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.

 

 

 

Corey DePina heads to Cape Verde!

 

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ZUMIX’s beloved Youth Development and Performance manager has just set off on the journey of a lifetime! This past weekend, he jetted across the globe, from Boston all the way to the Cape Verde islands in Africa. He’ll be taking a month long sabbatical before spring programs kick off at ZUMIX in February, visiting schools and seeing where his family grew up. Between planning calls, booking travel, and making packing lists, we snuck in some time to sit down with Corey and ask him a little about his upcoming adventure.

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ZUMIX: Can you talk about where you’ll be going?

CD: I’ll be visiting the West Coast of Africa; there are a group of islands called the Cape Verde islands, that’s where my parents were born and emigrated from. As of now, I’ll be visiting two of the islands: Praia, which is the capital, and Fogo.

ZUMIX: What do you plan on doing in each of those places?

CD: The intent in Praia is to do a workshop and a performance at a local non-profit called Delta Cultura. I’m not totally sure if I’ll make that happen because it’s two hours away from where my family lives. But if I can work out the details of getting a ride there, I’ll go and do a workshop. I also have family members who own bars and hotels there, so I plan to kind of take over and do a hip hop night at their places. When I’m in Fogo, where my parents were raised, I’ll spend a lot of time with family, and visit a few High Schools.

ZUMIX: What kind of programming are you planning for the schools?

CD: I plan to do a hip hop history workshop. And I’m also interested in talking to staff and faculty about how they might use arts in their schools; in Boston, we’ve been doing a lot of work on incorporating the arts into education, so I’d love to give them some suggestions about our approach- specifically our use of teaching artists. I’d love to find out if they do that already, or if we can share ideas. I’m not exactly sure what the level of education is there, but I’m curious to go and figure it out.

ZUMIX: Has there been a lot of close planning for these visits, or are you waiting to see what happens once you arrive and get your bearings?

CD: I’ve been calling places and talking to people there, but the communication has been a little interesting. Some of them think that I’m some really big celebrity who’s coming. Some other places are like “we’ll talk when you get here, don’t worry about it, just get here first then we’ll talk.” Fogo, where I’ll spend most of my trip, is pretty small, so once I get there I’ll be able to travel around. But the intention is just to fill the island with hip hop, and with music, and to learn a lot about my ancestry.

ZUMIX: Are there elements of your ancestry in particular that you’re eager to learn more about?

CD: I’m interested to learn about the slave trade and how slaves escaped and formed their own city and culture and community on the island. The island was not inhabited until slaves got there, and they actually made it livable.  There’s also an element of survival that I’m really curious about. These are people who live on an active volcano, and so all the animals and plants and things were brought there from Europe by slave owners and colonizers. So the idea of these people choosing to live there and survive on the bare minimum is really interesting to me.

ZUMIX: How do you think learning about your history will impact your work?

CD: The work that I do has a lot to do with empowerment and soul work, like spirit science kind of, so for me it’s really interesting to go back and study my ancestry and figure out what makes me who I am, so I can then help other people connect with their ancestry and figure out who they are, and find the confidence to build their spirit and self-worth.

There’s also the fact that my family doesn’t visit ZUMIX, and hasn’t always taken what I do for work seriously. But they’re super proud now, because I’m able to go to Cape Verde and share my profession and what I’ve built for myself here, there. I want my family members to see that someone like them, someone who had nothing and who just started with rap lyrics, helped build and be a part of a great, successful non-profit.

ZUMIX: Is there a difference between American hip hop and African hip hop?

CD: There’s some overlap- the idea that people are telling their stories through music. As far as the popularity of it, I think they’re a little bit more behind as far as current hip hop. I’m excited to go there and share how this culture, this whole style of music, started with a group of people who had nothing and who needed to express themselves. I want to talk about the evolution of hip hop and how it became so mainstream.

Hip hop itself is a very adolescent culture- it’s very young- so no matter where you go around the world, you’ll always find kids doing some form of hip hop. It can be a genre that older adults don’t fully understand or appreciate, so as an older person, I’m looking forward to bridging that gap, and showing how this form of music can really empower and change someone’s life, at any age.

