We spoke to Jesus Gonzalez, our new VP of Music Partnerships at FRUKT L.A, about his musical creations over the years and how that's filtered through to his work at FRUKT.
1. How would you describe your start in the entertainment industry?
I always tell folks I reverse engineered myself into the role I have today. My stint in the music industry started on the talent side as a solo Spanish Hip-Hop artist going by the moniker Malverde. Malverde was based on a Mexican Robin Hood figure that stole from the rich and gave to the poor. Jesus Malverde is considered the Patron Saint of narco and bandido culture. As my music was socio-political in nature, I shared stories of inspiration and struggle influenced by artists such as Bob Marley, Manu Chao, Public Enemy, Cypress Hill, Tupac, Talib Kweli and Mos Def. I also worked on a live band project called Maleco Collective. Both have been on hiatus in recent years.
2. What kick-started the project?
I graduated with a B.A. in Political Science and went to work as a Sales and Marketing Executive for Oracle Software. It gave me a great corporate base of knowledge. I was writing and recording music and knew I wanted a career in entertainment. As a project came to fruition I left the security of my corporate job and took the leap of faith in 2003. I released my first album, “Mi Palabra” (My Word) independently. It was met with critical acclaim and started building buzz that made labels start knocking. I signed with Machete/Universal in 2006 and put out a reissue of my street album with my major label debut “La Leyenda Continua” (The Legend Continues) dropping in 2008. It was a bitter-sweet time as my project came out just as the music industry as a whole was derailing due to the changes brought on by file-sharing and the changing music economy. One of the main factors that kept me afloat was my relationships with brands. Here I was doing events and partnerships with brands such as Hennessy, Don Julio, Jose Cuervo and Heineken. It was before 360 deals.. I saw an opportunity in that brands space and started really building my brand and agency contacts.
3. What was the moment where you thought, ‘Yeah, I really love doing this?
The whole process of creating music is deeply gratifying. I was blessed to share the stage with musical icons such as Cypress Hill, Daddy Yankee, Don Omar, Snoop Dogg and Calle 13. The connection music creates between the artists and fans is what drives culture and lifestyle. It was that culture and lifestyle that brands were trying to tap into in a genuine way. I viewed brands as the new Patrons of the Arts and felt that if done right these relationships could help amplify culture and build equity for all parties involved. I very organically transitioned from the talent side to consulting in the Multicultural Lifestyle Marketing space for many of the same agencies and brands that once supported me artistically. As my projects grew in scale I officially jumped back into the corporate world with UMG. While there, I helped lead their Latin Division’s business development endeavors crafting partnerships with leading brands such as AB, MasterCard, Toyota, Corona and many more. Then FRUKT came knocking and here I am. I pinch myself when I step back and see how far I’ve come. I really love the convergence of music, culture and commerce.
4. What’s the end goal for Malverde?
For me, Malverde, that essence I represented musically still exists in what I do today. I truly believe my artistic background gives me a competitive advantage in helping both brands and bands navigate the many nuances that the corporate and creative components that successful music partnerships entail. I can effectively convey artistic feedback to the brand/corporate side and vice versa because I’ve lived it. I do feel a certain duty and responsibility to support true artistry. By guiding brands in the discovery process and balancing the support of both established and emerging talent we have the power and ability to drive and influence culture. There is true artistry in that task. As Music Partnerships become central to the new music economy I guess now I’m a Patron Saint of the Arts!! As cliché as it sounds, I’m testament to the fact that an undying will and determination will get you where you need to be. Even if it’s beyond where you’d ever imagined.. Si Se Puede!
As for another music project, I don’t rule it out and hope to complete an EP in 2017! I might have to ask my new colleague Dom to lace me with some tracks! :)
Check out some of my discography: