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.
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.
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.