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Meet Rebecca Nguyen of DJ DEITII in Santa Ana

Today we’d like to introduce you to Rebecca Nguyen.

Rebecca, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I was born in Santa Ana and raised by my immigrant parents and grandparents. I had dreams of being an artist when I grew up. I loved drawing, listening to music, and I was obsessed with watching anime and Japanese subculture in my early teens. At one point, I dreamed about being in a rock band. Eventually, I lost my sense of innocence and wonder, leaving those dreams behind to start focusing on school and getting a “real career.”

I grew up experiencing depression and other health issues throughout my childhood years and through college. I hit rock bottom after a suicide attempt in 2012, and that is when I began my healing journey. When doctors couldn’t fix my heart, I began learning holistic and health practices such as meditation, Reiki, psychic development and crystal healing. I went from being an atheist to believing in a higher power that was able to heal me.

These practices gave me the strength to continue moving forward, and in the fall of 2015, I graduated from UCLA with my BA in philosophy. Afterward, I thought I had my life mapped out for me, that I would be a Reiki master and professional psychic reader selling wire wrapped crystal jewelry and managing an online business. Then half a year later, I was rear-ended by a drunk driver and nearly killed in the accident.

I learned then what it was like to have PTSD. I began seeing a holistic psychotherapist (who I still see today because of the second accident in 2018) for treatment and have been benefiting immensely from her sessions. From 2016-2018 I took time to heal and to question what it was I wanted to do in life. For work, I taught mindfulness and Reiki classes. Then I started playing the ukulele and singing, and that reignited my passion for music.

Everything changed when I discovered a show called Sense8 and absolutely fell in love with one of the main characters, a female DJ named Riley. I thought, “whoa that is really cool and looks fun, why can’t I do that?” I feel that everything in life happens for a reason. If it wasn’t for the person who hit me in 2016, DEITII would not exist. I purchased all my DJ gear and took some basic courses with the money I received through the insurance settlement and manifested a monthly gig soon after.

Fast forward to today. Finding my identity as a DJ was not easy, and is still a work in progress. I used to compare myself to other DJs, seeing what others are doing and trying to emulate them. But now, I take my practice personally and use it as a means for me to heal and share healing. I call myself a techno-shaman because I am a healer who uses technology to connect with others and amplify spiritual energy.

My mixes are played with specific intentions to bring about peace, love, unity, and reverence. Dancing is sacred to me. It usually takes me a couple of months of mixing and dancing in my bedroom before I am happy enough with a set to release it. Sometimes while working on a mix, I get flashbacks to my childhood and my past when things weren’t so good. I use these feelings to inspire song choices and to fuel and shape my transitions when making impactful drops.

I like all kinds of music, but I find myself drawn toward different genres in the EDM world. I typically play fast-paced melodic dubstep, trance, future bass, chill trap, and house music to bring about feeling of catharsis, release, and freedom, interwoven with melodic breakdowns that ease me into serenity, meditation, and sensual solitude.

Becoming DJ DEITII has given me an outlet to explore and heal the wounds from my past. Today, I am expanding my music practice into the production world as the artist named DEITII to share my stories with the world. I have plans to release my first EP sometime this year.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
My struggles have always centered around my mental and emotional health. This story is very personal to me, and although it deals with themes of depression, suicide, and self harm, I feel 100% comfortable with people knowing this about me because I made it my personal mission in life to speak my truth and to end the stigma surrounding those who’ve also suffered with these invisible wounds.

Like many second-generation Asian Americans, I was pushed to be the best at everything academically in order to be “successful,” and that included sacrificing my well being and authenticity in order to be accepted. I was an artist, but my mom was pushing me to be a lawyer or engineer because they “made more money.” My passion for art started dying the more I studied and did what I was told.

I began to think that I was better than others because I excelled in my courses and began to develop an unhealthy ego driven by competition. On the outside, I was living the American dream. I appeared happy, successful, and on the right track to a university. On the inside, I was confused and lost, unable to acknowledge that both my inner and outer worlds were spinning of control.

My parents began fighting a lot during a drawn-out separation. My mother would often worry about money and lash out at us whenever she was feeling upset, and my father tried his best to keep my sister and I safe. There were times when she became violent with him, and instead of fighting back he began to retreat and lock himself in a room that she made him build for himself in the backyard.

Because mental health wasn’t mainstream back then, what we didn’t know at the time was that my mom had an undiagnosed form of depression that resulted in bipolar and manic behavior. I was around ten years old, and during this time I also experienced what depression felt like within myself. I knew what it was like to want to die before I knew what it was like to want to be loved.

I felt so much pain in my heart whenever my parents fought, I began experiencing “episodes” where I would feel worthless, sad and trapped all at the same time. I started cutting myself and banging my head against the wall just to get them to stop. I became addicted to pain because it gave me a sense of control, and so I started doing it at school whenever I didn’t feel good.

