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Art & Life with Marilyn Moser

Today we’d like to introduce you to Marilyn Moser.

Marilyn, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
Music goes way back for me. My grandfather was a jazz musician in the 1950’s, and my dad and uncle performed around Harvard Square in Boston during the early 1980s. Even today, my mom still plays the banjo! Every house or apartment I’ve ever lived in has had at least one room dedicated to music, with a keyboard, guitar and even my saxophone (good ol’ high school band days). It wasn’t until college that I understood how much of an impact my upbringing would have on my career. I went from majoring in Environmental Studies back home to eventually moving myself to New York City to study songwriting in Greenwich Village. I took up an internship at Electric Lady Studios (originally owned and operated by Jimi Hendrix), where a chance meeting with another engineer encouraged me to move out to Los Angeles in pursuit of music full-time. I’ve since had the privilege of performing my music at some of my most dreamt-about venues in the country, including The Bitter End in NYC and The Troubadour in Hollywood.

Social media, coincidentally, has just as important a place in my background. I have distinct memories of obsessively coding HTML Myspace backgrounds for my friends at age 13, eventually becoming the token photographer for Facebook album archives when out and about in high school. By college, I had offered up freelance social media work for my peers and businesses in and around Manhattan, before taking on my first digital media job at a casino in the Las Vegas area at 21, just barely old enough to get in the door.

And then, I made the final leap to Los Angeles, taking a social media coordinator job at Guitar Center’s corporate office in the summer of 2016. It was the first time I was given free reign to explore the marriage of media and music—how to interview an artist, how to create a sponsored campaign, and most importantly—how much power an artist has in the eyes of a major brand partner. I found myself backstage at Coachella, interviewing H.E.R. about a custom Fender Stratocaster, and even was flown to London in 2018 for the Bohemian Rhapsody premiere, where I carted QUEEN guitarist Brian May’s prototype guitar around London for a tourist-themed photoshoot at Buckingham Palace and The Tower Bridge. Even I can’t predict what I’ll be up to next.

Can you give our readers some background on your music?
These days, I’ve embraced the fluidity of what my “art” is. When I moved to LA initially, I had dreams that mirrored thousands of others around me, make music that eventually becomes my day job. But as I went along, after joining a band and playing smaller showcases around the city, my interests started to expand, as did my level of experience. For the projects I was working on, I quickly realized that I was having just as much fun creating the logos and brand marketing experience as I was performing and writing. What might happen if I embraced them both?

A few weeks into the pandemic, I published the first blog series on my website, called “Here’s What You Can Do”. At that point, hundreds of thousands of full-time musicians were out of work, and dozens of major events and festivals had been cancelled. I wanted to find a way to add a little bit of positive encouragement to this newfound virtual persona we’ve all been encouraged to adopt, including live-streaming best practices, hashtag tips and how to clean up your SEO footprint. I even invited my friend, LA guitarist Angela Petrilli, on my Instagram for a live stream Q&A about staying connected with your digital audience through community building.

And as for my music, I think Hollywood has a way of steering you from the original love of the craft if you let it. For my next solo project, I’ve decided to pull back from the grind of an “artist calendar” in favor of some other things currently in the works, freeing myself up to just enjoy the songwriting process and collaborations with new producers. That, and maybe a shot-for-shot recreation of the 1981 “Video Killed The Radio Star” cover, just because.
“Video Killed The Radio Star” cover: https://www.instagram.com/p/CATz97ug649/

In your view, what is the biggest issue artists have to deal with?
I talked about this in my blog series, but if there’s anything I’ve learned in my time in the industry thus far, it’s that artists have much more power in what they can accomplish on their own accord than they realize. At a record label event I attended pre-quarantine, I distinctly remember one of the A&R execs talking about how their teams are now trained to track marketing trends on apps like TikTok, where an unknown artist like Lil Nas X can emerge a GRAMMY-winning force in a matter of months. The sentiment of “you could be next!” has never held more truth than it does today, and especially right now. So build an audience, define your own persona and, of course, make music that speaks to your crowd.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
I’m actively working on a brand new project with plans for launch in summer of 2020, but for now, you can keep up with my writing at www.marilynmoser.com, as well as my current hair color on Instagram, @marilynmoser.

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Image Credit:
Stephanie Lemus, Shion Uza

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