Flor de Toloache recorded their latest album, Las Caras Lindas, in just a week. As mariachis whose spin on the traditional Mexican genre incorporates their diverse backgrounds and the overall landscape of New York City, they are constantly working—and as an all-woman band in a style historically dominated by men, they’ve had to do so harder than most.
But the way they update ranchera and corridos with influences such as salsa, bachata, merengue típico, folk and hip-hop—some of them indiscernible as a stylistic choice but whose heart beats through their tunes—reflects the way cultural boundaries blur and interact, particularly in New York City. They are a fresh, youthful interpretation of mariachi that both respects tradition and represents the ways it can (and should) evolve. As a multiracial collective of Latinas, the Latin Grammy-nominated group also reflects strength through diversity, something that comes through in both their art and intent.
For instance, the title Las Caras Lindas itself refers both to the song they covered, and its original meaning—“Las caras lindas de mi gente negra/son un desfile de melaza en flor.” As founding member Mireya Ramos explained to Jezebel when she came to the Jezebel office, “‘Las caras lindas’ gives dignity to Afro-Latinos, and that’s a conversation that people are afraid to talk about, or just kind of put it aside or hide it, like ‘Oh, there’s no black people in Mexico.’ Come on! Of course there are. We’re everywhere,” she said. “Even something so simple as having curly hair, all those subjects should be a normal and beautiful thing to talk about. This song is so poetic, it gives such beautiful imagery. It gives unity and a good feeling about being proud of your skin color and where you come from.”
In July, Ramos, Shae Fiol, and Julie Acosta came to the Jezebel office to discuss the evolution of their sound, making their way through a male-centric landscape, and coming to the music with fresh eyes. They also sang a bit of a cappella from the wildly bright “Dulces Recuerdos,” off Las Caras Lindas. We’ve been playing it over and over for weeks.