FEATURED ARTIST – Chika Di
Interview with Chika Di By: Dennis M. Kelly
Dennis: Good day Chika Di, thank you so much for taking the time to answer some questions for me today. How are you?
Chika DI: Very well, thank you!
Dennis: How has the weather been for you over there in San Francisco?
Chika Di: Cold. Coming from Medellin Colombia and its tropical weather is hard. What can I say, I’m tropical, so it’s hard to get used to the cold weather.
Dennis: I can completely understand that. We are getting temperatures below zero again, so, it is a lot of fun (not really). It looks like 2023 is already off to a great start for you with your first album on the way and a single “Ven” coming out on February 11th, I can’t wait! How long have you been working on the album? What is it going to be called and do you have a release date planned at this point?
Chika Di: It has been two years total since I started. I had a few months that I was focusing on my pregnancy with Gestational diabetes. It wasn’t easy to be at the studio for long hours.
Dennis: I bet, and I am sorry to hear that. My wife had that happen too with our children, so we can totally relate.
Chika Di: I wrote a lot of songs that I have been able to pick from. The first album comes with half of these songs, and it was hard to pick, but I picked my favorite compositions. I think that first impression is very important.
Dennis: I totally agree and if the preview you gave of two of them on TikTok is any indication, the full album will be absolutely perfect. Tell me about the recording process for the album.
Chika Di: With the first single “Bailala” which was produced and mixed by three time Grammy nominated producer/engineer Max Perry and mastered by John Greenham (Billie Eilish, Katy Perry). Max and I created a perfect balance of Pop, Latin and Dance and whether you understand Spanish or not, the melodies will just pull you in and make you want more.
Dennis: Uh, that would be me. Lol. Unfortunately, I do not speak Spanish, but it didn’t matter at all. Your music and vocals really spoke to me and your songs were very well produced!
Chika Di: I’m super proud of the song, and I feel lucky and humble to be the first Latin artist that he worked with. The song was featured on HBO on the series Euphoria season 2, and that gave me the mental power to continue working on the album.
Dennis: Congratulations for that!
Chika Di: Coming from a band of 8 people,(La Misa Negra), I can’t deny that I was scared to start a journey on my own. With a lot of meditation during Covid and a lot of time learning new skills like playing the guitar, I was able to compose more songs. After that, I started working with Good Bear, another super talented producer and DJ who also has an exciting career.
Good Bear, an emerging talent in the dance space boasting more than 80 million streams and guest mixes featured on Diplo’s Revolution and XM Chain Smokers top 10. Costanzo toured for nearly a decade, logging over 1,000 tour dates with music legends such as Ziggy Marley, Logic, Krewella, Matisyahu, and Nas.
We got a little too much chemistry Lol. We became personally involved and he is my husband now. He produced the album and upcoming singles. I’m very happy to be able to share my career and passion with my soulmate.
Dennis: Are there any guest appearances on it?
Chika Di: The Album is coming with a few interesting Collabs with artists that I have a lot of admiration for. I don’t want to mention them just yet. I want to surprise my audience with the news. All I can say right now is that the songs are fire, and that I’m honored to be on a track with them.
Dennis: On fire is an understatement! What would you say is the overall tone/theme of the album?
Chika Di: Latin Pop, Alternative Pop theme is good vibes and love. Some fire upbeat songs and some soft vibes love songs.
Dennis: I feel like I was introduced to you and your music at a pivotal moment in your career, with you having had tremendous successes through La Misa Negra and Corporación Cultural Canchimalos, your solo career looks to take off globally and I can’t wait to see it happen. How has it been for you working as Chica Di?
Chika Di: I feel accomplished and challenged at times, but there is nothing that I enjoy more than being free to write what comes from my heart and being able to have more input on my own compositions. I can’t wait to show all the work to the world, and contribute to good vibrations and love in our society.
Dennis: Your life is very inspirational to me, from early tragedy to a life of positivity and impacting the world in wonderful ways with your music. Did you have any vocal lessons at any time in your life?
Chika Di: It was hard to get out of the darkness that all the tragedies and the environment put you through, but I have always been a person of hope and music has been my therapy ever since.
