Posts filed under Artist Spotlights

The Artists Behind Music Licensing — Y La Bamba's Luz Elena Mendoza

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Y La Bamba’s Luz Elena Mendoza offers her story as the closing chapter in Marmoset’s Our Artists, Their Stories series.

As a first generation Mexican-American, Mendoza exudes profound appreciation and honor for her culture throughout her music — her work is an extension of her heritage, a call to openly celebrate her people’s language, history and journeys.

Read on to learn more about the woman behind Y La Bamba.

Nurture your loved ones, those who lift you up and hold you accountable. Those are your people.
— Mendoza

Luz Elena Mendoza of Y La Bamba shares her story as a first generation Mexican-American (photo by Christal Angelique)

Luz Elena Mendoza of Y La Bamba shares her story as a first generation Mexican-American (photo by Christal Angelique)

Marmoset: How do you think your culture shapes who you are — not only as an artist but wholly as a person?

Mendoza: I can answer this in so many different ways. When I think of my culture, I think of my parents, I think of my family. The food I eat, the deities and saints we worshiped, the art that was and continue to form out of necessity to express trauma. A way to celebrate life. My mom and dad continue to work hard… they would say “como burros” meaning “like a donkeys” It kills me. It just destroys me.

My blood screaming the name of survival. Therefore who I am as a person today has been influenced by my ancestral knowledge. That has allowed me to create as much as I can out of nothing which becomes everything.

 M: As a first generation American, how do you think this impacts your life in present?

 Mendoza: It has given me the privilege to come closer to a deeper understanding of myself in this reality we call life.

 M: Has your family encouraged your pursuit of music?

Mendoza: In a few ways yes, in a lot of ways no. My parents were strict out of generational and conservative habits. Having dreams as a girl was truly hard to achieve due to misogyny. My friends, family, mother and brothers are always there in their own ways.

M: Have there ever been moments you’ve considered quitting music — what kind of wisdom would you pass along to those facing similar challenges?

Mendoza: Yes every other day. Nurture your loved ones, those who lift you up and hold you accountable. Those are your people.

M: Where does that desire to put yourself and your music out there come from?

Luz: My family, immigrants who are fighting for there lives, to support Queer POC communities — for those who have gone through domestic violence, for the missing and murdered indigenous women, for the children who are dying in the dentention centers, my family and my friends. To heal.

M: Could you share what community means in your life?

Mendoza: Family is everything.


Thank you to Y La Bamba and other Marmoset artists for sharing their origin stories with us — and thank you to our readers for being part of our community.

The Artists Behind Music Licensing: QUITAPENAS

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Some of the most important stories in music come straight from the artists themselves. It’s one of the reasons we’re taking a little extra time and care to connect with those behind our roster of music — because there’s value in uncovering the architecture of an artist’s work; honoring the pieces that define their journey into becoming an artistic creator.

“Our Artists’ Stories” collection celebrates our artists’ backgrounds and explores what community means to them. Today, we present Daniel Gomez of QUITAPENAS — their music overflowing with vintage inspiration (spanning the 60’s to 70’s to 80’s) woven with the sounds of Colombia, Brazil, Peru and more.

We talk with Daniel about community and his climb into music. Read on for more.


Band members of  QUITAPENAS

Band members of QUITAPENAS

Marmoset: Looking back on your earlier years, what was something (or someone) that inspired you to create music?

Daniel Gomez: Being a child who couldn’t sit still or do one thing for too long helped me find creativity. Music was one of the only things I could really focus on for a long period of time and still feel calm, along with a sense of accomplishment. Seeing some of my uncles play at family parties and hearing stories of them playing gigs made the idea of playing music a real possibility.

You could be a real, normal person with family and friends — you didn’t have to be a famous talented superstar on TV. Also, just supportive family and friends who showed me a lot of love and excitement as I progressed.

M: How does your background tie into your culture and how do you think it’s helped shape who you are?

Daniel: We are children of immigrant parents so we were fortunate enough to have a multicultural household. We were able to be part of a culture that celebrates family values, hard work and storytelling with the privilege of growing up in America while also being immersed in pop culture.

On a personal level, it’s helped fuel our empathy and understanding for others; it helped develop a wonder for other cultures beyond just our own. As musicians, I think the fact that family gatherings and celebrations always included loud music, dancing, conversations and late nights really influenced why we play music. When we perform and connect with the audience, we feel at home — we feel like we are all one family enjoying a special moment in time together. 

