New Hire: A Q+A with Jackie Westfall, Marmoset Music Supervisor

We're thrilled to welcome avid mixtape maker, cat-lover and unabashed early catalog Pearl Jam fan, Jackie Westfall, as a Music Supervisor on the Marmoset team.

Having cut her teeth at her college’s local radio station, as a rock reporter for a local magazine and as a record store manager, it was only a matter of time before Jackie fell into music supervision. Before landing at Marmoset, she worked as a music coordinator at the music supervision company, Walker, for a year -- where she helped license for two Noah Baumbach films (While We’re Young and Mistress America) and pitched on a variety of projects. Following this, she became a Program Specialist for MyMusicRx, a program of Children’s Cancer Association focused on delivering joy and music medicine to the kids and teens who need it most.

We chatted with Jackie about her past experience, her favorite part of music supervision, and what song she would choose if she could only listen to one song forever. Enjoy and if you see her around the studio, make sure to say hello and give her a high five!


Tell us about some of your past experience. When did you know you wanted to be a music supervisor? Why?

In my very small, rural high school, we had a low-rent TV network that we produced footage for a daily morning newscast. Each student was supposed to take a position for 2 weeks and then switch. There was someone who did camera, another who was an on-air anchor, someone behind the scenes, someone who edited and someone who did music. I only did music and editing and refused to switch with anyone. I got temporarily banned for playing Nine Inch Nails’ “Head Like a Hole” over the airwaves. I was punished by being made to be an on-air anchor.

I also used to manage a record store, so I became fluent in matching customers with new music they might be down to try out, learning to talk that language, and asking the right questions to get someone into something new and cool.

At Walker, I did freelance music licensing for them. I worked on the last two Noah Baumbach movies. And then for 5 plus years, I worked on a music medicine program called MyMusicRx. As part of that role, I would fly to different music festivals and interview musicians about what songs cheered them up when they needed it the most. They would play their own songs or covers. My favorites were with Angel Olsen, Ryan Adams and Patti Smith. (Note: Please forgive the lower quality of the videos and sound, it was definitely done on a non-profit budget.)

What’s one past project you’re most proud of? Why?

I’m most proud of starting my own mixtape blog: Mixtapery. It was 2009, and I was briefly unemployed and needed something to structure my day, so I started making soundtracks for films that didn’t exist. I taught myself GarageBand, since I was used to making cassettes, not digital mixes. It got me thinking in themes and with a constraint of time, like 90 minutes, or 60 minutes. I had all the time in the world to work on it, but I would try to make one a month. I’m horrible at self promoting so I was anonymous for a long time. I just like doing it for my own delight. Nerd delight.

What’s your favorite part of music supervision?

Landing a spot with the wild card. The client gives you the brief and you pitch down the middle, but then you throw one in there that is really killer and different. And they trust you and they go with that dark horse.

Do you have a favorite moment is supervision in film or TV? What is it?

That’s like going to the grocery store when you’re hungry. It’s such a stereotypical answer, but it’s in The Royal Tenenbaums when Margo goes into the tent with Richie and there’s the little Playschool record player and they played “She Smiled Sweetly” and “Ruby Tuesday,” both by The Rolling Stones. I love that moment, I think it’s so beautiful.

If you could only listen to one song forever, what would it be?

It would be Arthur Russell, “Being It.” It’s been said that Arthur Russell made Buddhist Bubble Gum music and I couldn’t think of a better song to ponder existence to.

What’s something that has recently impacted you?

Solange’s Portland show. It’s her performance art and music laying bare her experience as a black woman in America. It was intense and emotional being let into her world and I feel changed for it.

What is your imaginary animal friend?

A baby elephant walking in the wrong direction.

Posted on June 6, 2017 .

Artist Spotlight: Propaganda

Los Angeles-based hip-hop artist, Propaganda, believes in enjoying work. That fact is not hard to see when looking over his incredible breadth of experience -- time as a high school teacher, a poet, and of course, as a musician, where he has released five LPs covering topics ranging from race, politics, faith and education.