ZUMIX: Is there anything in particular that you’re most excited about?

CD: The opportunity, which is all happening because of the META fellowship through the Mass Cultural Council, to travel, see where my family came from. And to realize how spoiled I am here in America to have running water, or to have access to internet and music and clothes and things like that. I’m really looking forward to seeing the culture change and getting more of an appreciation for the things I have here.

ZUMIX: Is there anything you’re nervous about?

CD: Being a solo adventurer and being on my own for a month, and speaking a different language…but I feel really confident that I know enough about my art that I’ll be able to use my art to make an impression of who I am and what I am. But I’m gonna be on an active volcanic island for a month, so there’s a part of me that’s like “you’re gonna be bored, and you’re gonna have to find something to do!” So I’m going to get really hip hop about my vacation.

I’m also nervous about the diet and water, because you have to boil the water- that will be tricky. What to pack, obviously, will be tricky. Making sure I can stay in communication with people, and using the wifi and internet is going to be interesting.

ZUMIX: Is there anything you’re excited to bring from Boston to Africa?

CD: Last week I went to a Wu Tang concert and got to meet Masta Killa, so I got him to sign my hat, which I’m bringing; it’s going to be really cool to go to Cape Verde and share that with people there and be one person away from a connection with authentic hip hop. I want to reinforce that it doesn’t have to be a dream, it’s not fictional, it can be real. I’m going in with the experience of having worked with people like Akrobatik, a Boston legend, and I’ve met and talked with Kool Herc who’s like the father of hip hop. So it’s kind of humbling to think that I get to go there and represent them in some small way.

ZUMIX: Is there anything you want to bring back, to ZUMIX, or for yourself?

CD: I want to bring back more of an understanding of purpose for myself, and more confidence in knowing that what I’m doing and how I do things are important. Even the idea of being able to go there to talk about the work that I’m doing helps to put value on and solidify the fact that our work here is important. I’d also like to bring back a little more of that cool island vibe and approach to the work. More confidence and focus.

I hope I can bring back some music, some great networks, and experiences. I also heard that my uncle has goats and chickens so that will be super fun. Dan is going to let me borrow his camera.


We can’t wait to hear how Corey’s journey unfolds! Check back here after he returns in mid-February to get his look back at the trip.

 

Meet Mariana, ZUMIX Youth Staff.

Marianna.jpgEvery year through the John Hancock MLK Summer Scholars Program, ZUMIX hires 5-10 youth to work with us for the summer. Positions range from assisting with our music programs, working with our Development & Communications team, or helping to plan community arts events. For many youth, this is their first paid job.

This week, we interviewed Mariana, a freshman at Boston Latin School. After being exposed to jazz and latin music when she was seven, Mariana fell in love with music and learned how to play the guitar. Mariana first joined ZUMIX in middle school under her music teacher’s suggestion three years ago and has been a huge contributor. At ZUMIX, Mariana rocks out with her band, Divercity on the keyboard, teaches private piano lessons, and helps plan fun events! She hopes ZUMIX  will push her to become a better musician and more outgoing. Read the full interview below:

How old are you and where do you live?

I’m 14 and I live in East Boston.

What do you like most about your job? What about your job are you most excited about?

I love working with Jenny and I’m really excited about planning the senior graduation party. I want to bring everyone together and celebrate them.

If you could be any instrument, what would you be?

An instrument I think would be pretty cool to be a trombone or upright bass. They are rich and deep instruments.

What do you hope to accomplish musically?

I feel like I was able to accomplish my goal here at ZUMIX when my band opened for Sting.

What’s your favorite song and why?

Right now, I can’t stop listening to “About You” by San Cisco. His vocals are really nice.

Who is an artist you have been inspired by recent?

A mixture of my favorite artists—Young the Giant, Oh Wonder, Coldplay, and Arctic Monkeys, as well as some Jazz artists.

What do you think is the purpose of music? What does music mean to you?

Music is a way to empower the world and community and a way of expressing yourself and trying to make people happy.