Pay attention to the world around you and help those who need it. Build communities and work together with as many people as you can.
— Daniel Gomez

M: What was your family’s role in supporting your music?

Daniel: Family and close friends have always supported and encouraged the band’s journey both as individuals and as a group. They support by buying merch, providing a space for us to rehearse, cheering us on at shows and just sharing our existence and our music with people they know.

From time to time you do get a discouraging comment and those can feel heavy. Being a musician is hard and it isn’t for everyone. It does take a lot of time and attention, it can feel hopeless and frustrating. It is, however, very healing and inspirational — you sometimes need people to try bring you down as a reminder why you are making music in the first place. 

M: Have there ever been moments you’ve considered shifting away from music? What kept you going to pursue it further?

Daniel: Yes, of course. Being a successful musician can be challenging. It’s hard when you’re young while trying to balance life, school, work and family. It is hard when you are an adult and trying to find time between a full-time job, children and friends and other adult responsibilities.

As musicians you hit plateaus like writer’s block and lack of inspiration. You ask yourself, ‘is it worth it?’ or ‘what’s the point?’, ‘where is this going?’ — but as long as you have those answers and continue growing, then you always find yourself doing what you feel the most passionate about. We’ve been fortunate to have received a lot of that goodness, also the fact that [the band] has always been friends makes it easier to keep going. 

M: How would you describe some challenges you’ve face along the way, both as an artist but also on a personal level?

Daniel: One challenge is keeping all of us involved and finding time to keep create music. There are a lot of lives to consider, it can be challenging coordinating to meet in one space and contribute what we can. Another challenge is keeping an audience's attention — trying to stay relevant in today’s social media madness. There is so much content at everyone’s grasp, it gets harder to stand out and keep the music and vision fresh. 

M: What’s something you would pass along to a fellow artist facing similar challenges?

Daniel: Work hard and keep going. Stay inspired and curious. Stay learning and evolving. Pay attention to the world around you and help those who need it. Build communities and work together with as many people as you can.

M: Can you share where your desire to create music comes from?

Daniel: The desire to put our music out there comes from being fans ourselves. We were at one point just listeners and students taking in the music and poetry around us. It helped us get through life and find happiness in what we do — we hope to show people they can do the same and continue the tradition of storytelling and dancing. 

M: Looking back at your arrival and where you are now presently — how would you describe your journey?

Daniel: I would describe it as exciting and humbling. It’s helped me conquer fears and grow as a person, it’s helped shape other aspects in everyday life. Our musical peers and other artists in our community have also been very influential in helping us continue our journey and shape our contribution to this story we’re telling.


The Artists Behind Music Licensing: Fritzwa

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A music licensing agency in Portland, Oregon, syncing music to picture and curating music for filmmakers — and all content creators — is the simplified version of what Team Marmoset actually does. But beyond the scope of our music services, there’s a community of artists and clients who make our purpose so enriching.

Talking to our artists every day, we’re the biggest fans of not only their music, but who they are as people too. Now more than ever, representation matters; it’s why we choose to celebrate our artists, their journeys and their backgrounds.

In our second chapter of our artists stories series, we’re passing the mic Fritzwa. Hailing from New York City’s Lower East Side and jumping into new music ventures in Los Angeles, Fritzwa shares her upbringing, her heritage and culture with us. Read on to learn more about the hustling, incredibly talented and kind-hearted Fritzwa.


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Marmoset: Looking back on your upbringing, what was something that inspired you to venture into music?

Fritzwa: I’m a child of immigrants, my parents come from Ghana and Sierra Leone in West Africa. My father as teen and young adult was in a band called The Flames; he was the one who introduced me to jazz and classical music where my mother introduced me to American songs. She really loved the classics, being brought up in a British colony.

There’s a big infusion of what my parents grew up on and what influenced them. In Ghana there’s a music genre called “hipline”. A lot of the rhythmic inspiration I have is from that and West African tradition sounds. It’s a privilege to be born into a situation where you have no choice but to be influenced by things that come from somewhere else. 

I’ve learned a lot about hip hop, rock, jazz, and took piano lessons — I grew up in New York, particularly East Village, there was a cultural melting pot of art.

Without the people around me, my family and friends, I would not be where I am today.
— Fritzwa

M: How do you think your heritage and culture has shaped who you are in your personal life and as a musical artist?

Fritzwa: My mom is from Sierra Leone, a place where African people were brought back to after slavery. Even though I am African, I am still African American by way of my ancestors coming back and having gone through that.  My mother speaks creole, and I’ll include that in my music too. That’s how she speaks at home and how she speaks to my father — so I’ll pick up on these things to include in my music. 

