What I'll Miss About Christina

The Abrenica Family from left: Alyssa, Christina, Italia (front), Elijah, Lawrence (holding Kaden).

The Abrenica Family from left: Alyssa, Christina, Italia (front), Elijah, Lawrence (holding Kaden).

Christina Abrenica passed away on October 12, 2017. Christina, married to Sheila’s brother (Lawrence), was 44 and had battled brain cancer for the past year.

There is no doubt that death at 44 is way too soon. But it’s comforting to know that her life was filled with the type of life milestones that many aspire to have.

She became a wife at 19; a mother at 20; a grandmother at 40; celebrated 25 years of marriage. In total she and Lawrence raised three children.

During the past few months, when her prognosis was bleak and her life was coming to a close, I scanned the memory book inside my head. I wondered what I would miss about her.

I struggled because I couldn’t pinpoint a single individual thing I was going to miss. And I realized that’s because her life, and the way she went about it, was not lived individually. It was one of selflessness.

The softball/baseball/football mom that rarely missed a game. The mom who made lunches and dropped notes into them. The Aunty who always had a hug and a kiss for her nieces and nephews.

I’ll miss seeing what she did for others and how good I could tell it made them feel.


In her final hours, she was surrounded -- in her home -- by her family (her parents, two sisters, her husband and three children). This gathering was nothing new as it mirrored several special moments that these same people assembled throughout the years for birthdays, holidays or just Sunday football game watching.

At one point, the sounds of soft cries was broken up as Lawrence asked if anyone had a funny story to tell.

This group has been gathering for more than two decades and there are of course funny stories to tell. In fact, not a gathering went by without a reflection on some high school shenanigans and adolescent anecdotes. So why would this moment, this final gathering with Christina, be any different?

Tears quickly turned to laughter. Quips were punctuated with barbs from her Sicilian dad. Her mom would chime in, correcting facts from incidents that happened 30 years ago. Her sisters talked over one another as they each had details to contribute of a particular story.

What was missing was Christina’s contributions. She always had additional details to make the story even more funny. But she also had an uncontrollable laugh, so intense it would go from audible to mute as she bent over literally crying herself laughing.

And while these gatherings and storytelling sessions will continue after today; they will be absent of that laugh and those additional details.

I’m really going to miss that too.

Koi Bar Celebrates One Year Anniversary With A Party

San Diego DJ, Justin Kanoya, spins music at the one year anniversary party for Koi Bar. 

San Diego DJ, Justin Kanoya, spins music at the one year anniversary party for Koi Bar. 

Koi Bar is the lounge attached to Emerald Chinese Cuisine. While the restaurant has been a fixture in San Diego for many years, the lounge only opened up last year. Obviously, this one year anniversary is a call for a celebration, so Koi opened up its doors to drink and food specials for its One-Derful Anniversary Party on August 25.

It was a great night to play an open format setlist to just set a nice lounge vibe.

Here’s the setlist:

