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October 20, 2020
The Spark: Talking to Peach Tree Rascals

BY INDYA BROWN

From left: Tarrek Abdel-Khaliq, Joseph Barros, Dominic Pizano, Jorge Olazaba, Issac Pech

Photo by Cian Moore

Peach Tree Rascals blew up the only way young people are discovering new musicians in 2020: through the viral popularity of TikTok. After the group released their laidback love song Mariposa last summer, it quickly became the sound of choice to a ton of 20-second dance routines on the app, making it the group’s breakthrough hit, with the video amassing more than 25 million views on YouTube

With over 6 million monthly listeners on Spotify and counting, the San Jose-based band is a name to know among 2020’s crop of rising acts. Consisting of members Issac Pech, Tarrek Abdel-Khaliq and Joseph Barros on vocals, Dominic Pizano as the group’s producer, and Jorge Olazaba as its creative director with an assist from Joseph’s cousin Jasper Barros as Peach Tree Rascal’s sixth honorary member, diversity is a core strength of the band. From their varying ethnic heritages of Mexican, Filipino, and Palestinan, to their diverse musical influences, the friends, who all met back in high school, bring a unique perspective to the Bay Area musical landscape. 

After a successful slate of singles, the group is gearing up for the release of their first official EP. We sat down with the Peach Tree Rascals to talk about their rising profile, how they bonded over cannabis, and why smoking is paramount to their creative process.

On forming the band:

Tarek: We all met in high school when we were 16 and before we even started making music, we were friends first. We bonded over cannabis, video games, and playing sports. Issac was working on music before we started the group and he was the first of us to take music seriously. Eventually we all joined him and gravitated towards creating music.

Issac: The rest of the guys grew up in San Jose, and I had just moved there so I was the new kid. Our name Peach Tree Rascals was completely spontaneous. We were weeks away from releasing our first single but we didn’t have a group name. One day we just kept throwing out different words and names and that one stuck.

In the beginning I took on the role of manager by booking things and organizing our plans. We grew our audience to around 500,000 monthly listeners and by the time we were talking to labels and management, we had more leverage to negotiate.

On their first experience with cannabis:

Tarek: My first experience smoking weed was actually with the guys. I was the late bloomer of the group. Everyone else had tried it in high school but I never got around to it so it was like my initiation. 

Issac: We took him up to this hill to smoke and get high all day.

Tarek: He rolled a joint and it was horrible.

Joseph: Yeah, it was like the worst joint ever. 

Dom: The first time I actually tried weed was with my dad — one day he offered to smoke with me. He was like “I’d rather you smoke around someone who knows you, rather than with strangers,” so that was pretty cool.

Joseph: I accidentally took an edible. Jasper’s older brother pulled a prank and gave me this brownie edible with M&Ms on the outside. That day was insane: We were hanging out in a park and I remember I was so hyper that when I caught my first fish, I was so excited about it.

Jorge: Growing up my parents hated cannabis. Even to this day they don’t like to be around it.

On their creative dynamic:

Tarek: We put our own input and signature on things: Dom is the producer, Jasper plays guitar, Joseph plays some guitar and does vocals along with Issac and I, and Jorge is our creative director/visuals guy. But we also contribute in different ways beyond that.

We’re really honest with each other and if we don’t like something, we’ll say so. At first It was a little tough working with Dom because he’s a perfectionist. He’s the one to say “I think you could’ve written that verse a little better” or “You could’ve played that guitar better”, but in the long run that pushed us to improve and helped us develop a thick skin.

Thankfully quarantine hasn’t totally uprooted our creative lives. We all live together in San Jose. This is the second house we’ve had and we’re able to brainstorm ideas whenever we want to. Besides the fact that we’re already homebodies, our area is really conservative so there’s not much to do. We always preferred to stay in and work on music even before the pandemic.

On using cannabis when making music:

Issac: Weed is honestly at the center of our creative process. I’m basically high the entire day. I will go a few hours after waking up sober, and then start smoking the rest of the day. 

Tarek: It definitely enhances my musical experiences. For example I’ll make some music or create something, but then when you’re smoking and listening to it later, you can appreciate it much more. 

Issac: We recorded our upcoming single over a year ago and it's kind of weird having something come out from a year ago. For a while I almost didn't like our new single, because I guess I was listening to it too much. So after ignoring it, I smoked, listened to it again, and loved it.

Dom: Sativa makes me feel anxious, so I try to stay away from it. When I smoke I’ll usually do a 2:1 CBD and THC blend because it’s a good mix of calm and energy. When we’re working or in the studio though, I don’t smoke at all, I prefer to produce when I’m sober.

On their favorite products:

Issac: Flower is usually my go-to, and some of my favorites are strains like Ice Cream Cake and Leroy. I used to do sativas but now I’m more about indica-dominant strains because they’re relaxing. It also allows me to think more deeply. 

Jasper: Edibles are also definitely on the menu for us. 

Issac: Yeah we’re really into edibles too. But I realized I have to watch out because the strengths across brands of edibles are always so different: Sometimes I can take a lot and feel nothing, while other times I feel like I’m dying (laughs).  

Joseph: I like to use cannabis to help me sleep, so I’ll go for indica strains that make me feel more relaxed. 

On pulling inspiration:

Jorge: For our music videos I tend to pull references from images and things I see everywhere: Frank Ocean is someone I really respect because of the way his visuals flow seamlessly with his sound. 

Issac: Musically, our sound is influenced by all types of genres ranging from pop to hip hop to alternative to jazz. When we’re finished with a track sometimes we’ll do this crazy thing where we get high and then play the song over random videos just to see how they match. Like we did that with that Migos video where they're in the snow and Finding Nemo — it was really trippy.

On their favorite track:

Everyone: Plus.

Issac: It doesn’t have the most views, but it’s my favorite because all of our vocals are on it. It reminds me of like a vocal snake because it weaves in all of our individual parts — it really showcases us as a group.  

On their favorite munchies:

Jorge: Green grapes for sure.

Issac: Fish skin chips, shrimp chips, and chocolate covered almonds. If you put a bowl of chocolate covered almonds in front of me, I’ll probably eat the whole thing. I just can’t stop

Tarek: Issac also had a carne asada fries phase last year where he would eat those all the time, day or night! When I’m high I’ll eat just about anything. That's why it's so hard for me to decide what to eat because I'll be in the store and will want everything

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