‘I plan to take more risks when this all over’: How one local DJ is surviving the pandemic

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Ryan Chisolm Dj’Ing at Downtown SLC nightclub Photo: Miguel Mendoza

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – In early March when Utah began seeing it’s first string reported COVID-19 cases. The service industry was one of the first to take a hit from a financial and social standpoint. Nightlife in Downtown Salt Lake City comes alive during the weekend. But for the past month, those who enjoy the bar scene have been left with a void.

Related: Gov. Herbert orders bars, restaurants suspend dine-in services to slow spread of coronavirus

If you think this is hard for club-goers, the feeling is more than mutual for those who work in those bars and nightclubs due to a loss in income. Ryan Chisolm is a DJ at Sky SLC among other venues and events across Northern Utah, and just one of many turntablists who had to figure out another way to make ends meet during the coronavirus pandemic. Ryan, also known as “Dj Bangarang,” tells ABC4 that although he’s self-employed through working as a nightclub Dj he’s been lucky enough to receive Unemployment benefits through his job at Broadway Media where he serves as a radio on-air personality at U92.5 for the past 6 years. “I hadn’t done my DJ taxes yet, and I wasn’t sure if I would be able to receive any benefits, so I just applied from what I was given at the radio station and luckily I was eligible,” Ryan says.

Photo Credit: Miguel Mendoza

Under the coronavirus relief bill, that took affect in late March, most “gig-workers” are able to apply and qualify for unemployment benefits, where prior to this bill they typically would not qualify.

Related: Under new coronavirus relief bill, gig-workers would qualify for unemployment

While this pandemic isn’t ideal for anyone, Ryan says he’s been able to maintain his time by reorganizing his music library, hosting Instagram live DJ sessions, doing lots of cleaning along with his wife around the house and learning music production. The extra time to learn a new skill has proved to be valuable but Chisolm said he’s “not exactly sure where music producing would take him and he intends on continuing to Dj when the service opens back up.” Like many entertainers, traveling and doing appearances out-of-state can provide great exposure and a decent amount of cash-flow as well. Ryan has a residency in Idaho that is also on hold, “I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to continue Dj’ing out of state, but even once the pandemic slows down, it will probably be another six months before I’ll go because people most likely will not spend money like they were before the crisis.”

Related: My business is closed and my clients may potentially go somewhere else

With social distancing and many individuals who will proceed with more caution as we all adapt to the new way of life, there’s definitely a great amount of uncertainty ahead. Ryan says he plans to take more risks once things get back to normal. Describing himself as someone who usually is pretty hesitant on taking chances with different opportunities, but the experience of the pandemic has brought on a new life outlook. “A week before the state issued mandates for bars to close their doors, we were watching a major artist perform, then a week later we’re all doing nothing. Life can change just that quick,” Chisolm says.

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For now, “Dj Bangarang will continue learning new skills, hosting social media live interactive interviews and most recently he’s entered a virutal DJ competition for a possibly appearance out-of-state.

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