Do you think music can change the world? In what ways?

Yeah, totally. Since music a universal language but people have their own unique way in expressing it, we can use it as a tool to exchange and empower ourselves.

If there was one thing you could change about the world, what would it be?

I would want there to be social equality.

What do you think is most important for people to know?

I think in recent times, especially, people should know violence isn’t the answer to everything. Fighting fire with fire doesn’t resolve anything.

If you had to give advice to someone, what would it be?

Don’t be afraid to try what you want to do—of course if it isn’t dangerous or anything.

What was the happiest moment in your life?

I think it was probably when I was playing a solo on stage. I felt proud of myself.

What dreams do you have?

I really hope I can become an architect or interior designer that can build something incredible. 

Meet Andrew, ZUMIX Youth Staff.

AndrewEvery year through the John Hancock MLK Summer Scholars Program, ZUMIX hires 5-10 youth to work with us for the summer. Positions range from assisting with our music programs, working with our Development & Communications team, or helping to plan community arts events. For many youth, this is their first paid job.

This week, we interviewed Andrew, who told us why we should listen to people with different perspectives than our own- especially young people. Read the full interview below:

What is your name?

My name is Andrew.

How old are you?

I’m 20 and in September I’ll be at Mass Bay studying broadcast journalism. I live in Dorchester.

How long have you been at ZUMIX? Why did you join?

Coming up on a year in September. One of my teachers had told me about it because she knew I was really into radio and she grew up in the East Boston area.

What did you do here?

The first program I did was Radioactive. It teaches you how to go live on the online stream that we have here, how to host a show, how to schedule a show, and how to put a show together. Also how to use the engineering board, like how to take people’s levels. All the nuances of a radio show.

Now that you are here as a non-student, what are you doing?

I’m a radio intern now. It’s a cool opportunity because I’m somewhat teaching the class that I just took but I produce for radio too on Wednesdays and Fridays…It’s an interesting aspect and dynamic.

What do you like most about your jobs? What about your job are you most excited about? What do you hope to accomplish at ZUMIX?

That it’s in the career field that I want. Some may see it as a summer job but I see it as a career. I’m excited about being able to work with young people that have the same general interests as me and just seeing how their minds can be sparked by it so early. I hope to progress with my radio show especially when we go FM. And to build up the ZUMIX brand! Even if it just means picking up more people to listen online.

What are you most proud of (musically or non-musically)?

Personally just being so diverse in my music. I can go from listening to The Temptations to Queen to Jay Z or even Justin Timberlake. It kind of factors into ZUMIX because you hear so much different music here every day so I just like how diverse my music background is.

What is your earliest memory with or about music?

It’s always been in my life. I don’t remember it, I was probably two or three, I saw a picture of myself playing with the piano at my grandfather’s house. Other than that, music has always been a part of my life.

If you could be a musical instrument what would you be and why?

A saxophone because it’s my favorite instrument. I like how deep it can get.

What is the purpose of music? What does music mean to you?

To send a message. Like, I didn’t realize how big Michael Jackson was until I looked at some of his concerts. He was in Japan, he didn’t speak any Japanese but all the people knew every word to all of his songs. Music cures all. You can’t see it but you feel it.

If you could take any musician to any show, who would it be, and what show would you take them to?

I would take every rapper that’s out now and take them to a Biggie show. I feel like the state of hip-hop and RnB is terrible. I would probably bring a lot of the RnB artists now back into the late 80s and early 90s.

If you had to give advice to someone younger than you, what would it be?

Don’t be afraid to question everything.

How about someone older? What would you tell them?

Listen to the people that are younger than you. Don’t overlook them just because they’re young because they may just have a different perspective. You could be agreeing on something and just seeing it in different ways.

What was the happiest moment in your life?

It’s between my girlfriend’s and my prom and graduation day. And also winning the national championship in 5th grade for basketball.

Do you think music can change the world? In what ways?

Yea music helps me a lot personally just through personal tribulations. I just go to music to release everything.

Meet Maurice, ZUMIX Youth Staff.

