ZUMIX Staff, Past and Present, Reunite At #AMC2017!


Earlier this month, ZUMIX staff gathered with media makers, artists, and organizers alike at the 19th Annual Allied Media Conference (AMC) in Detroit, Michigan. The AMC define media-based organizing as: any collaborative process that uses media, art, or technology to address the roots of problems and advances holistic solutions towards a more just and creative world.

In Detroit, we reunited with former ZUMIX staffer, Sophie Kazis, fresh off of her time studying with the Transom Story Workshop in Cape Cod. Check out the latest piece from her, “Provincetown Remembers AIDS” here.

The weekend consisted of over 300 hands-on workshops, panels, film screenings, Detroit tours, art and music events, strategy sessions, karaoke, bowling, collaborative art and more! Some of sessions we participated in included panels on anti-oppressive facilitation, the link between artists and change makers, an in-depth historical tour from Black Scroll Network History & Tours, and hands-on workshops in poetry, audio gathering, and more!

We wanted to take a few moments to reflect on our weekend in Detroit learning from like-minded folks from across the country and exploring the city.

Our Reflections

“The Allied Media Conference allowed me to step away from my day-to-day responsibilities and focus on learning! The conference was attended by activists and indie media makers from across the globe and I learned as much from the other participants as I did the workshop facilitators.

From “Poetry as Speculative Activism” to “Real Talk with Major Donors,” the workshops covered a range of topics and disciplines. I would highly recommend this conference to anyone with an interest in media making, social justice, and grassroots organizing and fundraising.” 

– Kelly Baker, ZUMIX Director of Development

“Attending the Allied Media Conference gave me an exciting opportunity to learn with and from other media makers and organizers from all over, and to reconnect with my ZUMIX roots!

Jeeyoon and I attended a workshop called “Listening as a Revolutionary Act,” taught by journalists Jesse Hardman and Burgess Brown. Their project, The Listening Post, is a community media project that aims to facilitate two-way conversations around important local issues – directly countering “parachute journalism” that can feel extractive and exploitative. Jesse and Burgess have created an accessible storytelling platform for communities to implement themselves, with the goal of making media more representative and accountable to the communities it’s meant to serve. The Listening Post reflects all the values I saw in ZUMIX Radio, and that I hope to work towards in my own audio storytelling.”

Sophie Kazis, Independent Radio Producer

“This trip to Detroit gave me more than I anticipated, whether that came directly from the conference or from the city itself. The space that the AMC holds is unlike any other conference I’ve attended and I am so grateful for the projects and individuals I was able to connect with in our short time together.

I’ve come home to Boston thinking about the incredible impact the California Endowment has had in supporting communities to a healthier future by supporting projects like #SchoolsNotPrisons. I’ve come back looking for ways to be more intentional about how my work can connect with visual artists so that that link isn’t limited to transactional engagement when we need a poster or photos to document our programs. I’ve also come home with Detroit on my mind. I’m ready to dig in to this work and to do better.”

– Jeeyoon Kim, ZUMIX Events Associate

Last, but not least, we wanted to leave you with some of the gems we overheard last weekend in Detroit…

“Having strategic courage means knowing you don’t have to fight alone.”
“Speculative poetry offers a glimpse of a future world, one that is a little freer. Then it’s up to us, as activists, to figure out how to get there.”
“There’s a difference between feeling safe and feeling comfortable.”
“No matter what, we will fight, we will resist. It begins with love of self and the planet.” 

Meet Rene, ZUMIX’s New Radio Program Coordinator!

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Welcome, Rene Dongo, to the ZUMIX team!

Rene Dongo, Radio Program Coordinator, joined ZUMIX in 2017. As a filmmaker, media maker and teaching artist he has found the intersection of community and youth arts education to be a pivotal step to helping young people grow and find their voice in the communities they live and learn in. At ZUMIX he works to support community and youth produced radio programming.

We stole a few minutes away from Rene’s whirlwind first week at ZUMIX to get to know him a little bit better. Read more below!

