I can tell how good the weather is in Ibiza as I speak to Chelina Manuhutu. It’s bright and two gorgeous leafy ferns behind her almost make me feel like I'm there. The weather in Ibiza is a distillation of her sunny optimism. The Dutch artist’s chunky tech-house seems to be inspired by the White Isle as well. Full of stuttering percussion, brilliantly funky basslines, and the bubbling effervescence of a summer-time pool party.
Born in the Netherlands, music was ubiquitous from the start. Her father, Johnny Manuhutu, was part of the Latin funk band Massada. Her mother was a professional dancer. And both of her older brothers were musicians. Chelina's family encouraged each other's artistic endeavors.
Her parents motivated her to go after what she wanted, be it modeling, dancing hip hop, or being in an all-girl band as a teenager. “My parents were always super proud,” she says.
Her parents loved to see her express herself. “Because in their eyes, they are also artists, and they loved it. I think it really helps to explore who you are, what you want to do. Not being caged anywhere.”
Growing up in Holland meant she always had access to the best music in the world. Her parents took her to see old school acts like The Pointer Sisters. “It’s normal,” she explains, “you go to festivals at a young age, right. And you have so many choices.”
She started to hit dance music festivals on her own as a teenager. And while she did look up to her brother who was a DJ. It was an encounter with Carl Cox at Dance Valley that flipped the script for her.
“I was like, wow, what is this? I still get goosebumps, [Carl] was playing the mainstage. And I was saying, you know, I feel so free also because I was really young and I was allowed to go out, without my bigger brothers taking care of me. Watching, babysitting me, actually. So, I was like, ‘wow, this is this is amazing.’ The music and the vibe and the energy. I wanted to feel that forever.”
Even then her parents were in full support of her going out as much as she wanted. She wasn’t technically allowed to go to clubs because she was too young, but that didn’t stop her from joining her older brother at his gigs. “we wake up at seven in the morning, and we go to after party, and he's playing, you know, and I'm like, looking at Wow, this is surreal. And my dad thought it was fine. Because I'm with my big brother.”
By 2010 she followed in her brother's footsteps and was DJing. Modeling was still her main focus. Until a tragic accident at Christmas. She was sent to the hospital with burns on much of her back, arms, and legs. She took it in the best way possible.
She figured, “Now I have time for my music. You know, it wasn't like I was super depressive [sic]. I was actually fine with it, because I did such a career modeling. And maybe I was ready also for something new, you know, and the music was waiting for me.”
Chelina’s thought process is yet another example of her resilience and ability to find the silver lining in everything.
As the summer season began in Ibiza in 2011, she took a characteristic leap of faith. While on holiday, she approached the owner of Blue Marlin Beach Club with a demo CD and her phone number. She was only in town for a week, but she wanted to play there. Two days later, she booked her first Ibiza club gig.
She hadn’t fully recovered from her accident but she seized the opportunity to jump-start her new career. The courage to make a power move like that is how she was raised.
“I have nothing to lose. My parents always tell me you can get a no, but you can get a yes. So, you should just go out there. Why not try?”
She always put her trust in the process. In the idea that everything always works out. It’s one of the most important lessons she’s learned from her parents. “We were always really relaxed, go with the flow, see what happens."
Her philosophy on manifestation is simple and effective. It’s resulted in residencies at Pacha and Blue Marlin and festival bookings for Elrow and Ultra.
“I want that, I want that on this day.” She explains about her ability to manifest. “See what happens, enjoy. And if it will come it will come. Of course, you have to work hard for it. And that's what I also did. And if you really go for something, I think good things will happen.”
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