Just three days before he was born in 1993, Marley Schwartz’s parents were overseeing the first One World Music Festival in Telluride. Although the festival had its last run in 2000, his parents’ knack for event planning still thrives in Schwartz. In November 2017, he kicked off the Curation Series, a monthly event at Your Mom’s House offering electronic, soul and R&B music that's based on two events Schwartz frequented when he lived in Los Angeles: TeamSupreme and Soulection.
We spoke with Schwartz about the inspiration behind the Curation Series, what he learned about the music industry while living and working in L.A. and what the event will bring to Denver’s music scene.
Westword: Are there any specific memories you have from attending events with your parents or those run by your parents? Anything you feel you learned from them or picked up on specifically in the event-organizing arena?
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Marley Schwartz: I was young when they put on their festivals, so I don't remember much. But I do remember often being on the side of the stage for acts like George Clinton, Black Uhuru and Primus. Also, I do have a pretty clear memory of hanging out with Bunny Wailer backstage and on his bus. In terms of things I've picked up from their experiences, it has been really nice to have my parents as a resource for tips on developing the event and learning about norms in the industry. One of the main things I've gathered from them is the importance of being patient in growth and not going beyond what our resources allow. With a slower growth, it seems the event can be more sustainable, which is a definite goal of ours.
Why the name the Curation Series?
The name stems from an online mix series I started about three years ago. I decided on that name because each artist that we bring through carefully selects tracks to convey a specific vibe, and we do the same with careful selection of the artists we bring through and how the schedule plays out through the night. Essentially, the name is [meant] to convey the idea that there is a thoughtful direction to the vibe that is conveyed at each event.
What lessons do you think you learned from diving into the music scene in L.A.? How do you feel you've adapted what you learned there in your approach to Denver's music scene?
My time in L.A. was a huge learning experience. One of the first things I learned was how many dope undiscovered artists are out there that are going through almost the exact same things as you. And with all those dope people out there, it's important to realize that music isn't a competition and to not compare your successes and what you're doing to other people. I think that was kind of a big revelation for me. What I realized was that everyone has their own path in something so abstract as a career in music, and comparing yourself with others will only make you feel like you’re not doing the right things or making the right music, when really all that matters is that you're making music and doing things that sound and feel good to you. That allows your art to have a real authenticity, and people can sense that and are drawn to it.
Along with that, I realized the importance of real authentic relationships in the music industry. In L.A., there is definitely this sense of everyone trying to flex what they're doing and using relationships to get an upper hand, which kind of leads to this sense of fake-ness in relationships out there. I think this causes a weak sense of community and an every-man-for-themselves mentality. When you’re doing something as difficult as trying to make a living being a musician, times can be tough, and I think it’s important to have a good support system of friends and collaborators to encourage you to keep pushing.
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In terms of how I've applied these things to approaching the Denver music scene, mainly I've just tried to build real authentic relationships with everyone I'm working closely with in the music industry and to just be honest and clear with my ideas and vision. There are so many cool people out here in the music scene. I'm just trying to get out there and connect with them and see how we can all work together to create something special that benefits the scene as a whole while doing something new that Denver hasn't really seen before.
What do you think points to the potential for opportunity in Denver? Where do you see its potential as a scene, specifically?
I see a lot of potential for what we're doing with the Curation Series because Denver loves music. In the Denver music scene, people are really open-minded. There is a lot less focus on what is trendy or who the big name is, and more about what an artist is bringing to the stage. If it moves people, it will be successful. There is also a wealth of underrated and unrecognized talent in Denver. I think the combination of these things along with the fact that there isn't a place in Denver that is really focusing on the kind of music we're bringing on a regular basis will allow us to carve out a space for the event and the scene to thrive.
The Curation Series featuring Kid Astronaut, Animal Ace and Parkbreezy, 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, January 24, Your Mom’s House, 608 East 13th Avenue, 303-860-4516, $5.