Photo: Recording Academy
LaTocha Talks Xscap3 Reunion, '90s Fashion, Dream Collab With Bruno Mars & More
You probably know LaTocha from the path-paving '90s R&B girl group Xscape. Two decades after releasing their third album in 1998, Traces of My Lipstick, three out of four of the vocal powerhouses reunited as Xscap3, with a punchy EP, Here For It. From then until now, LaTocha and her groupmates have been a part of Jermaine Dupri's iconic So So Def label and, along with Dupri himself, a deeply important part of Atlanta's musical fabric.
LaTocha recently stopped by the Recording Academy headquarters for our latest episode of Up Close & Personal to talk about the reunion, look back at Xscape's Dupri-styled '90s looks, inspiring the next generation of artists and more. You can watch the video above and read the full interview below. You can also visit on our YouTube page for a longer version of the video, as well as for other recent Up Close & Personal episodes.
Xscap3 reunited and released an EP last year, Here For It. How did it feel to be working on a project together again?
It was amazing, just us getting back together again. Everybody kept saying, "When is Xscap3 coming back together?" It took a minute for us to mature, and then we got it. We just found out what life was like outside of the group and when we came back it was amazing. We all kind of put our leadership hats on, whether it was the styling that Tiny loved to do, whether it was putting the show together, which is something I love, whether it was a musical part, which is something that Kandi loves and whether it was just being crazy like my sister is, Tamika.
So we kind of just brought those elements that made us who we were back to the table again. And recording was something different. We actually did six songs in six days. And that was actually during the time we were doing rehearsals for the tour.
So we would go to rehearsals and then we would come back from rehearsals and then we would go to the studio. And so what we found out was that we still had it, and we still had a love for it. I think anytime you have a love for something you have to continue to keep that passion and that drive going. And we never really stopped. But just coming together with like that sisterhood. How you've been apart from your sisters for so long and you come back together, it's like, we just kind of went in where we left off at. We shared stories about our children and things like that. But it was amazing just to get with these girls, to start writing again and being back in the studio and in our element. So it was good.
'90s nostalgia in both fashion and music is real right now. How does it feel when you look back on the videos and fashion that you and Xscape rocked back in the day?
When I look back on the outfits that we used to wear I'm like, "Oh my gosh, who put those outfits on us?" But we were actually dressed back in the day by Jermaine [Dupri]. And so we had a lot of baggy outfits on, and I think the thing is he wanted to make sure that people paid attention to our vocals and not so much of what we were wearing. But when I look back at those pictures, I'm like, really? Really, Jermaine? But it worked. The whole thing that he was trying to accomplish by allowing our vocals to speak and that soulfulness that we had to kind of be displayed more so than the clothes, and when my son looks back at it, he's like, okay, the colors, but the colors are actually coming back. So people are kind of bringing that old style back. And not just that, they're sampling our music. So it feels good to still be recognized even today.
What do you think Xscap3 2020 looks and feels like?
Xscap3 2020 looks and feels great. We are coming back to do another tour. We actually toured two years ago. We did 30 cities and every arena was sold out. Just meaning that, people still love us. And so I think 2020 looks really good. A lot of us are acting. I put on an author cap, I've just finished my book. Everybody's kind of just finding their niche outside of the group still. And I think when we come back, we're gonna add all those things that we kind of brought individually into this thing. You're going to see movies from us, more music and tours from Xscap3 and just motherhood and sisterhood from the group.
Do you have anyone you'd love to collaborate with?
There are a couple of people on my wishlist, but I'll start with the name at the top, Bruno Mars. He is such a phenomenal performer. I love the way that he meshes the '90s sound with today's sound. He just kind of puts himself in it and his shows are ridiculous. I love him as an artist and just what he represents as a whole. Also, I've always said Justin Timberlake, because he's always kept his ear to the street, and I love the way that he's able to infuse the things that he does, whether it's dancing or just being able to go to the next level.
What do you think is the biggest benefit—and challenge—of working on solo projects versus ones as part of a group?
