"Just inspire the world and show them that you are not inferior. That is a state of mind. If we believe we are divine as we think we are then that is what we will spread to the world."- Edna Vazquez
A few days ago I had the honor of interviewing the lovely ladies of Flor de Toloache, the first and only all female Mariachi band from New York City! Not only that, but these 2017 Latin Grammy winning females have worked and collaborated with different artists whether it is individually or as a group. A few of those collaborations include Chicano Batman's "Freedom is Free" and Not Te Va Gustar's newest album "Suenan Las Alarmas". Flor De Toloache is also known for fusing mariachi music with jazz, cumbia, country and so much more! It's no wonder why these ladies have found so much success in what they do and have been able to transmit that to different audiences. They are never afraid to experiment with other genres, which truly creates a magical hearing experience.
This past Sunday, Flor De Toloache played at the Chamizal National Park (U.S side) as part of the Music Under the Stars series that takes place every summer in El Paso, Texas. The girls were a few minutes away from going on stage and giving a wonderful performance and I had the chance to ask them a few questions.
I started off by asking the ladies what they thought about the border region considering all that has been happening on the news lately and bearing in mind the fact that this is their first time playing in El Paso. Mireya said, "when we were driving in we could see the border, you know, it reminds you of everything that is going on. We have been touring for about two months now and you know, you create this bubble in where you are doing music, moving people and connecting to people and there is definitely a safe space when share music together. When you are here and see this border, it's a reality check, but it is so special to be so close to Mexico. We are really excited to share our music with this community. It's outside so that is cool too."
It was indeed a special evening and I am not only speaking for myself when I say that. They played some of there original music and covers of well known songs like a medley of Juan Gabriel songs, a cover of "El Rey", a Selena medley, and a mariachi cover of "I Wanna Dance With Somebody".
Going into that interview, I wanted to know "who is Flor de Toloache?" and "what does it mean to them?" Also, for the longest time mariachi has been seen as and stereotyped as a male-dominated genre so I wanted to know what that all meant to them as Flor de Toloache. Julie said, "for us it's empowering. To be in the position we are in and surrounded by sisters, we support each other and we have also come to see how we are supported as well by all varieties of different communities around the world. It's special to see how supported we are. Yeah, there is the whole male thing and all that, but we are breaking those walls little by little."
At the beginning of the article I mentioned a few of the collaborations Flor De Toloache has done lately, but the most interesting part is that they are not all within the same genre. I asked them whether they had a specific way of choosing collaborations.
Mireya responded with, "It all started when Dan Auerbach (of The Black Keys) invited us to tour with him and open up for his other solo project, The Arcs. That kind of opened the door for new collaborations like with No Te Va Gustar and recently with Diamante Electrico. There is also another special collaboration coming up, which I am not going to say yet. It is a big one and you will see why it's so special when it comes out. We are really excited about that and it's going to put our music into another genre."
She added that collaborating with new people always makes it more fun and more special to them. It makes it special not only for them, but it allows them to connect to different crowds. She mentioned that that is why they decided to do bilingual songs as well. We will have to wait patiently for that next collaboration to come out, but in the meantime it is always exciting to see Flor touring and working with artists in other genres!
Last but not least I asked the girls why music is so important to them and why it's so much fun for them and they all gave fantastic responses:
Mireya: "For me, as I mentioned before, it's connecting to people that don't even speak Spanish and seeing how they connect to our music. It's a safe space where there is no judgement and people come together and be happy and just be moved. It's a little bit of culture through our music too. There is still the essence of mariachi and people connect to their culture through our music."
Julie: "It's a way to spread love. It's definitely my favorite thing about playing and performing, and sharing whatever gift I have."
Neomi: "I agree with what she said. We do it for love, you know, love is what we are made of. We will always be reminding ourselves and other people of that. We are love and music is love and vibration. We need to be doing it all the time."
Edna: "Same frequency. Just inspire the world and show them that you are not inferior. That is a state of mind. If we believe we are divine as we think we are then that is what we will spread to the world."
Flor de Toloache gave a beautiful performance and their voices are unbelievable! I want to thank the ladies for their time and I encourage anyone that has not heard their music to go check it out!
In 1992 Aterciopelados was born as a project between Andrea Echeverri and Héctor Buitrago. This duo from Colombia has been successful from the very beginning and they continue to be an iconic Latin-rock band. They are most known for their songs "El Album", "Baracunatana", and "Luz Azul" amongst many others. Throughout their career they have been nominated for several Grammy's and have won several Latin Grammy's. It's the unique dynamic this duo has and heir amazing talent that has allowed them to thrive and keep spreading their music throughout the world!
