By Morgan James
Easily one of the most well-rounded, multi-talented performers that I have been fortunate enough to have met, Marco Thoma is just breaking into the Coachella Valley rap scene and being recognized for his intense passion, yet playfully humorous lyrics. Recently placing 1st at the weekly CV Open Mic Competition at The Block Sports Bar & Grill and 3rd at Tiptoe Stallone’s rap battle at The Date Shed, Marco aka “System D” looks to future events like TDGAFAU 5 and the CV Weekly Showcase rap edition as a chance to continue to showcase his skills to broader audiences. “It’s an incredible feeling,” he states, “to finally get some cred and get asked for bookings in these upcoming shows.”
Humble beginnings led to a diverse musical background as Thoma learned to make due with instrumentation he could create himself including bucket/drums, harmonica, guitar, and using his vocals to both sing and rap. A songwriter and poet to boot, Marco also writes screenplays as he finds multiple avenues as his creative outlets. While Marco Thoma dreams of creating a big time career from his musical talents, the illustrious performer is enthralling fans in the wake of each and every show and bounding toward that goal with each passing day.
MJ: With as many musical genres that you’ve played and as many varied instrument, why is rap music seemingly fore fronting your career as of late?
MT: “While I am a multi-instrumentalist nowadays, my background is in rap. Back in the day we didn’t have instruments, we would just rap. I would make beats with whatever random objects I could find. When it was my turn to flow, I had to drum and spit at the same time. Those were my ‘training wheels’ I guess.”
MJ: Where does your rapper alias “System D” come from?
MT: “System D comes from the French ‘le systeme d’ which means ‘to improvise.’”
MJ: What are some of your hip hop influences?
MT: “My first influence was the movie “Slam,” a lesser known film about slam poetry. I rented it on VHS and never gave it back. That movie made me a poet. I still have it. Nowadays I like stuff that you can dance to and even just chill and listen to the lyrics. It really needs to be both. I believe in a balance between poetry and music.”
MJ: Tell me what it was like to take 3rd place at Tiptoe’s rap battle at the Date Shed last week?
MT: “Losing to William Randall was definitely alright by me. That guy is a beast. Cali Rou got second. The best part was when I drew Bino Sotello for my opponent in the first round. I’ve played at his events a lot, so it was fun to be up against a friend. I met a bunch of dope artists. Kate London killed it. Tiptoe helps out the artists around here for sure. I didn’t know some of the competition before that night, but I do now. There is so much talent here in the Coachella Valley.”
MJ: Where can our readers find you playing next?
MT: “I will be at Plan B on Thursday, December 1st for Bino Sotello’s TDGAFAU 5. This is a yearly celebration of the fact that no one cares about our music. I always have a good time at this, and always get free beer from Bino’s never ending pitchers. Then back to home base, Palm Desert, for The CV Music Showcase on Sunday, January 8th at The Hood where I will compete in front of a panel of judges once again.”
MJ: What are your goals for a career in rap music?
MT: “My goal is the same as every other rapper: to become rich and famous. We don’t get paid to play around town. We do it to try and grow a following. I drive by mansions every day on my way to work. I want one. It’s only human. Art is my only chance at that.”
MJ: Do you have any collaborations that you are planning with other artists?
MT: “I’m always open to that. Rap is the genre of collaboration. Derek Jordan Gregg pitched me an idea for a group and I was liking his improvised beats. Bino Sotello and I have some surprises in the works. I always drum for Nuclear Cowboys. What I would like to find is a rapper who can play “hot potato” and pass the flow back and forth real quick. I like those type of collabs.”
MJ: Where would be your dream venue to perform at?
MT: “So many. The Hollywood Bowl would be the top because I’ve seen a lot of my favorites there.”
MJ: While you are an incredible performer, you have a knack for writing and have just written a script for an upcoming short film currently in production. Would you like to mention that?
MT: “Of course, I will take this opportunity to shout out to a short film that I wrote called Prick since you are directing and acting in it, lol. Kate London and Alex Updike also have lead rolls and I just can’t wait to see how all these awesome artists interpret my story. And a big thanks to Jeannette who owns Plan B Live Entertainment and Cocktails for generously donating to the project and providing her bar as a location for one of the scenes. I seem to find nothing but love in the Coachella Valley. That’s why I stay here.”
(Photos by Morgan James)