Introducing the genre-defying Californian music collective redefining radio-playable pop
After their track ‘Mariposa’ went viral on TikTok, Peach Tree Rascals suddenly found themselves with of a lot of industry attention. Brilliant news for the ambitious, energetic seven-piece, but also a new kind of challenge. Peach Tree Rascals are formed of three rapper-singers (Issac Pech, Joseph Barros, Tarrek Abdel-Khaliq), two creatives (Jorge Olazaba, EJ Atienza), a guitarist (Jasper Barros) and a producer (Dominic ‘Dom’ Pizano).
With so many different creative forces – and tastes in music – coming together to create their sound, guiding it in a commercial direction was initially tricky. But as the band prepare to launch their EP Does A Fish Know It’s Wet? on 22 July, they’re feeling confident about the direction they’re moving in.
Do you have any pre-show rituals?
Dom: We should make one. We do eat gummy bears.
Tarrek: We slap each other on the back a couple times. Scream in each other’s ears. Stretch. Take naps.
Dom: Essential oils…
There’s a lot going on there. So your new single ‘Let U Go’ just dropped and the EP is coming. What can people expect?
Tarrek: People can expect amazingness. Rascal pop. It’s our new genre.
How would you define rascal pop?
Issac: Like pop, except the rascal way!
Jasper: The rascalness on top of the pop, you know?
Tarrek: If you listen to our discography, we’re not defined by one genre. We started out in a shed in Dom’s backyard. And once we started to see success with ‘Mariposa’, that’s when we started to get into the industry and it became more of a business. And when that noise comes in, everyone kind of pushes for something for radio, something that’ll hit, something that could be played across the world. And that’s what we’re kind of trying to do with rascal pop in this next project.
It’s us trying to, you know, swim through this industry and trying to be ourselves. We’re trying to make the biggest tracks that we’ve ever done, something that can sit on radio. And that’s exciting.
Has that been a challenge, marrying your sound with that radio sound?
Issac: At the very beginning it was more of a pride thing. Like, we would hear something and automatically dismiss it, because it didn’t fit what we liked and what we wanted to do. And then we kind of opened up our horizons. And if we’re going to do it, let’s do it to the best of our ability and add our own little flavor to it. So the idea was challenging at first, but once we actually got into it, it was pretty smooth.
Tarrek: With whatever you’re doing, if you start out doing something by yourself, with your homies, and then other people start coming in with new ideas… like Isaac said, it’s a pride thing. So we open up our horizons, broaden our minds and get this sh*t done.
What kind of music did you guys listen to growing up?
Issac: I listened to basically all rap and a little bit of Spanish music.
Tarrek: I listened to a lot of pop music, and Arabic pop music as well.
Dom: When I was like in middle school, Kendrick, Nirvana… Stevie Wonder too.
Jasper: They all definitely influence how we make our music nowadays.
Who are you guys listening to at the moment?
Dom: Literally anything that sounds good.
Tarrek: Kendrick, Frank Ocean, Bad Bunny, Chance the Rapper, Tierra Whack, a bunch of people. And the Beatles. We still listen to The Beatles.
Joseph: We always listen to The Beatles.
Dom: Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson…
Tarrek: If we were all listening to music at the same time, and you grabbed each one of our headphones, it would all be something different.
How did Peach Tree Rascals begin?
Tarrek: We began in high school about eight years ago when me and Joseph and Dom first met. And then Isaac moved to our school and we had mutual friends on the basketball team. We found out that he wrote and recorded his own music and was dropping music on SoundCloud and videos on YouTube, burning CDs and passing them out at school. He was the first person I’ve ever seen do that. Having that so close to our group of friends just lit a flame in us one by one.
I was kind of the first I think – me and Issac would just be chilling and smoking with the homies and we’d be freestyling, and then I started going over to his studio, which was his just bedroom, just recording sh*tty vocals and putting them out on SoundCloud. And then Joseph started to get interested and he would stop by every once in a while, but he’d be shy, so we’d have to leave the room when he recorded.
Joseph: I’m still shy to this day.
Tarrek: Dom’s always been pretty good at the piano. But once we graduated high school Dom was like, “I don’t know what the f*ck I’m gonna do with my life”. So he heard a song that Isaac made and loved it so much that he said, “I want to produce a song that good”. Dom’s like the flame behind the rest of the Peach Tree Rascals story because his production is what created the sound and his work ethic is what rubbed off onto all of us. He was working 60, 70, 80 hours a week, going nights in a row without sleeping, and that kind of energy just put all of us into that same mindset: let’s do the best we can to make the best music we can to build the best career we can. We were working like that for three years before we even released our first song because we really wanted to get the sound right.
Once it became time to release we found Jorge. He’s a few years younger than us and he didn’t go to our high school, but we had mutual friends through social media.
Jorge: The song that made Dom want to produce was the song that Issac asked me to make the cover art for.
So it really all came together over that one track?
Tarrek: Yeah, it’s kind of funny. Issac asked him for cover art and then Jorge sent like 10 different options and he wouldn’t accept any money…
Issac: He didn’t even acknowledge the offer. I offered to pay him and he never responded.
Jorge: I don’t like talking about money. I just feel like art shouldn’t be compromised by money. I just like making stuff.
Issac: That’s why we still haven’t paid him for anything. He hasn’t gotten single dime.
Tarrek: And then Jasper is Joseph’s cousin. Jasper is an amazing guitarist, and an amazing producer as well. Joseph came up with the chords for ‘Mariposa’. But when it came down to recording the guitar, he wanted Jasper to do it. Then when Jasper came into the shed – the studio – that was when we all met him, and his energy was beautiful. And he recorded the song beautifully.
Joseph: When I was growing up, Jasper was always one of the main inspirations for me, just because my whole life I would watch him play guitar and sing.
What was the first show you guys all played together? What was that like?
Tarrek: I think the first show ever was at midnight the night before Lollapalooza in Chicago 2021. It was our own headline show, sold out. And it was f*cking amazing. The energy was crazy. It just gave us so much energy going into Lollapalooza – there ended up being like 15,000 people and most of them didn’t know who we are, because it was a festival, but the exposure was just insane, and the size of that stage. Right after that performance, we took a golf cart to a small stage in Lollapalooza, and all the fans that loved us from the first show followed the cart to the stage.
Out of all the tracks that you guys have worked on so far in your careers, is there one that you’re proudest of?
Dom: For me personally it has to be ‘Someday’ just because that was early on in our careers, and when we made that song it was like, sh*t, we could we could actually make something really good. That was the one that made us truly believe in ourselves.
Tarrek: Yeah, I have to agree. I think ‘Someday’, ‘Violet’ and ‘Mariposa’.
Joseph: That time period really made our confidence grow and made us believe in ourselves as artists.
Once the EP’s out, what’s next for you guys?
Tarrek: Make more. More music, more stuff.
Jorge: And then tour!
Tarrek: We have a big our first big North America tour this fall. We’re doing three different Houses of Blues, which is very exciting. I remember going to a Clairo concert in the House of Blues in San Diego. The energy there was beautiful.
Dom: We ended up making a song about that venue!