Get To Know Paco [Interview]

Brooks Finby
Photo Credits: Angel Orozco

Paco has got the sauce—and no, I’m talking about the vodka pasta he chefed up with the 3M crew for his latest release. “3MTILLIDIE” oozes laid-back confidence, amplified by the wavy production that he refers to as a “swaggy ass beat.” Raised in St. Louis, Paco is a twenty-two-year-old Mexican-American artist seeking to pave the way for fellow first-gen creatives. His sound can be described in broad strokes as Latin funk wave pop, but it’s an ever-evolving blend of genres. Like his close collaborator Tommy Richman, whose single “MILLION DOLLAR BABY” recently became the #1 song in the world, Paco’s music feels fresh yet nostalgic, mixing funk, pop, and rap into an addictively catchy combination. The wave 3M is creating is a team effort made possible by the talent of producers Jonah Roy, Kavi, and Max Vossberg. I spoke* with Paco via Zoom to dig deeper into his sonic style, artistic inspirations, and love for saunas and steam rooms.

*This article has been edited for length and clarity.

How do you feel now that “3MTILLIDIE” has dropped? How long did you have the track in waiting to be released?

That song was only made three weeks ago. Kavi, Max, and I were cooking up at my crib. It was just a random one-off, but they made this swaggy ass beat so I had to slide on it. I didn’t think anything of it. I wasn’t like, “Yo, this is the one!” Genuinely, I put no thought into that song. It was pure feeling, you know? But when I played it around to some other people, they were like, “This is crazyyy.” 

The beat is magnetic, it draws you in to want to groove. It’s got that bounce!

Yeah, it’s so swaggy. It’s got that Lou bounce, man, that Lou bounce.

Speaking of that, you mentioned on the track that this is for the Lou. Could you put me on to the culture of St. Louis and what it means to you?

St. Louis is such a small big city. There’s not really a specific sound in St. Louis. It’s more so about being different from what the current wave is. That’s damn near what St. Louis music is about. Look at Smino, he’s got such a different sound from all the other rappers. SZA is bending R&B and pop. So many other goats too, like Metro Boomin. I don’t know if there’s a specific sound from St. Louis. It’s more so bending genres and creating a new sound in your own little way. Shoutout St. Louis.

You’ve previously described your music as “Latin funk wave pop.” Would you still say that’s accurate or has your sound evolved into something new?

I’d say that’s the general idea, but I don’t necessarily think I have a set genre right now. I’m about to start rolling out these two-packs, and they’re each their own little world. It’s a mix of lots of different musical elements and influences. I still describe my music as Latin funk wave pop, just to give the broader idea of sorts, but I don’t want to put an actual, definitive name on it.

Yeah, I think genre is becoming more and more irrelevant in how we talk about music. With streaming, everyone is listening to everything and all these different sounds blend together in pretty exciting ways.

For sure. That’s real. 

Tell me more about 3M. Is it the title of your next project or something you’re manifesting? What’s the meaning behind it?

Shit man, it’s a mentality. There’s not really a deeper meaning behind it. It just sounds hard. It’s 3M, you know. My boy Kavi started saying it about a month ago and we all just rolled with it. 

Who all is “we”?

It’s the five of us. The founding fathers: Max Vossberg, Tommy Richman, Jonah Roy, Kavi, and me. And Josh Belvedere too. He shoots everything. All the VHS content you see from me and Tommy, that’s him. 

Speaking of Tommy, what’s it been like to see him blow up? You guys have been close collaborators for a while now. He went from being relatively underground to getting signed by Brent to having the #1 song in the world in only a year.

Yeah man, that’s my brother. Genuinely. I’m so proud of him. And the whole team too. It’s a team effort. We’ve been in this shit for a minute. We knew this would happen, not just for him, but for all of us. We’re all growing and continuing to progress. I think it’s so funny when people think we’re industry plants. Like bro, we’ve been going at this shit all together for three years.

Yeah, I found Tommy’s music a while back. The first track I heard from him was Bankroll or Preroll, something like that.

Bunker/Preroll? That’s a good one.

Yeah, that’s it. It sounded so different from everything else.

All of us are crafting our individual sounds. We’re not all under one genre, you know. We’re each paving our own way, together. We’re family. It’s pretty amazing.

Are you building toward an album? What’s next for you?

Yeah, so after this song, I have three two-packs that I want to release each month. While I’m rolling that out, I’m also working on an album right now. I’m shooting for ten really good songs. Straight heaters, MJ Thriller-type shit. 