My heritage has influenced my current culture in the way I dress, the way I speak, even the way I traverse in the world. It also gives me a sense of respect and admiration for the African diaspora as a whole because of the historical experience that is shared. I’m open and receptive to any cultures, particularly from Africa, because I realize it is super rich and important.  

M: Do you have close ties to your family’s traditional culture?

Fritzwa: I come from a big family and we have a very familial culture. We’re very very close. Growing up, I had many cousins in West Africa and in other parts of the world like London and Sweden. They would come to America for school, college, or boarding school and because I lived in New York, it was the epicenter.

My home was the place where we would haveThanksgiving, where people would come for breaks. So I’m really close to my cousins who grew up in Ghana. A lot of the slang and music they liked or would think is cool transferred over to me. I also go home to Ghana almost every Christmas.

The close ties to my family and culture had a big influence on everything for me. Even the way I dres — I like to wear prints and super vibrant colors.

M: Have you ever faced challenges along your journey as an artist?

Fritzwa: I am hyper aware of how things work in the world and I do my best to combat challenges I face with my allies and my strategies. I believe that if your music is good, if it’s rooted in love and positivity and your relationship with the craft of music is good — then you’ll get to where you want to go, with the right persistence and diligence. 

M: What place does community hold in your life, as a person, an artist and a first generation American?

Fritzwa: It’s one of the most important things. I have always been one of two — one of two black people at school, or camp, or work. So to have a space that invites comfortability and people with the same experiences, who have your best interests at heart, it’s important for that to mirror back that you.

Also, a lot of the opportunities I’ve had are because of programs that were created for underrepresented people of color. As a DJ, I’m thankful for communities that come out and creates the vibe. I love being apart of something that brings people together. Without the people around me, my family and friends, I would not be where I am today.


A special thanks to the artists of Marmoset for sharing their stories with us. Listen to Fritzwa’s music here and check back for more of our artists’ stories.

Posted on September 4, 2019 and filed under Community, Artist Spotlights, Spotlight: Artists, Music Licensing, Music, Marmoset.

Eyes on Hip Hop Artist, WebsterX — Taking the Stage at Turner Hall Ballroom

Marmoset artist, WebsterX

Marmoset artist, WebsterX

“When I do something, I want to be passionate about it,” says Sam Ahmed, the man behind the moniker WebsterX.

Tactile and determined with a creative spirit, WebsterX was born with a natural hustle, a natural inclination toward poetry and music; he’s selective in what he wants to create and say, pouring his energy into things that fulfill his artistic vision, but also his community.

A relentless inventor, WebsterX takes deep care presenting his work. His music videos visual chapters reflecting present yet passing ideations; much like how lightning strikes — impossible to ignore and elusively powerful — the hip hop artist grabs onto listeners’ attention before embarking onto the next great creative process.

In this, WebsterX’s songs and music videos exude a unique style and narrative; still, an irrefutable commonality that ties his visions together, the product of WebsterX working toward deeper meaning and connection.

Inspired by WebsterX’s creative force, our Visual Content team (Josh Brine and Kale Chesney) are heading to Milwaukee to capture his story as an artist. Look into WebsterX by checking out “Blue Streak” and “Lately” below, then stay tuned for Marmoset’s exclusive artist profile video debuting this fall.

Catch WebsterX on Saturday, August 10th at Turner Hall Ballroom for TDM Festival.

Meet Riot Pop Group, WASI

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WASI fosters a fire-starter sound both personal and danceable. The musical group defies boundaries by borrowing inspiration across genres. From indie pop to punk to alt-hip hop, the musical group creates a self-defined genre that lives under the invention of riot pop.

Reminiscent melodies, angst-ridden lyrics and an uplifting aura, WASI is a voice and advocate for a genre-less youth going through their own tender time.

Read on to learn more about what the riot pop group is up to this summer.


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Marmoset: What’s one of the most memorable live shows you’ve ever played?

WASI: The most memorable live show we've ever played was for the Ladies Rock Camp, Los Angeles. Not only was the crowd wild but a six-year-old got on stage with us and jammed out on the cowbell!

To add to the story, there was a technical difficulty with our track, so a cowbell played through the speakers throughout the song (without us even realizing it until the first chorus because the six-year-old was playing the cowbell. She remembers that show from two years ago to this day.

M: You put out your debut album, how does it feel?

