Feliz Año Nuevo: Toy Selectah On the Mayan Apocalypse, DJ Screw & the Beauty of Cumbia
His name is Antonio Hernandez, but the world knows him as Toy Selectah. The producer/DJ is one of the most influential figures in la musica Latina, constantly creating sounds and rhythms for almost 20 years. He enjoyed success with the pioneer Rock en Español group Control Machete, served as an A&R for Universal Music during the height of the Reggaeton era, and is now one of the champions of immensley popular Tribal Guarachero movement.
photos by Marco Torres
Rocks Off sat down with Toy during his visit to Houston last Friday as he performed at the Redbull Thre3Style Massive event at Stereo Live.
Rocks Off: First of all, welcome to Houston, and thank you for accepting our interview request. Have you ever been here to Houston before?
Toy Selectah: Yes, I remember that I came to Houston back in 1994 to DJ. I've been here previous to that just to visit, but 1994 was the first time I came to work. I'm hoping to come back here soon to play the Bombón party with DJ Gracie Chavez and her crew.
Houston is like Monterrey, Texas because there are so many of us here. So I've always had a strong connection to this place. I also remember coming to the Westheimer Street Festival and having a great time, too. Houston has always had a great rock and underground movement. I love bands like Los Skarnales and also Chingo Bling. Puro respect.
RO: What do you think about the so-called Mayan apocalypse?
TS: I'm going to recommend a movie called Yo Lo Creo to you and your readers. It features a different interpretation of the whole phenomenon.
For me, this is a beginning of a new era. The whole world knows about the Mayas now. Historically and culturally, the Egyptians were at the forefront of humanity's experience on this earth, but now the Mayas are just as important. We [Mexicans] are the raza cosmica (cosmic race) after all.
TS: It was a grand year of work, preparation, and planting seeds for the future. I was satisfied with all of my projects. Non-stop traveling and working in the studio which I love. The records that we released last year is what lead to our success this year. Next year is promising to be more of the same.
I feel like we had our turn already, and now we need to take more and more turns.
RO: Why is cumbia music so beautiful?
TS: Being from Monterrey, the music that we heard on the streets was always either norteño music or cumbia. We received many cumbia records from Colombian people who would visit from Houston and San Antonio. There is a direct connection between Texas and my city in that sense.
Then the cumbia was mixed with the fast Mexican music that was popular as well, so then that allowed artists like Celso Piña to flourish. Be on the lookout for a documentary about him that will further explain how that mixture made the cumbia movement beautiful.