|Bad Day At A Carnival|
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Born in New Jersey, raised in cities up and down the East Coast and currently based in Georgia, 22-year-old Floco Torres knows there’s nothing new under the sun, but it doesn’t help him describe his music. He’s a young black guy and he raps so it must be hip-hop, right? Just ignore the skinny jeans and his rock band, or that he finishes his shows sweat-soaked and knee-bent, bearing more than a passing resemblance to Otis Redding, who also called Macon, Georgia home.
Yes, everyone says they’re different, but when it comes out of Floco’s mouth, it bears a sense of alienation, apartness. That makes sense. As open as he is—his lyrics lay most of his secrets bare—and as social as he is, this is still a kid with a dream and synesthesia, a neurological disorder that means he sees color when he hears music, who hasn’t stayed in any place long enough to call it home.
So he doesn’t fit in everywhere.
He’s in the world but not of it, a guy who’d rather surround himself with a knowledge of what’s going on in music and the world than have an entourage walk around with him, telling him how great he is.
Not that he’s anti-social, but he disappears when he needs to: hours in someone’s home studio, rehearsal with the band, or another sleepless night creating new songs.
The insomnia is as much a by-product of family turmoil and the resulting stretch of homelessness as it is the drive to do more. When things with his family got rough, he found himself bouncing from one couch to another. In between, he holed up in hotels when he could afford it and his car when he couldn’t.
Talking about it now, he’s still embarrassed, but it was worse when it was going through it. To avoid letting anyone find out that he didn’t have a place to live, he—born Kevin Williams—would work double shifts as a waiter and hang out at the restaurant after hours, leaving so late no one would care where he headed.
As motivated as Floco is to succeed, to distance himself from the nights trying to sleep in his car, he’s too stubborn to sell low on his talent. He welcomes fame and fortune, but on his terms. He wants to be happy with the music he’s making. For instance, he followed up his most popular song, “Hot Like the Sun,” molded after weightless club bangers, with “Psycadelphia,” an album about the life of the mind.
And thus the rock band. He admits for a long time he wasn’t THAT into the hip-hop band thing, which he lampooned in a remix of Chester French’s “Two Bands,” a song he ironically plays with his band now. What changed his mind? He just wanted to prove he could do it, and not only that, but that he could do it extremely well. It’s the same reason he recorded “Hot Like the Sun” in the first place, and why he’s remade the song as a dark rock song with a metal edge.
So maybe competition is his genre. Ask most “rap guys,” as Floco calls them, and they’d probably say they love competition too. But competition is more to him than an opportunity to show someone up. There’s an art to being driven by the best your peers can do. In the throes of it, he’s equally taken with exploration, delving into something new and trying to master it.
While he got his nickname from a friend’s Puerto Rican grandmother who called him “flaco”—that’s Spanish for skinny and “Floco” is his best stab at spelling it—it’s the Torres part that’s so interesting. Initially just an homage to his friend’s grandmother, whose last name was Torres, the choice echoes of el toro, Taurus, the bull. That speaks more to his true personality than anything else.
It’s the way he works, the way he performs, the way he goes about his life: charging hard and more than a little dangerous despite the fact he wears his heart on his sleeve.
So he doesn’t fit in everywhere. Just makes it easier for him to do his own thing.
- Chris Horne