What artists or media makers are you digging these days?

Latino USA, an NPR podcast hosted by Maria Hinojosa and a crew of great Latino writers, covers a bunch of stuff that really doesn’t get covered often. In one of my favorite episodes, they talk about how before people dubbed films they were asking themselves, “How do we bring this film to a new audience?” One of the stories was about how they made two versions of the film, Dracula, one in Spanish and one in English. They filmed them simultaneously! So on a day of shooting, both would be filmed in the same place but with different actors, directors, [and everything]. The thing is, the Spanish one is superior! The whole crew had already done the English version just prior so they were like, “Oh! We know what we’re doing now!” Then they realized that’s not the most efficient way to dub films.

I also want to shout-out my friends, my buddy, Catch Wreck – he’s really great. I’ve made a bunch of his music videos so I’m very familiar with his entire process and he’s such a great person to be around. I also really like listening to Luis Miguel.

Why do you think radio is a powerful outlet for youth voice?

I think it’s a great outlet in general, for people. Teens specifically, are going through such giant shifts in their personalities that it’s actually kind of funny that they are on air to try those [different versions] of themselves out. What I’ve heard here so far is how some radio shows change over time and that makes total sense. I think it’s great for teens to be able to try out what they’re listening to, to speak, and to listen to others as well.

Radio is just another platform like music or film – and giving someone a platform is great. I’m particularly excited about radio because it’s more immediate. I’ve done a lot of work in film and that is a process in terms of hitting the record button, you can then go back and look at what you’ve got and what you don’t want. Radio doesn’t allow that, it requires that practice, and that’s one of things I find the most interesting about it.

How did you get involved in youth work, how did your journey land you here?

The story I’ve been telling is that I was a part of teen programs and then I fell into working with them – it almost wasn’t by choice. I was doing a lot of video work and started getting hired by the nonprofits I used to attend. I began to get involved in documenting classes, that led to TA positions in classes, soon I was being asked to propose my own projects for those same places.

There’s a reason kids come here and hang out here, there’s a reason I kept coming back to these places. For the past couple of years I’ve really been seeing that. [Radio] is an aspect that I haven’t really explored as much but [radio] is like a bug I remember having from when I was going to college. It’s just so great that these youth get the chance to do radio here and I can already see that same excitement in them. Hopefully the experiences that I’ve had can help [them in their learning]. I’ll be learning from them too, [I expect] they will break what I believe is “possible” on radio.




Staff Picks: May 2017

Staff Picks - May 2017

They say April showers bring May flowers but we seem to be running a bit behind schedule here in the dreary rain-filled past few weeks. Time to ditch those clouds and let this month’s staff picks from your friends at ZUMIX brighten up your days. Check out picks below including: Sharon Jones, Soundgarden, Ian Sweet, and more (p.s. We even snuck in a podcast there….)!

“If You’re Crying” by Ian Sweet

“Because sometimes I’m a sad girl and it feels good to listen to other sad girls be sad.” – Sarah Saydun, Pathways Coordinator

“100 Days, 100 Nights” by Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings

“Powerful and thematically relevant – 100 days down – 1,360 to go!” – Madeleine Steczynski, Co-Founder & Executive Director

“The World Is Mind”  by KRS-One

“A new album from the teacher KRS-One. he took this popular folk story and turned into a great hip hop song with the message. Enjoy!” – Corey DePina, Youth Development and Performance Manager

“Politically Re-Active” by Hari Kondabolu and W Kamau Bell
“I know I’m cheating in that this isn’t a song but I can’t stop listening to this hilarious and thought-provoking podcast. Sometimes you just need to laugh while you’re listening to people talk about politics in America!” – Anni Leff, Development Associate

“Get on the Bus” by Peace, Loving

“That first day of school, when you get abducted by aliens.” – Scott Mizrachi, Volunteer Coordinator

