CHELINA MANUHUTU
Beauty and the Beats

by Dan Prince, photographs Juan Lafita July 2016 MUSIC Read in PDF format N10/2016
CHELINA MANUHUTU The Dutch model of the year turned queen of the decks live and direct…

What is your earliest musical memory?

“Alongside listening to hip-hop via my brother, it was mainly pop music through my parents. Artists such as Depeche Mode, REM, The Smiths, David Bowie and Spandau Ballet were filling my ears from an early age. And my bedroom walls were adorned by the likes of Queen, Janet Jackson, David Bowie and Michael Jackson.

Were your family musical?

“My father played in a band called Massada which played Latin rock music and my mother was a ballet dancer. I’m Moluccan so I guess I was born with music in my blood. Then my big brother started to DJ and he was always showing me his new music. I was always fascinated to watch him mix different tracks – I thought it was simply awesome.”

You entered the world of modelling in your teenage years. Was it difficult turning your back on music? What influenced you to enter this new arena?

“I started modelling really young but I always had time to listen to music and get my studio ready. This was the only way for me to get really relaxed after weeks far from home; I’d go to my studio in Amsterdam, listen to new tracks and chill. Modelling is a really well paid job but so many times I was really sad as I couldn’t accept many gigs during the year. Also, even though most promoters knew I was a techno / tech-house DJ, they would still ask me to play EDM. I have nothing against any music genres but that isn’t my thing.”

Why did you eventually give up modelling for music?

“In 2010 I had a terrible accident where I burnt my arm, back, leg and shoulders with fire. That accident put me in hospital for a long time to have a lot of skin surgery. At one point I thought that I could never model again, but after some time I was busier than ever. But being there I realised that my life had been good so far – I had a great family, good friends, an apartment in Amsterdam, cars, motorbikes – but this accident could have had a dramatic end and I realised that I couldn’t leave this world without developing my career as an artist. I refused big modelling contracts for playing in small clubs and bars and started being selective about the kind of gigs I took. I took this decision three years ago and today I’m proud with what I did. Blue Marlin Ibiza was my second home in Ibiza, they connected me with my manager and agency and now I’m playing a monthly residency at Sankeys Ibiza, CDLC Barcelona and Pacha Ibiza. I also take my sound all over the world to places such as Greece, Slovenia, Milano, Rome, Madrid, Lisbon, Colombia and Chile. From 45 gigs last year, I’m probably going to 95 gigs this year. It’s all good.”

The issue of the ‘female DJ’ was raised yet again at IMS – Nicole Moudaber and B.Traits voiced their ongoing frustration that they would never like to hear the phrase ‘female DJ’ again. How difficult did you find it in the beginning to be taken seriously as a credible DJ, especially coming off the back off your modelling career?

“This is a good question. Our job is to entertain people with music, so I don’t know what the problem is with some promoters or part of the crowd. In the beginning many promoters and agencies were not even interested in me. And the interested ones were just interested for my image or for the wrong events. I guess they were just looking on Google and they didn’t even listen to my sets; they just looked at the model pictures and thought I was some kind of a fraud. So I decided to go low profile, find a reliable manager and agency that could trust me and my music and gain the respect from the people like this. I heard many times the sentence: ‘But can you play?’. Dan, I love now to show them how I can play.”

Which producers are important influences on you?

“I actually have a lot of respect for many different producers such as Nicole Moudaber, Monika Kruse, UNER, Dosem and Mendo.”

How would you describe your music style in 2016?

“My main music genre is funky deep tech house but I also play techno.”

Above your studio desk sits a sign saying ‘Good Music Doesn’t Have An Expiration Date’. For you, what makes a perfect record for the dancefloor?

“Any record that can make the crowd dance, smile and take them far from their problems. That’s my motivation: making people happy with music.”

Why is Ibiza one of the hottest places to party and DJ in the world?

“This is the place to be. The magical island where all the clubbers and promoters are coming to listen to the best artists. There is lots of networking on the island from IMS to the closing parties and the quality of the clubs are simply amazing. You can’t see anything similar to Ushuaïa in Europe today or have the line-ups and sound systems of Sankeys, Amnesia or Pacha or feel the magic vibe of Blue Marlin. There is no place like Ibiza in the world.”

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