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Wednesday, February 20


MALOO is the electronic side project of Toronto musician Maylee Todd, but it is often billed to include The Wuar Wuars, referring to her backup dancers, siblings Jay and Charise Aragoza.

I have known Maylee for years; we have played together in my band The Adorables, and she was a regular fixture at my house/venue !059. She has, on more than one occasion, kicked me in the testicles. Through Maylee I recently met Jay and Charise; endlessly energetic Filipino homos who found their footing at Toronto's Inglenook alternative school, I declared them my "spirit animals" of 2013.

This interview is not about the music, the dancing or even about their collaborative artistic process really. I just wanted to try and capture even an inkling of what it feels like to hang out with this trio, an explosive combination that would energize even the "old goats", as Maylee would put it. The four of us climbed into Maylee's bed, aka "the sexuals room which is now the rave room". They reference a bunch of randos who I don't even know, and they can't focus on one topic for long, so if this interview bores you (TL DR) just go and see them perform live instead.

HENRI FABERGE So Maylee, you and Char have been friends for a while, correct?

MAYLEE TODD Sort of, we were acquaintances for a while, I really got to know Char through The Kapisanan Centre and the Clutch Program, I had a workshop there. I met Char and her friend Renelyn, and I asked you and Renelyn to do some backup dancing for my Toronto Island performances. As Jin and Puto (laughs). And then I was doing a bunch of stuff for my video Baby's Got It, and asked Char if she could help out on some of the shoots.

CHARISE ARAGOZA I think day one for this friendship was also the day I met you, Henri. On the island.

HF Oh yeah, on the nude beach. we were also shooting my video.

CA (laughs) I roll in to the nude beach, you are all getting drunk on wine already naked. It was awesome. Probably the best day of my summer.

JAY ARAGOZA I remember you telling me about that.

CA I remember coming home and being like, “and this happened, and she was naked and I saw her boobs, and I was just in my underwear.” Oh my god, so good.

MT And meeting Jay, let me remember...

JA The first time was with Abby, my friend who lives just over there...that was when I first found the taser.

MT That fucking taser!

HF The infamous taser! How well did you know Maylee at that point?

JA I think I met you a couple of times but it was just hi hi bye bye.

HF So the first time you hung out, you came to her house, found a taser, and starting tasing her?

MT No, tasing himself. And liking it. “ooh! ooh i like this.”

HF So this dynamic came about very organically, and immediately.

MT We all started working together on the video, I asked them to be my assistants for the studio shots, and then...

CA I wanted to do choreo for your song Hieroglyphics, and you asked me to get Jay in on it.

MT Then we started to hang out more, and Maloo stuff happened, I don't remember how that came about, but when we did that funny show at Lee's Palace it was suddenly all Maloo and the Wuar Wuars, where you guys got the pure credit.

HF they stole the credit?

JA It was BlogTO.

CA The reviewer thought we were the band, but we were just backup dancers, but the post talked about the siblings, and listed us as Maloo and the Wuar Wuars, which was all of a sudden the name of the band, apparently.

MT So that's how it all came about.

HF And how would you describe this dynamic now, between the three of you?

CA (laughs)  I don't even know where to begin! Jay, how can we describe it? Just...cray, and rage, lots of love.

HF Do you ever get the sense that Maylee is a decade older than you?

CA No, I’m not gonna lie. I mean, it's come up in conversation, but it's always just thrown into the back of my mind, its not a prominent factor.

HF You have similar party energies, but you two probably can't help but feel that you are absorbing her experience. She seems like an older sibling, the elder Wuar Wuar.

CA O.G. Wuar Wuar. Jay calls her 'ate', which is Tagalog for older sister.

HF Do you have a sense that the strength of the Filipino community has something to do with that? All three of you seem very well grounded, from an outside perspective the Filipino community seems very well established and supportive.

MT It's definitely growing. When I was young, I never had a Filipino crew except for the one or two friends, and family members.

HF So it wasn't as much a part of your experience growing up?

MT No, my circle of friends was all the minorities all stuck together, that's how it worked out. I grew up in a town that was mostly Italian... I was friends with a lot of Italians too, but all of the minorities definitely stuck together, and created their own scene.

CA We experienced a similar thing, I think it was mostly white Jewish people that we grew up with, not a solid Filipino crew.

HF You both went to Inglenook Alternative School, was that closer to Maylee's experience, a variety of ethnicities? or was that the white Jewish kids you’re talking about?

CA No, that was our childhood.  Going to Inglenook was a different thing entirely. I was the only Filipino there, but Inglenook was...i don't want to say gender blind, race blind, but almost like it was, you really didn't see those things, you saw people, characters, not necessarily who’s gay, who's straight, who's white, who's not.

MT You were saying it was more like the joke was, who is not gay?

CA Totally, you go into a collegiate and the question is, who is gay at this school? You go into Inglenook and the question is, who is straight? Because that's the minority. Bunch of queeros under one roof.

HF So Inglenook was a positive experience?

