TEQUILA (September 2009) | Interview By: Jonathan Hay
& Chad Kiser|
Dubcnn was given the exclusive opportunity to sit down with multi-talented
Tequila, who is an artist that does not come along too often. A silky, yet
rugged mix between Macy Gray, Da Brat, Erykah Badu, E-40 and Keak Da Sneak,
her marketability and appeal is growing by leaps and bounds. She is
routinely in the Top 10 most viewed and played on MySpace, evidenced by her
having over 2 million hits to her page. The Lady of Swag sat down with
Dubcnn for this exclusive interview to discuss growing up in Oakland, CA,
the meaning of Swag Juice, who her influences were, what it’s like working
with bay legend Mike Marshall and much, much more!
As ever, you can read this exclusive interview below and we urge you to leave
feedback on our forums or email them to
Interview was done in August 2009
By: Jonathan Hay
& Chad Kiser
Dubcnn Exclusive - Tequila
A Woman’s Touch
(The Special Dubcnn Series)
By: Chad Kiser & Jonathan Hay
Dubcnn: Tell me about growing up in Oakland, CA?
I grew up on 47th Street in North Oakland in a close knit family. The
block had family members on both sides and was filled with both joy and
pain. I attended public and private schools in an around the East Bay and
was always in some sort of talent activities where I had to be the center of
attention. I was the queen of beat box in most schools I attended. My teen
years in Oakland were filled with violence and good music. For instance, I
always rolled around town bumping Too Short and Dru Down (Pimp of The Year).
I danced at many family gathering to the sounds of “Rumors” and later on I
had a chance to work with Mike Marshall the lead singer for Timex Social
Club. I also lost a number of close friends to crime, drugs and violence.
Overall, I was always soul searching in Oakland because the City of really
cultural, inspiring and groundbreaking. Oakland allows you to be an original
(Too Short, Ant Banks, Richie Rich, MC Hammer, Tony, Toni, Tone, Keisha Cole
and more)and I was always proud that I was a unique person, from the way I
wore my hair to the weird clothes my parents allowed me to wear. By living
so close to Berkeley I became a hip hop hippie. I was actually born in
Berkeley and raised in Oakland.
How did you get started in the music business?
I started in the music industry from birth. My mother read poetry to me at
an early age and was a powerful storyteller. From my mother I believe I got
the gift of rhythm. I got my gospel and soul from my father who is a well
known pastor in the Oakland Community. I believe my jazzy sound comes from
my upbringing in the church. I had great strong black women that directed me
in the church and pulled out my soul and taught me how to arrange songs in
the church choir. From there I participated in a number of local talent
shows and grew from there. I relocated at to Milwaukee, WI at the age of 13
and began to learn the streets of the Midwest and the rap game. Life moved
fast and a number of my cousins there were involved in the street life that
I found fascinating. I learned my Swag from them. I moved back to Oakland at
the age of 16 and ended up in a group called Deeply Rooted. This was
powerful political rap group that did several community shows. We opened
shows for comedian Paul Mooney, comedian Lynell, and the television network
"SoulBeat" (Oakland’s B.E.T before B.E.T). I ended up in a Brazilian Rock
Band out of San Francisco called “RIPE” that shaped my mind to be open to
new sounds and genres. I began dancing SAMBA professionally with a dance
troupe called “Aquadella” that participated in San Francisco's annual
Carnival festivals and travelled locally.
Who were some of your influences coming up?
My influences growing up were Elvis Pressley, Peter Gabriel, Prince, Salt
and Pepper, LL Cool J, Run DMC, MC Hammer, Too Short, Dru Down, Tina Turner,
Al Green Cher, Diane Ross, and Michael Jackson to name a few. All had a
profound effect on my musical career. Each has shaped my musical sound in
one way or another. Michael Jackson was a big influence because he was so
shy and so eccentric on stage. I have often been told my personality is like
his because I transform on stage or in the booth. When I hear a beat my ear
hears the sounds of my past and I can immediately freestyle something from
Describe your music and sound?
My sound is distinguished by my voice. I have a raspy voice that I use as an
instrument to add to any beat. My adlibs are always intentionally placed to
enhance my sound.
Being from Oakland, have you ever worked with Too $hort or E-40?
I have opened for Too Short and worked with a number of E40’s artists
including Turf Talk and J Mennix. I worked with the official voice of the
Bay in Mike Marshall.
You had a song with Mike Marshall (I GOt 5 On It; Timex Social Club), how
did that go down and what was it like recording with Mike?
I was honored to work with Mike and the session was so powerful. I told me
that he worked out of a small studio when he recorded “I Got Five On It” and
our confines were extremely similar. He was such a perfectionist and he
pushed me to new limits that I strive for today in the booth.
Tell us about your own energy drink line, Swag Juice.
Swag Juice is a takeoff on my last album “Its My Swagga.” I was offered an
opportunity to have my own energy drink based on my Internet presence and my
management team came up with the name and we soft launched six months ago.
We have garnered a lot of attention in a short period of time with limited
marketing and resources. However, the product is well positioned to impact
in the marketplace. We are negotiating with a number of distributors
domestically and internationally. Swag Juice – “Put Some Swag In Your STEP!”
What project or projects are you working on now, any major collaborations?
I am working on my new album “Swaged Out” coming soon on Hoopla Media Group,
LLC/Universal Records. I have been concentrating on doing me in the booth
and working with Desmond Map, Spice 1, Big V, Tan D, and Mike Marshall. My
production has stepped up on this project with tracks from Epidemic, C
Major, FoKiss, Mike Mosley, Traxx, and Bennie Owens.
Can you speak on your overseas fame?
I have a huge internet presence on MySpace with over 2 million views and
over 1 million plays. A number of internet radio stations request my music
and stream around the world. I number of DJ’s have interviewed me on the air
in the Germany, Poland, UK, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. We are
currently working on a 360 licensing agreement that will add a new dimension
to my musical career. I am hoping to tour soon internationally.
What are some of the big things you've accomplished so far, musically?
My biggest accomplishment thus far is sticking to the grind. I have been
discouraged a number of times because people promise you the moon and
deliver nothing. So, my belief and strength in god has pulled my through,
plus my father’s nurturing advice has been a blessing.
Who is the best female emcee in your opinion?
The best female emcee besides me *laughs* is Missy Elliott. She is versatile
and very unique. I pride myself on being unique and having the mainstream be
accepting of my music would be icing on the cake. I do not listen to many
current artists in my genre because I am always expanding my musical taste
and I am constantly striving to push the boundaries within my soul.
Who are some artists you'd like to collaborate with?
I would love to collaborate with Mary J, Missy Elliott, E-40, Tech9ne,
Erykah Badu, and Lauryn Hill to name a few.
Where can readers catch up with you at?
You can reach me at
Do you have any final thoughts for our readers?
Stay tuned and look for major moves coming soon.