Mahogany Purple Makes Music Through the Internet After Half the Band Moves Away

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Mahogany Purple
Photo by Steph Estrada
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Breaking up is hard to do. So when three of Mahogany Purple's six members moved away from Miami, the band was left with a choice that lovers typically face: Break up or commit to a long-distance relationship.

Since May, lead singer/guitarist Gabe Garcia and trumpeter Julian Cabrera have been in Boston, where they're both studying at the Berklee College of Music. Bassist Gabriel Coto has been working in Portland since September. But so far, the band is proving that long-distance relationships can work.

As in any relationship, communication is key. Now that half the group is living in other states, the bandmates make sure to keep in touch constantly and meet online at least once a week.

"It's a lot of online communication — being attentive to texts, WhatsApp, and FaceTime," says drummer Toussaint Lewis, one of three Mahogany Purple members, along with guitarist Al Marmolejo and trombonist Alam Monsivaiz, who remained in Miami.

All of them have iPhones, which makes things a bit easier. "We meet up with each other, have group meetings on FaceTime, make sure we're all attentive to the monitors, and make sure we're all on the same page," Lewis says. Although their new mode of communication and getting things done can require more steps, having to block out time to meet online helps the band stay focused compared to meeting in person with time to goof off. 

Considering the constant online communication and the new method they use to record their music, the group now dubs itself an "internet band." Without the internet, Mahogany Purple wouldn't be able to endure.

Most of their recent EP Late to the Party was recorded in Miami, but the three members had moved away before it could be finished.

"It was a lot of sending files back and forth, and any small, subtle changes we could record in our respective studios," Lewis says. If Gabriel Coto in Portland wants to make a change to his bass part, for instance, he tracks it himself and sends the file to his bandmates. Once they all approve the change, they hand it to their producer, who mixes and masters it into the song.

The band is known for its live series, Mahogany Purple Presents, which showcases local bands from Kendall. In July, as a last hurrah before becoming fully inter-coastal, the group threw a huge show at the Gold Coast Railroad Museum featuring Mustard Service and Cannibal Kids.

"We're very, very lucky that people seem to want these shows, and we're happy to provide," Lewis says, adding that the group intends to keep Mahogany Purple Presents alive by hosting installments whenever Garcia and Carbera get a break from their studies at Berklee and when Coto can make it in from the West Coast.

With life in the way and many states in between, the bandmates don't have plans to tour just yet. For now, they'll concentrate their efforts on recording via the internet.

"Where there's a will, there's a way," says Lewis, quoting a mantra that defines the band's dedication.

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