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Julia Rocha

New Voice '21

Tell us about yourself:

I am a queer, first generation Chicanx sound artist and audio journalist based in Brooklyn NY, and raised in Lincoln Heights, Los Angeles. 

As both a music producer and a radio producer, I see my role as a sort of story facilitator: creating a space where folks feel safe enough to share their stories, and honing my craft (narratively, musically, sonically) so those stories can be shared.

I have been working at Latino USA since I graduated from Barnard College in May of 2020. My work has covered a vast array of topics: from housing justice, to trans organizing, to music and culture.

A piece of yours or project (in any medium) that you'd like to share.

Lorena’s Alcance is an intimate audio documentary about the life and legacy of pioneering trans activist, Lorena Borjas. Lorena, who came of age during the height of the AIDS epidemic in the 80’s and 90’s in New York City, passed away in the very beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, after dedicating her life to healthcare access and wellness in the trans community. Through archival tape, field reporting, and interviews with her closest friends, ‘Lorena’s Alcance’ paints an intergenerational portrait of Lorena, and the mark she left on her community.

What draws you to storytelling?

In addition to loving all things audio- I am also a huge speculative fiction nerd who spends a lot of time reflecting on the questions: how do we remember the past? How does our remembrance of the past inform our present? What stories are we telling and archiving of the present- and how does that inform what we see as possible in our future?

In my work I am driven by my conviction to center the work that BIPoC, trans and queer communities are doing to build autonomy, and expose the web of systemic dysfunction that they face in trying to dismantle current regimes of power to imagine something new. 

I am particularly drawn to audio because I love the intimacy of the medium- allowing me to center the voices of those who are sharing their stories, their histories, their dreams and visions.

What excites you the most about being a New Voices Scholar?

I am excited to connect with a network of folks who are passionate so many different things: from sex education to food justice, and are excited to hone their audio storytelling skills so that others can connect with those stories!

What’s playing on your radio/audio streaming service right now?

The Octavia’s Parable’s podcast! Where adrienne maree brown and Toshi Reagon dive into the vast pool of Black feminist knowledge in the work of the visionary fiction writer, Octavia Butler.

What’s the most underrated tool (technical or not) that you use in your creative process?

Listening to things that inspire me and taking notes! Whether I am making a podcast or a song, grounding myself in the work of others always inspires me to take creative risks!

What is something you want to see more of in the industry?

Community-led stories driven by horizontal media-making processes!

Who/What are your radio/audio inspirations and why?

I am honestly very inspired by this New Voices cohort! Something that one of my peers said really resonated with me, about wanting to create media-making environments that are grounded in abundance rather than scarcity. Where we can not only challenge the often toxic work culture we are taught to accept, but also create something more expansive and easeful!