Yissel Cabrera, BA Communication Arts ’05, DJ & Marketing Manager, Chalk Miami

Yissel Cabrera is popular within Miami’s nightlife scene for planning and producing some of the city’s best-known social events. By day, she is the marketing manager at Chalk Miami, a ping-pong and billiards lounge that is redefining the game of cool in South Beach, and by night, she takes center stage as DJ YSL in her famed 5-inch heels and red lined headphones. Booked to soundtrack special events from South Beach to Basel, Switzerland, Yissel’s client list continues to grow by the minute and includes a slew of A-list affairs.

After graduating from St. Thomas University in 2005 with a B.A. in Communication Arts, Yissel worked as a business manager, merchandiser and marketing manager for Fortune 500 companies such as BCBG Max Azria Group and Perry Ellis International. But what started out as just a hobby, has led to some of the greatest opportunities that she could have ever imagined, from performing at Fashion Week to Art Basel.

Yissel finds her inspiration in everything that is art, but music is what really moves her. You can listen to her mixes at soundcloud.com/djysl or visit her website at www.djysl.com to learn more about her upcoming events and appearances.

1.  Marketing Manager by day and DJ by night – how do you manage the two?
The two intertwine, the people I deal business with during the day are people involved in nightlife, event planning, production; and building relationships with these people, usually leads to opportunities to DJ for them in their future events. The schedules don't conflict as one job is literally done 9-5 (well sometimes until much later) and DJing begins sometimes around 9pm or 10pm.

2.  What made you decide to be a DJ?

Part of my job as a Marketing Manager for nightlife and events was to scout and book music talent. By doing this, I built great relationships with some talented DJs and thought I could have them teach me basic technical skills. It started as a hobby, mostly to distract me from the day-to-day stresses of my job. I was always fascinated by the idea of DJing since I was young; I just never took initiative to learn until recently.

3.  You have been booked for quite a few extravagant events. Which was your favorite?
Playing in clubs is fun, but special events are what I live for! This year, I was invited to play in Basel, Switzerland for Art Basel as part of an artist installation. It was a week full of events that took place in a 70s inspired house party, and I was the resident DJ. I played real vinyl disco records for the who's who of the art world (renowned artists and collectors). It was the most extraordinary concept that fused music & art together for an unforgettable experience.

4.  What is it about music that inspires you the most?
Everything that's art inspires me. But music particularly has this way of bringing up nostalgic feelings, like when you hear a song you loved as child and it can somehow magically transport you right back to that time and those exact feelings, whether good or bad. When I play 90s R&B, it reminds me of my teenage years, mistakes, heartbreaks, and late-night revelry. When I play disco it reminds me of my rides to school with my dad, and instantly I feel happy. When I play these records, I feel like that good-feeling energy becomes infectious. I love finding and playing new music though. I'll find re-edits or rare remixes to familiar songs, to keep the playlist fresh but still giving that hint of nostalgia when that recognizable beat or chorus comes in.

5.  What did you learn while at STU that has helped in your marketing career?

Relationships are everything! Collaboration is key to developing ideas and taking them places you had not thought of before. You will be surprised how far a helping hand from a familiar face can go.

6.  What advice do you give those who want to be a DJ or pursue a career in marketing?
Don’t get stuck to what you are "naturally" good at. Never be afraid to try unfamiliar things. The creative mind is constantly thinking, evolving... Learn something new every day!

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