Maurice.jpgEvery year through the John Hancock MLK Summer Scholars Program, ZUMIX hires 5-10 youth to work with us for the summer. Positions range from assisting with our music programs, working with our Development & Communications team, or helping to plan community arts events. For many youth, this is their first paid job.

This week, we interviewed Maurice, a rising freshman at University of Massachusetts, Lowell and will be studying Sound Recording. Coming from a family of musicians, Maurice has sung and played guitar and drums since he was young. After hearing his friend’s band perform at ZUMIX, Maurice decided to join ZUMIX. At ZUMIX, Maurice teaches beat-making and recording lab, and hopes to help youth make sweet music. See the full interview below:

How old are you and where are you from?

I’m 18 and I’m from Jamaica Plain.

What do you like most about your job? What about your job are you most excited about?

Teaching new things to new people. I can’t wait to see everyone’s end product and what they’re most proud of—that’s going to be fun.

If you could be a musical instrument what would you be and why?

I don’t know, but not the drums cause I’d be hit in the face all the time.

What do you hope to accomplish musically?

I really want to be a recording engineer.

What’s your favorite song and why?

“Same drugs” by Chance the Rapper. On Chance’s Reddit, someone asked what Chance meant by drugs and Chance said the song is about a person he was in touch with but they’ve grown apart, and hence not the same drugs anymore.

What’s your earliest memory of music?

Although it’s not the earliest, I have one that really sticks out to me. At a family reunion, my uncles were playing music and did Godzilla monster calls. My Uncle Albert, who was drumming had a Godzilla head mask and I was so freaked out. My uncles are actually members of the 80s rock band Blue Oyster Cult.

Who is an artist that you have been inspired by recently?

Chance the rapper because he’s super positive and does a lot of charity and youth work in Southside Chicago, where he grew up.

What do you think is the purpose of music? What does music mean to you?

Music serves a lot of purposes. For me, it’s for fun but also relays some sort of message. There’s a lot of music that’s fun to listen to. Putting out a positive vibe. But I think it can also send messages to people that may need it.

Do you think music can change the world? In what ways?

I do think it can change the world. You can change the mindset of youth through music and if you can put out positive vibes, it will return.

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?

Everything feeds into another thing. So its hard to say, but I guess I’d take away prejudice.

What do you think is most important for people to know? What is most important to you?

I think its important for people to know that they have the power to do whatever they want as long as they put their minds to it and don’t listen to people who tell them otherwise. All the people in my life that support me and are positive influence in my life.

If you had to give advice to someone younger than you are, what would it be?

Practice makes perfect.

What dreams do you have?

It would be really sweet to have my own recording studio.

Meet Juan, ZUMIX Youth Staff.

Every year through the John Hancock MLK Summer Scholars Program, ZUMIX hires 5-10 youth to work with us for the summer. Positions range from assisting with our music programs, working with our Development & Communications team, or helping to plan community arts events. For many youth, this is their first paid job.

juanThis week, we interviewed Juan, a rising senior at the Boston Arts Academy. His music career began in elementary school, when Juan learned to play the recorder and violin, but after picking up the bass in middle school, Juan became more involved in music. Juan has been at ZUMIX for 4 years, and introduces rock music to kids with little to no experience in music. At ZUMIX, Juan hopes to give back to the community and share his passion for music. Read the full interview below:

How old are you and where are you from?

I’m 17 and I live in East Boston.

What do you like most about your job? What about your job are you most excited about?

I like how I can do something for the community and teach kids who have never played music before. I’m really excited for the showcase I’m facilitating.

If you could be a musical instrument what would you be and why?

Bass because it’s my favorite instrument.

What do you hope to accomplish musically?

I hope to motivate youth and anyone to become more passionate. Like when I listen to bands, I always feel motivated by them and I want people to do the same with my music.

What’s your favorite song and why?

There’s a lot. All the songs I’ve listen to have inspired me. But, I love 505 by the Arctic Monkeys. I like the simplicity—how it’s only made up of 2 chords and they keep adding on to it throughout the song.