When you work in the studio with a group, everybody knows their parts and their role in the group. You have a situation where you're not always the one in the lead so you can kind of rely on them when you just feel like, "Okay, well you guys go in now," and you get a minute to yourself.
When you're doing it as a solo artist, you have to do all the background parts, everything. And so you don't have that fall back. It is kind of like just riding a bike by yourself. You know, you're looking over your shoulders like, "I'm doing it, I'm doing it." Just being able to do what I love, at the same time, knowing that my sisters aren't there. So it kind of makes me a little bit more confident in who I am because I know I have to push through and then it allows me to know that I can do this still on my own.
What's your biggest goal as an artist, and what do you hope that your legacy would be?
That's a good question. I still have goals. I set goals every day. One of my goals is, I want to give back because I know when you've been kind of blessed to be able to do the things that you love to do. I see myself sitting on the other side sometimes, saying, "This is what I've always wanted to do," but there was a time when I was like, "How do I get in the business? How do I learn? What do you do?" So I want to be that liaison for people to say, "Hey," even if you go on my DM's, "Hey, how do you do this?" I want to be able to give advice because it's very hard to find that these days. You can go online and you can upload stuff, but sometimes you just don't know what to do when you need that extra person to say, "Hey, this is what you do. These are the, the role that you take. These are the people that you talk to."
I had a young girl earlier ask, "I want to sing, but I want to sign a deal." And I was like, "Just be very careful when you sign in deals because you can allow yourself to be caught up in a situation where somebody else may want to sign you, but they can't because you've been locked in this deal for like seven years." So just being able to give good advice and for people to say, "Oh, this is what you're supposed to do," because it's easy to go down the wrong road, and if you take advice from anybody, sometimes you just don't know. But I've been in it for so long, 25 years to be exact. I want to be able to be a blessing to someone else, just giving advice, giving love and encouragement. So, I know I want my legacy to be just that, that I've helped someone in some way, whether it's musically or encouraging them in some way or form.
In your experience working with the students with GRAMMY Camp, was there a moment that really stood out to you?
What kind of stuck with me from GRAMMY Camp was, working with some of the smaller, younger children. It was amazing to see that they knew who Xscape was and the music because their parents had introduced them to it. And they would ask good questions, some questions I hadn't even heard before. And they don't have a filter.
Kids are so genuine, their spirits are so connecting. So they were able to say, "Hey, how much money do you make?" which was so funny to hear. But that was a really fun side of being part of GRAMMY Camp, seeing the children there and just seeing their faces when I was expressing myself. It was like, "You going to sing something?" And I was like, "Yeah, I'll sing." One little girl got up and danced, so it was really good to see children in their element and to see that we have a future ahead of us and for them too.
Do you think it's important for artists to use their platform to highlight issues or causes that are important to them?
They say that to whom much is given, much is required, and when you have a platform, I think that is important for you to share information that you feel necessary for people to get it. So many times people keep information in, like, "I just want it for myself." And I think when you have a platform and you're able to connect with people in more ways than just maybe singing or writing a song, I think that's very important. I think it's important when you use a platform to use it very cautiously, but to know that that it is available to use.
"It's not so much as somebody saying, 'You can do it,' it's how you feel about it from within."
What would be your biggest piece of advice for young people who are looking to get in the music business but don't know where to start?
When you're trying to get into the music industry, you have to be relentless. You have to really understand who you are, hone in on your craft and know what it is. It's not so much as somebody saying, "You can do it," it's how you feel about it from within. So many of us, we're not confident in ourselves, so we look to other people for stuff, but I will never do that. I also would tell them to never allow anybody's negative opinion to become their reality. A lot of times somebody will put something on you, but that's just not who you are. So don't accept it. Don't absorb it in your system. Just know that everything that you want to come, that's great energy. You have to know that great energy. I don't put on any bad energy, so I just block it out.
So just don't listen to people when they have negative comments. And don't let that be your destiny because you're beautiful. You're made more than that to be bigger than that.