Marmoset is officially a Certified B Corporation company — here’s why it matters.
There’s an important, higher level question emerging in today’s business world that one would hope every company will someday choose to wrestle with: “Is it possible to go beyond products and services, profit and loss, and the business of managing the bottom line, to find a deeper meaning and a higher calling in everything a business does?”
We’re all aware of a few bright examples, like Patagonia, Toms, and Everlane, who’ve successfully dovetailed a higher calling to their “for profit” business models. At Marmoset, we’ve wrestled with this too, and now in our ninth year of existence, we’ve committed to taking things to the next level and make the greater good part of our purpose and everyday mission. We’re honored to announce Marmoset is a certified B Corp, effective February 18th, 2019.
Being the first certified B Corporation in music licensing isn’t just a status symbol, it’s a signifier of the real connections we’re building with our clients, artists and partners; guiding us in how we do our work and how we choose not to do it.
B Corps are businesses meeting the highest verified standards of social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability. From how we recycle our La Croix cans to how we uphold public transparency, it’s just as important as what we’re doing within our walls as what we’re doing outside them.
And while we’ve always partnered up with nonprofits to donate 10% of our profits — from our slice of the pie, never from the artist’s share — we’ll be even more active in providing resources and finding opportunities to connect, collaborate and support our community.
So while we’ve officially achieved B Corp status now, we know it’s a continuous effort to go the extra mile. And nothing brings us more drive than setting our sights on the next big opportunity to do more. Sometimes work feels a little less like work when there’s a higher meaning behind it.
French composer and multi-instrumentalist, David Grumel dabbles in everything from epic orchestral music to playful pop. With the release of his latest single, “Say Hello” his work offers listeners an uplifting escape, a lighthearted and reflective song that transcribes how a silver lining would feel like.
Read on to learn more about Grumel’s music compositions and his experience with making music for commercial use.
Marmoset: Can you paint us a picture of how you began making music?
Grumel: I have a fairly unusual musical background, having studied classical piano, then very early on amplified music with a first gourd instrument at 11 years old. I recorded my first song at 14 and then did a short course in sound engineering. After that I spent a lot of years with different groups, in studios and concerts, with not a lot of success. Then at 31 I signed my first record deal with Universal Music and French independent label Naïve, for my first solo album. From then on I started being able to live from making music. I set up a recording studio La Song Factory with my friend Jérémy Rassat and started making music for film, TV and commercials.
M: How would you describe your musical style?
Grumel: It’s an artisanal kind of bespoke pop music, in the broad sense of the word. I’m as comfortable also doing electro, classical, folk, jazz or minimalistic solo piano. That's what I like, the eclecticism. It's always hard to define what you do instinctively. I am always guided by the emotion I feel when creating, as long as its sincere.
M: As a composer, it seems like you've worked on everything project under the sun — from film to TV shows to advertising campaigns. Can you offer a sneak peek into what your creative or technical process looks like?
Grumel: I’ve been lucky enough to work on a vast spectrum of projects, but I always treat every piece of music I make as a unique prototype — nothing is ever a given.
In terms of process it’s pure chaos at first, that’s the beauty. I explore every road, testing, changing, moving parts around, it’s by no means an exact science! The most important thing is to keep the process instinctive and non-technical. Staying true to my what I feel, nothing else. It's like putting pieces of a puzzle together, but without the instructions.
Then usually after a few hours a direction comes through, a color and a structure. From that moment on a clear idea of where I want to take a piece of music becomes apparent. I almost always work alone, so it’s that initial solitary process that gives birth to something universal that you can share with so many people that makes it so interesting.
"To compose is to remember music that has never been written." — R. Schumann
M: What's a project that you're particularly proud to have been involved in?
Grumel: I support an association by the name of 7th Continent since it’s beginning. It raises awareness and works on the growing problem of plastics in our oceans. I worked on the music for their film, which you can see here —
Grumel: Musically, I think my solo work is what I’m most proud of. But of course I’m proud of any piece I feel I’ve successfully finished, whether solo or in collaboration.
I just finished working on the production of the second album of a Tahitian artist called Vaiteani and I had such a great time. I get real joy out of helping the artist complete their vision and getting them to their happy place because you then see it so clearly in the end result, it's fantastic. It creates very intimate bonds. The loyalty and rapport I have built up with many artists, composers and collaborators over the years also makes me very proud.
And of course when someone listens to and loves your music, that makes you happy and proud. Often it's the last project I worked on that seems the most successful to me because it means I’m still growing as an artist and that’s always a good thing, so I guess it’s a mix of all that.
M: Your single, "Say Hello" comes out today. Can listeners expect more music like this from you?