CA Absoultely. I felt a lot more free to be who I felt I was, and that person is still growing. Because prior to Inglenook I went to a collegiate and it was very white/conservative, and not a good environment for me to be learning and growing, just because their method of teaching is very traditional and standard and it wasn't something that I could go by. So going to Inglenook, it's a lot more liberal, and the very fact that they are open to queerness. they promote anti homophobia, anti sexism all of that, it's a safe environment, thats what's important. When you’re safe, you can be whoever you want. (laughs) Free bird!

HF Jay, have you and Char always been this close?

JA Well, we shared a room for 16 years. Now I sleep in your living room. (laughs)

CA I feel like I’ve always been very protective of Jay, in that brother sister relationship, but it wasn't until this year that we started going out and partying.

JA Well we used to, when we didn't have any friends.

HF Jay, where is your place in this dynamic, being the male spending all this time with these two females?

MT He has the most female energy in the room!

HF So are you just like three sisters? Or is gender not an issue?

JA I’ve seen it all, it doesn't really matter. You guys haven't seen me though. (laughs) I mean...I’m gay...

HF I know. I heard that Char outed you to your mom?

CA Oh god, it’s true. October 20, 2010.

HF Oh you remember the exact day? Was it bad?

JA No. Everyone knew.

CA Everyone felt relief.

HF So it was just that you hadn't gotten around to it yet.

CA Jay didn't have to out himself.

JA I did when I was like 4.

CA I think I was really unassuming. But my mom didn't expect it. With me it was like, when you don't have a boyfriend at age 17, they're like what is going on? But I had a girlfriend.

HF Maybe this is way off, but it feels like there are proportionally more gays in the Filipino community? Or is it just that they're more excepting or open about it?

MT It's weird, I think there are more gays and queeros in the Filipino community. There is a weird divide between the older generation who are very Catholic and not really accepting of it. But when I was growing up my aunt was gay, and always had girlfriends around the house. She was living with us at the time, and it was just a normal deal growing up, having a very butch aunt, cargo shorts and golf shirts. She looks like she works at Best Buy.

CA  That's the steeze for lesbians in the Philippines, and they don't even have a word for it.

JA Tomboy.

MT Which is such an old fashioned way of referring to lesbians.

HF I wanted to ask you all about this apartment, because it feels like...

MT Home base!? Oh my god, this bed is like, our bed, or den, that's why its so perfect. I was like, we have to take photos on this bed, because this is the bed.

HF Okay, describe one of your typical all night rager slumber parties, because I was invited to one, but then I couldn't stay up that late.

MT It usually consists of how many people can fit on this bed and actually sleep...

JA Five. One in the crevice, then one on the mascot. (points at a garish cartoon mascot made of foam slumped in the corner of the room)

MT Someone always passes out on the mascot.

HF Are they confessional sessions, or do you actually try to go to sleep?

MT Well first it's a lot of dancing, line dancing, different moves throughout the night...

CA All of our favourite songs, drinking everything that's in the house...some people still drinking in the morning...

MT Rave light is always going, til like 5 or 6 in the morning, it's light out, joggers are going by outside, and then someone always has to go to work in the morning. (they all laugh) Someone always has to work so early! It’s usually Jay. And for some reason I still always have so much energy in the morning, stoked up in the mornings, and then Seamus makes us breakfast.

JA I was never there for breakfast.

MT Yeah, he always misses it and later calls from work and does a check in. “What are you guys doing now?” Then after breakfast we all pile back in the bed.

CA Then we recap the night. A lot of recaps.

HF So this is just prep for the Maloo and Wuar Wuars tour. One hotel bed...

MT Single bed...

HF All three of you on a motorbike...

MT Thumbs up, all wearing 6 inch platform shoes. Okay Char I’m going to ask you a question, because when you come in you always sigh and say “ohhh I love this bed” and flop down onto the bed, what are you feeling?

CA I just have such attachment to it, so many good things happen on it, so many DNMs...

MT Deep and Meaningfuls...

CA It's cozy. And I helped put the bed here, getting the frame into this spot was like mission impossible, and then when it finally happened it was a huge celebration.

HF Do you feel like this crew is like a social mentorship?

CA Ya, but a very informal one though.

HF May, what kind of effect do these two have on you?

MT (laughs, jumps on J and C) You’re both loving this aren’t you!

CA Spit it out!

MT I actually talked to Jeff Garcia about this, and we were like (in a strange old lady voice) “the youth is so important, they give us such fresh ideas, they have the energy."  And here’s the other thing, I have such insane energy for my age, I don’t know anybody my age that can rage throughout the night. And these guys, they can rage forever like me! What’s the deal with that! The only other person I know who can rage on is Rina, who’s also Filipino. I don’t know if that’s just a Filipino thing, it’s in the blood.

JA We’re nocturnal.

MT Ya, like so much inner rage, we're just letting it out through dance.

CA I think when you’re surrounded by people who are just as excited, you feed off that.

MT Nice socks.
(they talk about their double sock and triple sock combos for a while)

 HF Do you three interchange wardrobes?

JA It's always just me trying to find something to wear for work the next morning.

MT You still owe me my backpack.

JA You still owe me my taser. (laughs)

HF (pointing to Maylee’s comically ripped jeans that are barely pants anymore) I see you still held on to these jams.

