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.
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.
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.