Posts filed under Spotlight: Artists

The Music Behind Givenchy's Spring Summer Campaign

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Givenchy’s Spring + Summer 2019 Campaign is a blend of avant-garde and retro culture — a crisp black and white landscape, where the characters look as though they were plucked out of Andy Warhol’s studio, the Factory.

Alongside the androgynous collective, Givenchy features Marmoset artist, Damon Boucher’sK I N” as its musical backdrop. Electronic synth beats, the music ensures the seasonal campaign reaches full circle. To learn more about Boucher’s musical journey, the fashion undercurrent of his LP — N K I and where he’s headed, we connected with the artist earlier this month.


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Marmoset: Could you tell us a little bit how you first got into making music?

Boucher: I grew up taking classical lessons, and performing contemporary music in a Pentecostal Christian church. In church, I learned to improvise pop music, although church also kept me closeted. But, I’ve been writing music since that time. I played and wrote music all throughout college; then began to produce music after I graduated in 2008.

M: Listening through NKI, your music has such a dreamy kind of presence along with an energetic pulse to it. How would you describe your music to listeners? What kind of visuals come to mind?

B: I try to make it watery, but clean. Clean can sometimes mean dry and airy which plays off the watery thing. Visually, I always think of clean, stark contrasts; light and dark meeting in balance. I think of an ocean horizon, fashion runways or queer nightlife culture.

M: Do you collaborate with your work or do you tend to flourish more as a solo creator? Yes! Most of my work is collaborative. My main project for the past few years has been producing music for Chanti Darling. I’ve also worked with The Last Artful, Dodgr, Maarquii, Natasha Kmeto, Nafisaria, The Portland Cello Project, Ripley Snell, Neill Von Tally, DJ Sappho, Pocket Rock-it and many more. (Click here to listen).

I’ve also had a chance to teach and collaborate with several of my students over the years. I’ve taught piano and composition at School of Rock since 2010 and have directed over 40 shows there; and since they let me keep my studio inside their building, all of my projects are made out of there. I call that studio Zip Zap Studios.

I’m super proud of the work I’ve done with others. However, even though I’m often in collaborative environments, I find that I work best alone. When producing music with others, I oftentimes meet to record, then polish the songs when I’m by myself. There’s less pressure when I’m alone so I find those times to be more experimental and fruitful.

M: Who are some artists you've been listening to this year?

Current new stuff from: The Internet, Roisin Murphy, Against All Logic, Travis Scott.

Older stuff from: Missy Elliott, Gary Numan, Four Tet

M: What went through your head when you heard your music being featured on the Givenchy Spring/Summer campaign?

I sincerely wanted that music to be used for fashion so I was excited to see it used in that capacity! A lot of the track names on N K I have fashion related titles, all for the reason that I imagined this record being used just as you now see it.

M: What inspires you about the Portland music scene?

Someone once described Portland to me as a great “incubator” for creative ideas, which I think is both bizarre and accurate. It rains forever so I want to stay inside and work on music until the weather’s good. I am completely privileged to be able to work on music with the setup I have in Portland and I am forever grateful for that. I would not be able to do that in a variety of other places or lives.

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The Spring Summer 2019 Campaign

The Artists Behind Music Licensing

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Wesley Jensen hails from Denton, Texas. Like other musicians, he creates music to share across the internet and for live performances — it’s a way of life for many working musicians, to record, share, tour and repeat. Oftentimes it can feel like a labor of love, to invest so much of one’s musical craft, to be so committed to something with not a ton of fiscal reward (at least not right off the bat).

This kind of scenario isn’t uncommon for many musicians and it’s one of the reasons Marmoset sets out to improve the music game — focusing on supporting real, touring musical artists through music licensing. Whether it’s collaborating for original composition or placing our artists’ music on viral campaigns, we’re focused on strengthening our community through sustainability.

Every dollar you spend to license a song or invest in original music for your project goes toward a musician’s lifestyle, toward a working artist’s income — so they can focus more time on creating amazing music.

Looking at the journey of the Marmoset dollar, we sat down to chat with Wesley Jensen and learn more about how music licensing has impacted his musical career over the years.

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Marmoset: Can you tell us a little bit about your journey in music in general and how you came to Marmoset? 