“Trail Of Tears” by The Budos Band

“They’re super funky and epic. These are also some of the best recordings I’ve heard so shoutout to Daptone Records.” – Mario Jarjour, ZUMIX Teen Council Member

“Little River” by Loamlands

“Beautiful summer song with protest roots.” – Kelly Baker, Director of Development

“Switch Opens” by Soundgarden 

“While I have been listening to many things in the past months, I believe this takes precedence. Chris Cornell, the vocalist/guitarist/songwriter of Soundgarden, passed away Thursday, May 18th. The band taught me a lot about what it meant to be inventive songwriter as I first listened to them in the 9th grade while also starting to play guitar. Chris and his bandmate Kim Thayil inspired me to be thoughtful, a careful listener, and to really care about what my guitar sounds like. This song embodies a lot of what I love and what I aspire to be.” – Ramsel Gonzalez, Program Manager

“The First Hippie On The Moon, PT. II” by Cuddle Magic

“I love this song! The beautiful and haunting melody, the motivic development that circles the same melodic line in a few different keys, seamlessly, the poignant lyrics “heroes give up, zeros add up, and the margins fill the page”, the fat synth that drops half way through, that groove! Plus the band are good friends of mine which adds to the whole experience – Cuddle Magic!” – Avi Salloway, Live Sound Coordinator

“Different” by Gideon Pigeon

“Joe was my roommate when he conceived of this and I got to be the fly on the wall while he was writing, playing, and recording on an old 4-track tape recorder. I’m so proud of him and grateful I got to witness this creative process!” – Jenny Shulman, Director of Operations

“How To Boil An Egg” by Courtney Barnett

“Courtney Barnett used to play this song constantly live when she was 21. Now at age 30 she recorded the track for the very first time, forever immortilizing it into her catalogue. It’s common for artists to do exactly the opposite, delete old demos and discard old works to preserve a brand. There’s a beauty to openly and publicly showcasing your former self and as always I am thankful for another A+ song title.” – Jeeyoon Kim, Events Associate

ZUMIX Radio Unpacks Gentrification

ZUMIX’s Radio Street Team set out to capture the sights and sounds of East Boston this spring.  What they saw and heard up close were tweeting birds, neighbors at the park, sidewalk conversations in Spanish and English and doors peeling with history.  Among these familiar senses were some new ones: cranes along the harbor, construction debris falling into dumpsters, evidence of the real estate development driving up rent prices in our neighborhood.
Our Radio Street Team wanted to tell this pressing story of gentrification from the perspective of young people, for whom the threat of housing displacement has big implications.  We wondered: How much do youth know about what is happening to housing nearby and how do they learn about it?  How are youth feeling about theses changes in our neighborhood?  What do young people think we can do to find solutions for equitable housing?  What makes a strong community for us?
To start to find these answers, the group conducted interviews with other youth organizations, including the East Boston Ecumenical Community Council’s Aspira program, Neighborhood of Affordable Housing and the East Boston Social Center.  We also heard fromCity Life/Vida Urbana, a housing justice organization that hosts weekly support meetings and free legal aid out of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church on Paris St. 
We are feeling evidence of displacement and also hope for a more just housing environment.  We’d love to hear how our story shifts your ideas about this issue, and invite you to learn more about the Jim Brooks Stabilization Act, an ordinance currently under review by Boston City Council that seeks to reduce no-fault evictions and improve city data on evictions. 
For more information on the Jim Brooks Stabilization Act: http://www.justcauseboston.org

Staff Picks: April 2017

Staff Picks - Apr 2017All month long, the team here at ZUMIX has been campaigning for our annual Walk For Music! Before the end of this month, we need to get to $40,000 to keep our teen programs free and low-cost for Boston youth. Our work s imply isn’t possible without support from individuals like you – will you support us?

No good campaign is without a soundtrack. Check out this month’s edition of staff picks that have been keeping us going all month long.