Dennis: I can’t imagine what you’ve went through, but it only helps you to shine brighter. How was it for you touring Colombia at such an early age?
Chika Di: Fun! So much fun! I remember being on a bus with 30 people, between dancers, musicians, and actors playing shows at the most important venue in Colombia like Jorge Eliécer Gaitán Municipal Theater in the capital Bogota. The amount of talent and so many people to learn from is my foundation on arts. After that, I went to the University of Antioquia (public University) to study music.
Dennis: What were some of the more memorable moments early in your music career?
Chika Di: – Getting selected to study Music. I was competing with 6k people around Colombia. People from all over the country go to Medellin to apply for free education. I had less skills than the majority of the people. Some of them already had music skills like playing cool instruments. I just had my voice and I remember performing a church song, the Ave Maria opera soprano version.
I was only 16 and never thought I was going to be selected. It didn’t even cross my mind after looking at so much talent in all the rooms. It was a three day exam and every day I was looking at the list of numbers. It was long and I kept looking at my number and couldn’t believe it. I went to the admission office to make sure it was right.
Lol, that was my first accomplishment, a dream come true since I just lost my father and he left us without money to survive for the two years after his death. I had to work as a cashier to bring food to my mom and go to university at the same time. Didn’t have the money to buy instruments. I remember I used to borrow a little keyboard from a neighbor to be able to do my homework.
– Another accomplishment was touring in the states for 10 years and getting that experience was a gift of life.
– Having my first solo single out to the public as Chika Di.
Dennis: How did you come to decide to move to California?
Chika Di: Love. I met my first husband who traveled to Medellin, Colombia to meet me. We had an online relationship for a year and he brought me to the states where he was currently living.
Dennis: Did you have any difficulties acclimating to American life?
Chika Di: Nope. I think as a musician, my life was pretty quiet, so it was easy. I came and learned English in 6 months. Still not perfect, but I’m able to communicate and to connect with people.
Dennis: Wow, six months is very impressive! How soon after moving to the U.S. did you start in with booking shows and connecting with the music community there?
Chika Di: For 5 years I dedicated the first five years to my family.
Dennis: How supportive was/is the music community there?
Chika Di: Very supportive, from Salsa to Cumbia to Pop and EDM, my music community here is being beyond supportive. Not my previous band, but the musicians I got to meet during all those years of touring. Some of them are part of the album, somehow. I’m lucky to be around the music scene in San Francisco.
Dennis: It is great to hear you’ve got a great supportive community there! How quickly did you get on to touring the states and performing the festivals?
Chika Di: On the first weekend that I joined the music community.
Dennis: That was quick! What have been some hurdles for you in your career and how did you overcome them?
Chika Di: Leaving my kids sometimes at home with their dad and spending a lot of time out. I overcame those challenges knowing that I’m teaching them a better lesson for life, which is working hard for dreams and also working hard on my career. They were little, and sometimes they would come with me on tour, so they understood very well the dynamics of my life as an artist. Now they have their own dreams.
Dennis: You’ve released four great singles over the past few years, are there any remixes out there or have you considered having any of your songs remixed by other artists/producers?
Chika Di: Working right now on remixes with emerging producers and DJ’s.
Dennis: Excellent! Looking forward to it! How about your music videos, how involved were you in the direction of your wonderful videos?
Chika Di: 100 % on Bailala and 50 % on Hook It up. More music videos are about to come out. I was contacted by a production company who wants to do my upcoming videos. They have their creative team and we work together on the overall idea and story board. I like to be involved in the creative part of everything.
Dennis: Are you self-managed or do you have a team that you work with for booking, merchandising, etc.?
Chika Di: Both, for the most part, I do pretty much everything, but I do get help during the concerts (for booking). Most gigs come to me first and then the booking agent helps to organize the details of the concert.
Dennis: I see you’re also a voting member of the San Francisco chapter of the Recording Academy. When did you become a member, how helpful has it been for you, and what insights can you share about it?