Jensen: My interest in music started back in Jr High and it hasn’t ever stopped; I feel like I’ve been in some sort of band ever since. My first release under my own name came way back in 2007 and Marmoset reached out to me in 2011 about being part of the artist catalog. To be honest, I thought it was spam and ignored it for a bit. Ha! It took a strong pursuit by Ryan Wines to wear me down and he finally won me over after I played a Marmoset Music Fest NW Party. Meeting everyone and seeing how great they were, I knew I had to hop onboard. 

M: We’d also love to learn about some creative projects you're most proud of, how do you think they helped define your purpose and desire to pursue music?

Jenson: The music business can be really brutal, so it’s all about the small victories. Ha! Anytime I’ve noticed myself grow as a musician has been important for me. From my first show, to my first album release, to my first national tour, etc, it’s all encouraging and has helped me want to continue on.

As far as specific moments, I’d say around the time I met Marmoset was an exciting turning point for me. That year I had put out my first full length record in which I produced, engineered, and mixed all on my own (which was a lot bigger deal back then as compared to now). It turned out good and was nice to be validated by folks like Marmoset who took it and put it to commercials, etc. 

M: What did your introduction to music licensing look like? What do you think are some common misconceptions about the licensing game? 

Jenson: Licensing has been amazing for me, it’s opened a lot of possibilities musically. I always try to encourage people to to get involved with it if they have the opportunity. In fact, I think I’ve been a bit of an unofficial spokesperson for Marmoset over the years. Ha!

I think there are quite a few common misconceptions, the first being that it’s scary in any way. As musicians, we’re so protective of our craft that it’s hard to sign contracts and think that your music might be used for something weird. The reality is that there’s nothing to lose, especially if your involved with an agency like Marmoset, it’s only beneficial and full of rewarding possibilities. I’d say that the other misconception is that it’s easy — you make music and it gets licensed, just like that. Ha! It’s not true. There’s a lot of work involved in finding the perfect song for each project so it takes patience to see results. You never know when something’s going to land, but it feels like Christmas when it does. 

M: What was your reaction when you first saw your music licensed for a project? How did it compare to something like performing in front of a live audience?

Jenson: I think my first few big licensing hits were commercials. It was weird honestly, but it was cool. It felt good. It’s definitely fun to have family and friends reaching out saying they just heard your music on TV. It’s hard to compare live music to licensing, both are very rewarding I’d say, but different. Live music is very emotionally driven, lots of energy, very in the moment, etc. Licensing is more behind the scenes as opposed to being front of stage, but it’s cool to know you that something you created was picked out of a myriad of options. It’s always fun to win things. 

M: What something you would say to an artist new to the world of licensing or just starting out, is there anything helpful you wish you had known? 

Jenson: If they’re on the fence I’d tell them to go for it. I’d tell them it’s fun and rewarding and they’ve got nothing to lose. If they were on board I’d tell them not to worry about anything at all, the hard part (making the music) is over, now they get to sit back and relax and enjoy the fruits of their labor. Trust in the people they’re working with and let them find the right opportunities. And if they’re lucky enough to work with Marmoset I’d tell them to say “yes” to anything and everything they’re asked to be involved in. 

M: What new projects are you working on right now?

Jenson: I am ALWAYS working on new projects. I just finished up 2018 releasing a 4 part (16 Song) EP collection Something Old, Something New, Something Else, Something Blue, three of the four are produced by Marmoset’s Brian Hall. Currently, I’m back in the studio working on a brand new project that will wrap up later this spring. All good things!


Music You’ll Never Skip in January

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While entering a new year doesn’t grant us immediate immunity from the trailing politics of last year, we’re staying hopeful by celebrating the small victories — focusing on the horizon of new and brighter things like our community, diversity in music, coming together in the name of art. So whether you’re heading straight into a dozen new projects in need of new music or seeking out emerging artists that challenge the structures of genres, here’s a list of brand new music we’re excited for this month.


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Orquestra Pacifico Tropical’s genre can be defined as Word/Rock, their music expansive and encompassing of Central to South America’s cumbia presence. A combination of instrumental and vocal song versions, the musical group delivers high energy, frenzied rhythms and Latin percussions. // Listen here.


