Tokischa Kicks Off Her Presidential Campaign at Ceremonia Festival
It’s Thanksgiving weekend in 2021 and nerves are running high at Mexico City’s Coca Cola Flow Fest. Dominican rapper Tokischa had never performed for such a crowd before, but with hardly any preparation she steps out alone in a custom vulva-patterned bodysuit and her presence takes over the stage. A year-and-a-half later, Toki, who calls herself la popola presidente, returned to Mexico City at Ceremonia Festival and a lot had changed. This time, she had a vocal coach, choreographers, and an hour-long pre-show routine, during which she loosens her limbs and vocal chords for the splits, body rolls, and moans to come.
Branded Latin music’s rebel, Tokischa is undoubtedly one of the most beloved and talked-about género urbano artists of the moment. Her pen is unabashedly fleshly and fun, exploring sex, drugs, queerness, and punk in a distinctive voice that has earned her collaborations with Madonna, LSDXOXO, the Martinez Brothers, and Rosalía. A few days after Ceremonia, Tokischa took five with us to share her tour diary, from shopping for Dolce & Gabbana blazers before the show to fangirling over Travis Scott and Kase.O afterwards.
MEKALA RAJAGOPAL: Hey, Toki. Where are you at right now?
TOKISCHA: In DR right now. I’m at the studio. I went to Mexico for the Ceremonia and then I went to another city just to watch an artist doing his show because I’m such a big fan.
RAJAGOPAL: Who was it?
TOKISCHA: It was Kase.O, a rapper from España.
RAJAGOPAL: Cool. Had you been to Mexico City before?
TOKISCHA: My first festival show was in Mexico. The first time I ever traveled from the Dominican to do a show in another country was to Mexico. I think it was the Coca-Cola Fest.
TOKISCHA: Back then I was not even prepared. I had no idea what I was getting into. It was a lot of people for me because previously I was just doing little shows at clubs here in DR. So it was an upgrade from night to day, it was so quick. And I just got onto the stage and I had passion, I had energy, but I had no preparation. I had no choreography, nothing. Just me, by myself. And I did great. But this time in Ceremonia, I went first to Lollapalooza and I went in that same month to Chile, I went to Colombia, I went to Argentina, then I went to Mexico and it was really nice. The Mexican one was the last show, and it was good. I had a lot of fun.
RAJAGOPAL: So tell us about how you spent your time in Mexico.
TOKISCHA: I had to go do soundcheck in the morning early, did what I had to do there, then left. Then I went to get a beautiful, beautiful blazer. I went shopping, girl.
TOKISCHA: For my tour I’m doing this presidential look, and I wanted to do a different blazer, because I’m doing the blazers for each show. It’s so hard. A blazer, it’s so much to deal with because it’s so big. So I went shopping and I got this beautiful Dolce & Gabbana blazer. So, so cute.
RAJAGOPAL: Where do you like to shop in Mexico City?
TOKISCHA: You know what I really liked? They’re so up-to-date with fashion because I went to the Louis V store and they literally had the collection that just dropped the day before in the store already. So I was like, “Oh yeah, y’all in the future in here.” Here in DR, there’s nothing like that. If you want to get something up to date, you have to go to the store and order it. They don’t have a lot of fashion here. That’s why I used to do my own clothes when I started. I used to go thrifting because I could get different pieces than what everybody else was wearing here. Now it’s a little bit harder for me because I don’t have much time to be going around thrifting and creating looks.
RAJAGOPAL: What’s in your system before a big show?
TOKISCHA: I’ve been on a diet lately. [Laughs] I’ve been working really hard because last year I was heavy, girl. Because I was eating a lot last year. So I realized I was looking really fat and I didn’t like it because I like to wear sexy clothes. I was looking like an auntie. I was not looking hot. So I’ve been eating a lot of salads. The day of the show, I just ate a salad with some fish and drank a lot of juice, had a little one-hour nap, and just decided to do my hair, to get into my little makeup that I do that’s so easy for me because I just get blush and highlighter, lips and a little bit of brown color on my eyes.
RAJAGOPAL: You do your own glam?
TOKISCHA: Yeah, I don’t do too much. I don’t do foundation, I don’t do powder, I don’t do none of that. I just moisturize and get some blush, highlighter and stuff, and that’s it. I’m ready to go. And I’m doing my hair down. I’m not doing the braids this year because I just felt like it was taking a lot of time, a lot of stress sitting down, having somebody that I don’t know do my hair in every city because the budget is not enough to travel with my hairdresser. It’s easier to go to a city and get a braider there that’s going to charge you, how much, $100? But then if you travel with your braider, you have to buy the flights, buy the hotel and all that. And that’s a little bit out of budget right now. Maybe later.
RAJAGOPAL: Well, I love it. Curls popping.
TOKISCHA: And I was just doing TikToks until they called me. After I was ready, I was doing a TikTok with my new song with Coi.
RAJAGOPAL: Have you seen that TikTok trend where people are playing Delincuente in front of their mom?
TOKISCHA: Yeah, they’re playing Delincuente to their grannies. Some ladies be vibing to it, you know?
RAJAGOPAL: How do you prepare mentally for a show?
TOKISCHA: Girl, so I was telling you when I went to my first show in Mexico, I had no preparation or nothing. Well, now I have a vocal coach. So before the show, I sit down—well, I stand up because sitting down I can’t do it. But I just take one hour warming up my vocals. And now I have choreography and I have dancers. So 15 minutes before the show, we warm up our bodies and stretch and do the splits and all that. I really like it because when I’m getting ready to go on stage, it’s not only about about my look, my hair, my lipstick anymore. It’s warming up my body, stretching, getting ready, taking control of my breathing, taking control of my voice, taking control of my body. That’s something that I’m so proud of. I really see the difference, and I feel it in the way that I get ready.
RAJAGOPAL: Which songs are crowd favorites? And your personal favorites?
TOKISCHA: Well, my personal favorite is “Estilazo” because I did an arrangement to the song where it just starts as the regular song, and then it becomes a ballroom track with voguing music. And we just start voguing and we have a little vogueing fight in there and it becomes a little ballroom. So I really, really, really enjoyed that moment. But of course the crowd’s favorite right now is “Delincuente” because that’s the song of the moment. So I’ll say those two. And if we want to make a top three, well it has to be to “Toy En Nota,” which is a song that I haven’t dropped yet, but I’m playing that song at the end of the show every time and it just goes crazy. I can’t wait to drop this song. I’ve been holding onto it for a while now.
RAJAGOPAL: What about after the show? Do you guys have an after party or do you just like to chill?
TOKISCHA: Well, right now after every show, I’m so tired. I realized if after the show my body is not in a lot of pain, I didn’t do it great. So now after every show I have crazy pain in my body. I don’t want to go nowhere. I just want to go to bed. Maybe another day I’ll do something or go out, but now I’m just giving it all in my show.
RAJAGOPAL: Did you get to watch any of the other artists perform?
TOKISCHA: My experience in Mexico is always so nice. But besides performing, one of the things that I really like too about the festivals is that I get to see the other artists that I’m a fan of. I get to see their shows. Since I was playing right before Travis, I got to see his show and it was so, so good. I really liked it. I was dying. I wanted to go home and go to bed, but I also was like, when am I going to see Travis’ show again? So I was just like, “Okay, I’m going to die, but I’m still going to watch it.”
RAJAGOPAL: I love it. Well, thank you so much.
TOKISCHA: Thank you. Bye, guys.