In middle school, someone reported seeing me do this and I got suspended and had to see a family therapist. The three mandated sessions and single visit to the school psychologist did little to help, and I continued to hurt myself periodically for years. My parents knew what was going on, but they had their own issues to contend with and weren’t able to guide me in the right direction. For years I pretended to be normal until the depression worsened.

One of the most traumatizing experiences of my life happened when I finished my first year at UCLA in January of 2012. I received a phone call, and I learned that one of my best friends committed suicide. His name was Andy Chau, and the investigators said he jumped off a parking garage at UCI. My friends and I immediately went to the site and stood around where his body would have been in silence. I remember there was an article written about him shortly after that.

I thought that crying made me weak, so I didn’t allow myself to cry even though I was in pain. What I didn’t realize is that all of that unresolved grief would resurface again. The depression escalated within me after that, and the duration between each episode started becoming shorter and shorter. It was like there was a malicious puppet master toying with my heart and mind, making me feel like there was no hope.

I tried to kill myself seven months after Andy did. If my boyfriend at the time wasn’t there, I would have been successful. Right after I was saved, I saw my sister break down and cry for the first time, telling me she loved me and that she didn’t want me to die. Shortly after, my dad called the police, and because they would’ve taken me to jail if my attempt was serious, I lied and said it was a bluff. I was taken to the hospital afterward, and that’s when I learned that there are no cushions in the back of police vehicles.

I still remember what the officer told me as we drove up to the emergency room, “I don’t know if you were bluffing or serious, but what happens to you will affect the people you leave behind.” Those words and my sister’s reaction were the only things on my mind in the 7 hours I was alone in the emergency room. I swore to myself that I would stop hurting myself because I didn’t want to make her cry again.

There have been many struggles since then, including three major car accidents and a number of toxic relationships that ended badly. I went from a confident alpha in high school to a socially anxious hermit in the process of healing. I had to learn to be patient and loving to myself for not being where I thought I needed to be in life. I had to learn to stop comparing my lifestyle and progress with others and to just accept myself where I was.

2018 was the pivotal year where the clouds began to lift. I began to really believe in myself and rededicate myself to my artistic practice as a way to heal and honor where I came from. I am experiencing what joy feels like again through connecting with like-minded souls and embracing my passion for music as DJ DEITII. I am also happy to say that my mother is also doing better after starting weekly therapy and painting classes, and our relationship is healing as a result.

Please tell us about DJ DEITII.
DJ DEITII is a techno-shaman creating peace, love, unity, and reverence on the dance floor through merging spirituality and EDM. I am here to reinvent the raver philosophy PLUR (peace, love, unity, respect) by including reverence instead of respect. I feel the sense of awe that comes from having reverence reminds us that life itself is sacred, from the food we put in our mouths, to the air we breathe and the people we encounter every day.

Right now, I host a monthly event called PLURity at 4th Street Market in downtown Santa Ana that happens every first Saturday. I spin and collaborate with local conscious hip hop artists every month to co-create a unique event open to people from all walks of life. In between sets, this is my platform to speak up on issues that matter to me, such as mental health, mindfulness, and internal struggles we face on a day to day basis. One of the skills I utilize from my teaching days is how to make an impact as a public speaker. I love helping people find peace and acceptance in the present moment, whether it is through my words or through the music I play.

PLURity is a community-oriented, family-friendly event created with the intention for individuals to gather, connect, and be inspired by one another.

At parties and other events, I specialize in playing sets that are raw, powerful and full of emotion. I love making people dance because it’s a great way to kinesthetically release suppressed feelings that would otherwise have no outlet. One of the best messages I’ve ever received from one of my guests is “Your sets make me dance harder than any DJ I’ve ever seen to date.” That felt really good.

When I am not playing a set, I am making mixes in my bedroom studio.

I believe that magic happens whenever we align our passion with our vulnerabilities. One of my first mixes, Departed, was inspired by and dedicated to the death of my friend who committed suicide. Soon after making this mix, I was contacted by a rapper I met who listened to it that lost his brother to suicide. He connected me with the OC Music League who hired me to play in Santa Ana each month, and that’s how PLURity was born.

DJ DEITII is a dream, manifesting into reality.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
I used to watch and make silly movies with my neighbors. One time we made a low budget music video with their dad’s camcorder to Nickelback’s How You Remind Me.

There is this one part where we zoomed in on my friend’s school portrait on the wall of his room as he sings “this is how you remind me of what I really am.” That had me floored for hours. We were probably about 11 years old at the time.

Pricing:

  • Hourly rate for shows/parties: $125
  • Hourly rate for shows/parties for 2+hours: $100
  • PA rental: $100
  • Mic rental: $25
  • Lighting rental: $150
  • All inclusive wedding package: $1000
  • All inclusive school dance: $1000

Contact Info:

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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