It's 2018, twenty-five years since the release of their first album and Aterciopelados has recently released their eighth album called "Claroscura". It's so good that I have been playing it on loop all week. It definitely reflects the "sound" that Acterciopelados is most known for, but it also reflects this element of contrast and contradiction that the album title suggests. Besides reflecting "light" and "dark" elements, there is a maturity that surrounds the album and there is political consciousness as well.I could not have put it better, but "the album is a delicious sancocho (stew) where contemporary sounds are mixed with down-beat cumbia, Andean airs, electro punk, Bogota rock, and futuristic sounds."
It also reflects on experiences like that of being a woman. It also empowers women, especially in the song "Despierta Mujer", which says :
"Despierta mujer, suena el wake up call
Sal de la mátrix, siente tu matriz
A sembrar maíz, me llama el país
De amarte a ti, recuerda tu rol
Salvaje mujer, echate a correr
Esos arquetipos hay que abandonar
Hora de crecer y de florecer
Tu templo y tu piel vas a atesorar
Van las poderosas, las valerosas, las generosas"
The song "Piernas" is a fantastic and humorous song that speaks about self-love no matter how one is. Cellulite and all. "Soñemos un Bosque" is peaceful throughout and it's full of hypnotizing chanting of the song title itself. "Duo" is a rock-pop song that is very catchy in itself. You will finding yourself singing, "dúo dinámico, surrealismo mágico, dúo dinámico, somos un clásico" over and over.
Overall, "Claroscura" is a fantastic album and it is so enjoyable whether you are a long-time Aterciopelados fan or a firs-time listener! It's a must!
Co-led by the energetic Helen Vargas, Dulce Mal is a four piece band from the border region that is ready to share their music outside of la frontera. Dulce Mal fuses pop-rock, funk, cumbia, bossa nova and reggae which happens to give the band a unique touch, besides Helen and Gabriel's vocals.
This band made up of Abraham (bass), Helen (vocals, melodica), Gabriel (vocals, guitar), and Alan (drums and percussion) has opened up for bands like Golden Ganga, Enjambre and Jenny and the Mexicats. They recently played at Festival Sin Fronteras in Ciudad Juárez, the Neon Desert Festival in El Paso, played at La Parada, and participated in last week's "Local's Week" for local musicians in the city of El Paso!
I had the pleasure of catching up to Dulce Mal during one of their rehearsal's a few weeks ago and had the opportunity of asking them a few questions including their origins as a band and what they have planned for next.
Dulce Mal has been a band for about two years and the journey began when Helen met Gabriel while he was still in another band. A few years passed and they reconnected again and that led to the beginning of the what would soon be Dulce Mal.
Helen had some songs written down and she wanted someone to help her interpret them musically and she though that Gabriel was the perfect choice because she thought he was talented and knew her well enough to trust him. They made one song, then another and another and eventually that led to the start of Dulce Mal. The first open mic that they did as a band was at the 306 sessions. Helen recalled that she was nervous to do so because it was nothing like doing covers, instead she was sharing something personal to her which are her songs.
After gaining some confidence and with the encouragement of Gabriel, Helen and Gabriel did more and more shows together. Helen said that, "one time we had the opportunity that one of our favorite bands, Golden Ganga, was coming to Dallas, the closest show to El Paso. We initially thought of driving up there as a fun road trip between the two of us to go see Golden Ganga and by then we were already invited to play over there as Dulce Mal. So I got a band together, pulled some strings, and we were able to open up for Golden Ganga in Dallas. Golden Ganga ended up asking us to open up for them Houston as well and that helped us get our name out there." Gabriel interjected to what Helen was saying and said that, "once we got back to El Paso, we started looking for band members that would officially be part of Dulce Mal." They were telling me that they started with two other individuals for bass and drums, but they left for personal reasons.
Alan mentioned that after those other members left, he reached out to Gabriel several times to mention that he would love to be part of Dulce Mal and eventually he became the official drummer for the band. Alan also said that this has been the best band he has been in due to the dynamic and brotherhood that Dulce Mal has. It's evident that the relationship between the band members are very organic and it's no doubt that that's why they have been able to make such amazing music.
Dulce Mal is currently working with Siren Sound Production. They have recorded some songs, but they are now working on mastering, an album cover, artwork, logo, and so much more! I invite anyone to go check them out and follow them on Instagram as @dulcemalband to follow up with what they have going on!
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Interviews and playlists of local bands and international artists.