Mariachi Octet Blends Traditional, Hip-Hop

The Mariachi Feminino group Flor de Toloache
played to an enthusiastic audience in Scripps College’s Balch Auditorium March 23.
Eight women strong, the group performed decked out in traditional mariachi gear: pants and vests decorated in silver and bright flower hair clips. Their traditional
flair set the stage for the songs as they echoed the tones and beats of
authentic mariachi with an occasional hip-hop mashup sample.

Each song was met with immediate applause and cheer, though the
audience was modest in size—and largely comprised of mariachi enthusiasts who came from outside the
Claremont Colleges. As the
musicians swayed to their songs, the audience was invited to
dance to the tunes. 

“I didn’t realize how interactive it was going
to be,” Molly Boyle SC ’17 said. “It had people dancing and singing back. I enjoyed that a lot, and it got me into it.”

Some moved to the music by shaking
their shoulders and nodding their heads, while others tapped their feet. Flor de Toloache engaged directly with the audience, cheering when audience members got up to dance and inviting a beatboxer in the audience
up to the stage to show off his talent.

Flor de Toloache recently released a new album, which consists of both original music and classics with
original arrangements. The first and only established all-female mariachi band, the group said they try to take full advantage of their cultural differences.

inspiration] comes from so many places,” said Mireya Ramos, one of Flor de Toloache’s main vocalists. “We have a lot of backgrounds and
diversity of music. So we base ourselves on Mariachi, but then we try a fusion
with either our cultural backgrounds or our backgrounds growing up … I think everyone puts in their own element.”

Such diversity lends itself to a creative collaborative process between the group members, in which they think of new songs and melodies together. 

“Sometimes when we
play live, things happen musically where it’s
spontaneous and then we are like, ‘Oh, that was cool,’ so
we try and do it again,” Ramos said.

general, we get a concept, and then sometimes she writes a song by herself, or I
write a song by myself,” vocalist Shae Fiol added. “But we also write together. It might be that someone
has an idea for a melody, so we explore that. It’s usually this really intense
process for a couple of days where we only do that, then come back later and
make some changes and sometimes not.” 

Mariachi has a small but growing audience at the Claremont
Colleges. As the wide range of ages in the audience for Flor de Toloache shows, the musical style holds an appeal for a variety of people. 

Claremont Colleges students in attendance cited the Claremont Colleges’ own mariachi group, Mariachi Sirano, as initially piquing their intrigue. 

love the mariachi group on campus, so we thought we would come see another group
perform if they’re coming all the way from New York,” Boyle said. “I liked when they sang ‘Cascabel,’ because that is the song that the local Claremont Colleges group does
a lot, so it was nice to hear something that we also hear our friends

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