Latina Activist And DJ Drops The Cumbia Mix You Didn’t Know You Needed
Zacil Pech, a.k.a. DJ Sizzle, recently dropped a cumbia mix for the soul. If you’re feeling more emotionally drained than you should be — as I was when I stumbled upon the mix on SoundCloud the other week — this music is for you. As I cleaned and picked up around the house, I felt as connected as someone living in the diaspora can feel. I felt embraced, understood.
Along with the mix, Pech wrote:
“Friends, if your Monday was anything like mine (slapped me in the face) check out this mini Cumbia mix I made con mucho amor y sazon <3 Enjoy some of my favorite Cumbia tracks while you clean your house, at the gym, or at werk!”
An old friend first introduced her to the DJ scene, yet her love of music has kept her hooked. But she’s more than a burgeoning DJ. The Boyle Heights activist, born in Costa Grande de Guerrero, Mexico, founded Defend Boyle Heights, an “anti-gentrification collective devoted to community and our hood.” You might see her getting arrested and standing in solidarity with local advocacy for our undocumented hermanas/hermanos, immigrants, laborers, and LGBTQ folks.
When I asked Pech what inspired her to do the mix. She said that she was heartbroken to see her friends go through rough times. She wanted to remind us that we are strong:
“We forget that we are resilient beings. Music can help (even if it is a tiny bit) to remind us of that.”
Being a Latina in a male-dominated industry can also be rough, and the healing powers of music is a reminder to herself, as well, that her work matters. The first tracks take the listener on a journey where women are feeling some type of way about being used and heartbroken, but Pech says that “then Celia comes into tell us, ‘Hey, come on! Chin up bellxs. Don’t cry. Life is beautiful and you’re not alone!’” As far as who she was thinking about when she made her list, Pech was quick to say:
“There is nothing I love to see more than my Momma dance to my music. My Jefita gets down!”
This mix helped me get through that strained Monday when I discovered it. That morning, when I met some of my closest friends for breakfast, I played it and I rejoiced in it. I think that’s the point.
As Pech says, to blast this music is to “Resist by playing music native to our tierras, resist by blasting your and your ancestor’s cultura through speakers, resist by taking up space and dancing to your ancestors beats.”
The mix includes Selena, Janeth Guadalupe y Los Papis- Estupido, Sonora Dinamita, Aniceto Molina, Celso Pina, El General, and Celia Cruz. Blast it loud, and look out for a salsa mix, coming soon.