For the past year, Richards, 23, daughter of Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards, has been charging upwards of $10,000 per party (the going rate for a nonceleb DJ is between $250 and $400 for a club engagement, and about $1,000 for corporate events). “I grew up in a very musical home—it was symphony in the morning, and when I got home from school it was reggae, and then rock ’n’ roll at night,” she recalls in a gravelly voice, explaining that she’s recovering from a cold. In a restaurant near her SoHo apartment, she’s dressed in black skinny jeans and a leather jacket over a sweatshirt, nursing a double Jack Daniel’s and a bowl of butternut squash soup. (Her illness has, she triumphantly mentions, helped her finally quit smoking—though a few months later she’s sneaking cigarettes alongside the DJ booth at now defunct nightclub Mr. West.) Despite her success—events for Audi and Hugo Boss, residencies at nightclubs—Richards insists DJing is a sideline. “I’m considered a model, you know, to me at least,” she muses, noting that she paints and is working on a jewelry line. “I [DJ] for fun.” Unlike most hobbyists, however, she uses Serato, a program favored by serious DJs that connects a laptop to turntables, mimicking the feel of spinning with vinyl records.
Richards is honing her new skills with a little help. Her manager is Rachid Kallamni, 25, who, after working as a nightlife promoter, started his own company, Rachid Kallamni Management (RKM), to capitalize on the demand for stylish young DJs. Most of the talent he represents are under age 25; his roster includes Chris Jones, son of Foreigner guitarist Mick Jones; Jamie Biden, nephew of Vice President Joe Biden; Artem Emelianov, a Latvian-born male model with razor-sharp cheekbones; and Kallamni’s childhood friend Nick Cohen, who launched a line of “shoewelry” (sneakers laced up with gold chains). Cohen is tiring of his grueling schedule—he often has four gigs a week and is scheduled to fly to Moscow with Richards to spin at Fashion Week there—but DJing has been a boon to his shoe business. “Nightclubs are the best places to meet people,” he says.
Kallamni uses his connections to land his DJs at exclusive Manhattan venues—1OAK, Avenue, Southside, Butter, GoldBar—and provide a support system for them. “Rachid’s guys actually would come with me to an event and make sure that I was working [Serato] correctly,” Richards says. A fellow RKM talent, DJ Equal, gave her private lessons.
Another neophyte, Hallie Meyers-Shyer, daughter of romantic-comedy director Nancy Meyers and screenwriter Charles Shyer, and an aspiring writer herself, is less preoccupied with the technical aspects of the trade. “When they ask us to DJ, it’s, like, to bring a certain amount of people and a certain kind of crowd,” the baby-faced 22-year-old blond says, taking a sip of her drink on a Thursday night at the SubMercer in SoHo. Behind her, two white iPods glisten unattended on the turntables as “Someone Great” by LCD Soundsystem blares. A foot from the booth, Gossip Girl star Chace Crawford perches on an ottoman, chatting with a raven-haired publicist. “I’m not a DJ by profession; I just want to do it as a hobby, for fun,” Meyers-Shyer explains. “I don’t want to discredit that a lot of people do this as their job.” She adds with a sly smile, “It all comes out as the same thing, really.”