Mïrändä

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Experimental, dreamy electric pop — Mïrändä’s creations exude a coolness that’s reminiscent of the Scandinavian pop core movement (think Tove Lo and Robyn). Equipped with years of music producing experience, Mïrändä’s music presents the ups and downs of romance in a vibrant neon glory, guiding listeners straight to the dance floor. Confidence and mood boosting synth pop, Mïrändä is the visionary we’re excited to follow. // Listen here.

Duncan Burnett

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Hip-hop artist, Duncan Burnett raps over complex, distorting electronic synths. A cultivation of verses calling on spirituality and heeding one’s purpose, Burnett has been coined as a visionary within his craft. The artist’s collection of work is anthemic, a summation of piercing self-expressionism while paying respects to musical predecessors. // Listen here.

Braden the Young

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Dance-worth electronic pop, Braden the Young’s music dishes dreamy, moody pop. Listeners and fans of Halsey and Charlotte Lawrence will want to dig into the Braden the Young’s electrifying sound all about living young and free. // Listen here.

Posted on January 22, 2019 and filed under Marmoset, Music, Spotlight: Artists.

Meet Steady Holiday, the Artist Uncovering the Past

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Steady Holiday is Dre Babinski, the moniker that encapsulates the nostalgic nature of her work — there’s a kind of beautiful sentimentality that surfaces when listening to Steady Holiday’s music, comparative to watching a Cary Grant film or a warm idyllic memory washing over you.

Growing up, Babinski recalls her father always listening to oldies on the radio. At the time it was something that merely underscored her childhood upbringing it wouldn’t be until later she would translate this environment as a source of inspiration.

“I loved it but I also didn’t question it,” says Babinski. “I began playing the violin at school when I was 10 and started playing along to songs like “Downtown” by Petula Clark or “Crying” by Roy Orbison. When I sit down to write music nowadays, I think I unconsciously come back to the sensibilities of that era.”

While Steady Holiday is Babinski’s solo musical act, the artist is no stranger to a range of collaboration. Having recorded and toured as a violinist and backup vocalist for Dusty Rhodes and the River Band and the other half of Miracle Days’ partnership, Babinski brings her transformative experiences to her arrival as a solo artist.

Perhaps it was this accumulation of experiences that propelled the artist into the solo role she was destined to fulfill — the new venture sparking a new kind of inspiration that isn’t always so easily achievable when working closely with other artists.

In early 2015, Babinski put the wheels in motion by beginning the recording process under Steady Holiday. With the release of her single “Your Version of Me” the artist gained even more momentum through the single’s success — the work receiving praise from both critics and fans alike. By 2016, Steady Holiday released her debut solo album Under The Influence (produced by Gus Seyffert). Described as hauntingly expressive, listeners began crediting the album’s success to Babinski’s vocals, which enlivened the album’s themes and emotional atmosphere.

“Help me I’m a superstar

but narrowly I’ve missed the mark

drifting, fading, no regard

I’ve slipped into a cycle”

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Superstar” is the seventh song on Under The Influence, imparting a message that could very well describe the artist’s artistic journey — there’s a nod here to the range of Babinski’s achievements earned thus far in her musical career, along with identifying her place and status with the release of her debut album.

These personal touches radiate throughout Under The Influence, the melancholic filled verses paired with the stunning string arrangements set the soundscape for Steady Holiday’s emergence into the world. When asked about what she chooses to explore in her writing, she dives deep into the lyrics from the listener’s standpoint.

“I’m always looking to uncover things about myself and universals in human nature,” says Babinski. “Which is an interest much bigger than music but tends to show up in my songs. It helps me make sense of the world and soften to what I don’t understand. I’ve been writing from perspectives other than my own recently, and empathy is the best tool for that.”

With the circulation of Under The Influence, Steady Holiday is soon called to perform at Coachella by the festival’s very own co-founder Paul Tollet. With this caliber of a platform, Babinski boldly begins her new chapter of sharing what was once a private channel of expression to thousands of listeners.

“I want people to have their own experience with my music rather than explain all my intentions,” notes Babinski. “I do hope that it’s inclusive and evocative enough for people to create their own meaning and memories with it, in the same way that Hallelujah wasn’t written for me, but it was.”

