When CaSera Heining aka DJ Ca$h-Era reminisces on her childhood on Chicago’s south side and in the south suburbs, she fondly recalls chasing the ice cream truck, cracking jokes with her Grandpa and siblings, and vibing to 80s/ 90s rap and r&b with her cool mom.
“I always think of CDs falling in my lap,” she said. “Back in the early 2000s, you would have the sleeves that would hold CDs and attach to your sun visor in your car. My mom had so many CDs to the point that there were 10–15 CDs in every single little flap. Then if she would hit a bump or something all the CDs would come flying out into my lap or all across the floor mat.”
Little did she realize at the time, those Toni Braxton, 2pac, and Aaliyah records would help inform her career path and get crowds moving at throwback-heavy DJ Ca$h Era sets all across Chicago more than a decade later.
CaSera, a driven student and Illinois State Scholar in high school, initially wanted to live out her favorite tv show Law & Order SVU as a forensic scientist. However, when thinking about her life in the long-term, she recognized her true passions and desires lied elsewhere.
She credits an experience shadowing DJ Scotty Kay of Kiss 103.5FM when she graduated 8th grade (set up by her mom) as pivotal in cultivating an interest in radio broadcasting, which she went on to study at Columbia College Chicago from 2013–2017.
While there, she took a DJ-ing class with DJ I.N.C and under his mentorship, refined her knack for getting the party jumpin through her eclectic taste and seamless blends. She quickly caught the ear of Young Chicago Authors Artistic Director Kevin Coval and started booking more and more shows within the Columbia and YCA circles.
These days, CaSera works as a producer on 720AM WGN Radio and DJs events all over Chicagoland. Her investments in herself have led to increased demand and opportunities across the city — earlier this year she became the face of AT&T’s #ItsA312Thing CodeTalk Ad Campaign and can be seen on local billboards and video ads.
Coming up not seeing people who looked liked her doing what she wanted to be doing, CaSera’s current status and influence is something she takes seriously.
“I didn’t realize that I was a figure until students started telling me that. I was having different high schoolers at events telling me ‘I see a part of me in you…that I’m a woman of color, that I’m queer,’” she said. “I want to be the image I didn’t have growing up. Knowing that people can look at me and feel like ‘if she did it, I can do it’ it feels like a dream. I’m forever grateful and thankful for what I do and where I am at this age…I never imagined this is where I’d be.”
CaSera is easily accessible and very generous with her self and her time — happy to share her story, knowledge, and friendly words to anybody who approaches her at a function or hits her DMs. She also aims to make her events as inclusive as possible.
Extremely active and hardworking, you can catch DJ Ca$h Era rocking poetry slams, hip-hop shows, high school proms, charity events, weddings, nightclubs and everything in between. I’ve witnessed her at some solo sets, as the house DJ at rap concerts, Louder Than a Bomb finals, the Vocalo Block Party and more. No matter the context, if she’s spinning, it’s a lit situation. She’s reached a point now, where she can be more intentional and selective about the type of gigs she’s taking.
“In Chicago, you can go to any club and hear the hottest songs,” she said. “It’s the family-oriented events where I see memories being created that I love…I really want to do more events that serve a higher purpose, where it impacts people on a higher vibration.”
2019 has been a big year for CaSera and she plans to continue to explore her boundless creativity with her distinct and relentlessly positive energy. She steps into the fresh decade with a desire to pursue television, produce music, tour with comedians and rappers, and more.
Stay tuned into all her moves and come create some memories with her at our Family Function to benefit Opportunity Knocks on December 7th at the Tonic Room. She will be sharing the DJ booth with Warrior Matt aka DJ Pink during the evening for a rug-cutting collaboration.