TOCA - Interview
First, I tried to contact Ceschi Ramos, whose Fake Flowers was one my favorite of last year. Or David, his brother, who’s just released a new album. But when I contacted them, all the members of Toca were available, them being the two Ramos brothers plus Tommy V. And Xololanxinxo. This was an opportunity for a joint interview with the four of them. Some of their answers got raving, particularly at the end of the interview, but some others provide us with key information about these artists’ forthcoming projects and releases.
First, can you tell us what was the genesis of Toca. Them being brothers, it's not difficult to guess how David and Ceschi decided to make music with each other, but what about the two others?
Ceschi: Toca started in the summer of 2001 when Tommy visited my brother, Pat Nagel (our bass player) and I in Berkeley, CA. We ended up recording a song together called "3 Personalities"…during that same time period I had written a guitar based song with Xololanxinxo and Tommy in mind… although I had never met Xinxo, I was a fan of his work and knew that Tommy had recorded a great song with him called "The Secret of Patience"…When Tommy heard the song we recorded he thought of calling Xinxo and playing it for him over the phone…a week later David and Tommy went down to LA and recorded the first Toca song as well as two other songs for the Anonymous Inc Seeds album with 2Mex and Busdriver…This trip signified the birth of our new Toca family….
So far, the only long-length release I've noticed from Toca is Dancing With Skeletons. Is it the only one?
Ceschi: Ok…Dancing With Skeletons and the Joyfool Misery 7 inch are the only available Toca recordings at the moment…The Skeletons CDRs were Cds we made for a series of shows in California…it is only an introduction to what we do…Skeletons has The Toca 7 inch, Toca B-Sides, songs from Fake Flowers and Jesus Taylor Thomas and One song from the LP…We have been working on a full length album for 4 years and are coming close to finishing everything this summer…
When do you plan to release a new Toca album?
Xinxo: The Toca album should be out in stores by the new year.
What about other releases? Anything expected from Anonymous Inc, Of Mexican Descent, or solo Ceschi, Tommy V and Xololanxinxo releases?
Xinxo: A lot of releases are planned for this year… '69 is an album produced mainly by Ceschi coming out next month under my label Dirty Little Baby Sitter Records… Beautiful Distractions is an album coming out on Temporary Whatever Records…and an Of Mexican Descent album is in the works… I am very interested in a French exclusive album due to the love I felt out there.
Ceschi: as you may know, David has recently released his Jesus Taylor Thomas record which is almost like a companion to my Fake Flowers album…. Anonymous Inc. Seeds is an album that we have been recording and slowly chiseling away at since 2000… many of the songs were written before our first album came out – so it shows how old the first Anonymous Inc. album is…. Seeds is a "rock fusion" album of types – there is definitely hip hop and jazz scattered throughout the record… but it is a sort of deflated prog-rock record with many short songs….and many guest vocalists…I have started to work on a follow up to Fake Flowers… I have also recently started working with Torso (production team of Orphan and Rev. Left) on a pop hop album…
TV: I have been working on many short eclectic songs over the last years…they will eventually be released…no time soon
You're mainly rappers and surrounded by rappers. How have you ended up producing music that is so far from rap? Have you or some of you a "non rap" background?
TV: I was a childhood folk singer in the early 80s, I had a single out called "Don't Get My Whistle Wet".
David: I've studied Jazz drumming since age 10…I also played flute as a child.
Ceschi: I started playing violin at age 7 and guitar at 13…even though hip hop has always been a huge influence on our music we have never felt like making straight ahead Hip Hop music…Anonymous inc. started as a pseudo-traditional indie rock post-grunge band but eventually transformed into something very different…
What are you listening to apart from rap nowadays?
Xinxo: John Cage, Radiohead, Super Sex Face, Manu Chao, Pink Floyd, La Bestia
Ceschi: The Beatles, The Beach Boys, David Bowie, The Microphones, Sufjan Stevens, nearly countless Elephant 6 bands.
TV: Kenny Rankin, Lambert Hendricks and Ross, Celia Cruz, Suicidal Tendencies, Texan Hex.
David: The Risk Taken, The Unicorns, Laurie Anderson.
And what about the hip hop tracks or albums that are on you playlists right now?
Xinxo: CVE – Villainism , Ellay Khule – Jeckyl and Hyde Theory
Ceschi: Harry Chronic Jr, Project Blowed, Die and Deeskee, that 50 Cent song with the Game.
TV: Melo Man Ace.
David: Pigeon John.
What kind of audience assists to Toca concerts?
Xinxo: mainly strippers, b-girls and heroin junkies.
Ceschi: xicana punk girls and the bourgeoisie.
TV: jazz cats and indie hipsters.
David: hip hop hippies.
A few words about your current tour?
Xinxo: It's tore up.
TV: Life on the road is common for me…I'm somewhat of a vagabond and have frequented shelters and cardboard boxes throughout the United States…living in a van is more comfortable than that…as long as I have my trusty ol' guitar and melodica I'm happy.
Ceschi: Playing shows has been amazing…it's great when a Hip Hop crowd is accepting of what we do…and even better when they appreciate and enjoy what we do! I know that most Hip Hop heads don't just listen to Hip Hop…these kids seem to want something different…
David: I quit.
Any plan of venue to France and Europe?
Ceschi: we plan on touring europe with various projects in 2006...
A question to Xololanxinxo : I saw you on stage with the Shapeshifters in Paris in 2004 and my feeling was that you were a born-entertainer. Have you any significant remembrance of your shows in France by any chance?
Xinxo: Yes…the people, the ambience, the engineers' love of the music, and most importantly the energy of the people of France… that's who I really owed my shows to.
Any final statement or message to France?
Xinxo: Here we cum.
Ceschi: Le jour de gloire est arrivé.
TV: We hope you enjoy 3 piece harmonies.
David: Ladies, my number is 203-901-3280 and my email is firstname.lastname@example.org
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