Grumel: I’m really excited about “Say Hello”, it’s already received a very warm welcome from the music industry and my peers. I collaborated with my good friend Neeskens on this, his voice just seems to blend in so well to the musical landscapes I like to create.
You can check out another track we worked on together called Back Into the Light here. I’m always excited about sharing new music, it’s like revealing different parts of yourself every time. I always like to mix it up, keep myself and listeners on their toes, so I can’t say for sure if there’ll be more songs like this, it’s really an organic process for me each time which starts with a feeling. Although I suppose there is always a trademark sound in there somewhere, something that defines you sonically as an artist.
M: As someone who crosses over between all different kinds of projects, what's something you'd pass along to other aspiring artists looking to break into composing for film, TV and commercials?
Grumel: The only advice I could give is true for any aspiring musician: stay true to yourself and your artistic integrity in order to preserve who you are as an artist and your unique sound. Develop and nurture your craft obsessively, be passionate, be generous, have an opinion and be curious, fail a lot, never give up and good things will come… maybe!
Grumel’s single, “Say Hello” and more of his work is available for music licensing and commercial use on our roster here.
Marmoset artist, ePP cultivates community through his music — his latest album There’s a Place for People Like You carries a message of togetherness, to aspire for the best while hoping others make it too. Each song is magnetically intimate, a close up account of what makes him tick.
While his latest compilation can be categorized as hip hop and rap, his love and pursuit of rock music shouldn’t be minimized; it’s something he still invests his creative energy into, a part of the roadmap that defines his present arrival.
Stepping outside the boundaries of what others expect or require of him, ePP stays true to his message of authenticity. He doesn’t make music to fulfill what others envision for him — instead embracing hardships, channeling them into creative expression not merely for creative accolades but for others seeking solace or comforting resonation.
Sitting down to chat with us, we’re even bigger fans of ePP now than ever. Read on to learn more:
Marmoset: Hey ePP, thanks for sitting down to chat with us. With your latest record, There’s A Place for People Like You now on our roster, we wanted to dig a bit more into your background, influences and where you’re heading. Looking back at your origins, you moved to Portland from Georgia, right?
ePP: Yes, that's right. I always kind of dabbled in making music but I didn’t really start recording until I was in high school. It wasn’t until college when I was sitting down in class and I was like, “I don’t want to be here.” I don’t want to say it would have been a waste but in the long run, what I want to do and how I want to impact people’s lives and my own life has nothing to do with a piece of paper saying, ‘hey good job.’
Marmoset: Can you take us through what it looked like getting started in music?
ePP: I wrote my first song when I was 11 years old, I didn’t know what I was doing. I had like a Casio keyboard and was just playing some stuff. Fast forward to high school, there’s like a really close friend of mine, he made beats and then we met with some kids from Vancouver who were into skating. So we had that in common. It started with meeting up with another crew of kids and it’w how I got started writing rock music, because it was my favorite genre. So 16, 17, I was straight up writing alternative rock stuff, maybe what you’d call hardcore stuff as well.
Marmoset: It’s like you realized you had something to directly offer back to your community through your own art.
ePP: Yeah, definitely. I agree with that. That’s kind of where my head was at. When you’re young especially — I don’t come from a family that says, oh you need to go to college in order to do something — it’s more about finding the route you want to go and my family still saying, ‘ we support you.’ Needless to say, I came from a very supportive family — kind of confused, like ‘eh is this really what you want to do — but still definitely had the support that led me down the road to doing what I want to do.
Marmoset: Were there other people in your family that were involved in music?
ePP: No, nobody. My 16 year old cousin who’s going to school in France right now is the only other person who’s musically inclined. I mean, growing up music was always playing, it was always around. But no one in my family really liked to play music.
Marmoset: With your new album, There’s a Place for People Like You being hip hop and rap orientated, could you share more about your interest in rock music? What attracts you to that genre specifically?
ePP: Rock music in general I’ve just always connected with it. And there was a time where a black kid coming up, it was frowned up pretty much; like ‘you’re trying to be a white boy etc. etc.’. But no that’s not it, it’s just what I like, it’s just music at the end of the day. And it’s what I connected with.
Marmoset: It sounds like you really have a good circle of friends but always looking ahead and trying to connect with your community. How does staying connected with people and being open to collaboration mean to you?
ePP: You know, people will hit me up through a DM on Instagram like, ‘hey man, I’m in this band or I play this instrument and would love to meet up’ — and I think, why not? Because there’s going to be a time when no one’s going to want to do shit with me. That’s just the progression of life. There’s going to come a time when your friends no longer hit you up because they’re parents now and they don’t have the same time. So while I have the opportunity to be part of cool stuff, I’m going to be a part of as much music related situations as I can.
