Rice University boasts an impressive bunch of alumni. From Nobel laureates to Olympic athletes, Rice grads have brought their touch of “unconventional wisdom” to advance a plethora of fields including business, engineering, medicine and now, DJing.
Clayton Chaney, a Will Rice college alumnus from the class of 2013, has spent his time since graduation religiously mixing his latest album, DJing events in the Houston area and training for the upcoming 2016 Olympics. On Oct. 17, he is throwing a free, public event called “The Chaney Xperience,” for the release of his latest album “Man Bunz,” a project that represents the culmination of over two years of work. The event will feature sets from DJ Chaney and five other Houston artists, as well as two live performances from internationally recognized contemporary artist Jumper Maybach and Mad About Hoops, a professional hoop dance group. Chaney plans to include food trucks, merchandise, professional photographers and 8th-wonder brews to accompany the music, and Uber will provide free transportation to those using the promo code “DJCHANEY”.
A civil engineering major and D1 track and field athlete, Clayton first discovered DJing his sophomore year at Rice.
“I bought two big speakers for my room, and would throw these parties in my room just for the fun of it on the weekends,” said Chaney. “Then I started learning how to DJ, I was just like well I might as well figure it out if I’m playing all this music.”
Soon Chaney began DJing at Willy’s Pub and public parties around Rice, and releasing an annual Beer Bike mixtape.
“I think the Beer Bike mixtape series was one of the ways he spread interest,” Phillip Roe (Will Rice ’14) said. “Almost everyone on campus had an opinion on Chaney after that.”
All this was happening just as a new “DJ culture” was emerging across the United States. As electronic dance music blew up at the start of the new decade, DJs emerged from obscure figures in the background to full blown superstars. With DJing equipment and controllers becoming easier-to-use and more affordable than ever, anyone with a laptop and a controller could be the next David Guetta, Deadmau5 or Avicii. But at the time, it wasn’t common for students to have knowledge, skills, or interest to start DJing.
“He helped pave the way for other DJs just by showing how cool it was to rock a party, public or pub and I think that's why so many people want to follow suit,” Roe said. Now it is common to see student DJs like Martel College junior Josh Masimore as headliners at public events.
“A mutual friend introduced us and when I met Clayton he seemed to be one of the few people who actually really believed in what I was doing. He had been in my shoes before, and knew how hard I was working,” Masimore said.
Chaney’s style focuses on mash-ups: complex overlays of pop songs and beats, combining dozens of songs into a seamless 4- or 5-minute track. Whereas most mash-ups can leave you hanging as they flip-flop from one hook to the next, Chaney’s music effortlessly blends them together so you never feel like you’ve been cheated out of your favorite part of a song. You can download and listen to his first studio album “Slanty Shanty” on his website thedjchaney.com. Be prepared to hear some of your favorite throwbacks.
Listeners can expect to hear a wide range of tunes on “Man Bunz.”
“I’ve put a lot more of the 70s and 80s hits, so songs you’re really familiar with, blended with current music nowadays like Iggy, Drake and rappers like Future,” Chaney said.
Chaney hopes that his album release party will attract people from all walks of life.
“I wanted to make it appealing for all crowds … Everybody can come to my event whether you support me or not,” Chaney said.
As our interview drew to a close I had one final question for Chaney. After all, what is the “DJ Chaney Xperience”? I wasn’t surprised by his simple reply: “Wild and fun.”