Flor De Toloache is unlike any mariachi band you’ve ever heard. They’re an all-female, Grammy-nominated group — blowing the lid off of the traditional with a new sort of mariachi sound. Their music embraces the now, and completely shakes up the past.
Flor De Toloache founder, Mireya Ramos, grew up listening to her father play mariachi in her family’s restaurant. She loved the beautiful music, and it taught her much about tradition. But when she started playing herself, she realized she was never going to fit into the box or mold of what people thought mariachi should be, of what it had been for 100 years. Her gender alone separated her from the pack.
“When I started playing mariachi in New York,” Ramos tells Uproxx, “one of the things that I noticed was that I was one of the only females doing mariachi music.” She faced plenty of pushback for this. “I would constantly have these conflicts of machismo that I had to deal with.”
Many young artists might have let that slow them down, but when you tell Ramos she can’t do something it only makes her more determined. The intense young woman decided that not only was she going to rock the mariachi culture her way, but that she was going to find a bunch of other bad-ass women to do it with her.
“I wanted to break away from the tradition a little, and do my own compositions and experiment,” Ramos says.
To do so, she recruited musicians that weren’t even familiar with mariachi. That wasn’t the biggest issue, instead she looked for talent.
“I had never listened to mariachi before!” Rhythm guitarist Shae Fiol says. She was used to playing rock and funk. But she loved Ramos’ unique vision, and was soon rocking out to the mariachi vibe. Though, she says, she let some of her own sound creep into the mix.
Other band members bring their own wide-ranging influences to the table. They’re a patchwork group with backgrounds in different musical genres and from many different places, but they make it work.
“It has its own sound,” Fiol says of their band. “It’s mariachi but it’s a little different.”
The women of Flor De Toloache have taken what some might consider a dying art form and have revitalized and repurposed it into a youthful, vibrant, powerhouse of a sound. They wear what they want, play what they want, and ignore the haters who feel their dress or sound isn’t traditional enough.
All this means that Flor De Toloache’s work isn’t without its critics. But they push away any self doubt by embracing what they love, and remembering that they don’t need to please anyone but themselves. After all, that’s how you create something worth doing, something bold and original. Something that is nothing but itself, and lives fully in the moment.
“If we all just stayed in our lane all the time, things wouldn’t blend,” Fiol says of the band’s unique vibe. “And they wouldn’t come together and create something new.”
In short: If they did things the old way, the passion would be gone. As it stands, the women love what they do, and it shows in the way they play. The energy that flows through them is impossible to take your eyes off of. Their intensity comes from somewhere deep within, a place where there are no conventional rules or impossible to break traditions. It’s music from the heart.
“I want people to see what music I make from my heart sounds like,” Guitarron player Eunice Aparicio tells Uproxx. And every time they play, that is what it feels like you’re experiencing. You’re hearing something that’s straight from the soul, pulsating through the room.
By following their passion and creating their own sound, the women of the band never have a dull moment. And as they take on the music industry (and the patriarchy), reinvent the classics, and revitalize an old tradition for the now, they remember the most important part of their art. While they create beauty, they also make sure to have fun.
“If you follow your joy,” Trumpet player Julie Acosta says with a smile, “it will lead you amazing places.”