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’s “K 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.
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.
The bodacious women of Broad City are delivering their final and highly anticipated fifth season to fans, with the first episode of the closing chapter premiering just last week. And with this bittersweet goodbye to the show’s two queens/kweens (if you haven’t seen the show, what are you even really doing), their finale trailer is explosive with neon color and a punchy musical soundtrack.
One of the three songs, “Soda Pop” (feat. Hot Air Balloon) by Stony Pony is purely electronic, party pop bliss. The song catapults viewers through the video’s quick intercutting, reminding fans this seasons the epic New York journey isn’t over just yet.
To learn more about creating a song that delivers this kind of energy and vibrancy, we hit up Stony Pony and Hot Air Balloon with some questions on their collaboration with “Soda Pop.”
Marmoset: Can you tell us a little bit about the constructing of “Soda Pop” — it feels sort of like an electric party anthem, what did the process look like with incorporating the zany lyrics by Hot Air Balloon?
Stony Pony: Yeehaw! I was getting my pump on at the gym one day and it hit me: water is great for hydration. I took a few swigs from my bottle and realized the hair metal playing at the gym wasn’t cutting it. I really needed something that could make me sweat and realized what we all need in life is something that can make us sweat.
So I did some math with Hot Air Balloon and we figured out how all the best workout music exhibited three iconic qualities: 1.) The lyrics are always about getting stoked to do meal prep; 2.) The tempo is always intense like a pre-workout face burn; 3.) The beat is always crispy, straight out of the tanning bed. I know you may be thinking ‘Pulitzer Prize’, but really our purpose on earth is just to perspire and inspire.
M: How would you describe Stony Pony's work and what can listeners expect next?
SP: Stony Pony produces hot workout music that’s also sauna and bowling alley friendly. I’m really excited to release the new material I’m working on. While I’m not at the gym, I love to make videos and do photo shoots, so you’ll see more of that. You’ll hear more workout music!! Loud, bouncy, and sincerely fun!!
M: What’s a go-to party song you play to get pumped up? (Can be a guilty pleasure!)
SP: I absolutely love CRANKING Nobody Rides For Free by Ratt. It takes you on an emotional journey with terrible grammar, but showcases one of the best riffs before their mid-90s hiatus.
M: Who would you rather go on a NYC adventure with — Abbi or Ilana?
SP: I’m positive Abbi would be able to show me all of the places Oprah has visited around town. We would listen to Eye of the Tiger, take pictures of all the stairs Oprah has climbed in NYC, and post them on our insta stories.
Marmoset: Can you share a little insight into what the lyrics writing process looked like for "Soda Pop?"
HAB: Two simple steps: I went shopping for ingredients and then I followed the recipe.
M: Where did the food theme come from (crunchy, toasted, sautéed, snacking, etc.) and does it make you hungry when listening to the song now?
HAB: My dude Stony Pony is always rocking the protein shakes, and meal prepping for his workout flow.
Me, I'm a total chip chomper. I love finding new snacks and new bevs to try. The crunch of chips, or the carbonated crack of opening a fresh beverage sounds like beats and music to me.
Also, if I'm being really real I was raised in a soda family. My Dad worked for Coca-Cola my whole life. It's bubbling throughout my blood.
M: If you were marooned on an island with cases of soda pop, what would it be?
HAB: I'm especially a fan of regional or rare sodas. When traveling I have to try that soda you can only find there. I narrowed it down to three — 1.) So. Cal's and the Southwest's Cactus Cooler, which is an orange pineapple soda that puts off the perfect party vibe. 2.) There's a ginger & citrus soda that comes out of Kentucky called Ale 81 (or "A Late One" if you're local) that provides just enough spice. 3.) Gotta throw it back to the 90's Gen X soda, OK Soda that was the perfect Bev for the disillusioned. Shoutout to the 1-800-IFEELOK hotline
M: Who would you rather go on a NYC adventure with — Abbi or Ilana?
HAB: So tough. They are both so amazing. I'm kinda more of an Abbi, and have always been in awe by Ilana's boldness. She's a nonstop party machine, and if you saw the first episode of the final season she's pretty amazing at documenting a day to last forever. Also, Abbi would be down with me stopping at all the bodegas checking for fun chips.
Credits: “Soda Pop” produced by Katy Davidson // Creative licensing by Jamie McMullen and Jackie Westfall.
Follow Stony Pony on Instagram @realstonypony
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.
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!
“Jump Up and Down” by Freedust beams confidence with its hybrid of jazz, swing and pop and contagiously upbeat rhythmic qualities. If possible to visualize the music notes radiating beyond the beats, the music group delivers exactly what we were imagining — pulsating creativity, the music video packs a punch with colorful stop motion graphics, moving illustrations and of course a dance routine that makes us want to jump up, down, and all around.
Check out more of Freedust’s music here and get your Friday started by clicking play.
Music Video Credits: Director / Producer - Stefano Ottaviano, Lead Design - Animation Martina Savoldelli, Design - Aria Ngimbi, Giulia Flamini, Stop Motion Animator - Dele Nuga, Virginia Fonderico, Stop Motion Dop - Efe Onikinci, Live Action Dop - Vlad Jako, Color grade - Nicola Bruno
As we bid 2018 farewell and leap enthusiastically into a new year, we look back once more through the haphazardly overflowing playlists we’ve created over the span of these 12 months.