The Rocks Off 100: DJ Gracie Chavez
Welcome to the Rocks Off 100, our portrait gallery of the most compelling profiles and personalities in the far-flung Houston music community -- a lot more than just musicians, but of course they're in there too.
photos by Marco Torres
Who: In a city abundant with talented DJs, Gracie Chavez shines bright above the rest. She began her career in 1999, spinning her first love: Drum 'n' bass music. She grew her dance-music repertoire through house and techno, rocking out raves and clubs such as Karma and Hyperia. From 2005-08, she played alongside DJ Witness at the infamous Montrose club The Proletariat, providing some of the most memorable nights in the history of Houston's dance scene.
Chavez is the de facto godmother of Houston DJs, trying her best to support and collaborate with her colleagues at any available opportunity. In recent years, Chavez has created avenues to promote popular Moombahton and Tropical dance parties across the city, including working with her Bombon counterparts OG Bobby Trill, DJ Navo, and Panchitron. She takes pride that her parties are interactive affairs, often incorporating live percussion and stepping away from the DJ booth to dance with the crowd.
Tune in Tuesday nights on KPFT (90.1 FM), Chavez co-hosts Son Pacifica Radio, featuring new, emerging independent Latin artists. The next Bombon is on Saturday, October 6 at Fox Hollow (4617 Nett), and the Mega Baile with Bombon benefitting the Houston International Festival is Friday, October 19 at 3603 Clinton Dr. Click here for more info.
Home Base: "You can find me at Fox Hollow here in Houston every first Saturday for our Bombón monthly tropical dance parties," says Chavez. "And just recently, I started DIRB! [Doin it Real Big] at Aria in Corpus Christi every month. My Bombón compadres also play on their rooftop lounge."
Why do you Stay in Houston?: My roots run deep in Houston. As a Latina that was raised in Fifth Ward/Northside area and immersed in Montrose's community, I'm proud to be from here. With its diversity in culture and even broader music community, Houston has become part of my identity."
War Story: "I think it would be pretty obvious to say that starting off as a female DJ would be a good war story," she says. "But I actually think branching out as more than a single-genre DJ was a big challenge. I got to a point where I wanted to play more than just one style of music; as a music lover there was a wide variety of music I enjoyed and knew there was more out there I could do musically.
"When Witnes asked me to join Rock Box (then at the Proletariat), it was the perfect opportunity for me to jump off," continues Chavez. "Rock Box was an anything-goes, open format night that was poppin off weekly. I really cut my teeth there, dismissed any perceived limitations, and really carved out my own identity musically and evolve as a tastemaker. I think this really freed me up to do more, experiment and try new things, like Bombon."
Music Scene Pet Peeve: "I think we in the music scene could benefit a lot from checking out each other's shows," she says. "Just this weekend I got to go to A Fistful of Soul, which was pretty cool! Even if it's not your cup of tea, the inspiration you get could be much more valuable."
5 Desert Island Discs: (No particular order) "Around the Way Girl," LL Cool J; "Music Sounds Better With You," Stardust; "Revolution 909," Daft Punk; "Tops Drop," Fat Pat "El Campanero," Aniceto Molina
Best Show Ever: "DJ Mel and Z-trip at Red Fez, SXSW 2005," Chavez says. "Hands down. Amazing wax-only excursion of recorded history that just jammed!"
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