Josh Torrez is an actor and musician who studied acting at DePaul University in Chicago. After graduating he went from Cape Cod to New York City to California, where he is now. Torrez was tired of playing stereotypical negative roles and hopes to project a positive image in his acting moving forward. Mechanical Dummy sat down with Torrez to discuss his multitude of talents and his career experiences up to this point.
Words by N.Sella
Mechanical Dummy: Are your music and acting careers intertwined in any way? Is it a situation where you are multitalented, or is one the ultimate goal and the other just something you are doing on the side?
Josh Torrez: I actually like to separate the two so I can get respect in both lanes. The music is a little more dear to me just because it’s all coming from me. It’s my voice, my story, and my experiences. Which is why I’ve kind of revamped my acting career, if you look at my reel I’ve played stereotypical negative roles. Roles that I don’t want to depict, and that’s kind of all that they’re pushing and it makes me concerned. They are a lot of different facets to life and people that look like me don’t always cater to that lifestyle. So the fact that I keep getting cast in these roles is very concerning to me and I can’t co-sign them anymore. I’d rather focus working with like-minded individual like myself and produce our own work rather than play the game and go through the gatekeepers.
MD: So was that the final straw and are you trying to set everything up by yourself? What’s your ultimate goal with everything?
JT: Independent is definitely the route, but at the end of the day it’s all about community. You can’t do everything alone. I don’t mind working with professionals in the industry at all, what I do mind if it’s only in that lane, drug dealer rapper, I can’t do that anymore. My ultimate goal is to create a whole new vibe, a whole new thing. It’s indicative throughout the entertainment industry, the music is very electronic and cerebral; I’m trying to bring it back to that soulful era where you felt the music inside rather than in the mind. Where the focus was less on the club scene but still a celebratory vibe of people coming together and dancing and just vibing out to some good music with live instrumentation.
MD: So has live music been a big part of your career? Do you play instruments or is that just how you like to perform?
JT: I play guitar, piano, a little bit of drums, bass and I write, produce and arrange all my compositions.
MD: What kind of stuff are you touching on in your newer music?
JT: For my personal music, aside from 8 Track because that is a very different project that has a commercial appeal. Mine is mainly soul, more instrumental melodic route. Lyrically content is based of my life experiences. I like to focus on the musicality because I know that’s what people are drawn to and attracted to most, and it’s the initial connection. Then after that I layer in the lyrics and vocals. I like to focus on lyrics of substance and a splash of poetry in it. To me music is poetry set to musicality. I like to play with different types of music and I don’t like to hold myself to one lane. It’s also in my content, I’ll go from something political to emotional to fun. I like to switch it up, but I don’t lie on my music. It shouldn’t have something I haven’t lived.
MD: That goes along with you moving away from the roles you’ve been playing when you’re acting. What is your dream role or roles you think people of color should be playing.
JT: I would love to do like a martial arts film; I admire the roles that Will Smith has taken and Jamie Foxx. You don’t really see them playing stereotypical roles. I’d like do peaceful living, but don’t get me wrong the roles I’ve played, they exist. A romantic comedy is fine with me, an action film is fine with me, and existential films are fine with me, as long as I dig the content and the story.
MD: What kind of environment do you want and like when acting?
JT: My experiences were not negative by any means. They were standard and professional. Big budgets are always nice because you can do more things and have access to resources, but I don’t mind independent at all. Some of the good meat and bones stuff is coming out of independent studios. Like Beast of The Southern Wild.
MD: What else have you been watching and listening to? What in current culture inspires you?
JT: I’ve been listening to that Distant Relatives project with Nas and Damien Marley. I dig the production and lyrical content. They are two very talented individuals. I listen to a lot of old school music, Sly and The Family Stone and Prince for example. I work a lot on myself so usually I’m listening to whom I’m collaborating with or new people, people may not know about yet. That’s kind of what I’ve been into.