. We are a family owned company that’s been around for 125 years. Not too many people really understand the weight and responsibilities of this job, but to summarize I handle the marketing, activations, brand strategies, partnerships, events and promotions for over 200 brands of fine wine, spirits, sake, and beer. If you are at a party that has the name of a liquor in the title chances are I built that event, plus another few hundred each year that you many not know.

Outside of this work I am a writer – I had the Social Lite column in the Honolulu Weekly for five years and currently have a column in the weekly MetroHNL and online on the Honolulu Pulse.

I helped bring an art event together in Hawai‘i in 2011 and built out a music department in 2013. Currently my title is the music director for POW! WOW! Hawai‘i.

I work as the resident DJ for Service Industry Mondays at RumFire Waikiki, First Fridays at Fresh Café Downtown and Nextdoor, So Fancy! Thursdays at Addition Nightclub, the Grey Goose Dayclub and Bacardi Pool Party and am on the roster at The Reyka Room at electron, ChittyBang, White Rabbit and The Republik/Safehouse.

You’ve definitely paid your dues as far as the industry is concerned and have helped countless promoters, musicians, DJs, and clubs especially in Chinatown. Share with us some of your most favorite memories.

Thank you for saying that. This is quite selfish as I see it as I just want to see everyone doing well. It only makes everything better for everyone. People with good intentions who work hard should be recognized and supported.

I have so many memories in Chinatown especially at thirtyninehotel which started more like a clique of artists, musicians, and enthusiasts that just expanded their inner circle a few degrees. James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem’s set circa 2009, all of DJ Harvey’s sets – how he would come around and dance sometimes or play a record two or three times in a row or when Selena would put her roller skates on. We could be exactly who we were it didn’t matter how we danced, we just all danced.

I remember having my birthday party planned at The Loft but there was a massive power outage that lasted the entire night so we reluctantly had to call it off and wound up down at Bar35, which was the only bar open. Jesse Savio was rocking out on his guitar by candlelight in the center of the room and everyone from all walks of social circles was there drinking and laughing and having such a great night in the dark. All the bartenders from Pearl charged in so stoked to be off on a Friday night and all the Chinatown regulars had their first experience intermingling with them socially. It turned out to be the greatest night ever.

Things were so different back then, as is life. As newer generations come up and start going out and the older generations marry off or move away, I believe it’s our duty as the predecessors to remain approachable and open – and most of all stay engaged to try to influence everyone’s work and input. It’s hard now; I don’t see as many passionate people as I did back then. Remember how many people were making photo blogs for free? Aaron Yoshino, Chris Kalima, Aaron Van Bokhoven, Dan Weaver. I know there was more. I’m not sure now if it was all of us out blogging that made the “scene” a “scene” or vice versa. My favorite memories were being in the same place as all of them and then still racing to find all the posts and see everyone’s perspective. Remember how easy it was for everyone to go out? It could be a selection of bands at The Enterprise or even just a Tuesday. I don’t understand what happened to this current generation of new 21-somethings, but it looks like they have flowed to the surrounding neighborhood bars: Bevy, Pint & Jigger, Real, Beerworks. Going out is more about your solid inner circles than a “scene.”

In my opinion, boss ladies like you are few and far in between. What advice can you give the next generation?

Stay positive. Seriously. This is so key and I might sound like a broken record, but I have to remind myself of this every day. I am under tremendous pressure daily and sometimes it takes all I have inside me to keep that inside. Thank god for music.

Treat people the way you want to be treated. Never take advantage of being in a position of power as the tables can one day turn.Remember to be very black and white, and of course, let your personality shine through, but if you can’t say something nice about someone or something, unless it’s critical to the success of a project, then keep that to yourself. There is too much work to be done to get hung up on the negative.

Watch what you share online. Keep the dramatic vents to group texts or coffee chats with your besties. Trust your intuition. If you think someone you are going to do business with is full of crap, remain guarded but still give them the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes someone isn’t doing well because they weren’t given the right opportunity – that opportunity could be what you are presenting. Of course, sometimes that’s wrong, but it’s always better to see for yourself.

Keep your close friends close but always be branching out, especially into different industries.
Work on what you are passionate about even if it’s just as a hobby. Life has a funny way of making things happen when you do this.

Find another outlet to keep your life balanced – art, music, reading, meditation, even fitness is a good one. Women especially need to stay positive and never bring emotions or drama in to business, lest we become “typecast” as the emotional creatures we are.

You’ve always been a fan of music and musicians, was there a specific moment that inspired you to start DJing?

There really wasn’t. I was asked to participate in the Red Bull Play and Destroy, then was asked to DJ on a Thursday night at M. Both of these was more of me not wanting to let someone down but also deep down knowing that I would love it since music is something that’s always been with me since my earliest memories. Today I am so thankful that it happened, and I know that I would never have made the decision on my own to be a DJ if it hadn’t.

