Don Tocabajo


Don Tocabajo is a new kind of ambient / instrumental artist - thoughtful, multi-talented and confident. With the debut radio single 'Revuelto' running up the charts, Don Tocabajo is in a unique position to re-define the genre.

Generally speaking, ambient / instrumental artists are highly dependent on relentless commitment and strong musical instincts to succeed in the market, and Don Tocabajo is well-positioned to excel in this regard. Now that the mesmerizing new radio single 'Revuelto' is catching fire on radio, it's clear that we'll be hearing a lot more of Don Tocabajo. Perhaps that also explains why Don Tocabajo was the recipient of the prestigious Akademia Music Award for Best Ambient / Instrumental EP on October 15, 2020. Reporter Lauren Scott recently caught up with Don Tocabajo to learn more about this intriguing artist and the inspiration behind what is clearly a captivating new sound.

LAUREN: Let's just get this out in the open- What is the craziest thing that has happened to you in your music career?
DON TOCABAJO: Well, that was some years ago. We applied for an open-air music festival in Mannheim / Germany in a very large city park. It was a competition for amateur & professional bands from the region. From about 500 bands only 8 bands were chosen including us Alienshake. Which was absolutely surprising and great. Playing time was allowed from 12:00 p.m. to 23:00 p.m. with breaks. This day was a wonderful summer day. We met early in the morning to pack the equipment, drive there, set it up and do the soundcheck. Every band had its own stage. We had a great place, right at the entrance, where everyone who came heard and saw us right away. We started to play on time, the people streamed into the park and we played and played only our own funky rock songs. The people stopped for a long time and listened, applauded and demanded encores. This festival turned out to be a marathon for us. We played until after 11:30 p.m. and in total we only had about half an hour real break for eating and drinking. We were totally exhausted at the end and had cramps in our hands at times. But it was a fantastic feeling that our own music was so well received and that the people joined in. The audience could vote which of the bands they liked best. The audience of about 10,000 people decided that we were the third winners. This was of course a great performance at this crazy music marathon which made us proud. Only next time we should be artificially fed during such a marathon :)

LAUREN: Your song 'Revuelto' is receiving a positive listener response on radio. What was your initial reaction when you first heard your song playing on radio?
DON TOCABAJO: I was very happy and excited. I immediately invited my family and friends to participate. It was a great feeling to know that other people also like the song. All the efforts to compose, record and mix this song were worth it. I was just a bit surprised that Revuelto was such a hit as a single song. The other songs on the award-winning album Ad Gustum are also very interesting and extraordinary. But Revuelto deserves it. I also want to thank the listeners who like this song and the radio stations who are convinced of Revuelto. You are welcome to play more of my songs, I wouldn't mind :)

LAUREN: What was the inspiration behind your radio single?
DON TOCABAJO: Revuelto expresses the idea of the whole award-winning instrumental album Ad Gustum. Revuelto is Spanish and means mess, mix, blend. Just like life is a colorful mixture of everything, be it food, clothes, art and people, I wanted to compose diverse songs. So the song, like the album, was composed unorthodox with different styles. You can hear elements of Funk, Soul, Rock, Metal, Jazz, Latin. Life can give you many inspirations. There is so much fantastic music in the whole world. There is simply nothing more diverse than life, people and their cultures. I think I have managed to capture this very well and express it in Revuelto. The feedback in the media and from the people confirms this.

LAUREN: It is often said that great art arises from difficult experience. Is there something in your life experience thus far that you would describe as the ‘catalyst’ or ‘fuel’ for your desire to create music?
DON TOCABAJO: It is inside me because I have been busy composing my own works since I started playing an instrument. I like to make music whether in good or bad times. I notice that many artists create lyrics or melodies mostly through bad experiences. Music does not deserve this. You shouldn't praise everything but life offers us in the western world a lot of positive things which are often overlooked. My fuel is simply the joy of composing and producing my own music. If you succeed in realizing your ideas among other things as an unknown artist and you get confirmation from the media, people and awards, then you have done something right. This is a good thing and motivates you to continue.