If you could take any musician to a show who would it be, and what show would you take them to?

I would take Arctic Monkeys to my show. It would be awesome for them to hear my music.

Who is an artist that you have been inspired by recently?

Julian Baker. Her lyrics are so deep. When I first listened to her it inspired me to pick up the bass and write music.

What do you think is the purpose of music? What does music mean to you?

I think the purpose of music is to use it in a way to impact someone or the world positively. For example, to motivate them to write music or even to complete their ten-page essay.

Do you think music can change the world? In what ways?

I think music definitely can change the world. In school we learn about activism. Music has this power—one that we can use for good. A lot of people use it to express themselves but you can also use it to explain things in the world.

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?

I would want racial equality.

What do you think is most important for people to know? What is most important to you?

I want people to know that they have the power to change the world. We can change the world. I know there’s a lot of activism locally. Recently we participated in the BPS walkout. Basically, we walked out of school in the middle of the day because the city was going to cut our school budgets. In the end the mayor decided not to cut our budgets.

What dreams do you have?

Save the whales!

Meet Sofia, ZUMIX Youth Staff.

SofiaEvery year through the John Hancock MLK Summer Scholars Program, ZUMIX hires 5-10 youth to work with us for the summer. Positions range from assisting with our music programs, working with our Development & Communications team, or helping to plan community arts events. For many youth, this is their first paid job.

This week, we interviewed Sofia, who told us about her favorite instrument, the ukulele, and how it helps boost her creativity. Read the full interview below:

What is your name?

Sofia.

How old are you?

I am seventeen. I go to Boston Latin School and I live in South Boston.

How long have you been at ZUMIX? Why did you join?

This is my first summer. I needed a job! At my school Im co-president of a club called Impact (Injustices Make People Act) and I thought it would help me be more organized and plan better workshops.

What did you do here?

I am a community arts and events intern and I help Jeeyoon with whatever she needs. Recently we were trying to have a focus group on how our events could be better for the youth in particular. And we want to start a blog so I have been doing research on it.

What do you like most about your job? What about your job are you most excited about? What do you hope to accomplish at ZUMIX?

I like being here, the atmosphere is really nice. Im excited about seeing what I get to do. I hope to learn from everyone, meet people, and build relationships with them.

What are you most proud of (musically or non-musically)?

I feel like Im a really good listener. I try to be a good friend, a good communicator.

What is your earliest memory with or about music?

I went to a performing arts camp where I did a lot of dance. I remember hearing somewhere say that once you get old youre gonna lose part of that creative side of your brain, and I was like No!So I got a ukulele…it’s just keeping that creativity that I dont want to lose. 

What do you hope to get involved with in in the future?

Last year I did Woman to Woman which is a program where they bring girls from all over the world to Bostonand we meet people who are influential in different fields and its really cool. Im doing capstone next year which is a huge research project. One of my ideas is on sexuality and sex ed and thinking that could help fight against sexism because a lot of people are ignorant about their own bodies. My other idea was Asian female representation in the media. I want to work in the UN with human rights and pursue a degree in international relations.

If you could be a musical instrument what would you be and why?

My ukulele because I actually love it so much – its so small and when you listen to it it brings you so much joy and the tune is so happy.

What do you think is the purpose of music? What does it mean to you?

I like listening to music in any situation. When Im angry I turn the volume all the way up, it just goes into my ear and its the greatest thing ever. It helps people stay in their own world.

If you could take any musician to any show, who would it be, and what show would you take them to?

I think it would be so cool to bring musicians from different parts of the world to one place and have them listen to each others music.

If you had to give advice to someone younger than you, what would it be?

Do as much as you can! Start anything that you want, and start early.

What would you say to someone older than you?

Be open-minded and stop making assumptions. Dont hold us back all the time.

What was the happiest moment in your life?

I think just being with my friends sitting in the park and talking about life.

Do you think music can change the world? In what ways?

Whenever there are movements that happen its always the music that sets the moodCertain songs that are played that help the people get through it. Music is a very big part of peoples lives.