“Good Lava” by Esperanza Spalding

“I can’t get enough of this song; the background vocals at the end, especially, are so energizing!” – Anni Leff, Development Associate 

“Christine” by Martha

“Gritty & romantic pop punk at its finest.” – Kelly Baker, Development & Communications Manager

“DNA” by Kendrick Lamar

“He just dropped an album that I have to take some time to think about it. It’s deep.” – Corey DePina, Songwriting & Youth Development Manager

“Sweet Life” by Frank Ocean

“This song is just one of those things that never gets old & vibes with you the right way everytime you listen. As an artist, I appreciate the musicality and musicianship that’s put into this song not only by Frank but everyone who worked on it. Definitely my fave from the album.” – Angelina Botticelli, Events Intern

“Celebrate” by Little Dragon

“You can dance to it but its also experimental and makes you think. Little Dragon channels Prince across time with a loop machine. Thats the only way I can describe it.” – Jenny Shulman, Program Director

“I Was Around” by The Craters

“Astral projection//somewhere between the bedroom and the garage.” – Scott Mizrachi, Volunteer Coordinator

“Land Of The Free” by Joey Bada$$

“This song is a very accurate in portraying the state of America at this moment in time, specifically for African Americans and other minorities.” – Dawry Ruiz, Communications Intern

“Indecision” by Sampha

“Sampha has been my running artist lately, particularly this track – ‘Indecision’ – whose title I find relatable and whose piano chords make me want to throw my hands up and scream ‘the world is beautiful!'” – Brittany Thomas, ZUMIX Radio Station Manager

“Chanel” by Frank Ocean
“This song is so smooth and catchy, I love singing along.” – Mario Jarjour, ZUMIX Teen Council

“Comin’ Undone” by Sarah Jarosz

“This song grooves so hard despite the absence of drums, and the lyrics are a motivational reminder to just keep pushing.” – Brian Paulding, Teaching Artist

“Adult Diversion” by Alvvays

“The happiest song about being sad.” – Gabi Barroso, ZUMIX Teen Council

“You’re Welcome” from the Moana Soundtrack 

“I’ve been listening to this song a lot because it’s a really fun song to dance to and so up-beat. I love the entire soundtrack, but this song is my brother’s favorite so I play it the most.” – Janna Ramadan, Development Intern

Join us on April 30 for our annual Walk For Music! Find all the details here.

Local artist Alisa Amador, records first EP in ZUMIX studio!

By Angelina Botticelli, 16, Events Intern 

At ZUMIX, local music is a key component to exposing our youth and the community with new up and coming artists. Local artist, Alisa Amador, who recently finished recording her first EP in the ZUMIX studio, found herself in this situation through a series of events that worked so perfectly together, you know it was meant to happen. In early 2016, a ZUMIX staff member stumbled across Amador at a local show at Inman Square’s Lilypad and immediately reached out to have her play an upcoming show at ZUMIX alongside The Ballroom Thieves and ZUMIX’s own Miyagi And The Kids.

a1574536891_16“Before finishing my set, I mentioned that I was crowdfunding to record my first EP. Once I got off-stage, [they] approached me about recording at ZUMIX. It is not very often that one gets asked to record at someone’s studio. Plus, I love ZUMIX for everything it does and stands for, and wanted to become a part of its legacy in some small way by recording there. I stopped looking for studios after that day, and am so glad that I did,” Amador said.

Recording in the ZUMIX studio is mainly dominated by our youth, through programs like Recording Lab, which teach young people ages 12-18 music technology skills. Projects like Amador’s are held after hours and are run by the same sound engineers that teach our students.

“We’d be in the studio until we couldn’t keep our eyes open any longer, but nobody wanted to stop. It was so much fun, we laughed a lot. I felt a tremendous amount of support and patience from everyone at ZUMIX as the EP slowly took form. It was a sad moment when we realized we were done. We were all like, ‘Is it really over? Can’t we just do this all the time?’” Amador said.

We asked Amador to explain what a favorite moment of hers was during the recording process.