  • Wale ft Sam Sneak - My PYT (Mr. Collipark Remix)
  • Marvin Gaye - Sexual Healing (DJDX The Fix Blend)
  • Maxamillion - Sexual Healing
  • DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince - The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air (Le Boeuf Remix)  
  • James Brown - Soul Power  
  • Tinashe - Flame
  • Kygo f./Parson James - Stole The Show
  • Major Lazer f./Travis Scott, Camila Cabello & Quavo - Know No Better
  • Lost Frequencies f./Janieck Devy - Reality
  • Stoned Butterflies - Love The Music (70's Mix)  
  • Lorde - Green Light (Chromeo Remix)  
  • Nelly Furtado - Say It Right (Foldcash Remix)  
  • Felix Jaehn ft Jasmine Thompson - Ain't Nobody (Loves Me Better) (The Rooftop Boys Remix)  
  • David Bowie - Let's Dance
  • Don Bravo - My Love  
  • Taylor Swift - Look What You Made Me Do (IMCFresh Intro Edit)
  • Kesha  - Die Young (PeteDown Acapella Out)
  • OMC - How Bizarre (Select Mix Remix)
  • Afro Rican - Give It All You Got (Select Mix Remix)
  • Technotronic - Pump Up The Jam
  • Sage The Gemini - Now & Later (Merk & Kremont Remix)  
  • The Chainsmokers ft Rozes - Roses (The Him Remix)  
  • Throttle; Earth, Wind & Fire - September  
  • Bruno Mars - That's What I Like
  • Ginuwine - Pony
  • Fetty Wap - Trap Queen
  • Camp Lo - Luchini (This Is It)
  • Luniz - I Got 5 On It
  • Naughty By Nature - Jamboree
  • Cent - Outta Control
  • Sia ft Sean Paul - Cheap Thrills (Mr. Collipark Remix)  
  • Ice Cube - Check Yo Self
  • Destiny's Child - Jumpin' Jumpin' (Jean Tonique Remix)
  • Montel Jordan - This Is How We Do It
  • Bruno Mars - k Magic (Rock It Scientists Hype Edit) (Dynamiq Cutdown)
  • Mann ft 50 Cent - Buzzin (Remix)
  • Nicki Minaj ft Drake - Truffle Butter (Jester Remix)  
  • Usher - Caught Up
  • Haim - Want You Back
  • Drake - Passionfruit (BPM Supreme Remix)  
  • Discotron - Disco Ballin'  
  • The Weeknd ft Daft Punk - I Feel It Coming (Mr. Collipark Remix)  
  • Blackstreet - No Diggity (Bondax Edit)  
  • Major Lazer ft Justin Bieber & MO - Cold Water (J Rythm BPM Supreme Remix)
  • Calvin Harris f./Pharrell Williams, Katy Perry & Big Sean - Feels (Promo Only Intro Edit)
  • Lauryn Hill - Doo Wop (That Thing)
  • DJ Khaled ft Justin Bieber, Quavo, Chance The Rapper & Lil Wayne - I'm The One (Bpm Supreme 100-81 Transition)  
  • Sean Kingston f./Elan From The D.E.Y. And Juelz Santana - There's Nothin
  • Rihanna ft Drake - Work (DJ Jam HeaterVille Remix)
  • Snoop Dogg - Gin & Juice
  • Fat Joe ft Remy Ma & French Montana - All The Way Up (Mr. Collipark Remix)  
  • Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg - The Next Episode (San Holo Remix)  
  • Missy Elliott - Work It (Mayeda Remix)  
  • Missy Elliott - Get Ur Freak On (Mayeda Remix)
  • Maroon 5 ft Kendrick Lamar - Don't Wanna Know (Mr. Collipark Remix)  
  • Justin Bieber - Sorry (Mr Collipark Remix)  
  • Drake ft. Lil Wayne - The Motto [Clean]
  • Selena Gomez - Same Old Love (Nikki X & Dj Mike D Remix)  
  • Ed Sheeran vs Joe Maz - Shape Of You (Dynamiq Edit)
  • Flo Rida & 99 Percent - Cake
  • Zedd & Alessia Cara - Stay
  • Lauv - I Like Me Better  
  • Jay-Z - Hard Knock Life
  • Brandy - Sittin Up In My Room (Select Mix Remix)
  • Mark Morrison - Return Of The Mack (Select Mix Remix)
  • Groove Theory - Tell Me (Mayeda Remix)  
  • Drake - Fake Love (Caked Up Remix)  
  • Beyonce - Naughty Girl
  • Marvin Gaye ft BJ The Chicago Kid - Whats Going On (New 2016 Version)
  • Disclosure ft Sam Smith - Latch (G Duppy Reggae Remix)
  • Bruno Mars - Versace On The Floor
  • Snakehips & MO - Don't Leave
  • Daughter - Get Lucky (Daft Punk Cover) (Holtoug Deep House House Edit)
  • Halsey - Colors (Blonde Remix)
  • Soul ll Soul - Back To Reality (KLATCH Remix)
  • Rihanna - Needed Me (TEE Remix)  
  • Lost Frequencies - What Is Love 2016  
  • Nora En Pure - Saltwater  
  • R. Kelly - Step In The Name Of Love

One Great Piece of Content Is All It Takes

When it comes to putting stuff out in the world, I am constantly investigating what it is that will strike people. Even more so, I’m often wondering if I’m striking people at all.