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Photo by Casea Collins-Wright

 

You just came back from your SXSW trip with Pow! Wow!. Tell us about your experience.

I am not sure I can even describe how amazing this trip was. It was exactly what I needed. That conference in particular I was always interested in checking out as it’s an industry event. I really needed to meet more people in the music industry to get perspective and see how we can grow the POW! WOW! Hawai‘i event. All of my connections were made at much more intimate private house parties after being introduced by one of my POW! WOW! music artists (JPatt from The Knocks), which immediately put me on another level that automatically gained me credibility. A lot of people had already heard of me prior because James had come back from Hawai‘i the past two years telling them all how amazing our event was. Like it or not these music industry people can be very guarded and outright snobbish if you aren’t “somebody.” Luckily I didn’t have to go through that.

I didn’t get to hang too much with the POW! WOW! artist crew as they were painting all day while we were checking out the conference all day but one of my last days there we all got to come together at a public graffiti park called Hope Outdoor Gallery and our artists painted with local artists while our Music School Director Nick Kaleikini and music sponsor Andy Song gathered some people to jam music at the park. It was hands down the most epic day. I really can’t describe that feeling. Collaborating if it’s done right is THE BEST.

I saw some amazing performances. I am planning to recap the entire thing on my supercw.com blog soon, haha I just need to find the time! Huge standouts – Lust for Youth, Kidnap Kid, Odesza, Halsey, Geographer, Soul Clap, and Eliphant.

Now let’s keep it one hundred, what is your definition of hype?

Haha. My definition of hype is promoting something VERY enthusiastically. I get this question I know because I tend to be a bit of a hype machine. I can’t help it. I have a lot of energy. I genuinely do get excited about things. A lot of things. It could get to a situation where I’m the hype girl who cried wolf and nobody would believe me. But it’s just who I am. I’ve lived all over the world, spent five years living in Europe and 11 years working with 20-something different nations before I settled in here. Hawai‘i does really have some great shit – the best in America and even the world. Believe THAT.

In today’s evolving digital landscape, do you think it’s easy or more difficult to be a DJ?

Easier for sure! I have tried so many times to mix by just listening – it’s very difficult. Looking at waveforms and listening makes it practically child’s play. I can see why so many of the veterans get so grumbly at this new generation. I couldn’t imagine carrying around crates to each gig either. I guess it’s like, this is what I’m going to play and this only but having such a huge library at your fingertips is so much easier.

Where’s your favorite place(s) to party right now? 

Work is taking over my nightlife life. If I go out to party I want to hit up Flashee at his Friday Manor at M. The days of jumping up and down in the center of a room smiling laughing with a bunch of familiar friendly faces is unfortunately very few and far between these days.

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Photo by Chris Kays

 

Where’s your favorite place(s) to DJ?

This one is a bit easier. I love playing at eleven44 – they have a great sound system. I also love playing at the Republik – being on the roster I get to open or close the big concerts of some amazing artists (Cut Copy!!!) and for the special parties like ChittyBang, which uses the big LED wall behind us on the Safehouse side. It makes you feel like a zillion bucks. That dancefloor is the perfect size too, and I love that the DJ booth is a mirror because I get to watch everyone watching themselves dancing.

Suddenly you get a call and you’re booked to play a Filipino Debut birthday at the FilCom Center in Waipahu, What’s your opening song?

Wow. I think if I got that call I’d give the gig to Francis Delfino to be totally honest. I have a very specific sound and I would hate to ruin someone’s birthday! If for some reason it’s me out there I would use the crate I had to make for a Sweet 16 I played at The Safehouse that had a lot of Major Lazer, Pitbull, and Tyga. Hey, it’s what the kids want. OR we could imagine the dream scenario where I was booked to play the sound I play. Then my first track would be “Right Here” by Jess Glynne. I am LOVING that track right now! (it’s on the spring mixtape!)

You’re having the most stressful day, phones blowing up, emails need to get answered yesterday and you need to unwind for three minutes, what song are you going to play on your headphones?

THIS is hard to pick one. Currently – True (Lexer Remix) by Nora En Pure (also on the spring mixtape!)

Let’s get back to you, it’s a Sunday afternoon and you have nothing to do, (Like that’s possible …) what are your plans?

OMG SUNDAYS THAT I DON’T WORK ARE STRAIGHT LEGENDARY STATUS. I get out of my bed and move to my couch in the living room that I’ve named Bermuda Couch Triangle and cozy up with my laptop and cat and make coffee and go back and forth between BCT with laptop/cat, back to bed, back to BCT until it gets dark. Then I go to bed.

Thanks for talking story with us, Christa!

Check out her blog: www.supercw.com

Upcoming CW Gigs:

4/2 – ChittyBang at Republik, 10p

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4/3 First Friday – FCDT 8p then Nextdoor, 11:30p

4/3 – Girls just want to have fun at Safehouse, 10p

4/9 – Addiction

4/12 –  Grey Goose Day Club