Amador said, “After we finished laying down the final track, none of us wanted to leave. Joe Ziemba, the engineer, said, ‘come check this out,’ and brought us to the back stairwell with a guitar. The natural resonance and eco of the stairwell was just fantastic, and we jammed out there and improvised a song all together. It was a really sweet moment.”

Recording in the ZUMIX studio was just the first step in the next chapter of Amador’s music. It was a joy having her use the space and we can’t wait to see where she goes from here!

Stay Updated! 

The release of Amador’s EP has yet to be announced but you can stay in the know through her Facebook here and through her GoFundMe page here!

listen to previous singles Amador has released off her band camp here!


Staff Picks – March 2017

Staff Picks - Mar 2017

Anyone else feel like time is speeding up on us this month? Whether you’re training for the Boston Marathon, hyped up over March Madness, or just trying to play catchup now that DST stole an hour from us – take refuge in music for some grounding. Check out the latest selections curated by the ZUMIX staff for some inspiration. Happy listening!

“Cops Come Looking” by Spirit of the Beehive

“This song has a solid grasp on creative song writing and dynamics that allows me to never feel bored. This song is not cyclical. There is no verse, there is no chorus. It is a long midnight drive headed nowhere.” – Ramsel Gonzalez, Program Coordinator & Business Administrator

“Me and Magdalena” by The Monkees 

“A beautiful song, and a name nod to our newest AIM teacher, Magdalena. This was written by Benjamin Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie) for the first manufactured ‘boy’ band that bit the hand that fed…from 2016’s Good Times.” – Ed Meradith, Teaching Artist

“Leave Me Alone (ft. Manu Chao)” by Calypso Rose

“A great modern calypso song by a legendary calypsonian who, well into her 70’s, is putting out hits with some of today’s biggest artists.” – Brian Paulding, Teaching Artist

“For Light” by Jay Som

“I haven’t stopped listening to this album since it started streaming online, I can’t stop. Everybody Works is full of comfort songs, and this album closer is perfect for exhaling.” – Jeeyoon Kim, Community Arts & Events Coordinator

“Them Changes (featuring Flying Lotus & Kamasi Washington)” by  Thundercat

“I love the production on this song, it’s a very cool arrangement, I can’t get the bass line out of my head, and I really like Kamasi Washington.” – Joel Edinberg, Z-Tech Mentor

“On + Off” by Maggie Rogers

“Because it makes me want to dance in a sad kind of way. And there’s one part with a syncopated rhythm that always gets me.” – Brittany Thomas, ZUMIX Radio Station Manager

“Apple Trees” by Blitzen Trapper 

“This is what happens when country bumpkins use analog synthesizers.” – Scott Mizrachi, Volunteer Coordinator

“Honeycomb” by Kadhja Bonet

“Featuring artful lyrics and a soulful groove, this track manages to transcend genre boundaries in the best way possible.” – Magdalena Abrego, Teaching Artist

“Clandestino” by Manu Chao

“Manu Chao brings the fire and raises the voices of the migrants who are pushed to the margins. ‘Soy una raya en el mar!'” – Avi Salloway, Live Sound Coordinator

“Baptized in Fire” by Kid Cudi

“This song is my definition of “mildly lit”. It has a very passionate flow to it, and the song gets you just get into the lyrics.” – Dawry Ruiz, Communications Intern

“Remember The Rain” by Kadhja Bonet

“Listening to this album makes me think about gardening, and I don’t even like gardening, but this album makes me want to sit in one.” – Anni Leff, Development Associate

“Largam da mon” by Jenifer Solidade

“Got to spend a few days with her in Cape Verde and she was so humble. sweet and talented.” – Corey DePina, Youth Development & Performance Manager


“I’ve been listening to this song a lot while walking around Somerville on sunny late winter days, and really appreciate how it layers on top of my experience of life, enhancing what I’m looking at. Like I’ll listen to this song and everything around me is more beautiful. That’s kind of a magical thing.” – Kelly Baker, Development & Communications Manager

Stay tuned for next month’s playlist!