Two years ago when I started DJing full time, in addition to regularly DJing weddings and events, I wanted to create helpful content to share with others. Online content was one of the main reasons I took the latest path into entrepreneurship. It was the video tutorials, the inspiring Instagram posts and the Ted Talks. It was that content that made me think, “hey I too can follow my passion,” and later “I want to be able to talk about how I did it.”

djkanoya san diego dj

While the actual DJing part of what I was doing has been going well, I struggled on the content sharing and social media growth. I was not finding my niche and was frustrated with the minimal growth. Of course, I always preach about patience and putting in the work and that by doing those things, the rewards will come.
But still, it was frustrating. There were also the excuses to really diving into content creation.

“I don’t have the …. right camera; right lighting; proper sound set-up; proper editing tools; a large enough audience to deliver content to ...” and so on.

But it really was that that I didn’t have the guts. Who am I to try and become an authority in a crowded space? I became pre-occupied with thinking about what others would think. 

“Is he really trying to be Gary Vaynerchuk?”

“Why am I going to follow and listen to someone who’s only been doing this full time for two years?”

And then I said “whatevs, I’m doing this.” I also stopped thinking I needed to be declared an authority figure within my niche to start doing anything, because that's not what I am trying to become. I just want to pass along my knowledge and help others and the way to do that is to just start putting it out there.

I reminded myself that all it takes is one good piece of content being found by someone else.

It’s like the letter I wrote to Lululemon with zero intention or agenda. Yet that resulted in me DJing for the company for an entire week at their home base in Vancouver.

It’s like the aforementioned Vaynerchuk who says this speech is what put him on the map.

It’s Linda Raynier, a fellow colleague in the YouTube for Bosses seminar, who went from practically zero subscribers to 40k plus and counting, likely because of this valuable video about how to answer the “tell me about yourself interview question.”

And for better worse, it was “one good piece of content” that brought us the Biebs.

Great strides are being made on the business side of DJing and it made me a bit emotional.

Great strides are being made on the business side of DJing and it made me a bit emotional.

In between DJing, adulting, parental, spousal and other life duties I’ve slowly picked away at creating content on multiple social media platforms  to assist and inspire. And it’s been genuinely hard work, mostly all on my own. There is always a certain fervor I have when creating content. But nothing compares to the feeling of seeing it make an impact.

And now it I’m seeing that.

Recently I created a Facebook group, Business Coaching For DJs, and have been slowly growing its membership (like real slow; a rate of one new member per day). But it was one of those new members that reminded me why I’m putting in all that work.

He found the group because he watched a video I had produced just a few days earlier, where in the description I had a link to the group. He said “since that video I have been studying your social media tactics.”

He was one person that found me because he was searching for an online review of a storage case that I created a video for. One person that actually answered the call to action to “like, subscribe and also check me out on Facebook and Instagram.”

Once I realized that it was this crazy shot of emotion. All of my work … actually worked. And I ugly cried and started rolling my camera. 

It was honest emotion, right at the exact moment. This can be verified if you look closely at the video because I didn’t even bother to clean up behind me or properly frame the shot (sorry my head takes up 90% of your screen).

It was one person that has reinvigorated me.

There’s an inspiring script that was made famous in the decades old “Think Different" Apple campaign.

It says, in part, “Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently … You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things … Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

This is my rewritten version.

Here’s to the difference makers. The Instagram users with 10 likes on a photo. The YouTube users with 12 subscribers. The Facebook Group creators with 22 members. You can be discouraged by your minuscule numbers, quit before even getting started or make up another excuse.
Or, you can listen to the yearning inside you. Because you are a difference maker, “crazy enough to think (you) can change the world.”

Pure Pop Perfection - Mariah Carey’s 1995 Madison Square Garden Concert

My productivity slows down immensely as soon as I type in "" in my web browser. Can you relate? It's a vortex I easily get sucked into. Whether it’s music videos, personal VLOGs or cat videos I seriously need help.