In terms of Babinski’s songwriting process, she often draws inspiration from words that resonate with her on a creative level. “Most of my song ideas begin with the stuff that sits on top, the vocal melody and lyrics,” says Babinski. “Usually it’s a phrase I read or overhear that sticks with me then I’ll find a melody that shapes nicely around it.” Such inspiration can strike almost anywhere but Babinski notes it happens commonly when driving or walking about yet hardly ever when sitting down to intentionally write.

This fluidity in her craft, Babinski keeps her process balanced by focusing heavily on where a song’s inspiration goes — spending time on refining an idea, rebuilding it, then deciding if it should be fully fleshed out to be shared with the world.

“Sometimes a complete thought is the result of a lot of conscious work,” says Babinski. “And sometimes it just appears like tethered magic. I never know when or how it’s going to happen.”


Steady Holiday’s music is available for licensing through Marmoset. Listeners can also check out Steady Holiday’s second album Nobody’s Watching, released in 2018 on Barsuk Records. The artist’s second album is a collection of stories that align with recurring themes of fear and greed throughout history — something Babinski notes as a fitting encapsulation of today’s climate.

Posted on November 26, 2018 and filed under Artist Spotlights, Spotlight: Artists, Shows, Music, Marmoset.

Vintage Gems of Marmoset, the Five Du-Tones

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Mid-century American vocal group, the Five Du-Tones contributed to the evolving r&b decade of the 1950s and early 1960s. The group was comprised of five members, Willie Guest, Robert Hopkins, LeRoy Joyce, Oscar Watson, and James West — all of whom had met and assembled musically together at Patrick Henry High School in Missouri.

At the heart of soul vocal groups’ rising popularity, the Five Du-Tones made a name for themselves upon the release of their hit “Shake a Tail Feather,” which aired frequently on r&b radio stations across the country. The hit notably captures the essence of a time period where music was evolving quickly from the previous decade of late ‘40s jump blues; instead listeners could identify how music was shifting away from improvisation with a cleaner, clearer focus on a song’s composition.

The emergence of r&b being rooted in African American communities, the confident, playful and bouncy tempo of jazz blended into the rise of such r&b groups and later, even shaping the origins of rock & roll. In songs like “Shake a Tail Feather” and “Enjoy Yourself” the instrumentation while isn’t lavish, delivers big with lead and backup vocals. Such examples show the distinct shift in the preceding jazz and blues culture that dominated the 1940s, it’s a jump toward something that feels celebratory, even triumphant.

The soulful tenacity behind such songs sets a scene of a sweaty dancehall with participants moving about to match the music’s contagious rhythms. While “Shake a Tail Feather” made it to the US Billboard r&b chart, it peaked at the #28 ranking while also climbing to the #51 position on the Billboard Hot 100 list. The success of the retro hit prompted the Five Du-Tones to continue creating work that merges complimentary yet varying qualities of soul music and the doo-wop trend.

In 1963, the group released “The Chicken Astronaut,” a song that nods at the decade’s beginning milestones in space exploration, playing into the sub-genre of “space music.”

“You can keep those spaceships and rockets

I'll get around in an automobile

I'm an earth man

I don't wanna be no astronaut”

The song paints a picture of a reluctant space traveler who defiantly wishes to stay within the safety of earth’s atmosphere. Telling of the group’s awareness on the surrounding political climate, the song feels like a playful, artful jab at America’s unfolding political change in the early 1960s.

With the Five Du-Tones immersed in a routine of heavy touring and performing, the exhaustion would eventually catch up to band member, James West, who passed away from heart failure at the young age of 26. The group would continue producing music, including the 7” single  “The Gouster” in 1964 — the terms refers to an African-American youth subculture that had emerged from Chicago’s South Side around the time.

Similar to how The Five Du-Tones created content to reflect the dramatic changes behind the U.S. space program, the group continued bringing to life cultural references that inspired them. These kind of objectives proved the group’s strive in creating music that wasn’t merely designed to generate a new dance craze but instead to reflect the pulse of America in the 20th century.

In 1967, The Five Du-Tones disbanded, several group members progressing on to partake in other doo-wop groups like Billy Richard’s Coasters and The Robins. The group’s hit, “Shake a Tail Feather,” would go onto being covered by prestigious artists such as Ray Charges.

The Five Du-Tones’ sonography listed below is available for licensing on Marmoset’s roster. Check out these vintage gems:


Posted on November 20, 2018 and filed under Artist Spotlights, Spotlight: Artists, Music, Marmoset.