There’s no denying that it’s tough to make a living as a creative in San Francisco. With hurdles such as lack of insurance, financial instability, and ever-increasing rent, it can be hard to maintain commitment to a career that is rewarding, but seemingly unsustainable at times. For local DJ and chef Trevor Molyneux, aka DJ Trevor Young, the plight was acutely felt a few weeks ago when he was assaulted while walking home from a grocery store.
“I was attacked randomly by a homeless person having a what looked like a drug induced episode in the street,” Young says. “As I tried to free myself, I fell and broke my shoulder. Luckily, a person that was jogging by helped me and got me to the ER down the street. I ended up needing surgery to fix the broken bone.”
Because the chef/DJ has no medical insurance, he is out of work for the next few months with a long road of physical recovery ahead of him. Fortunately, friends and DJ colleagues have come together to put together a special benefit edition of Smoked Out Soul this Thursday, [6/29] at Monarch to raise money for his medical expenses.
SF Weekly: Tell us a little of what attracted you to DJing.
Trevor Young: I got into DJing in my senior year of high school. My friends and I were into the scratch thing and underground hip-hop. In 2000, I went to a rave in L.A. and saw Derrick Carter and Roy Davis Jr. DJing, and I was immediately hooked on house music. I started buying more records and really learning how to mix.
SFW: Your first gigs were when you were underage. What was it like going into a club knowing that you would probably have to leave right after?
TY: My first gig was at this place in downtown San Diego called Red C Lounge. I believe it’s still there. My buddy Mikey Beats was the door guy back then and he convinced the bar manager to let me play. We were playing a lot of house music then. It was fun though. I’d play a 1-2 hour set then I’d just go outside and kind of hang out and shoot the shit with other DJs playing there at the time.
SFW: When you finally were of age, were there any changes in how you felt or DJed?
TY: When I turned 21, I started to get more into the hip-hop/club kind of sound. A lot of my friends were playing more of that style in clubs, and I saw there was an opportunity to make money at it.
SFW: Besides DJing, you’re also a chef. How did that part of your career come about?
TY: Around 2005, I took this job as a prep-cook at this restaurant my friends worked at. It was definitely not fine dining but was fun and cool, and I learned a lot. Everyone was friends; it was kind of like the Fast Times at Ridgemont High of restaurant. When I moved up to S.F., it was an eye opener. I started to take cooking more seriously and wanting to learn more.
SFW: What are some similarities between your chef life and DJ life?
TY: Being a chef and a DJ, I see a lot if similarities. One is definitely the discipline. Nobody in either field is going to wake up and be like, ‘I’m going to be a DJ or chef,’ and just kill it out the gate. Both take time and practice, peers that push you, having a mentor, oh and time and practice! You’re also the conductor for that time and place, you set the mood and whether you rock it or completely bomb it, it’s you who is in charge.
SFW: What’s the fanciest meal you’ve ever created?
TY: I don’t really consider myself as a chef making fancy food, I just like to use good ingredients and good technique and put out something that is delicious. One time, I teamed up with the wonderful staff of Benjamin Cooper for a Valentines Day pop-up. I made a canapé flight of sushi, oysters, and caviar, and the bartenders paired cocktails with it. We sold out and people loved it.
SFW: Where’s the best place to listen to some jams and eat some food in S.F.?
TY: My favorite place to go eat would have to be Liholiho Yacht Club. The staff there is all super nice and Chef Ravi puts out an amazing menu. The music is always on point with a mix of golden era hip-hop with funk and soul.
SFW: A couple of weeks ago, you were assaulted. As someone who makes a living as a creative in S.F., how has that impacted your careers?
TY: Yeah, I was walking home from getting groceries in the morning, and this guy walking towards me was screaming and yelling to himself obviously having a mental breakdown and when I went past him he just attacked me out of nowhere screaming that I stole his house keys. When I tried to get away from him I lost my balance and fell breaking my shoulder in the process. It’s been rough. I needed surgery, so it was hard dealing with the pain and of course not using my left arm. I haven’t been able to cook and I did a DJ gig last Friday but quickly realized I wasn’t ready. Not being able to use my arm was too distracting and painful.
It’s impacted me a lot with my work. My doctor said I will need three to six months to fully recover and get back to cooking again and about a month until I can start DJing more gigs on the regular. Being self-employed has been kind of rough since I can’t work, but luckily I’ve had some pretty good support with friends and family.
SFW: What has been helping you get through this process? Is there a particular jam/artist you listen to when you’re feeling down?
TY: My friends here have been really helping me get through this. People calling or texting asking how I’m doing or coming over and hanging out. I don’t really have a specific jam or artist I listen to. I usually just put on or listen to what I feel like at that particular moment. It could be an album or a mix by somebody or could just be searching for new stuff to play out.
SFW: What are you looking forward to doing the most when you’re healed?
TY: I’m looking forward to getting back in the kitchen and cooking again. My mind has been on full creative mode lately, feeling inspired more than ever. I’m using this time off to start getting back into music-making again. It’s another creative outlet that I’ve kind of put on the back burner in the last few years just being busy with other things. This experience has also been a big eye opener on life in general. When something like this happens, you quickly realize that you’re not immortal and you start to have more gratitude on things that you might have not thought about before. I want to take this new energy and direct it in a positive way to help others in my life and along with myself to reach certain goals.