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How a Rescue Dog Named Charlie Sparked CHKLZ's Mission of Bringing Unity and Creativity to Music

CHKLZ’s journey in 2024 is packed with a series of shows, inviting fans and newcomers to embrace the 'Pawesomeness' that defines their experience. In the community of 'Doggies', being a fan means embracing unity and belonging. CHKLZ’s story is one of grooves, joy, and a strong sense of community, creating something truly special.

Their origin story begins with a small, white dog named Charlie, discovered on a scorching Fourth of July under a truck in downtown Phoenix. Charlie, nicknamed “Chuckles,” inspired DJ iLL Choppo and LeMarshawn Jean to create a music community where everyone is welcome. This unique encounter shaped their music and mission, even leading to their recognition as Best Dance Artist 2023 by the Phoenix New Times.

LeMarshawn Jean crafted the distinctive spelling of CHKLZ, reflecting their creative approach to music. This subtle decision highlights their commitment to blending traditional live instruments with electronic music's endless possibilities. Their sound, rich with layered rhythms and live effects, draws on DJ iLL Choppo's twenty years of experience as a touring drummer. Their integration of live percussion and effects makes each show an experience that completely sweeps you up - full of spontaneous, energetic performances that define their Groove Fiesta style.

Without an agent, CHKLZ has performed across the USA, Mexico, Canada, Australia, and Costa Rica. A turning point in their career was their performance at Friendzy Fest 2023 in Alberta, Canada. Originally slated for an early slot, a fortunate change placed them in a prime nighttime slot, catapulting them into the spotlight and leading to a surge in festival, out-of-state, and headliner bookings. This success amplified their international presence and showcased their electric live performances to a broader audience.

During their tour with Okilly Dokilly from 2018 to 2022, CHKLZ connected with audiences in 36 US states and 20 countries with "White Wine Spritzer," a fan favorite that became the anthem of their shows. Their upcoming remix of "White Wine Spritzer" bridges their heavy metal roots with their current upbeat house vibe, symbolizing a creative fusion of their past and future.

CHKLZ embodies an upbeat, fun-loving spirit, both as individuals and artists, a quality that shines through their music and energizes their live performances. The story of CHKLZ is one of inspiration and inclusion, sparked by the rescue of Charlie. As they tour and produce music, they carry the spirit of Chuckles with them, uniting audiences worldwide under the Groove Fiesta banner. Their journey and sound remind us of the power of music to transform and connect us all.


As CHKLZ continues to tour and produce music inspired by their beloved rescue dog Charlie, their story of unity and innovation resonates with fans around the globe. In an exclusive interview, DJ iLL Choppo and LeMarshawn Jean delve deeper into their journey and share what lies ahead for the duo.

Looking back, how do you think CHKLZ has evolved since its inception?

A: CHKLZ has evolved immensely since our inception. We have come a long way from where we started in our sound and our branding. We didn’t always have live instrumentation. We didn’t always have our own music to play. And the tracks we did have didn’t quite have the power we needed live.

Also, when we started, our sound was based deeply around mashups. We made our own mashups to popular songs for our sets, and that was really when we started finding our sound.

Flash forward to today, and we have worked over several years to truly cultivate the sound of our Groove Fiesta through trial and error. It’s been a process, and we wouldn’t trade it for the world.

What has been your approach to maintaining authenticity as your exposure grows?

A: Trying our best to keep our content fresh and fun. Almost all our growth has been organic, and we are very proud of that. Lately, I have really been concentrating on what the post is going to offer to our followers. If I do not find it engaging, I will not post it. And keeping up with the content is a beast within itself. However, I believe if you enjoy what you’re doing and having fun while doing it, you are doing the best you can as an artist. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there.

How do you handle the creative differences that might arise between you and LeMarshawn?

A: It used to be difficult for us at first. Sometimes we would not see eye to eye on some stuff regarding our branding and our music. We would even get a little annoyed with each other at times. However, these days, we have really learned to talk through everything. We always take the time to hear each other out when it comes to new ideas for our creative entity. And we always make sure to try out the ideas to make sure we make a strong decision. It is an important part of our creative process. We never do things just to do them; there has to be intent.

Can you describe a moment when you felt particularly connected to your audience?

A: This past NYE 2024 we had a show with Dunks of the Funk Hunters in Flagstaff. A few days later, we had our first international label release planned for our song “Hands Up” on Differed Records from India. At the show, we asked the audience to put their hands up if they were feeling the vibe. And the entire crowd threw their hands as high as they could and jammed with us all the way through the build to the drop. It was really exciting and memorable because they were so open and willing to go on the journey together.

What challenges do you face in the music industry today, and how do you overcome them?

A: All of them. The algorithm, trying to stand out in oversaturated markets, trying to make a decent living, getting better bookings, building a lasting, loyal fan base, and the list goes on. The industry is an ever-evolving animal, and it’s a crazy time to be in music. However, I think the really cool thing is that the playing field is as level as it has ever been. You have the ability to make anything happen if you have a strong product and know how to reach your fan base thanks to the internet. I truly believe we are just one song away from breaking through, as is anyone.

And I overcome the adversities by celebrating the small victories. There have definitely been some letdowns over the years. We have had some empty shows on the road over the last couple of years, lost money on gigs, and been rejected by labels. And there have been times where I have questioned, “why am I still doing this?” And when those times happen, I really force myself to regroup and remember it was just one show, it’s just one “no.” I truly believe you can’t build your career around that. It’s an entire body of work, and when things do not turn out your way, you can sit and catch feelings about it, or you can accept the situation and move forward and keep working as hard as you can. I really think there is no other way. You have to have thick skin, be your biggest fan, and truly believe in this industry.

How do you decide which projects or collaborations to pursue?

A: Usually, collabs start for us from personal connections. We do a lot of show trading with our friends from different countries and states in the US. A lot of those times when we get together, we naturally gravitate to work on a new song together. That is not entirely our sole process, but so far it has been a thing for us. I also think who would be a good fit for the tune. If we are looking for a specific sound or vibe, we will reach out to artists we feel have a great grasp on what we are looking to add to the song. It really all depends on the song.

What has been the most rewarding aspect of your musical journey so far?

A: The most rewarding aspect of this journey so far is that we have been able to build our own connections and find our own way. We have been able to play shows in 10 different states and 3 countries in the last few years, and we have done it without an agent. And most of the time without a management team either. It’s been truly pawsome to go to amazing places and play our music. It blows my mind every time that we get to do this for our career. And I truly feel that it has been even more rewarding because we have done it all independently up to this point.

Looking forward, what are some goals CHKLZ aims to achieve in the near future?

A: We really hope to land a booking agent soon. That is a top priority goal. We also have a goal of bringing the project back to old-school band van touring in the fall of this year. We would love to tour other continents as well. And of course, landing bigger and better labels for our Groove Fiesta sound.


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