But today I felt it was time well spent, since I was indeed watching music videos -- it’s for work right? More specifically, Mariah Carey music videos. More specifically Mariah Carey concert videos. And more specifically Mariah Carey’s October 1995 concert at Madison Square Garden.


This was Mariah in her prime. Mariah before she Mimi needed to be emancipated. She was five albums into her career, had 10 No. 1 singles (six of which she performs in this show) and two Grammy awards. She was an icon of beauty.

And it was 1995, literally the mid 90s. A decade that brought us baggy jeans, Must See TV Thursdays, big hair, smooth R&B and dance pop perfection.

Notably though, the 90s brought us Mariah.

With all the aforementioned attributes, this concert, in her hometown of New York City, epitomizes the pop music scene of the time. Her background dancers had those robotic 90s dance moves (while wearing said baggy jeans). Mariah had her perfectly flowing, curly locks of hair. Her wardrobe was perfect, consisting of that half button down sweater look that every 16-year old 90s girl had. The one that slightly, yet tastefully exposed a bare navel when raising ones arms. She had perfectly hemmed pants that flared at the bottom, making room for her chunky heeled black booties. I’m pretty sure every girl I knew was wearing these in the Fall of 1995. And she also defined formal style of the day, wearing an off the shoulder number that hugged her body and fell straight to the floor, the direction in which I’m sure everyone’s mouth went when she walked on stage wearing that dark blue dress.

But most of all it’s the music and her voice. Mariah singing a dance tune instantly brings the mood from nothing to happy. Mariah singing a ballad is an introspective and moving experience. There are women who have voices and there are women who have instruments.

Mariah is of course in that company -- which includes Whitney, Celine and Christina just to name a few -- of vocal instruments. Here are five of my favorites from this show where her instrument shines.


I swear, when I play this song, anyone born between 1965 and 1989 gets moving. I’ve had more looks over to the DJ booth in approval on this one than probably any other by her.


The only non- No. 1 on this list. Casual MC fans may have forgotten about it, which just cracked the Billboard Top 10 in 1996. It was a performance debut, so likely unknown to the NYC audience. But what a great performance it was.

Vision of Love

There has not been a better R&B Ballad released in the past 20 years than this. The run she does with her voice at the 2:40 mark is magical.


Oh hey Mariah .. are you singing actual words? All I’m hearing is pitch perfect melodies coming through my headphones from you and your choir. And why am I crying?

One Sweet Day

Wait a minute. So you’re telling me Boyz II Men are going to sing live with Mariah? BOYS TO FREAKING MEN!!

FYI, this performance was essentially a debut for the song. It would not be released commercially for another month. I imagine Boyz II Men strolling on the stage was just a teeny bit of a surprise.

I can’t even finish writing this … literally dead.

Define Your “Why” and then Lead Others to Define Theirs

My daughter, like many 10-year-olds and younger, has probably asked this simple one word question more than any other.


As adults we eye roll after this question is asked repeatedly, often because it’s the first in a series of “why” questions and the more it’s asked, the more the answer is not easy to come up with.

Perhaps it’s because we have not spent as much time considering “why,” and have not even been asking it to others.

I was recently part of a group that was asked about how we define ourselves as leaders, what characteristics define us as a leader and in what spaces should we choose to lead?

It was a group I was grateful to be a part of. It all started with an ominous invitation from my friends at Lululemon La Jolla. Other than being asked to meet at a train station at a specific time and to dress in layers, myself and a dozen or so others had zero idea of where we were going and what we were doing.

On the train ride, which started in Old Town San Diego, we were still clueless as to our final destination. We traveled north, along the San Diego coastline, meandering through stations in Sorrento Valley, passing stops in Solana Beach and Oceanside.

From our windows we watched surfers drop in on waves and as a group listened to a this keynote given by Simon Sinek at a Creative Mornings gathering in San Diego.

And finally, one hour into our journey we stepped off the train in San Juan Capistrano.

A short Uber ride later and our toes were in the sand at Doheny State Beach. After laying out blankets, LED candles and wishing we had brought boardshorts and surfboards, we sat around and engaged in the discussion of leadership.

