Some DJs discover music early in life and know even as kids exactly what they want to do for a living.
That wasn’t the case for DJ Kiki, whose rendezvous with the DJ booth came late and only after taking a few detours.
Kiki — real name Keutmany Chansilaphet — was born in Thailand and came to the United States at the age of 3. She and her parents settled in Stockton, Calif., where, Kiki recalls, she didn’t hear much popular music while growing up.
Dad was “very overprotective,” she explains. “He kept us sheltered for the majority of our youth.”
Then, during her sophomore year of high school, Kiki discovered school band. “I was interested in the different instruments,” says Kiki, who studied piano for a few years.
After high school, Kiki earned a liberal arts degree at the University of California, Santa Cruz and spent two years teaching seventh-grade science. She then returned to school, earned a paralegal degree and enrolled in law school.
In 2000, Kiki moved to Las Vegas to transfer to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas law school and, during the day, worked at the Clark County district attorney’s office. But after two semesters, she left law school after also landing a bartending job at Treasures, a local gentleman’s club.
“So I was bartending at night and I was working as a paralegal during the day and going to classes in the afternoon,” she says. “I got to where I was completely burned out, and I was making such good money bartending at the time.”
Along the way, Kiki also began doing some promotional modeling, working at conventions and in clubs. Through that job, she met a number of DJs around town. One, a close friend, suggested that Kiki give DJing a try.
“He was, like, ‘Kiki, you have the skills and the love of music. Why don’t I teach you?’ So he taught me and, after a year, I just went out there and started getting my own gigs.”
Kiki says she enjoys the entertainment aspect of being a DJ.
“I always wanted to entertain,” she explains, “but I couldn’t sing and I couldn’t play an instrument. But a DJ is part of entertainment, and you make people happy.”
Particularly for a woman, DJing also is “a very glamorous position,” Kiki says. “You get a lot of respect.
“Also, I really do enjoy the interaction with the guests who come, whether it’s at the pool or in the lounge or at the nightclub. Everybody’s very appreciative of the music, especially with me, because I play such a variety of genres across the board, from oldies to classic rock to house to even lounge.”
In addition to playing DJ dates all around town, Kiki runs her own talent agency, providing models and performers for conventions, fashion shows and other events.
“It’s interesting because there’s never a dull moment,” she says. “It’s definitely something new every day.”
DJ Kiki plays at 8 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays at Liquidity at Luxor, 3900 Las Vegas Blvd. South.
— By JOHN PRZYBYS