Peach Tree Rascals Is Introducing the World to Rascal Pop [Q&A]

Photo: Edgar Daniel

After the success of "Mariposa" in 2019, Peach Tree Rascals have been making waves in the music industry. From their bedroom-pop-infused EP Camp Nowhere to their hip-hop-inspired single “Popeye,” featuring AG Club, the seven-piece collective is defying genres in order to curate one that is uniquely their own: the self-proclaimed rascal pop.

Today, the Bay Area-born group releases their single "Let U Go," a sun-kissed pop earworm that feels like a summer romance—adventurous, fleeting, and bittersweet in the best ways possible. Decorated in melodic guitar riffs, playful verses, and easy-breezy melodies, "Let U Go" is the final track off their forthcoming EP Does A Fish Know It’s Wet, and rightfully so. If there is a song that is going to be your song of the summer, let it be this one.

I had the lovely opportunity to speak with several members of Peach Tree Rascals about the collective's origin story, their DIY mentality when it comes to creating, as well as the inspiration behind “Let U Go” and Does A Fish Know It’s Wet.

Ones To Watch: What are each of your names, and what role do you play in Peach Tree Rascals?

Tarrek: My name is Tarrek and I be singin’ and dancin’ and helpin’ anyone who needs help with whatever they need help with.

Issac: I’m Issac and I’m the rapper in the group, and just like Tarrek, get in where you fit in, if someone needs help – I got it.

Dom: I’m Dominic, I’m the producer and songwriter.

Issac: And if someone needs help, Dom don’t got it, he just does music.

Jorge: I’m Jorge, and I do creative directing and all the little media stuff, like photos, designs, videos.

Tarrek: Joseph isn’t here right now, but Joseph be playing guitar and singing and looking very cute all the time, and Jasper, Joseph’s older cousin, who is even better at guitar, helps Dom with production all the time, and then there’s EJ, who helps Jorge with all the creative direction and visuals and merch and stuff like that.

Can you tell me more about the Peach Tree Rascals origin story? I’m curious to know how you all met, and if or when you decided that making music together was a thing you wanted to do?

Jorge: We served in the Cuban militia together, that’s how we met. Shoot, I think I did my research wrong.

Tarrek: I actually had a dream that we all did that, so that’s not all the way false, but our origin story is kind of scattered. It wasn’t a thing where we all met and were like: alright, we’re going to be the Peach Tree Rascals. Me, Joseph, and Dom became friends eight years ago, in high school. Issac moved to our school his freshman year and he was on the basketball team and some of our friends were on the basketball team so we got connected and became friends. Since he was 12, Issac has been writing, recording, and releasing music on SoundCloud, posting videos on YouTube, and passing out CDs at school, so he’s kind of the origin for us because we didn’t have anyone creative in our friend group like that. So when we got introduced to him, that creativity and that option of being able to make music was very inspiring to us. But even then, it wasn’t like "we’re going to make music together," it was kind of like a domino effect. I was the first one to go to Isaac’s house and record a song and put it on SoundCloud. Then, slowly over the years, the inspiration hit Joseph, and he started playing guitar more and creating more of his own melodies. After graduating high school, it started to rub off on Dom, and he didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life, and he didn’t like studying in school and all that, so he gave it his 100%.

Dom: I was terrible at school.

Tarrek: Yeah, he was terrible at school, and he was terrible at everything.

Issac: Like, really bad.

Tarrek: Really bad, at everything.

Right, Dom is just the worst.

Tarrek: And he decided he wanted to produce and make music with us, and he went in, working 70-80 hours per week teaching himself how to produce. He knew how to play piano, so he took that little bit of knowledge and put in an insane amount of hours in the studio, which was his garage. And Issac and Dom one day were like "we’re gonna build a shed," and the shed that was built in Dom’s backyard became the main Peach Tree House, that was our main studio. The amount of hours we spent in that 10x10 shed that barely fit us, but was good enough, our best songs came out of there—"Mariposa," "Violet," "Someday,"—creating those songs, especially "Someday," was the moment where we were like "damn, we’re amazing, we can do this, we can see the future, we can hear the sound."

We worked three to four years before releasing our first song. After we got the sound down and some songs stacked up, Issac discovered Jorge’s art online through some mutual friends and messaged him and asked if he wanted to do some cover art for us, and Jorge really liked the song and sent us 10 different ideas for cover art, and said we didn’t have to pay him because he just really liked our direction. His mentality was the exact kind of mentality that aligned with ours, so Jorge immediately became creative director for PTR, and that was before we had the name.

And after we met Jorge, we had a week before our first song came out and we didn’t have a name for the group, and everyone was throwing names out, and Jorge ended up saying "Peach Tree Village" and Issac was like, “Village is stupid, let’s do rascals” because one day Dom was dancing in the shed and Issac was like “This guy’s a rascal.” And then we just kinda put it together. So yeah! Peach Tree Rascals origin story.

It seems like it all came together really organically, I love that. Today, you dropped your single "Let U Go!" Can you share a little bit on how the song came to be?

Issac: Alright, so we work with a writing/producing group and it was time to create a new batch of songs. This was probably, like, a year ago and they sent a bunch of ideas and "Let U Go" was one of them. It was automatically a stand-out. Everyone was like, “We’re gonna do this one, no matter what” and we just went in [to the studio] cut vocals and tried a bunch of verse ideas. I probably wrote, like, four verses, but it was all in the span of the year. We’d work on it, have a complete bounce of it, get feedback a month later, write the verses again, and that continued every three months for the whole year. We’d just always remember the song and it always stayed in our memory because we thought it was special.

