Chase Marchetti '13 was still a student, performing as a DJ for fraternity get-togethers and school-sanctioned events at Virginia Tech when the opportunity came for him to take his talent beyond Blacksburg.

It was a 2010 concert in Northern Virginia for an up-and-coming Pittsburgh rapper named Mac Miller.  

And it was the day something clicked.

“This is something I could actually achieve,” Marchetti recalled thinking. “This should be the next goal.”

Over the past decade, Marchetti — who performs as Rhetorik — has achieved success as the DJ for hip-hop artist Logic, who he has worked with since 2013 when he headed on tour with the artist two weeks before graduation. He also released his own extended play recording (EP), “Behind Closed Doors,'' in 2018.

Before all the tours and venues played, Marchetti was a communication and Spanish major at Virginia Tech. Below he shares how he went from being a student at Virginia Tech to a career in music.

How do you describe that feeling of doing what you love in front of thousands of fans?

It’s crazy because I feel I had subconsciously normalized it as you do with anything you’re doing day in and day out. COVID took it all away. Coming back, I had this newfound true appreciation for what I get to do for a job. Taking it all away, and then coming back, and then going on tour and getting to experience the longest break I had taken since that 2010 moment — that’s the longest I had gone without performing on stage. It gave me a new appreciation for it.

You dove into your own music and released an EP in 2018. How did that process differ from what you were doing as a DJ?

When I was in high school, I was always the guitar kid. I’d write songs, sing songs, do open mic, and it wasn’t until my senior year that I picked up DJing. That started making money, and I just dropped making music to pursue that. It got to the point where people only knew me as a DJ and that really bothered me creatively because there was so much I was doing behind the scenes, even with Logic’s music during the tours. I really wanted to go out and have this young, 20-year-old-something me say, "Don’t forget, I was always a musician first. Here’s all my music." I produced it all, wrote it all, sang it all, recorded it all. "Here it is. Here’s me." It felt so good to get that off my chest.

Your mantra is “turn your insecurities into art.” How did that saying come about and how does it play out in your life?

It came about when I was writing that EP. It was going to be a lyric, but I thought, 'This is much more than just a line in a song. This is what I do it for." People started to convince me that maybe I am just a DJ. I was feeling insecure about everything I was making. I had quit playing guitar in front of people. I had quit singing in front of people. I was like, "You know what? Let’s turn these insecurities into art." The moment where I start to doubt something that I had always felt so unbelievably confident in is the moment where I know I have to go at it full force.

What’s the proudest moment of your music career?

It goes back to when I left Virginia Tech two weeks early to go on tour. I wrote my last Spanish essays on the tour bus. That was such a leap for me. There was no payment plan for this tour. I was using my money I saved up in college to go take this leap. My original plan was just to go to New York and do some job in music media while DJing. It was a leap of faith right there at the end.

Chase Marchetti
Rhetorik is known for always bringing the energy. Photo courtesy of Chase Marchetti.

You went on tour with Logic two weeks before you graduated. What were those conversations like with your professors to make sure everything was set and ready to go before leaving?

I didn’t have an advisor. I was like,"‘Oh my God. I need an advisor to make sure I graduate." I really have to thank Derley Aguilar [former Virginia Tech communication instructor]. Derley helped me so much. She took any and every meeting that I needed to make sure I graduated on time. 

Why did you major in communication at Virginia Tech?

I thought I was going to major in engineering. I absolutely loved math. But it was another leap of faith where I really loved the creative side of things. I really did want to integrate music somehow, but my original plan was to be a news reporter. That’s why I chose communication. I just wanted to get into the media and have my personality out there. I wanted to be an anchor. I was even looking at meteorology in high school. Engineering was more of an "I like math and I know there are high-paying jobs to come out of this," but then I just thought about happiness. I felt like communication was the road to a much happier career for me. 

When performing on national stages — "Jimmy Kimmel Live," the "Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon," or the ESPN spot — you’re always repping Virginia Tech with your Marching Virginians uniform or a Virginia Tech sweatshirt. Why do you like to represent Virginia Tech on national television?

I came home from the hospital in a Virginia Tech onesie. My dad was a Hokie. My mom went to Radford [University]. I went there and loved it. Even if it’s a minor thing, I think wearing Virginia Tech on national television is just a different light shed on the school. "Look, there’s this musical guy who goes there." It would have been cool for me as a kid to see. I think what I try to do the most is be whatever young me would have loved to see. 

How do you see what you learned at Virginia Tech still show up in your career today?

All Hokies feel like family. That was what made it such an easy decision to go there. You walk around campus and everyone is a Hokie. I still see people in the airport and will say, "Go Hokies!" Even beyond education, that's something that you don’t get everywhere. It’s something I’ve taken with the way I deal with my network and my career — surround yourself with good people, work with people you enjoy working with, and create this one big happy family. Everyone can come together to create something way bigger than you can create yourself.

You’re not on tour, so what are you filling your time with now?

I helped to launch a nonprofit regenerative farm in Yosemite during COVID. It’s called Happy Goat. We're getting great grants and working with the education system in Mariposa [California]. It’s right near Yosemite National Park. That was really fulfilling. That and a lot of golf. I’ve found myself in the golf influencer space, and I did a campaign with Adidas. I just did a shoot with Lacoste out in France. I’m trying to turn all of these passions into something lucrative.

What’s next for you in your career? Anything you want to tease?

Definitely music. I have an unbelievable amount of music I’m just sitting on from COVID. I've started feeling that doubt creep up again, so it’s time to prove myself wrong.

Some answers were edited and condensed for clarity.

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