In November 2016, I had the chance to go on an excursion with Lululemon staff and others to discuss becoming leaders in our own commmunities.

In November 2016, I had the chance to go on an excursion with Lululemon staff and others to discuss becoming leaders in our own commmunities.

Becoming A Leader In Your Community
A major tenant of Lululemon is the idea of creating communities. Its stores around the world have designated staff who are tasked with building programs and events that incorporate the communities its store are in. This in addition to restocking the shelves with yoga pants, breathable shirts and other pieces of Luon.

We explored the idea of how we are leaders in our own communities. It became thought provoking for me, as I had to think about what “community” meant to me.

And while it may seem that community is relegated to a geographic area, workplace, social group, family or other numerous examples, the true answer is that it is whatever space you choose to lead.

Inspired by the Simon Sinek keynote we listened to, I researched some of his other stuff and found this Ted Talk

In it, Sinek explains, your leadership must be built around the idea that you lead followers that are invested into WHY you do what you do … not WHAT you do or HOW you do it.

Finding Your Why
Sinek explains how individuals, companies and others fail at leadership because they get so caught up in selling themselves solely based on what they do and how they do it. As consumers when we are seeing everyone else explaining the same types products and services, our buying decisions are made on factors such as price and not quality. But when we understand our why -- and when our marketing leads with the “why” -- we filter out the people that are just looking to spend less. We begin to attract the people that care about why we do what we do. We inadvertently become leaders.

Look at this example for two DJ’s selling themselves.

DJ #1
WHAT: I am a DJHOW: I use my computer, turntables and speakers to play music at parties and events and for your event I will do this for $1,000.

DJ #2
WHAT: I am a DJ
HOW: I use my computer, turntables and speakers to play music at parties and events and for your event I will do this for $750.

Based on that information, who do you want to contract and pay? Without the explanation of why they are DJs -- the passion they may or may not have for what they do -- you would probably opt for the one priced less.

In this next example, and how I’m structuring my pitches, I add the “why” and reverse the order of the explanation process.

DJ Kanoya
WHY: I want to make things better. Whether that’s your wedding or special event or yoga class. I want to make that experience better for you and your guests.

HOW: By using music, I create a vibe and feeling for all the different moments that unfold throughout the event.

WHAT: And I get to do this because I am a DJ.

Potential clients will be attracted to your why. And not only will paying customers be attracted to that why, but others who share your thought process will gravitate toward you because they want to be led by another like minded individual.

Finding My Why
On multiple levels this past year has been incredibly enlightening -- as a DJ, entrepreneur, parent, friend, husband, etc. I’ve spent many grateful hours with other DJs in person and online discussing ways to be more successful. But on this particular day, here I was sitting on a beach, and I looked around where I was surrounded by a photographer, a handful of yoga teachers, other self-employed entrepreneurs, an individual that works for a non-profit and of course Lululemon staff. It was refreshing to know that coming up with ways to build my own business and to be successful and to become a leader didn’t need to to stem from a discussion with other DJs or other people in my industry.

In fact, everyone in that circle was picked because we were likely channeling our “why.” We are choosing to be leaders in our communities. But it’s our “why” that brings us together.

A sampling of the group:

Kat Gunsur is more than an employee of a non-profit organization … she wants to raise awareness of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis throughout the endurance race community and gets to do so as the National Endurance Manager for Team Challenge.  

Todd LeVeck is more than a photographer … he loves to tell stories and gets to do so because he has a way of telling his stories through his art.

Jenna Zabrosky is more than a yoga teacher … she’s been told by others that she goes out of her way to make those that walk into the studios she teaches at feel welcome. Others pick up on that and in turn lift the people around them. She leads by example and is in a position to do that because she teaches yoga.

And I am more than a DJ …. I love inspiring change, whether that is through music at an event I am spinning at or helping other DJs and entrepreneurs find their own path to success, and I get to do that because I am a DJ.

It’s not about what we do. It’s about why we do it.

Maybe my daughter had it right after all Because she knows the most important question to ask is “why?”