• About a Girl: Djali Cepeda

    Yogi, DJ, blogger, artist — New York girl Djali Cepeda is exploring all paths. We talked with her about all the things she’s looking forward to this season.
    Photos by Anna Ottum

    Above: Djali wears our Kimchi Blue Chanderella Peplum Jacquard Tank Top

    Can you introduce yourself please — tell us a bit more about who you are, where you’re from, and what you do?
    My name is Djali Brown-Cepeda. I’m a native New Yorker, which makes me as rare as a unicorn in a city battling rapid gentrification. A third-year at Eugene Lang College at the New School University studying Film and Ethnicity & Race, with a concentration in Latin America, I’m a huge nerd who’s constantly reading and knows really random, minutiae facts about trivial things.

    I’m also a DJ, certified yoga instructor, and the host/creator/producer of reign(a), a Mass Appeal web series where I interview inherently dope women who teach me how to do things. 

    At the intersection of gender and race, I consider myself first and foremost an activist: not because it’s “trendy,” but because as a woman of color, I have no choice but to be political. I spend tons of my time planning social justice actions, now specifically around Standing Rock and the #NoDAPL fight. 

    Above: Claudia Crinkle Shimmer Long-Sleeve Dress (left)Satin Shine Mini Slip Dress (right)

    You are a DJ and a Yogi — so we're curious about sound and movement: how do each play a part in the way you see the world?
    I believe that in the universal lies the specific. Music and movement is expressed in a universal language, and by exorcising each into, say, a DJ set, I can communicate without saying a word. For example, in any given night, I can take you to Nigeria by playing Fela and High Life music, to Parasópolis with MC 2K, to Tottenham with a little “That’s Not Me,” then back to the Bronx with classic salsa to Princess Nokia’s 1992 EP. Whether it’s in dance or music, it all comes back to the clave beat: I speak clave. 

    Above: BDG Waffle-Knit Turtleneck Sweater (left) Chanderella Peplum Jacquard Tank Top (right)

    Can you tell us more about your reign(a) series for Mass Appeal?
    reign(a) is an interview series talking to female and female-identifying persons who challenge cookie-cutter definitions of their fields and femininity. Rather than playing into the ridiculous “trend that is feminism,” reign(a) talks to naturally fly women who inspire other fly women to be fly women. Not because it’s “cool,” but because women are bored of existing in a man's world. Each episode is comprised of an interview along with a how-to segment. Whoever I’m interviewing gets to pick what they want to teach me, whether a hidden talent or something pertaining to their known craft. 

    In the first episode, which you can watch here, Princess Nokia, who’s like a sister to me, taught how to make rose water. The second episode featured another good friend Gabby Richardson (artist, activist, and Art Hoe Collective curator) who taught me how to play the QChord. 

    Above: Claudia Crinkle Shimmer Long-Sleeve Dress 

    Can you tell us more about your personal style? What do you like wearing, and what types of styles feel most like you?
    My fashion sense is best described as if Denise Huxtable moved to Dyckman. It’s High end meets Low End Theory. I’d place my style somewhere in between in the ‘60s and ‘70s, wearing my bellbottoms, prints, chunky jewelry. But, as a Dominiyorkian from Uptown, you can also find me rocking really clean white Nikes, my mom’s vintage MCM bomber jacket, and doorknockers.

    Above: Claudia Crinkle Shimmer Long-Sleeve Dress 

    What are you most passionate about?
    Learning about new people and culture, traveling, recognizing myself in the world, and amplifying social justice issues through my ever-growing social media network. 

    Above: Chanderella Peplum Jacquard Tank Top

    What artists, ideas, places, or books are most exciting/inspiring to you right now?
    First and foremost, I draw the most inspiration from my beloved city. 

    In terms of books, the most inspiring are: Bird of Paradise: How I Became Latina by my mother, Raquel Cepeda, everything Pablo Neruda, Harvest of Empire by Juan Gonzalez. Definitely Borderlands/La Frontera by Gloria Anzaldúa, Distant Star/Estrella Distante by Roberto Bolaño, Existentialism is a Humanism by Sartre. I could go on. Another great source of inspiration is Tropicalismo/the Tropicália movement that arose in Brasil in the late ‘60s. Thanks to some of the most influential artists in my life—Gal Costa, Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso—it shows how you can make art that subversively has context, even though on the surface it makes you dance. Other artists I’m inspired by are Jorge Ben, Fela, Olodum, Timbalada, everything Fania, and though hyper-vulgar, funk carioca. 

    Above: BDG Waffle-Knit Turtleneck Sweater, Serenity Shimmer Dot Mini Skirt, and Silence + Noise Quilted Satin Varsity Bomber Jacket

    What’s your mantra?
    Conspire with the universe to make good shit happen. 

    Who do you look up to?
    I’m inspired by women, including those in my life. However, it’s the women warriors, the mothers, grandmothers, daughters, little girls—at Standing Rock that are giving me life right now, in their struggle against the Dakota Access Pipeline.

    What are you most looking forward to this season?
    I look forward to moving more crowds in my sets and building my brand of yoga that heals people through focusing on flexibility and mental health.

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