Pawn Stars’ Chumlee Goes From Shop Counter to DJ Booth

Chumlee plays GBDC on February 28. | Photo by Josh Metz

Chumlee plays GBDC on February 28. | Photo by Josh Metz

Austin “Chumlee” Russell is best known as the lovable fan-favorite shop worker on the History Channel’s Pawn Stars. Having just wrapped up his ninth season on the popular Las Vegas-based television show, Chumlee began filling his time by learning the ins-and-outs of mixing, thanks to a local DJ school. News of his first DJ set at Ghostbar Dayclub on February 28 spread like wildfire after TMZ reported on the reality star’s performance rider, which listed “beautiful waitresses to escort him to the stage,” two Nerf basketball hoops and five Nerf guns and Girl Scout cookies (specifically Thin Mints and Peanut Butter Patties), among other random, fun-loving requests. Chumlee recently spent a few minutes talking about his possible second career and his plan of attack for breaking into the music industry.

Why did you decide to start DJing?

I just love music. I’ve always been around music, and I have a studio at my house. This is my way to give back, you know? I’m not a rapper, I don’t play guitar; this is my way to show people what I love.

You have your own studio?

We’ve got a lot of rappers coming into “Studio 51.” Riff Raff came in, Yowda [newly signed to Rick Ross’ Maybach Music] comes in all the time, Wale just recorded some stuff at the house. I just love to be around music.

Are you going to make up a DJ name or are you going to stick with “Chumlee?”

I think I’m gonna go with “Chumlee,” with no “DJ” in front of the name. Just “Chumlee.” Maybe “DJ Chum.”

Who taught you how to use the equipment?

I went to this school called Blend. I read an article about them, went over there and DJ [Tanastadi] just showed me a few things, how to use my equipment. And I just practiced what he showed me until it was time to go. I’ve got another lesson coming up, and I’m just going to keep going. He’s been DJing for like 15 years, so there is no one better to learn from.

Just call him Chumlee. | Photo by Josh Metz

Just call him Chumlee. | Photo by Josh Metz

How long did it take you to learn how to DJ?

I really practiced what I knew for like a month straight. I picked out songs every night for my set list—40 or 45 songs to play in an hour—and I just always practiced with those same songs. But I was already familiar with Serato.

Was this a one-time deal at Ghostbar or do you plan to continue with DJing?

Hopefully, I can do it alongside Pawn Stars. I aspire to be in the music industry. I’m not a producer, so maybe I can develop talent from the city for other people to hear. We’ve got a lot of stuff out here in Vegas that needs to be heard.

What do your Pawn Stars costars think of your new career direction?

Rick [Harrison, co-owner of Gold & Silver Pawn] said he stopped listening to new music in 1987, so he wants me to turn my playlist back a little bit. [Laughs.] But they all came out and had a good time. Everyone was real supportive. They think it’s great.

What types of music do you play?

Hip-hop, predominantly. You might hear a little bit of EDM here and there. My goal is to make the girls dance and the guys enjoy themselves and sing the lyrics. At GBDC, I had one hour and my goal was just to keep everyone dancing the whole time.

How did you get set up with that gig?

Some friends were talking and the opportunity just came up. I didn’t even know if I was ready for it. I’m the kind of person who just takes the opportunity and then figures out how I’m gonna do it later. I went in head first, and I think I did a good job.

Were you nervous?

The whole day before the show I stayed on my turntables practicing. I tried to sit down, but I was getting so antsy, so I pretty much stayed at the turntables all day. I wasn’t nervous, I was anxious to get it done and see everyone’s reaction.

What could someone pawn that would work in lieu of payment for your DJ services?

I dunno, I guess maybe a Rolex. [Laughs.] Nah, I’m just joking.

Is your rider request that TMZ reported real?

Yeah, that was real. I got my Girl Scout cookies!

Read our 2014 interview with Chumlee here. The reality star talks rooting for the Rebels, pawning Rolexes and dropping 100 pounds.

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