LAUREN: How would you characterize yourself as an artist/musician?
DON TOCABAJO: I noticed early on that I have something very special about me. Because I was never interested in playing cover songs, songs from other bands. I always found it more interesting to make my own songs. To sometimes face the time-consuming task of working out compositions with melodies, rhythms, lyrics, arrangements. Then to find compromises in the band with other musicians, which could be the next challenge. So I was always interested in the sound of the whole band and not in single musicians. My personal focus, which also affects me as a bass player, is the rhythm, it has to groove. I have visions that I want to realize, if necessary in different albums. I am ambitiously working on that. I also like to work with other artists but if it doesn't work out I try to continue on my own. If I cannot do it then I learn it. To make songs off the mainstream I find exciting. I try to realize everything that is in my skills. Although I do not refuse any help. It is important to be open for new things, to be strangers, because that can enrich. I like to learn more.


LAUREN: What has your experience been like working with the other people on your team?
DON TOCABAJO: As a solo artist you have to do most of the main work yourself. I thank above all my family and friends who support me in everything I do. Also a big thank you to Akademia Awards and the many radio stations that support me. You need these people and institutions, they strengthen you and help you to go one step further. Musically, I wanted to create an unusual work, but as often in life, you need financial resources and musicians who are interested in a project. Since I didn't have either, I was forced to bring the album into the world alone. So Revuelto and Ad Gustum was realized only by myself, from the composition to the mix and production.

LAUREN: Did you come from a musical background? Are there other musicians in your family?
DON TOCABAJO: The beginning of making music was given to me by my school teacher and his 12-string Ovation guitar which sounded wonderful and when I heard Highway to Hell from AC/DC on the radio for the first time in the same period of time.

LAUREN: What do you find most rewarding about being an artist? What do you find most challenging?
DON TOCABAJO: It is simply an amazing feeling to play an instrument. To share this feeling with others, be it as a band playing with other musicians, spectators listening and dancing to them, applauding and maybe demanding encores. The highlight would be to have great success and earn enough money with it. The challenge is to inspire others to develop their own visions. What do you want to achieve with the music? Can one live on it ?

LAUREN: Who are your role models in music?
DON TOCABAJO: My role models come from the 1990s. Those are very creative years for me. There were musical fusions that still fascinate me today, be it Rock, Metal, Jazz or Funk. Some bands started earlier but didn't become famous, pushed or discovered until the 90s. I have always been interested in the sound of whole bands, not so the individual musicians although some of them have a special band sound. These idols are for example bands like Living Colour, Faith No More, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Mothers Finest, Stevie Salas and more.

LAUREN: Describe your best or most memorable performance.
DON TOCABAJO: Musically, it is currently my self-produced album Ad Gustum, which has received national and international awards, as well as various single releases from it. Out of necessity and ambition I realized my musical idea as I had it in my head. My will arranged composition, arrangement, recording and programming. Through necessity I learned mixing and mastering. The result is a work that was awarded the German Rock & Pop Award 2019 for Best Instrumental Album, first place, and Best Instrumental Band/Artist, second place, as well as Best Instrumental Album October 2020 at Akademia Awards and the Semifinals of the American Tracks Music Awards, November 2020, with the song Sweet Waste. The single Revuelto is still making its way through the radio stations. This is a memorable achievement to be proud of.

LAUREN: What advice would you give to young, aspiring artists out there who are unsure and need guidance?
DON TOCABAJO: Have visions, work on your own ideas. Do not try to imitate other artists. Typical example are cover versions, often they are worse and more boring than the original and that is fatal. Be true to yourself, work on your style. Be clear about what you want, have ambition and a lot of patience. Don't be naive, there are many black sheep in the music business that promise to make you famous and rich overnight. Think about what you want to achieve with music ? Can you live on it ? Be honest with yourself, do you have enough talent ? Don't just listen to your family and friends, they probably love everything you do. Unfortunately it is also true today that it is not enough to be a musician just to make music. You also have to be a manager, t-shirt seller, fan representative, roadie and much more. If you have reached a certain status, you will be spared that if you reach that status.

LAUREN: What's next for you as an artist? Is there an album in the works? If so, what can you tell us about it?
DON TOCABAJO: Thank God, I have had a good run of ideas for a long time. My next instrumental album will be released in March 2021. At the moment I'm still working on last details. This is a very interesting work. I just say Okzident meets Orient and that in all hardness. It is hard, mysterious and full of surprises. I would be happy if this would be as successful as Ad Gustum. In addition, two other projects are in progress. I am experimenting on new ideas, as well as with my band Alienshake we are working on new songs. In between I will take care of the promotion of my music, that takes quite some time. And if it should be possible again next year, I will take a vacation. I would like to thank you for the interview and wish you all good health and success.

LAUREN: That sounds great! Thank you for giving us more insight into your life as an artist. I wish you much continued success in your career!