While major stars dominated the charts, other Latine entertainers like DJ Vrywvy, whose real name is Val Garcia, were at work, uplifting Latin music in venues throughout the nation. For DJ Vrywvy, the shift in mainstream attention to Latin music raises feelings of pride.
“You know, seeing Karol G, she just did her ‘Mañana Será Bonito Tour’ in Medellín (Colombia), and everyone is just taking everything back home, and it makes me so proud,” she says. “They came from there, but they took it everywhere. What are the odds of that? I started thinking to myself, what are the odds of me doing this? I wasn’t supposed to be here. I was born in Mexico City.”
It was in Mexico that her fondness for music came to be. DJ Vrywvy spent hours watching music videos of Britney Spears, Pharrell, and Nelly on MTV. When her family moved to Dallas when she was in second grade, her love of hip-hop grew as she began to listen to mixes on the city’s hip-hop stations like 97.9 The Beat.
Unbeknownst to her, her mind was already at work fusing the two worlds. Years later, when she began to teach herself how to DJ, her love of hip-hop and Latin music began to mold into one.
“I call it Vrybilingual,” she says. “Mixing those two worlds together: reggaetón and hip-hop, cumbia and R&B. I take you to those two worlds and mesh them to create a one-of-a-kind experience.”
It’s an experience that led Buchanan’s Whisky to feature DJ Vrywvy in their “We Are the Spirit of the 200%” holiday campaign. The campaign highlights Latine creators such as “Saturday Night Live” cast member Marcello Hernández, Debbie Gonzales, and Daniel Buezo of the clothing brand Kids of Immigrants.
“It’s celebrating people that are 100 percent American, 100 percent Hispanic. I feel like it’s such a thing, especially people like myself who are immigrants that come to this country, and we have such a hard time kind of being like, we’re not from here, but we left home, so we’re not from there,” she says. “I feel like the new term we are taking as 200 percenters is ni de aquí, ni de allá [not from here, nor there].”
Ahead, DJ Vrywvy speaks with POPSUGAR about the importance of celebrating Noche Buena and Christmas, her favorite Mexican Christmas dishes, and setting boundaries with family around the holidays.
POPSUGAR: We are a few days away from Noche Buena, or Christmas Eve. What are you looking forward to doing with your family to celebrate?
DJ Vrywvy: Christmas, like Noche Buena, is my favorite holiday because I feel it’s such a big part of our culture. I love how we’re able to blend both of the worlds together. We get the food, the tamales, we get our Buchanan’s to celebrate. I’m excited about this year because the [Dallas] Cowboys are playing on Dec. 24. You already know we’re going to be watching that, so that’s the perfect day to show how those two worlds collide. It’s like, we’re so Mexican, but we’re going to be watching the Cowboys game because we love the Cowboys.
PS: Around the holidays, especially for us in creative arts professions, family members often ask, “What do you do? Is this a real career?” How do you personally balance your mental health while also having to have conversations?
DJ: Over the past few years, it’s gotten a lot better. At first, trying to explain to my immigrant parents what I was doing, they didn’t get it. I’m like, “Mom, look at this Instagram post that I put out!,” and they’re like, “OK, like, I don’t get it.”
This campaign with Buchanan — because Mexicans know Buchanan, that’s our drink. When I told my parents, “I’m working with Buchanan,” they’re like, “What? Like, Buchanan?” They were confused at first. I’m like, “It’s legit.” I told them, “We’re going to go to Mexico to film this campaign.” And then it’s, “Why Mexico?” Just being so skeptical: “I can’t believe my daughter is actually doing this.” When the campaign came out on the website and I sent them the link, they were just like, “Oh my gosh!” It’s kind of those things of them seeing it that makes them understand it.
It’s funny, but I try and explain it as best as possible, but it’s also having the grace and understanding that not a lot of people may get it on the first try.
PS: Earlier, you spoke about your family’s traditions: Buchanan’s and Cowboys games. Could you walk me through the dinner table? What are the dishes you will be eating this Christmas?
DJ: Every year, we try to switch it up, but one thing that remains constant is the tamales. We always have some kind of meat. We’re so weird because we make turkey for Christmas, instead of Thanksgiving. My mom injects it with orange soda, and it tastes so good. We’ll have that or a meat, and she will inject it with Coke. It gives it a different flavor. And mashed potatoes, pasta; it depends on what kind of mood we’re in.
PS: You and I are both tamale girls. My go-to was chicken and cheese. Sadly, I can’t eat them anymore because of allergies, but what is your favorite tamale? Or which ones are the top three?
DJ: My top one is the green chicken. The red with the meat, rajas, and then it’s sweet tamales . . . I love a good piña or fresa tamale.
PS: Do you get requests to play music at every single family function? Are they looking to you for entertainment?
DJ: I don’t know how it happens, but it just always happens. Everyone is like, “Oh yeah, turn on the speaker,” and turn on the speaker means go ahead and take over the music. And I’m like, somehow I ended up here. It happens everywhere I go. My friends’ Christmas parties. I unknowingly become the DJ at a party without trying to be, but I love it every single time.
PS: I feel as we get older and grow closer to auntie age, the responsibility is on us to make a good Christmas cocktail. For me, it’s a vegan coquito. Last year, I made a strong one that took everybody out. What is your go-to?
DJ: I’m such a simple girl. I like spicy drinks, but I also like sweet drinks. Lately, I’ve been mixing my Buchanan’s with pineapple, then adding some Tajín around the rim or chamoy to dress it up. I love spicy and sweet. That’s my thing.
PS: Since we last spoke in 2021, it seems like all of your manifestations have come true, so I have to ask, what is on your Christmas list this year?
DJ: Oh my gosh, what is on my Christmas list? Honestly, I don’t have anything on my Christmas list. I’m so happy with everything I have right now. I’m just thankful.
This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.