Chika Di: I became a member in 2019. It has been a great experience to learn more about the industry and to be able to have a voice about the new music presented to the members. It is great to see the progress of music, and to see so many talented people out there. It is a blessing that has been my dream since I was at the university.
In Colombia, you only get to see the Grammys on TV. I never thought I was going to be part of the academy, and now I embrace it and respect it even more knowing that some of the board members donate their time into teaching the new generation to become creators with knowledge.
Dennis: Very cool, thank you for sharing. How involved/supportive is your family with your music career?
Chika Di: 100%
Dennis: Now your oldest daughter has already shown tremendous vocal talent, is it safe to say she’ll be following in your footsteps one day?
Chika Di: Absolutely yes. She is getting education on music from me and from a music academy.
Dennis: I see you are very involved in your social media network as well, TikTok and Instagram for sure. What is your favorite platform and how helpful has social media been in your career?
Chika Di: I love Instagram. There are a lot of creative tools to keep the connection with my audience strong. I love to make them part of my day with the stories. Now tapping more into reels to give my audience a better experience. Social media is a great free tool that we music creators have these days. Through the algorithm, we can potentially reach out to people all over the world. I’m still learning about it because it changes often, and I try to keep up with those changes.
Dennis: As do we all. What are some music career tips that you can share with younger musicians that might help them in their career?
Chika Di: Never leave your path. Be consistent, be obsessive and work hard. Everything has a time and hard work is the only way that you can control time. Dream big and stay humble, because music is a long path. Sometimes things are really good, and some other times, not too good, so put your ego on the side and build your community. It is very important to get knowledge and stay updated. Take advantage of today’s world. Use the tools and the free information about the industry.
Dennis: In some of your social media posts, you help encourage your fans and followers on ways of coping through bad days and staying positive. Especially with the way the world is these days, how do you keep yourself positive; what puts a smile on your face and keeps your mind focused?
Chika Di: I’m proof that things can only get better and when you are positive, positive thighs come your way. Negativity is oppression, stay out and sabotage yourself. Stay up and keep dreaming. Act on those dreams, make a plan and keep on rocking. I personally don’t let negativity win over me and my dreams. Never give up, and be aware that this is your fight, only you can make a change. Don’t wait for others to do something for you. Be strong, and be the warriors that we all are.
Dennis: You’ve got a good amount of live shows scheduled through the year in California, any plans on a solo tour yet?
Chika Di: There are some out of state concerts coming up. Colorado is the first one. Plans to go to Colombia and Mexico.
Dennis: Awesome! I look forward to hearing more about that soon! What else does 2023 hold in store for you that you can share with us today?
Chika Di: Music videos, more music starting, working on the next album and touring with reputable acts.
Dennis: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers today?
Chika Di: Be you!! Be happy!! I want to thank you all for taking the time to support my journey and get to know me a bit more.
Dennis: Thank you very much for your time once again and I wish you all the best in your career going forward Chika Di! Thanks again!
Chika Di: Thank you all. It is my pleasure.
Diana was born and raised in Medellin, Colombia during the most violent era in the country’s history that ultimately claimed her father’s life. At age 12, shortly after her father’s death, Diana became deeply involved in music, joining the Corporación Cultural Canchimalos, which gave her the opportunity to travel the country performing traditional Colombian music. By her mid teens, she was performing with rock bands in Medellin and, by the age of 19, she immigrated to the Bay Area, California, where she found herself singing with various salsa bands. She eventually joined La Misa Negra, returning to her Colombian roots and adding an authentic Colombian voice to the band.
Diana toured the North America for 10+ years, sharing stages and festival bills with acts like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Stevie Wonder, Lenny Kravitz, Thievery Corporation, SZA, Mon Laferte, Julieta Venegas, Ana Tijoux, Bomba Estereo, George Clinton, Antibalas, Budos Band, and Ozomatli.
In 2020, Diana began her solo project known as “Chika Di” with three releases to date, and syncs with network hit tv series “Euphoria” and “Generation +”. The Chika Di sound blends traditional Latin, electronic, Afro, and pop complemented by her powerful Colombian vocals. Her debut album is set to release soon.
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