Hey, Ms. Dj: DJ Crabrangucci Adds a Little Crunch to the Omaha Music Scene
May 29, 2020 02:58PM
By Sean Robinson
Photography by Bill Sitzmann
Most people leave sodium-saturated lunches with full bellies. Chalis Bristol left with a new DJ name.
It all started over a plate of Chinese food for the woman who would become known as DJ Crabrangucci. Really nice Chinese food. Five years ago, Bristol found herself aghast over the price of crab Rangoon while brunching in a hipster neighborhood in Scottsdale, Arizona. She remembers an order of the crispy wontons cost $12—even though she can’t recall the name of the restaurant itself.
But this wasn’t average crab Rangoon. The perfect mixture of real meat and cream cheese, it was like the luxury brand of Chinese fare. Bristol dubbed the delectable appetizer “crabrangucci,” and her friends decided that would be her new nickname. Deep-fried Gucci-goodness serving as the appetizer of an artist to come.
“The name fits because people look for the same thing in music as they do food,” Bristol said. “Both have to bring me to center, bring me home, and make me feel good.”
Today, DJ Crabrangucci is a mainstay of the Omaha nightlife scene. She spins better than most of the boys, leading the charge for more rising female DJs.
Contrary to her name, she’s more than just some snack. Crabrangucci brings the full meal to every set—and then some—as she flips between French rap, Korean pop music, Brazilian indie rock, or good old-fashioned Top 40.
“I’m all over the place,” Bristol said. “You’re already going to love some of what I play, and the stuff you don’t know you’ll love after hearing it on the floor.”
The DJ name may have come from a pricy yet palate-pleasing meal, but the DJ skills were in the works long before that.
Bristol grew up in the era of Myspace, so she (like many teens) spent hours on the social media platform avoiding algebra homework by hunting underground artists. Countless CDs were burned, but Bristol (unlike many teens) was intensely focused on how the music flowed from song to song. Meticulous, strategic, and meaningful, she had CD making down to a science.
Then came the raves. Much of Bristol’s late teen experiences exposed her to new levels of EDM and the taste-making DJs whose beats set the scene. By her early teens, she was the music maven behind every good after-party. The bars closed, but the celebration kept going if Bristol had any say.
“I think I’ve always been a DJ without knowing what I was doing,” Bristol said.
Her first real gig was in the summer of 2014 at the now closed House of Loom. She blasted K-pop through the sleek nightclub and was invited back again and again to play her eclectic set before the venue closed in 2016.
DJ Crabrangucci is a regular bar hopper now. Catch her at Benson’s The Sydney for a monthly residency, dropping the needle at the Old Market’s popular Bar 415, or north downtown spinning an entire Prince-themed night at the Slowdown.
“I’m reading the crowd, [I] follow their lead, and then respond to that. That’s what every good DJ should do, no matter the venue,” Bristol said.
Being the good DJ that she is, Bristol knows it’s not party time all the time. There’s a commitment to community, too. While she typically shies away from private occasions like weddings, Bristol’s Crabrangucci persona will make an appearance to soundtrack community events for Omaha Girls Rock, the University of Nebraska at Omaha, Yoga Rocks the Park, and more.
“Sometimes my job is to warm people up, sometimes it’s to hype people up,” Bristol said. “I like to mix music in the moment. That’s where the creativity and artistry come in.”
Artistry and advocacy go hand in hand for Bristol. It’s about more than just creating good times—it’s about creating a new way of success in the notoriously male-dominated world of DJs.
“As a performer, I have to prove myself, especially as one of few women of color among a sea of white straight men,” Bristol said.
However, there’s no shortage of successful female talent. Bristol credits global acts such as Peggy Gou, The Black Madonna, and Miss Honey Dijon for influencing her. These women remixed what the dance scene looks and sounds like. Bristol hopes to do the same for local talent that follows in her footsteps.
This techno takeover has already begun. Since Bristol started as a DJ, she has seen the number of girls in the game grow—but there is room to improve. It starts with small acts that make a big impact, which is why Bristol invites other female talent to collaborate and hop behind the turntable with her.
“It’s intimidating for a woman to get started in a hobby dominated by men but seeing a few gals in the mix is inspiring” said Maren Saddler, an up-and-coming Omaha DJ who has worked with Bristol. “Crabrangucci has been a role model for me.”
It’s the end of February, and both Bristol and Saddler are pumping up the crowd at Omaha Fashion Week. Bristol came to slay in an orange dress accessorized with large DJ headphones—naturally. It’s a packed room that’s about to hear her unique blend of beats. One of her last crowds for a while.
Bristol doesn’t know that yet, though. The fight against spreading COVID-19 has yet to close almost every bar and venue in the city.
“I went from having five shows in a couple of weeks to none,” Bristol said three weeks after her Omaha Fashion Week set.
For now, she recalls that recent glamorous gig—where craft cocktails, models, and flashy smiles lit up a room to the tune of whatever she was playing—and looks forward to the next time she can get behind the deck.
“It’s going to mean more than it did before, everything will,” she said. “When this is all over, the best thing we can do is dance and shake some s--- out.”
Follow @djcrabrangucci on social media to find out where she is spinning.
This article first appeared in the June 2020 issue of Omaha Magazine.