The artist’s life is a struggle but like any passion, if you’re smart, you can find something to keep you afloat while you pursue it. That’s exactly what Anton Salvador and Chuck Espina did. It’s tough to make it big in the music scene but these two DJs proved that it’s possible to still do what you love for a living.
Anton Salvador a.k.a. The After School Special started mixing tracks back in high school where the name takes its roots. He classifies his genre as introverted dance music, ambient, and future beats. He started with FL Studio for production and his sets have graduated from FL Studio to Traktor. What started out as an occasional gig for fun has turned into a means to some big bucks. Anton is a beatmaker for the BuwanBuwan Collective and he’s played at music festivals like Malasimbo and Wanderland and graces the local scene as well when he plays Black Market, which is his favorite place to spin because the vibes there are always great.
Anton has been spinning for years so he’s had time to cultivate his style and sound. He says that skill is more important than software or hardware and that people tend to overlook that. When asked how his sound has evolved through the years he said, “I’m more confident about it now. The past few years are probably the only time I’ve felt like that.”
Does he plan on being a full-time DJ? Maybe. “You need a lot of guts in what you plan on doing. I’m pragmatic and I don’t think I’d be able to support myself right now doing it full-time. It’s more for the fun of it than anything else.”Anton is an artist through and through, having studied fine arts in UP Diliman and worked as a graphic designer for Boysen. Today, he is the newest addition to the faculty of Xavier School.
From 7-4, Anton is ‘Cher (as in teacher) to 9th and 11th graders. “I’ve always wanted to try teaching and so far I find it really fulfilling.” He says it’s great because he gets downtime at work in between classes but it gets tough when the kids get rowdy because he’s still getting used to it all. He handles around 350 students and from behind his desk, he goes through lesson tracks like the foundations of art and advanced art. When the bell rings, he’s off to places like Route 196 and The Bowery for an after school special. He doesn’t tell his students that he’s a DJ after hours.
Mercedes “Chuck” Espina is an video producer, entrepreneur, earth child, and DJ extraordinaire. She goes by Cedez Benz on the floor and even though she only started spinning in July, Chuck is making her way around the circuit. She plays Wednesdays at Unit 27, every other Thursday at Rocket Room. As one of the few female DJs out there, she is spontaneous and random and her sets reflect that. “Music has a character of its own and so does every DJ.” Chuck says that a DJ can have the skills but ultimately, music selection is key. She plays electro, underground, and hip-hop but she wants to expand her playlists and explore all kinds of music. Eventually, she wants to produce her own music and collaborate with local artists.
She’s loving this new found hobby but doesn’t plan on making a career out of it.”It’s really for the fun of playing and seeing people dance to your music.” Luckily for Chuck, she’s far from a one trick pony. When the sun is up, this girl keeps busy as Kalibrr‘s in house video producer. Chuck is the brains behind our cool and creative videos and is constantly brainstorming, shooting, and running around the office so you can expect high energy output from her no matter the medium.
On top of that, Chuck owns One Earth Espina, a homegrown company that produces custom bags and apparel out of leather and different fabrics. It started with her upcycling and sewing old clothes into bags then a light bulb lit and Chuck realized that there was money to be made here. At first, she sewed things by hand and after some time she hired a couple of seamstresses and her brand, Morphed, kept growing from there. What started out as a means to upcycling old clothes has grown into a real deal manufacturing corporation and she’s only 25.
How does she juggle everything? It helps that she is passionate about video production, music, and the environment. She loves what she does so sometimes it doesn’t even feel like work. “I cram everything one day and take a break the next. I dedicate a day for rest and I try to leave the city as much as possible because you have to have time for yourself… It’s the little things that count.”