"I’m always telling my friends that when I die I want a three-day rave with everyone I know playing, just basically a massive party."
DJ producer and songwriter and Isabel Gonzales Toro, known as Isa GT, is basically the creative equivalent of a salad spinner, with tons of vitamin packed projects going off in all directions. Her Pa’ Chikkirri and Leyenda EPs sent ripples of pleasure through the global bass world and besides her music and DJing activities, she’s done radio shows, runs Etoro Records and is a founding member of the constantly evolving force that is Girlcore. (More on that in sec.) She’s collaborated with Toy Selectah, been remixed by Crookers, and this past year she went on tour with M.I.A.
The Colombian-born global bass maker has been living in London for about ten years, but right now she’s visiting New York following her Tu Hermana en Bikini tour though the US and Mexico. We took the opportunity to hang out with her, shoot some photos and find out more about her recent travels and adventures. Later that night she played a super fun all rock ‘n’ roll en Español DJ set at The Flat in Brooklyn at the launch party for Trouble and Bass’ new sublabel Hisss, which only goes to show you never know what she’ll do next.
What is Girlcore?
Right now Girlcore is a magazine but it was for many years a monthly night that we had with eight to ten girls. Our purpose was to promote female talent so all the line-ups every month were girls, DJs and live shows, but only female talent. That was really good and then from London we took it to different places: Russia, we had one here in New York, Athens. We traveled all around with Girlcore. Now, in the last two years we’ve been having this Girlcore magazine that promotes female photographers and illustrators.
Why did you start Etoro Records?
Etoro Records is my label. My first release was my second EP. I started because my first EP took awhile to release. That was on Man Recordings from Berlin. I just felt like I didn’t want to wait for people to release my stuff. When I want to do something, I would like to just release it and that’s it. Also, I felt the need to promote my friends and the scene that I’m in. It was a natural progression for me.
We hear you gig a lot in East London. What is a typical night out like for you?
Well, they’re not typical. They’re very different. We used to gig a lot in east London but I now play now play much more outside the UK. Europe, Mexico. I’m here because was just in Mexico touring. Last week, I did five dates in Mexico. Before that, the Summer was really busy. I went on tour with M.I.A. playing big, big shows, the biggest ones that I’ve done in my life.
What was touring with M.I.A. like?
I was pretty cool. I travel a lot and I play festivals and stuff but she has this big this big machinery behind her. They are big shows with big production. It feels great to be able to get to a place and just literally do your thing and not worry about any technical issues.
Did anything really fun happen on your Mexico tour?
A lot of things happened that were really cool. One of them was we kind of adopted people and took them on the road. We did the last two dates in Mexico City and by the time we got there we already had like four or five people that we collected from different cities.
There’s this thing with Colombians and Mexicans. We get on really well. We really love each other, the culture, basically. It’s very funny because in Colombia they love the Mexican culture, rancheras and all these different rhythms, and in Mexico there’s this thing where they love cumbia and salsa and everything that has to do with Colombia. To be able to play there is amazing because I’m used to playing in London and Europe where people love the music, love the rhythms, but sometimes they don’t really get the meaning of what I’m saying in my lyrics. In Mexico they just enjoy it much more. To see the reaction of the audience there makes it for me.
What’s inspiring you musically lately?
This last tour in Mexico, it was such a mixture of things. I’m getting back into reggaeton. So I just brought back all of these reggaeton tracks that have really funny lyrics and then mix that with all sorts of stuff. I did one show that was crazy. I even played “I’m a Slave 4 You” by Britney Spears as an instrumental. It mixes so well. People were like “Is this … ? Nooo!”
I’m listening to a lot of different stuff. I’ve got a lot of house. One of the thing is I’m here in New York for a bit because I want to maybe see how the city can influence what I do. Last year I was going to work on an album but then I traveled so much. I got a lot of demos and ideas, so I’m just going to stay here for maybe a month and a half, just before South By and just kind of see and go out and see things that can inspire me.
What’s your favorite reggaeton lyric?
My favorite lately is called “El Funeral” which means my funeral. They sing: “At my funeral I want a party.” And that’s what I always say. I’m always telling my friends that when I die I want a three-day rave with everyone I know playing, just basically a massive party.
So you make the Navidades con Etoro Christmas compilations each year and you made that video for the song “Xmas is Here” this year. Is Christmas your favorite holiday?
Yeah, definitely. Christmas in Colombia is such a happy holiday. It equals party. From the first of December in Colombia you can feel in the air that something is happening. Everything is different. Everyone is different. My favorite days in Colombia is the 7th and the 8th of December. That is the candle night. People light candles outside their houses and it’s amazing. When you are a kid you make big balls of wax with all the melted wax. It’s just different. It makes everything happy. At least that’s my memory from when I was growing up.