Marmoset: Living in Portland, Oregon, there’s a lot of change on the music front end. How do you see your music contributing to the community?
ePP: I’ve definitely seen that change happen firsthand. You know, 10 years ago I wasn’t in a group or anything at the time but I was still kind of doing music, you know I was young so I was just working a regular job. The way it was then, if you were better than other people, others were kind of jaded, jealous and weird. And I think it helped me and the group of people I was working with to make us better, because we knew there were only a handful of people who would help other artists answer questions.
I have a very open phone policy, like if you have questions or if there’s anything I can do to help, I wanna be that person. I don’t want to be closed off. Any artist who comes in and asks questions, I’m always willing to listen and do all I can to help. And it’s never ‘oh I did this and I did that’ for me. I check in, I go to shows. Because I really want to be there and I really believe in the people that are performing, I just want to help as much as I can really.
Marmoset: We love your spirit in that kind of coming together, sticking together.
ePP: Well, that’s the only way. I had like that conversation recently. It was just about how the only way that things will get better, the only reason why this is community has gotten better is because people realize, ‘ let’s get off this ego shit, let’s work together, let’s progress.’
It’s about saying, ‘cool, this person’s a lesson learned in how they got to their spot’ instead of being jealous. No one wants to deal with a jealous person, you can come up together and there’s enough money for everyone to get. You know, if you don’t like someone that’s fine, I know some people don’t like me, I don’t care. You know, I’m out for everyone. But the people who do appreciate me and rock with me, that’s what it is.
You can form and build community by being inclusive, not trying to act like gatekeepers — that’s how things should be at least in my eyes.
Marmoset: We agree, it’s a good thing to practice, just applying it day to day. It’s kind of humbling in a way to remember we all share a space.
ePP: It’s really humbling. You look at bigger cities like LA — so many people I know directly who are rivals but they all work together because they realize we can all grow from this if we stop trying to segregate. Portland’s already a really white city, you don’t need me to tell you that, you already know that. But regardless, I’m going to get mine so if I can help people get there too, that to me means way more.
It’s never been about the money. I don’t care about that shit, it’s all about making good music and adding to the community — not taking away. It’s like a real cultural thing.
Marmoset: What’s the story behind the title of your new album There’s a Place for People Like You?
ePP: I’m going through a lot, some of my closest friends have also been through some really tragic and tumultuous things. I pretty much scrapped two iterations of the album that I had; I really want to write from an honest, transparent place and I wanted the beats to match that. We all have days where we feel like shit and then we have days ‘I’m a bad bitch’ you can’t tell me anything. And I think I wanted to encompass that in the album — to make it feel and sound like a movie. Even though the songs are different, I wanted everything to blend and be cohesive at the same time.
Because I feel like the stuff that I went through, if I can be honest and talk about it, I know that someone else is going to relate to it too. And it’s never been about ‘what are my listeners going to like’. The people who like my music already will like my music — because it’s honest music. And I think we’re in a time where making honest music is at an all time high.
Also when you get older, you realize ‘hey this is what I’m good at’ I should stick to it and write it out, regardless of the hardships and everything that comes with it. But that’s just life and what is life without experiences and a story to tell.
ePP was announced #7 Best New Band by Willamette Weekly.
Marmoset presents miniature music concerts — a new series where we invite talented, touring and local artists into our space to capture a stripped down performance of their music.
Cultivating a floating landscape of sounds, surrealism guides Bells Atlas; their latest album The Mystic offers layer upon layer of abstract electronic textures and charismatic lyrics, an open exploration of pace and rhythms, likened to jazz’s uninhibited perimeters. Front singer, Sandra Lawson-Ndu’s vocals help define the band’s cosmic DNA, aesthetically blurring the lines between psychedelic rock, electronic pop and soulful R&B.
In Bells Atlas’ mini concert performance here at Marmoset, the group expresses creative agility throughout their performances of “First Gen Pisces” and “The Khamsa” — it’s an imaginative range between ebbing, alluring energy to great emotional force.
Click play above to watch/listen their performance of “The Khamsa”, then head over here for an exclusive mini concert look at their performance of “First Gen Pisces”. Read on to discover the subtextual meaning behind their two songs.
The meaning of “First Gen Pisces” in the words of Doug Stuart:
First Gen Pisces
In short this is about a mind inundated by expectations of how to exist in this world, and woven into that is a pool of fear, memory and fantasy. And then there’s sleep, a temporary path to peace of mind.
The meaning of “The Khamsa” in the words of Sandra Lawson-Ndu:
This drifts between images of dreams, spirituality, and imagination, and the space they share in connection with the intangible. The song is about making space for each other's beliefs and being open to varied lenses of experience.
"People like you enrich the dreams of the world, and it is dreams that create history. People like you are the unknowing transformers of things". — Ben Okri, Nigerian poet and novelist.
