Exclusive: Tokischa Says Freedom, Confidence and Self-Love Has Been the Key to Her Success
Tokischa is true to herself and has proven she is here to stay.
The Dominican artist has given top-tier performances and collaborated with artists like as Rosalía, J Balvin, Bad Bunny and El Alfa. Now, the Queen of Dembow is headlining her own tour in the United States—one boasting several sold out performances.
Coming from a background of poverty, prostitution and drugs, Tokischa's artistry has been at the center of much controversy, but this didn't deter her from pursuing her dreams of becoming an artist that reveled in her own freedom.
In an exclusive interview with People Chica, the LINDA vocalist discussed her career, how she remains authentic despite criticism and gives her advice on personal growth.
Something that stands out from your work is that you have remained authentic to yourself, despite all the criticism. What has helped you stay true to yourself despite the criticism?
I know what I want. I know who I am and what I want to express. When you're aware of what you're doing, I don't think there's any way you can get sidetracked.
You've had the opportunity to work with artists like Rosalía, J Balvin, and Bad Bunny—all who have said that you're a star to look out for. In fact, on Alofoke sin censura Bad Bunny was told you would be the next version of him, but he said you would be your own self. How do you respond to that?
I understand when they make those references of you are going to be "next big thing" it is because they really are [comparing you to a] great artist, they are basically telling you that you are going to be great like that artist. But each one reaches their own level, each one has a path, and each one has a different message. It's important to highlight that, to highlight the authenticity of each person, to say, "you are going to be Tokischa, and you are going to be this, this and this because you are like that." I feel very, very, very grateful for all the recognition that great artists give me and for [the opportunity of] working with artists like Rosalía, who is a great artist that I admire a lot and I have been a fan of for a long time. It is a great honor for me.
In your open letter, you say, "Imagine a woman freely expressing her sexuality. Making it clear that because she is a woman, she feels powerful, loving her body, showing her nature to the world, how scary isn't it? She must be silenced, Tokischa must be hidden, Tokischa must be banned!" What do you think is the importance behind women finding their power and feeling free with themselves?
Not just women, but everyone in general. Everyone has the right to have the freedom they need and be able to do what they want. Because it is human nature, something important for human beings, right? Even a plant that you grow, if you don't give it space for it to spread its roots, it is not going to grow that much. She needs that freedom to extend her roots wherever she wants. As human beings we need freedom, not moral restraints or abuse, but freedom to at least be able to say what we want, to be able to have the job we want, to be able to go out and see ourselves as we want is important. Even if it is in a physical way, but something that affects the person's mind and affects its development.
How were you able to find that free woman within yourself, growing up in a society that is as conservative the Dominican Republic and Latin America?
I feel that ever since I was a child I've had that, and I had many issues at home, with my family, with my guardians, but I never abandoned that [freedom]. I never abandoned it because I understood that I had to be who I wanted. The first thing I always said was that I wanted to make art, that was my thing. And in many families, when a child says that, they see it as something distant, as something without a future, because what's really in that person's mind is that you have to go to university and study, so you can have a career. Since you're a child, they ask you what career you are going to pursue at university. So that's a small morsel of freedom. You also have to say, "I'm going to make art, I'm going to enroll in an art school, and I'm going to be an artist." At school the teacher [tells you] "that is not something that is going to give you security, that when you get old, this or that." I said, "Art is my thing, and I'm going for it. And I went for it."
To be free you have to have confidence, you have to be sure of yourself, and you have to have [that] self-confidence that comes from there. For one to free oneself, one has to love oneself and understand oneself and know what one wants.
Tell us more about this tour, what has been the most exciting part for you so far?
Each city has something that always surprises me [in terms of the energy from] the audience. Each place has its essence has and a different energy. So far we have done three or four shows and each one has left me insane. I also feel that each one prepares you for the last show. The last two shows that are [soon], and I feel very happy, and I'm going to give it my all.
How do you incorporate aspects of your culture into your music with your lyrics, rhythms and the instruments you use?
My own experiences [have influenced it.] Because I lived and live in my country, I grew up in the hood, and even after I left my house, I continued to live in the hood. I had many experiences—all of that is alive in me, in my mind, my heart. I might not have the same habits that I had before, but I have so many experiences from that, so many stories, and that's why I put it in the music. I will always have inspiration, because I always keep it alive in me.
You've had an impactful career, which was built upon a history of prostitution and drugs, something you've openly spoken about and speak about in your music. What has been the most important lesson you've learned that you can share with other people that may find themselves in this position?
The love for what one does, self-love, love to God, love to everyone around you, love for everything. Gratitude, too. Gratitude is a very beautiful mantra in the universe. Having a personal communion with God and forgiveness is also very liberating. All those things that aren't popular conversation topics, you know? But they are very beautiful, and you have them intimately inside you.