VOCAL TONE: CHICO MANN!

I found Chico Mann one day in 2006 while I was searching the artists section of Myspace. Yes, stop hating, it has done lots of good for the universe. I sent him a message asking him if he would be interested letting me take photos of him. At the time, I did that alot. I was starved for portraits. He agreed to it, and with his partner at the time “Wilder” from another incredible band called “Chin-Chin“, we set off to take photos in downtown Jersey City. We have stayed friends since then.

Marcos Garcia, has a sound like nothing you have heard. It is feel good music. It is dance music. It is people music. It is unique music. It is creative music. My homeboy Melo-X spins Chico Mann at spots all over NYC. He is a huge fan of Chico Mann. If you know Melo, and you know how dope a DJ he is, you should let that be fair warning. Go buy a Chico Mann album. Dude has bills and a seed to feed and he cant keep making dope music for the people without support from his fans.

So, lets get into the life of Marcos Garcia, aka Chico Mann.

TONE:
1. Where are you from originally and how has that influenced your music?
2. Can you tell me a little bit about your parents?

CM:
I was born in NYC. Moved to NJ when we were little. Grew up in Rutherford, NJ.

My parents are Cuban. My mom and dad met at WBNX. My mother was one of the first women to have her own shows on Spanish language radio and my dad owned a few record labels produced many early 80’s merengue records.

I grew up with Latin music and all the other kinds of music we were exposed to in 70’s and 80’s NY/NJ. My cousins turned me on to soul, r&b, disco, and new wave.

I was breakdancing with my best friend, Chuckie Gunn, when we were coming up. We danced on refrigerator boxes to all the hits. When I needed glasses in 6th grade I wanted Cazals.

My dad was the first to introduce me to reggae as well. The guidos in NNJ exposed me to freestyle as they cruised the streets in their IROC Z’s

TONE:
You and I have talked a bit about vintage instruments so I am curious, what kind of music inspires you?

CM:
Afrobeat, Afro-Cuban, Brasilian, Funk, Soul, etc
Celia Cruz, Arsenio Rodriguez, Fela, Fania, Chico O’Farrill, Mon Rivera, Ismael Rivera, JB…
I could keep going and going.

TONE:
In general, what kinds of things motivate you to keep moving forward?

CM:
Being engaged in the artistic process keeps me moving forward creatively. I don’t see another way but forward artistically. I always have ideas for songs or production techniques I want to try. I usually write them down so there’s always something new to try.

TONE:
Growing up as a kid, what were you like? Were you a good student? What was your favorite toy?

CM:
I was a pretty serious kid. Good student and all that. Favorite toys usually were some kind of kung fu weapon…nunchuks, blowguns, stars… I loved Sunday afternoon kung fu movies on TV!

TONE:
I know that you are shopping a deal for your new album and being very selective about who you get down with. What kinds of challenges are you having with that process? You have a very unique style and sound, do labels know how to react to it? Are they nervous about it or is it mostly coming from your side of the negotiations?

CM:
I think a lot of the labels I’ve spoken to don’t really know how to market it. I’ve gotten lots of positive feedback though. I think I’m creating a new genre of music and labels for the most part look to release more familiar forms.

The label business is also struggling to stay afloat.

I’m selective b/c I want to work with a label that has vision, artistically and in terms of its business model. The old way of doing business is no longer viable.

I’m looking for a label to grow with that GETS what I’m doing and is able to push it forward.

I’m coming at this process with a long-term vision for my career. I really just want to keep recording, producing and performing.

TONE:
You are also a member of the world famous Antibalas. How has that experience been for you?

CM:
I cut my teeth playing with Antibalas…nuff said.

TONE:
How important is travel in your creative process?

CM:
I love traveling and meet folks all over. I find inspiration when I’m in a new place or when there’s a change of scenery.

TONE:
Speaking of which, do you have any rituals that you must do in order to be creative?

CM:
I have my process. It really is based on having a creative routine. I don’t get much creative work done when I’m away from home though.

TONE:
In 5 words or less, what is your current feeling on the state of the United States?

CM:
Hopeful for positive change.

TONE:
Do you have a favorite saying or mantra?

CM:
nah

TONE:
Incense. Yes or No?

CM:
Occasionally. I prefer cedar, sage, sweetgrass, copal

TONE:
Why do you hate milk?

CM:
Prefer soymilk over factory farmed milk!

TONE:
Who designed the newest Chico Mann logo and what was the thinking behind that?

CM:
My friend Luke O’Malley designed the pixel caricature of me. A couple of years ago I started drawing caricatures of my face on my guitar pedals so as to identify them. He had the idea to do it on the computer. Uncanny!

TONE
Photographer. The NEW POP, join the fam.
TONE

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