By Monica Morones
Alex (Rezident) Lomeli and Jeffrey (Scoonz) Schoonover are real life rapping Pharmacy Technicians. Their outfits are not just props. Just this past year, the PharmTecs performed 42 shows and it was only their first year performing together as a duo. Barely into this year and already they have their next tour booked and merchandise ready to sell, determined to spread their message of positivity and their love of music. It’s always great to see artists work hard to make their dreams a reality and I have no doubt these two will achieve their goals.
MM: How old are you and where are you from?
R: I’m 26 years old and was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. Raised in Cathedral City since the age of 3.
S: I’m 25 years old. I was born in Palm Springs & raised in Cathedral City from Kindergarten on up!
MM: How did the both of you get into music?
R: I’ve been in love with hip hop since around the age of 7. My interest in making music was when I started writing poetry in middle school, around that time my cousin JR. Chokie Cholico, came down to visit from Yakima, Washington. He was part of an underground rap group named Stoned Kings. During his visit down here he wrote my little brother and I a song. I noticed it had a lot of rhymes like the poetry I would write, so from that came my interest with rhythm and rhyme. I was about 14 years old at the time and I’ve been at it since…now more serious than 12 years ago.
S: I’ve always been in love with hip-hop, and I’ve studied the game inside and out since I was 5 years old. I finally decided to start writing my own lyrics when I was 19 years old, after meeting Rezident at Kaplan College where we obtained our Pharm Tech licenses. He saw the passion I had for the music, & encouraged me to work on my own songs.
MM: When did you two meet and start making music together?
R & S: We met through Pharmacy Tech school at Kaplan In 2008. Jeff (Scoonz) was driving into the parking lot bumping Tech N9ne in his 1986 Nissan 200zx. Alex (Rezident) took notice to the music, baffled by hearing someone else playing Tech N9ne especially back then. I approached Scoonz and asked him how much he liked Tech N9ne. Scoonz began to recite Tech lyrics like no one I’ve ever heard. If you know anything about Tech you know he’s a speed demon on the mic! I asked Scoonz if he ever wrote music or rapped he said he never did. From that day on Scoonz got the spark that ignited my interest in writing my own music. As far as making music together we’ve been at it since late 2013. Performance wise we’ve been at it just shy of a year and a half, so it’s really something that was just almost meant to happen.
MM: How did you two come up with the name Pharmtecs?
R & S: We had gotten done recording a couple tracks at our producer Stone’s studio out in Arizona. As a lot of artist tend to do after recording sessions we sat and started chatting, almost always our conversations tend to be way out of the norm so we got to talking about our profession and how we feel. Of course without breaking Hipaa laws, Jeff and I are really actual living breathing 9-5 pharmacy technicians. Rezident being what I consider a live wire type character began talking, what I personally thought was nonsense and started talking about being called PharmTecs and wearing the get up he wears at work to our shows. The whole time Stone is excited and agreeing to it, I’m still in utter disbelief, the only thing I liked from it all was the subject matter of some record ideas. So after all this we went with it and gave it a try because we figured it can either make us or break us, no risk- no reward and I’m really happy it went well!
MM: What would you describe as your style?
R: I love to call it modern day hip hop, full of energy, upbeat positivity, and a real average Joe’s struggle all in one.
S: I always use one word strongly and that’s Diversity.
MM: What would you say is your biggest struggle as musicians?
R & S: The biggest struggle as a serious artist would be the financial end of it all. We’re still regular 9-5ers with mortgage, car notes and family. One thing we like to do is take full pride in what we do and try to get it as best as possible. Not a lot of artists understand that to be taken serious you have to take yourself serious first. Dreams never die but they never come true without a grind. I (Rezident) have a 7 month old baby and a wife and part of my struggle is time away from home and also devoting my time to my family when I have it. Same goes for both of us we still have a firm grip on family ties, and our time is basically devoted to 3 things, Work, Family, and music.
MM: What do you think of the music scene in the Coachella Valley?
R & S: Music as a whole in the Coachella Valley, to us, is actually doing well. It can be greater if we get the right exposure, we do have festivals here but not a lot of it is pushing the locals, especially in Hip Hop. As Hip Hop artists it’s sad to say but it feels like it’s not a priority. We feel that the rock and indie have more of an opportunity in the community. It feels that hip hop is highly stereo typed and frowned upon in the valley. Our mentality is that barriers can be broken. A big role in that is the musical content. We’re not saying go Gospel which we don’t mind, but if we could do more positive things with the music and shy away from the violent raps, and the generic rapper criteria, a lot more can be done. Hip Hop artists always carry big egos as well. It’s always about who claims to be the best, if they would just stop thinking about how they are looked at by their peers and actually make beneficial moves for their own careers it would be amazing. It doesn’t have to be a movement, but you would have to create something strong to where your own town would push for you. I mean we want it to be where the out of town people come catch hip hop shows out here just like we drive 2 + hours to catch shows in LA. All in all we love it but it could be better because there is immense talent here at home. If a Hip Hop label wanted to draft artists here in the valley to start up something great, they would have no problem at all. It’s all about getting the right exposure.