WASI: It feels great!! It feels like we're standing there, vulnerable and wearing our hearts on our sleeves. It's the beginning of a new chapter for us and we're excited to see where it goes.

M: What were you going for on Riot Pop? Do you feel like you reached that destination?

WASI: On Riot Pop we were going for a sound that authentically captured the chaos on our minds with the chaos of the world. I feel like we did capture that — especially with [the album’s] dark lyrics and lighthearted sound. We recorded a lot of it ourselves in our closet, so that in itself also captures its own authenticity that we wouldn't have been able to in a studio.

M: Your music is very expressive and meaningful. What does riot music mean you and why is it important for everyone?

WASI: Riot music to us is essentially punk at heart — music that defies the status quo and does its own thing. Riot doesn't have to be loud instruments and fast beats. It can be something that creeps, makes you feel angst and craziness without having to attack the same way.

Lyrically, it's music that stands for something. For us, we are so much about authentic spaces and power for the underdog. Our songs speak from that point of view with an optimistic lens.

M: Where do you pull your inspiration from?

WASI: We pull inspiration from stories that inspire us to change the world. I have family who immigrated here with nothing and have built everything they have. That to me is a huge part of who I am as an artist and the gratitude I check myself with every night.

We pull inspiration from the powerful relationships we form and how giving back to the world can help heal our own trauma. We pull inspiration from living in the boiling pot of Los Angeles, traveling and meeting folks from all over and hearing their individual stories.

M: How would you describe Riot Pop in one sentence?

WASI: Riot Pop is our set of uplifting, anthemic songs that take punk and pop to a new level of high vibrations.


Dig into WASI’s pulsing riot pop starting with some of our faves:

Fire” // “Floor Talk” // “Gets Me Everytime” // “Ricochet

Posted on July 31, 2019 and filed under Spotlight: Artists, Music, Music Licensing, Marmoset, Artist Spotlights.

Kingsley on Making Music That Makes Her

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Kingsley is an artist on the go; leaping into change and chance, she punctuates her music with a furtive attitude telling listeners her work is as much for them, as it is for her. Things naturally gravitate toward her and she doesn’t disappoint the universe’s beck and call—meeting probability face on.

Her ambitiousness is the undercurrent for creating and performing music. When signing on to be the opener act for SG Lewis, the production asked her to forgo performing with her band and instead do a DJ set; without skipping a beat, she said yes. Although unchartered territory, Kingsley remixed her songs specifically just for that night. It was a testimony for seizing every opportunity that aligns with her creative mission, not being afraid to figure it out as it goes.

Without a musical upbringing, Kingsley’s pursuit of songwriting can be traced back to when she was in kindergarten; her diary was a place for unleashing all her musings, her poems and eventual songs. She jokes that her upbringing was too supportive, a loving environment that didn’t spark a “artist’s angst” commonly found in so many successful artists’ lives.

Minus any great tragedy, Kingsley relents as a woman of color in a predominately white city. She doesn’t attribute her assuredness in identify and circumstances as growing to have “thick skin,” but to only care about the right things—meaning, relinquishing judgemental outside opinions.

“I think I’ve spent my whole life being black in a white setting,” says Kingsley. “But I just got to the point where I can either embrace it or I can spend my whole life tiptoeing around people. No, I’m loud. My personality is loud and my skin is loud.”

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This drive to be her authentic self, Kingsley admits she’s still exploring her sound—the unknown being more welcoming territory than falling into a genre others have decided on her behalf. In the past, producers attempted placing Kingsley into the R&B category, advising she stick with a “soulful sound.” Instead Kingsley embarked on reinventing a single EP through a different genre lens with each release. The heart of the production was to create freely while exploring what feels challenging but fulfilling.

“This is me, this is it. Going to an all white school, you know I had to know the whole Hannah Montana theme song and every Snoop Dogg album,” says Kingsley. “I got really comfortable with being like, damn I like all these things. With my music, I can say yeah, I wrote this song, I picked this beat for myself, this is what I want to move, this is what I want to sing along to.”

Kingsley’s work is an ongoing exploration of who she is, a reminder to never shy away from ideas that feel unfamiliar or uncertain; her music and presence is an example to never settle, to never be afraid of asking ‘what’s next?’


License and listen to Kingsley’s latest album, I Am Because I Dance. Then hit play on her Top Ten list to see what she’s currently listening to.

In Portland? Catch Kingsley live at Bit House Saloon on Saturday, July 20th. See you there!