We caught up with Propaganda to chat about what makes a successful collaboration, making art in community, and his new album, Crooked, out on June 30th. 


Marmoset: When did you start making music and was there a certain moment that you can think of when you were like, "I'm going to make music"?

Propaganda: No, music for me, specifically, it was like... I guess it was like skateboarding for every other kid, where it's like, "Yeah, we all ride skateboards,” but nobody thinks about going pro.

You do it because you do it. Writing raps... it's just fun. I was getting in the battles and free-styling. This  started when I was a freshman in high school. It wasn't until the beginning of college that opportunities arose that caused me to start taking it serious. I finished school. I have a master's in education and I was teaching high school for a while. I was moving into the workforce, but in the middle of that, I happened to land a record deal...  I was part of a group called Tunnel Rats in the early days. They brokered a deal for me for a solo record. I still kept teaching until the moment came to where... either you're going to do this or not do it. I haven't gone back since.

Thinking of your time as a teacher, can you tell me a little bit about that and do you ever find that there's a connection to the work you did then to the work you do now? Does it inform your music?

Yeah, absolutely. It totally informs my music, my worldview, who I'm talking to and why I'm talking to them. I pull from so much of that experience. The school I taught at was super innovative. It was a public charter school for the arts in Pomona, California -- very diverse with a high Latino population.

The last record, the song "Bored of Education" was directly pulled from my time as a high school teacher. The people mentioned in there are real. I didn't make them up! Those are real humans. At the end of the same record, in "Tell Me Yours," there's a section of that and some of the names are my students. They're adults now but, yeah, they softened my heart and fortified my resolve in so many ways.

I was reading through your artist bio and one of the lines in there says that you have LA flowing through your veins. Do you feel like growing up and living in LA has influenced your songwriting?

Yeah. First of all, I know that's just a corny line, but it's very true. That city gets stitched into your DNA. I do believe that if you cut me open, Pacific Ocean saltwater is going to come out.

Is there anything that you go to for inspiration or anything you find that really influences you?

I think most of it is more just culture-watching. I feel like I'm more of a sociologist because of my music, being a romantic or anything. I watch culture so closely, I watch trends, I try to understand them. I try to understand the psyche of people around me and turn that into music.

Your music covers a pretty wide range of topics and some of them are pretty serious, some pretty intense topics like politics and race and faith and all of that. Why are those things that you bring into your music?

Because it's part of the life I live and I feel like we have a duty to the times. I feel like I would be telling an incomplete story if I didn't.

You've collaborated with a number of artists and producers over the course of your career. What does successful collaboration look like to you? Do you prefer to collaborate with others or do you prefer to work on your own?

I think collaboration is necessary. I think art should be made in community. Everybody's process is different, but I feel like at some point you have to bring the community in.  I believe that open minds are important, buddies that can tell you, like, "Hey, this sounds whack." I feel like you need that.

In that sense, collaboration is super important. As far as features... I think a lot of that has to do with knowing what you're good at and what you're not good at. And for me, it's very important to play to my strengths and then I know... if there was a way that I could bring others in and allow those to fill those gaps for my weaknesses.

I think scenarios that come out of friendships also -- if we're already buddies, then the collaboration oftentimes just comes out of us enjoying each other. To me, those are the best scenarios.

Leading into that, I don't know if this is still true, but I was reading an interview with you from last year and you mentioned that you worked with Beautiful Eulogy a lot and they produced some of your records... but this time you’re adding in new producers. Did that happen for this new album?

Yeah, it did. We brought in Daniel Steel, who's worked with us often. Derek from a group called... from the group I started with called The Tunnel Rats, which is really cool because it felt like a homecoming. Omega Watts is another good friend of ours. Courtney Orlando... I know him as J.R. He did a few things for me, too. So yeah, we definitely diversified this time.

That's awesome. Why did you want to do that?

Well, I didn't want to get in a rut. Over the years, I've made so many friends with such talented people and it's like, man, at some point... I wanted to see what working with these other people would bring out of me, because the Beautiful Eulogy sound, I know what it pulls out of me. Let's see what else, you know what I'm saying?

