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.”