MM: You two have been making a solid effort creating a brand and providing merchandise for people to buy. How important do you think it is for musicians to have product out there to sell or giveaway for the fans and future fans?
R & S: One thing we learned from Tech N9ne is people are walking billboards. You have to create your brand with immense power. There is no way an artist can make it anywhere without leaving an impression. First you have to gain fans, and you gain them through music first. Second through your true personality, be a human when you meet these people. We aren’t gods, we’re real human beings. We stay humble and approachable. You have to give them what they ask for as well. We started with CDs, then shirts. They wanted hats, we made hats now they want hoodies, beanies, and tank tops, and guess what? We will deliver! We are all what we like to call Phamily! We are beginning to use #Pham on social media because that’s what we all want to feel like.
MM: You are about to go on tour with I Suppose in April. Tell me about that.
R & S: The tour with I Suppose we are going on is named the TRUTH TOUR. This is a CD release tour for I Suppose. To say we are excited would be an understatement! This is our second tour. We recently finished touring with J.Patron on his Puro Oro Tour. That was our first tour ever. That tour covered all of the valley. With I Suppose, we will be covering new grounds, which include the LA area, Arizona, Nevada and Utah, and also a stop here in our valley! For us the biggest opportunity for us is growth. We will gain new fans in different states and continue to grow in California. We are also excited to have our brand expand. We want the PharmTecs name to become a staple in the music scene, anything less than that means we have to keep breaking new ground, so this tour is a huge step for us in that direction.
MM: How do you keep such a positive attitude in such a cut throat business?
R & S: The music business is pretty cutthroat alright, but we are very level headed artists. We know we have a long road ahead of us and more struggles than triumphs. We keep our mind on where we want to go and stay as far away from negativity as possible. Our producer Stone, keeps a good eye on what we do, here’s a gold, and platinum producer who has been through the industry, and witnessed it through and through. He is not afraid to give us the real on anything he feels is harmful to what PharmTecs is planning on doing. It’s a true blessing having him as more than a producer as he will also hop in the mentor seat from time to time. The decisions we make always come from PharmTecs first. It helps that we can keep it real with each other. The grind we have been on is proof of the effort we have put in. We have no management so we have to learn as we go and it’s very rewarding to be on this journey in such way. This helps us not get deterred from our goals. The more we learn the best it is for us in the long run, and positivity always helps things move along much smoother.
MM: Where do you see the PharmTecs in 3 years?
R & S: In three years we see PharmTecs as a hip hop act with a strong following. Headlining national tours and becoming a house hold name for Hip Hop in general. Our fan base will have grown and our brand will be a common name. Our merch will go from a couple boxes in a guest room to at least a rented storage room with a couple racks full of merch ready to distribute. We will not be a mainstream act ran by A&Rs, we will be our own label, as independent as possible.
MM: What is the root of your inspiration?
R: The root of my inspiration used to be wanting to be like all my favorite rappers. After marriage and having my first born child, not one performance goes by where they aren’t on my mind. They are the reason for every move I make. I give it my all in every one of our performances, and I carry the same mentality when I record, simply because the time I spend away from my family to make music, could easily be family time for me. The feeling of making people smile during our shows and have them dance and sing along with us is also an extremely wonderful inspiring feeling. We have to always thank the people who take time out of their busy days and hard earned money just to rock with us, thanks to them we are going in the right direction.
S: My inspiration for making music? Well, while money isn’t everything, the financial aspect is definitely there. They say if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life, and to get to that point is my ultimate goal! Right now in my life, I’m on that “pursuit of happiness” so to speak. Nothing makes me happier than the music creating process. I have a creative mind that is always racing, and if I’m not being challenged than I’m probably bored. A regular 9-5 will NEVER suit me!
MM: Where can we hear your music?
Our music and merch and tour dates, can all be found under one domain…
All of our social media is under: PharmTecs
To listen to a lot more music go to www.Souncloud.com/PharmTecs
And to purchase the music you can find us on Spotify, iTunes, Amazon, Google Play.