The word Khamsa translates to five” or “five fingers” in Arabic—this is probably a symbol that you’ve seen many times of an open right hand often with an eye in the center. In many faiths this symbol is seen to bring about happiness and peace while protecting from the evil eye/ negative influence.
Marmoset presents miniature music concerts — a new series where we invite talented, touring and local artists into our space to capture a stripped down performance of their music.
Bells Atlas’ sound is a combo of mystic charm and soulful, experimental pop. They get you moving through creating a space that feels wandering, inquisitively open and exploratory.
As big fans of their music, when the touring stars aligned, we leaped at the opportunity to host Bells Atlas at Marmoset headquarters; hanging out in the space, they have a natural ease about them. In their stripped down performance they completely make the space their own, singer Sandra Lawson-Ndu’ vocals rule over everything else.
Check out Part One of their mini concert above, then dig into our conversation with the band below:
Marmoset: If you had to pitch Bells Atlas' sound in a sentence, what would it be?
Derek: The rhythm of orange creamsicle earthquakes and melody of melted lava astrological comet-chords.
M: If you could attend any musical event in history, what would it be?
Doug: Miles Davis at the Cellar Door in 1970.
M: Who are some filmmakers, artists and other musicians you look to for inspiration? Do you guys ever pay homage to anyone with your work?
Sandra: Speaking on this album (The Mystic), I was very much inspired by authors and other creatives that use sci-fi fantasy or even surrealism to observe our own realities.
For me, the best ones somehow have the potential to spark inspiration for how to interact with each other and create a sense of openness to what is possible, drifting further from an idea of acceptable norms. Ursula Le Guin, Phillip Pullman, and Sharon Shinn are authors that inspired me early on. More recently I’ve been inspired by amazing shows like Atlanta and Random Acts of Flyness, or authors like Octavia Butler and Akwaeke Emezi who present surreal and fantastical work in which black and brown folks are often central characters.
M: What would you say is "the heart" of your new album, The Mystic?
Sandra: The main heart of the album is really the fact that we get this opportunity to write together as a band and this music is a reflection of how we've grown in that process and also how much we love it.
Thematically this is very much inspired by a connection to someone in my life who sparked my love for storytelling and my interest in both the mystical and the fantastical. In my eyes they have alway embraced and embodied intangible realities. When they began to struggle with their mental health they still held that magic as a truth-seer and a storyteller. This narrative exists in some of the songs in the album but it’s really the questions that resulted that are the basis of many of the stories here : what expressions needed a diagnosis? what caused pain versus what was the result of a different way of interpreting life and offering new paths of seeing? what was clinical vs mystical? How do we make space for each other's beliefs and varied lenses of experience.
M: There's something refreshingly experimental and kind of psychedelic with your music + visual work — how does the band try out new ideas? What does a creative session look like when writing new music or making a music video?
Geneva: Trying out new ideas is perhaps one of the binding qualities between all of us. I think this creative collaboration is, in some part for all of us, an arena to do that.
Something with The Mystic in particular, for example, was approaching a new writing technique which involved creating more from a studio production approach. It was less about being behind our instruments and satisfying the performative aspect, and more about crafting songs and thinking about the listening perspective; compounding elements and sections of each song one at a time. It kept things fresh and offered a new perspective on creating together, which is something we've never really been adverse to.
When it comes to visual elements for the band, there are usually a series of ideas thrown around, or perhaps just one, and then we dig deep into that world. So the fuzzy masks in “Be Brave” started with a photo shoot we did years ago. We honestly wanted to try getting away from having to photograph our faces together 'cause we all felt like we photograph and facially express so differently that maybe nullifying our faces would help execute something simply and quickly.
Kinda funny thinking about it in retrospect. But the cool thing was, we were able to insert something psychedelic and fantastical instead and sort of recreate our identities. Or perhaps give some deeper meaning to our identities. Anywho, the director took that that fantastical idea and ran with it, which we supported fully along the way.
M: We loved having you here at Marmoset, your music is so immersive — whether listening to it with your headphones on or witnessing it performed in person. How do you guys get in the right mindset before a show or wind down afterward?
Geneva: This varies depending on who you talk to. I think there's inevitably some kind of socializing happening, but as the set time approaches, some of us zone out in the green room and do vocal warm-ups or stretch.
Some people get some fresh air or take a walk before or after the set before greeting people. There's almost always food involved somewhere in there between soundcheck and showtime. It definitely helps to get grounded and clear the mind in some way! Our music is fairly involved and requires some kind of "zen" state for each of us in some way, whether that means channeling focus or just letting yourself open up your intuition and feel your way through all the nooks and crannies the music takes you to .