On the same thread of the new album, can you tell me a little bit about it?

Yeah, so the overall idea is you have crooked people -- like, I'm a broken man among broken people with crooked relationships inside of a broken system with crooked desires, hoping for the day that the crooked is made straight. I'm just going to drag us through the ups and downs, the emotions, the cynicism, the desire, the soul... all that just comes with being here, now. It's like a real deep look at humanity as it relates to each other and to the systems that we exist in.

There's the song "Bear With Me," which is just about... I don't love my wife the way that I should, but I know I love her completely. You know what I'm saying? It's like, you know, just bear with me, I'm going to mess this up. My desire is to not always.

I love my city, I love where I'm from, but I know it's got flaws, but you can't tell me no different. Gentrification, what that's done to our neighborhoods. You know, the extreme, incredible racist tone we've seen from our nation’s leaders, what that's done to my heart, to my relationships. How it's exacerbated things that we've known already and existed and how those happened. What we've done to the Native Americans and how I'm even personally indicted in that.

One thing I was noticing, too, just from watching some of your music videos, they have a cinematic quality -- you can tell there's a lot of thought put into them. I'm curious if when writing music, you ever think of the accompanying film that would go along with it or how you see that relationship between them?

I try to write thinking about the song and thinking about the words doing the work. But now, having said that, I try to write considering all five of my senses. What's the sound, what's the taste, what's the smell like? All of my senses when I put words down, so I know that that lends itself to good film. Our story is we only work with film directors that we trust 100 percent, where they don't need to be guidance. Where you can just give them the music and say, "Hey, I just want something that's cool like this" and you can just walk away because they have that skill, that ability and that eye. I think that that's why the cinematic feeling of most of my videos is, because I trust those directors and I'm just like, "You don't need me to tell you anything."

What is the best career advice you've ever been given?

Wow, that's a good question. Let's see. Just enjoy work itself. Working. Whatever the job is, enjoy. Work has its own value, so it's all just work, and if you acquire a taste and a love for work itself, then what you're doing with your hands... you're always going to be the best at it, you're always going to do your best at it, just because you value work. So whether it's cleaning my house, taking phone calls during my daughter's nap, you know what I'm saying? It's all just work. Responding to emails, counting and folding T-shirts, cleaning toilets -- none of it is beneath me because it's all just work. And work is good.

If you're a barista for 20 hours a week and pursuing a full-time career somewhere else 20 hours a week, don't bemoan and feel like you're wasting your 20 hours doing the barista thing -- you're not. It's all just work, because work is good. It's not a waste at all. Are you working? Then it's good. That to me was probably the best advice I've gotten.

Posted on June 2, 2017 and filed under Music, Marmoset.

Marmoset Recognized as One of Inc.'s Best Workplaces 2017

 
 

Inc. Magazine has revealed the results of its second annual Best Workplaces survey, and we are honored to announce that Marmoset has landed on this year's list, along with three other Oregon-based companies. 

Earlier this year, Inc. polled more than 169,000 employees from 1,600 companies across the country about the places they work, looking for companies with strong employee engagement and culture.

From our early start up days working out of a basement in 2010 to now, we have always tried to keep our core values in mind: 

  • Take care of our people -- staff, artists, clients, community.

  • Do the unexpected and blow people’s minds.

  • Have fun. Be healthy. Unplug and enjoy the fruits of our labor.

  • Do the right thing.

With that lens informing the things we do (and, okay, a fair amount of kombucha and ping-pong matches happening around Marmoset HQ, too), we are incredibly humbled to be included on this list. 

Learn more about the ranking here and check out the full list here.  

Posted on June 1, 2017 and filed under Marmoset.

Show Roundup: Marmoset Artist Shows to Catch this June

We get it -- it can be hard to keep track of all of the shows coming through town. Many of the artists from our community are hitting the road this summer, stopping by a stage near you soon. That’s why, as the housewarming, picnic and wedding invites roll in for the summer, we’ve made this handy list of upcoming shows to mark your calendars with. Check out some of the artists and show details below -- we’ll see you there! 