Tarrek: "Let U Go" is honestly the first song we released where that was the process. Usually, everything starts with Dom or Jasper on the chords, but after our success with "Mariposa" and signing to a record label, we started having a lot more resources, a lot more people who want to work with us and send us ideas, and most of the time—all of the time—we’re very picky but this was one of those songs where our friends sent it over and we were like “Wow, this is a standout.” It took a while to get our verses right but it’s pretty much our attempt at making a big radio summer pop record with that intention. This whole project [the EP] is that kind of intention, trying to make the biggest pop songs and try and get that outside noise with entering the industry and gaining success.

Issac: I’d like to create a new genre for ourselves and call it ‘rascal pop,’ and that’s what "Let U Go" is.

Tarrek: "Let U Go" is us doing rascal pop because since the beginning we’ve never been strict about being a certain genre, all our music has always been based on feeling and if we like the song. If it feels good and sounds good to us, it doesn’t matter what genre it is from the last song we did. Once "Mariposa" went crazy and we signed to a label and got a team, it’s no longer just us in a shed making decisions. We have a whole bunch of opinions and noise coming in so this is our attempt at trying to do our thing, and make it sound like rascal pop, and quiet the noise to give ourselves that freedom to create whatever we want to create whenever we want to create because that is every creatives ultimate goal.

I think that’s awesome that you guys always do what you want to do. Like, I love your song "Popeye" with AG Club, but I also love "Mariposa." They’re very different melodically but they still carry the same PTR energy.

Tarrek: That stems from each of us having different musical backgrounds, different tastes in music, and putting it together. We all want to try and bring our inspirations out as much as we can and that’s just how it goes and it’s more fun like that. You’re not put into a box, and you get to be creative, and you get to feed all those creative sides. AG Club was amazing, we went to the studio, made like 12 songs, all of em’ are crazy.

Jasper: They’ll come out one day.

Tarrek: "Popeye" was the first thing we ever did with AG Club and I’m happy that it got to go out and people got to hear it. The response was amazing, even though it’s so much different than everything else.

It’s so good! When I heard it for the first time, I was like, “Ooh, I wasn’t expecting this,” but like, in the best possible way. On the topic of new music, soon enough, your forthcoming EP Does a Fish Know It’s Wet is on the horizon! In one word, describe how you feel.

Issac: My word is relieved.

Jasper: Hey, I was going to use that! Someone else go, I gotta think again.

Tarrek: One word?

Dom: Excited!

Jasper: That was my next word!

Jorge: Jubilus.

Jasper: Ecstatic.

Tarrek: Rascalpop, one word.

Does a Fish Know It’s Wet feels like a new era for you and your sound. Musically or non-musically, who or what were your inspirations for this project?

Tarrek: Our inspirations are never one, specific inspiration, we all have different tastes in music, different backgrounds: The Beatles, Frank Ocean, Chance the Rapper, Brittany Howard, John Mayer.

Dom: Kendrick Lamar.

Issac: Everybody!

Tarrek: We always try to bring all of our inspirations out no matter what the sound is or what song we’re working on.

Dom: Specifically for "Let U Go," the inspiration was "3 Nights" by Dominic Fike.

Tarrek: The inspiration behind the whole project is us trying to make rascal pop music as big as we can. We want it to take over the radio and have that moment. The title, Does a Fish Know It’s Wet, we are fish who are new in this big industry, which is the water, and all these waves are pushing us in different directions, and we don’t even know what’s happening but we’re trying to swim through it and make the best things possible. So that’s the inspiration behind the project and these songs.

I’m also really loving the aesthetics and creative direction of the EP. It’s so colorful, playful, and nostalgic while staying true to the PTR DIY mentality. What is it like to see your music come to life, visually? Do you have a certain creative process?

Jorge: I kinda don’t really have a plan for things, I work a lot based on feeling what things mean to me. If I really feel a certain way about a song or the soundscape or something I want the visuals to match that the best they can. It’s a really collaborative process with the guys because I want them to like the stuff I’m making too, you know? I want everyone feeling good about what we release and what we have and what shows off our branding and what people can see. We work together on it to find something we all like but yeah, it’s based a lot on feeling and nostalgia. Nostalgia’s a big one, I like when people feel like a little kid again when they see our stuff. There’s a certain kind of innocence to it that I really like.

I was definitely getting that vibe with the bright primary colors and the toy structures, I thought it was really fun! What has been your favorite moment or memory leading up to the EPs release?

Tarrek: We did a photoshoot where we built this giant cardboard house—the one on the cover, in the fishbowl, is the miniature version of it. And after we took all the pictures, we got to destroy the whole thing and tear it down. It was just a fun moment, tearing things apart, very on-brand for rascal activities.

Jorge: It’s always a lot of fun seeing the ideas come to life, especially in such a big way. 

Tarrek: I want to get more into doing stuff like that, creating worlds within worlds, that’s something we’re gonna get a lot more into.

Jorge: Yeah, something really great about this project is I had a lot of fun ideas for it. The music is a different thing for us, we’re trying to make something different than what we normally make, and we’re really proud of it and feel really good about it but the whole idea of being a fish in the water [in the industry] and not knowing how it’s affecting you or how you’re going to feel afterwards or how you even feel now. I’m just really happy with everything. Being a fish in a bowl and not really knowing what’s happening all around you, just hoping for the best.

I feel like that idea is applicable not only to someone who might be starting off in the industry, but also life at large, and figuring it all out, so definitely relatable for everyone. My last question: who are your Ones to Watch?

Issac: Lance Redeker. Jorge: I like Kehlani.

Tarrek: I like Babyxsosa a lot.

Issac: What about you Dom?

Dom: Kehlani and Dijon.

Tarrek: I love Bea right now, oh my god.

Issac: Yeah, Bea!

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