Who are your biggest influences in terms of sound and style? Who do you draw from?

Right now, what I listen to is very different from what I draw influence from when I make music. I’ve been listening to a lot of rap recently, like BashfortheWorld and Larry June. Swag rap, I call it. For genuine influences when I make music, it’s MJ, Prince, and some Mexican greats like Ruiz Miguel and Juan Gabriel. They’re my goats. I also love Rosalía and the Weeknd too. 

Now for some more fun questions, what’s your go-to stress reliever? What activity brings you joy?

I like going to the gym and hitting the sauna and steam room. Man, when I do that, everything goes away. Sauna and steam room is a crazy combo, you gotta hit that.

Bro, I love that eucalyptus spray they have sometimes. And the air is so hot that it forces me to focus on my breathing, so I get into this meditative state of breath work. 

Yes! That’s what I’m saying, man. Especially after a silly night, you go to the sauna and steam room. Sweat that shit out. Then you’re golden for the day. 

I haven’t tried that as a hangover cure. 

Bro, it is the best! You might feel like hell at first, but you sweat all of it out. Try it next time.

Bet. Okay, what movie has impacted you the most and why?

Damn, that’s a good one. Hmm. The first movie that popped into my head is La La Land, but I don’t want that to be my final answer. La La Land is a great one though, people hate on it too much. I am a sucker for cheesy rom-coms. It broke my heart too! At the end of the movie—sorry for spoilers if you haven’t seen it—you really think they’ll get back together, but they just move on with their lives. That’s some real-life shit! You know what, I’m going to stick with my answer: La La Land

I like that you came around on La La Land in real-time while answering that question. Damien Chazelle is such a talented director. Whiplash is incredible too. Okay, now I want to know what’s your go-to dish to cook for friends or on a date? What do you chef up?

Yesterday, for my release, we had a family dinner—not my actual family, but the 3M family—we made vodka pasta. It’s Max’s recipe, and he’s the goat at making it. Bro, it’s the most angelic pasta you’ll ever eat. It never misses, it never misses! And if it’s me cooking personally, then I’d say cactus tacos. I know it sounds kinda crazy, but it’s such a great substitution for meat if you’re vegetarian or vegan. Anybody can eat it, and you’re still getting the goods. Once you have a bite, you’ll get it. You’ll be like, “Mmm, okay, I see what I’m missing out on.

I don’t think I’ve ever had cactus before.

You gotta try it. Next time, when you’re in LA in September, we’ll cook the cactus tacos.

Hell yeah, I’ll hold you to that. Are there any local restaurants you want to shout out?

Tacos Villa. I literally just went there today. It’s one of the cheapest spots you’ll find out here in LA. It’s not the best, but it’s very good. I’m a first-gen Mexican, so it’s the most homemade-feeling food you’ll get. It feels like it was made with love. I like that.

Do you think being first-gen has influenced your music or how you carry yourself as an artist? 

It has definitely impacted how I do and view things. Anytime I do something in Spanish on a track, I think about how my family will understand what I’m saying. A lot of my family members don’t speak English, so they don’t know what I’m saying half the time in my music. But when I do anything in Spanish, it’s a big deal. They’re going to listen to it differently. So that’s always been a goal of mine, to make bilingual music in a way that feels comfortable and natural. I never want to cross that line to where it becomes corny. I see a lot of Latino artists forcing the bilingual thing in a way that’s unnatural, you know what I’m saying? For me, if I’m going to do it, it has to flow. 

I do all this for other first-gen artists. Growing up, I didn’t really have anybody like that to look up to. My parents didn’t have any reference for what I wanted to do. No one to point where it’s like, “If they can do it, you can too.” So I want to put on for everybody who is first-gen, not just musically, but whatever it is creatively they want to do.

Do you take inspiration from Omar Apollo in how he makes bilingual music?

For sure! Omar is a big inspiration, but back when I was in high school, he wasn’t anywhere close to the level he is at now. Cuco was kinda having his moment at the time, but there wasn’t really anyone I could show my parents to explain to them what I wanted to do. So I want to set that example. Be that light for first-gen artists and inspire whoever needs it. 

I love that, man. Finally, are there any artists you want to shout out?

His name is kinda hard to pronounce, but Rsieh Raxan. I’ll send you a link to his stuff. He’s too fire, truly a one-of-one. We tapped in with him recently in the studio. His unreleased shit is insane.

Listen to “3MTILLIDIE” by Paco, available now on all streaming platforms.

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