MT Even though you ripped them to shit on my birthday!

HF Was it? I feel like I had done that before then.

MT You’ve done that at Adorables shows, you ripped my pants in half. Not these ones, these I found in a ditch. I wear jean until it's dead.

CA Smell my hair. (they talk about hair smells for a while)

MT I feel like your guys’s crew, aka the entourage, is like the next generation of really amazing adults.

JA No.

MT Not to put a lot of pressure on you guys. There’s other people who roll in the entourage who you’ve met before. Harry, for example, makes really amazing music, for someone that age making future funk and hiphop...future beats is pretty much like boogie, but not like disco. I lent him a bunch of records, and hooked him up with my friend Cory to get him on a comp. He’s really talented.

HF What's his role in the entourage?

MT Aggressive and crazy?

CA Just a really good guy. Whips out his shlong a bit too much, but...

MT Renelyn wants to get into electronic music, which I think she is making with Arthur. She also holds these shows called Whole Hearted, it's a party zone but the vibe is more about sharing and showcasing people’s work who don't get out too much, and art and performance. She makes incredible jewelry too, Espada.

HF I have some Espada jewelry, I love it.

CA She was my Clutch sister at Kapisan. Clutch is an arts program, it’s totally free, it runs for 5 months. Maylee was a facilitator, which is how we got close.

JA And me and Renelyn went to the same school. Seamus, who is Harry’s best friend, and makes really good music as well.

MT And he’s an aspiring chef too. We all have a similar vibe. A lot of DNMs, a lot of dance parties. Love the entourage, show up to a gig and the crew’s all there. Then when we’re breaking down the gear...”harry! seamus! grab those cables! grab those heavy cases, we’re going to another party.”

CA I was going to make a joke about Jay performing as Maloo with just an iPad.

MT Ya right!

HF What, with the graphics facing the audience so it looks like her Tenori-On?

JA I have fantasies of pushing Maylee offstage. (laughs)

MT Why! Why why!

CA And then taking over! He acts out the fantasy, “and then at this part, I throw her off stage, and there’s no vocals, I'm just dancing!”

HF Do you have to stop yourself from pushing her when you’re performing a show?

JA Even in rehearsal too, I’m like “this is my solo. Out! My turn!” Oh god, every time. 

HF So you’re just going to lipsync? Or maybe you can convince her to crowdsurf, that way she’ll still be singing somewhere in the room, and you can have the stage to yourself.

CA (laughing) He’s seriously considering it now.

MT I’m going to bring the taser if you do that. Okay, the running deal with the taser is, this one (points to Jay) always rolls in, finds the taser, scares the shit out of everybody in the bed, fear washes over the whole crew, “no no no Jay Jay I’m sorry I’m sorry,” I don’t know if he’s ever actually tased anybody.

JA I tased Harry. But mostly I just tase myself.

MT And then he hides the taser in the weirdest zones, and so I’m like, great, now my protection for my home and my life and my body is gone. I always find it eventually. So now I’ve been hiding the taser.

HF So he has a secret masochistic side he’s hiding from you two. It might be a cry for help

JA I did like getting tased. Remember the time we tased Seamus while he was sleeping?

MT When he was passed out on the mascot. And he did not budge. 

CA Fatality level zero.

HF Do y’all have any differing tastes in music?

JA You don't really like my music.

CA I don't even know what its called.

JA Trap. I like a lot of hard electronic dance music too. Trap is a lot of really hard hiphop beats, I guess it’s been pretty mainstream, but recently its been meshing with EDM, so it's not with people rapping over it, it’s just the trap beat itself.

CA It’s just annoying, maybe when you play it I’m just not in the mood.

HF Okay, trap music, got it. Jay is like my living urban dictionary, from you I first found out what YOLO meant, twerking, ratchet...there was another one...


HF What’s that?

JA Pussy sucking lips. Or maybe it was PTFO, passed the fuck out.

HF Uh, no.

JA Flipper?

HF Are there any trends I should know about that only people under 25 are aware of?

MT Well, the rave is coming back strong.

HF The 90s in general, the tackiness of the 90s is somehow acceptable again.

JA I wish I was a club kid. Club kids in New York, that scene is coming back.

CA To be on EC? I would just die.

JA Like, the New York club kid scene is coming back. Flosstradamus, who are a really well known trap group, incorporates hard hip hop beats with heavy beats, which is cool.

MT I was definitely into the hip hop scene in high school, but I was also in the rave scene, so the crews I rolled with in the jungle scene was 187 Records, and then Dub Plate Special, we had matching jerseys. And some of our friends worked on Eastern Bloc on Adelaide, which was mostly jungle and house. That was my deal.

HF Did you similarly have friends who were a decade older, who shaped your development?

MT Totally, and age was not an issue. In the hiphop scene I was more of a soloist, but the rave scene was a huge thing with my crew in high school. We all had older sisters who were doing the house and break scene, before jungle was invented, and house turned into happy hardcore. It was all about sharing tapes. I still have a crate of old tapes.

JA You gave me some of those tapes.

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