An Interview with Mariachi Flor de Toloache: NYC’s First and Only All-Women Mariachi Group

We are excited to continue to interview trailblazing female musicians who continue to push boundaries and inspire musicians everywhere. This group has been on my radar for a while and it was so great to hear from Mireya from Mariachi Flor de Toloache – about her experiences with the group and changing the musical landscape.

Latin Grammy Nominees Mariachi Flor de Toloache make New York City history as its’ First and Only All­-Women Mariachi Group. Founded in 2008, Mariachi Flor de Toloache is lead by singers Mireya I. Ramos (founder) & Shae Fiol (founding member). Reminiscent of the early days of mariachi the group started as a trio, Harp, Violin and Vihuela. Today, Mariachi Flor De Toloache performs as a full Mariachi ensemble. The members hail from diverse cultural backgrounds such as Mexico, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Australia, Colombia, Germany, Italy and the United States. This defines their unique flavor and sound. The result of this cultural bouquet is an edgy, versatile and fresh take on traditional Mexican music. They coalesce as would a band of sisters, with a grace and vibrant beauty that casts a spell over their audiences not unlike the legendary Toloache flower still being used in Mexico as a love potion. While working to preserve centuries old traditions of Mariachi, their melange of the traditional and the modern pushes the boundaries of the genre and brings Mariachi music to new audiences.

Read their complete bio here 

1. From the Latin Grammy nomination to the upcoming and recent tours, Mariachi Flor de Toloache is extremely impressive as NYC’s first and only Mariachi group. Tell us about your experiences! Anything coming up soon?

It has been quite a beautiful and empowering adventure. We started in 2008 knowing we wanted to experiment with the tradition of mariachi which had been passed down by my dad. Little did we know that by being persistent, playing for tips, playing in the subway in the middle of winter, dealing with much criticism for not following the tradition as is, it would all lead to being nominated for our first self produced album then recently nominated again for our second album. It’s definitely mind blowing how much you can accomplish when you’re persistent, true to yourself, passionate and follow your vision. More important than the recognition of an award, is the continuous inspiration we spread to young girls and boys. Seeing them singing along to our songs and connecting to our music is priceless!

Right now we are touring with legendary Cafetacvba which has been a dream of ours!

Then we start our west coast Day of the dead tour with La Santa Cecilia and Mexrissey Oct 27-Nov 3rd

We end our tour at the Latin Grammys where we will be performing at the Ceremony accompanying Natalia Fourcade 11/16.

This week we were featured on the new release of Paul McCartneys Holidays Rule Vol.2. On one of the tracks titled- That’s what I want for Christmas

2.  What have you done as a group/individually to get to where you are today? Any secrets for success?

I always suggest to just go out there and jam! That’s the best school for music. I jammed a lot, sat in all over NYC. Would always show up to someone’s gig with my instrument, performed, recorded and collaborated for free a lot to gain experience and make connections. I went out there and networked lots. I also tried to play as much different genres of music that I could taking advantage that I’m in a melting pot of a city.

I always say leave your ego at home, open your heart and just play music! There nothing like it! Also, finding & creating your own sound, style and passion is important.

3. As fellow female musicians in a male dominated industry, do you think we have a specific role or responsibility as female brass players or mariachi musicians? How do you incorporate that (or not) into your own life as a musician? Do you have any advice for young female musicians? 

What I’ve learned working with men is that you can’t change their behavior or way of thinking over night. There are many ways to shine and still accomplish what you want.

We do have a responsibility to be aware that machismo exists in all cultures and that we as women need to have each other’s back but to also be aware that we need to work on our dynamics – Woman to Woman. Once we brake that I think the change in men will happen organically with the new generations to come. We have to set an example and inspire each other!

4. Is there anything you wished you had known as a student or young professional that you know now? Any advice that you’d like to share with younger musicians?

I wish I would of focused more on this project sooner. I wanted to play and do so many things at same time that sometimes my vision of where I wanted this project to go was blurred at times. I also wished I would of had more confidence as a woman. As a professional musician, I wish I would of known them all I know about music business now.

5. Any resources you recommend? Books, podcasts, recordings that changed your life etc.

I didn’t listen to much music but once I started paying attention to music on Spotify, Pandora, etc and making my playlists, it really motivated me to write and arrange more music. Also seeing how you can change someone’s life through music or even connect with someone who doesn’t speak your language, is what keeps me motivated to do what we do.

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