PORTLAND

 

Sunday, June 4th at the Doug Fir Lounge. 

9pm, $10-$12, 21+ 

 

FARNELL NEWTON

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Monday, June 5th at the Doug Fir Lounge

9pm, $5-$10, 21+ 

 

WONDERLY

Wednesday, June 7 at the Doug Fir Lounge.

9pm, $10-$12, 21+ 

Tuesday, June 13th at the White Eagle Saloon

8pm, $10, 21+ 

 

Tuesday, June 13th at the Doug Fir Lounge

9pm, $12-$14, 21+ 

 

SEATTLE

 

TOR

Sunday, June 4th at Nectar Lounge.

8pm, $8-$12, 21+


NEW YORK CITY

 

Thursday, June 8th at Freddy's

9pm. 

Saturday, June 17th at Our Wicked Lady.

8pm, $10, 21+ 

Thursday, June 29th at Rockwood Music Hall, Stage 2.

8pm, $15, 21+. 

 

CHICAGO

 

Thursday, June 22nd at Beat Kitchen.    

 7pm, $15, all ages

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Wednesday, June 28th at SPACE.            

8pm, $26-$86, all ages

Posted on May 30, 2017 .

New Music Mixtape: Plucky Staff Picks

Sounds of imagination.

Summer is right around the corner, and with it comes the promise of BBQs with friends, days spent outside and the reawakened desire to imagine and create after the cold winter months. To capture this spirit -- and maybe nod to films by Wes Anderson and Tim Burton with scores by Mark Mothersbaugh and Danny Elfman -- our team of curators gathered a handful of songs perfect for the bright, quirky or imaginative moments in life (or your next film).

From whimsical arrangements to bold, empowering strums, these uplifting, hopeful songs are all led by stringed instruments. Whether you’re listening to the metronomic beat and pizzicato strings of Lightspeak’s “Lumen” or the ascending, dynamic orchestration of Keen Collective’s “Bright Futures”, these songs are sure to inspire. Listen below and get swept away into sunny days ahead.

Posted on May 26, 2017 and filed under Music.

Show Preview: Experimental Psych-Noir with Clawfoot Slumber

Clawfoot Slumber is a band with a vision. Based out of Portland, Oregon, the trio formed in 2010, and has since been steeping their mysterious, post-folk ballads and slow-burning psychedelic rock in a heavy dose of noir inspiration. 

You can catch their cinematic sound turning into picture at their upcoming video premiere show for their song, “Morality’s Whip,” this Friday, May 26 at Portland’s Bunk Bar. The video for the song, off of their upcoming LP, The Stars Within You Beckon to be Carried Forth from the Dark, weaves a tale of tension and mystery -- not unlike the film noir and psychological thrillers of the '50s and '60s.  

"We all collaboratively decided on a theme of film noir, but experimental film noir," says Erin LaCerra, who plays synth and piano for the group (and also holds down the fort here at Marmo HQ as our Studio Manager). "We looked for inspiration from directors like Maya Deren and Wes Anderson. Even a little bit of that film noir mystery, like “Is someone going to die here?” kind of Alfred Hitchcock/Rear Window or something.”

Directed by local filmmaker, Devin Febbroriello in collaboration with LaCerra and band founder Alex Callenberger, the short film also features costuming by local Portland shop, Cargo, and performance dance by Kya Bliss of PDX Dance Collective. 

“I always like to partner with different groups, companies, friends, bands, whatever, because I think that it’s always better to work together and make something even bigger than we could do on our own," LaCerra says. 

In advance of their performance and video premiere tomorrow, check out Clawfoot Slumber’s full songography below and enjoy. 


Clawfoot Slumber, Megan Diana, Young Elk

Friday, May 26th at 9pm

Bunk Bar, 1028 SE Water Ave.

Portland, OR 97214

21+

Posted on May 25, 2017 and filed under Music.