We had the good fortune of connecting with Marwan and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Marwan, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Risk is essential. It is non-controversial in theory but often forgotten in practice. In my life, if I feel like things are going well, that things are easy, that’s a red flag. I know that in order to succeed and climb as far as I can see in my mind, that I must fall a million times before I can truly rise. It is for this endeavor of failing in order to succeed that risk is essential.
Let me tell you the story of how I started my own weekly Music and Art show (@apiaryofficial) and built an entire music/production team as a newbie fresh to LA. I first got to LA in August of 2020, right in the middle of the pandemic and as a freelance musician and artist I was desperate to get my feet wet in the LA music scene. Because of that, I jumped at the first gig I got. I was to hire a house band that I would play with and lead every Thursday night and book several artists to perform for this promotion/event company that threw parties in DTLA. I lasted there 3 weeks before it all really started for me. I didn’t like how it felt to be in that crowd. The people were all about money and ironically I wasn’t getting paid the money that I was promised. No one cared about genuine relationships or community. Overall, those were not the people that I wanted to surround myself with and after a talk with the owner, I decided to leave after my 3rd week with them. However, I had already booked the band and artists and promised them pay, and I hate going back on my word. For that reason, I spontaneously decided to just throw a show myself so that I can give the people the work I promised them and I thought well, if I lose money, then so be it. I’ll just pay out of pocket so that I don’t go back on my word.
I got connected with Kani Webb from Peace of Mind, a beautiful venue space that offers lots of community support resources and hosts a lot of events, and the vision aligned instantly. I knew Peace of Mind was where I wanted to be and so I rented out the space from Kani for that same Thursday. I had 2-3 days to plan a whole show in a city that I had been living in for 2 months at the time and I barely knew anybody. If we’re talking about risks, that’s a big one right there. With help from the people that I was lucky enough to have in my life, whether old friends or Kani and his Peace of Mind community, we made the show happen and not just as an outdoor and socially distanced music show, but also as an art show. Kani suggested that we bring some local artists to vend at the event. At first, it was just a thought that came up when trying to figure out how to offset my expenses for rent, the band, artists, chairs, equipment, etc. However, the vendors turned out to be the perfect addition to the event. Before the night was even over and before I knew whether I had made or lost money, I walked up to Kani and told him “Next Thursday. Let’s do it again.” and Kani allowed me to rent out the space again and again, and soon enough the event became known as ‘Apiary,’ and it has grown in such a short time far beyond what I would’ve imagined.
In this instance with Apiary, I took a big risk. I risked my reputation, my money, and lots of time. However, I gained beautiful relationships, a whole new skillset in such diverse fields, and the true start of my career as a musician, artist, and business owner in LA.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am many things. I do my best to acknowledge all of those things. I am a friend, and I try to be a good one. I am a brother and a son. I am a lover of philosophy and physics. I am a business owner. I am an event planner. I am an extrovert who loves making genuine connections. I am Egyptian. I am a lover of bike riding. However, the thing that I am that encompasses and warmly embraces all of those things is, a Musician. I grew in Egypt listening to traditional micro-tonal Egyptian music. After moving to the US to escape the revolution in my home, I started getting exposed to soul, blues, jazz, RnB, and Hip Hop, and my musical world burst. So many colors, ideas, possibilities. We often say that we “play” music. However that element of “play” is often lost on us after going through the music industry and/or music school. That element though, is where the magic lies. A concept so simple. Play. Such a basic word that carries so many possibilities. Those possibilities are what I aim to bring to the music that I create. I consciously and purposefully work to make sure that I allow myself to shine. That I allow my mind to explore. That I am fully okay with my ears, and with my mind. As a result of that, I end up with a very wide range of sounds in my library. I could be composing a Jazz ballad, an RnB song, a heavy Hip-Hop beat, or arranging a traditional Egyptian song. As long as I continue allowing myself this space for experimentation, I am beyond thrilled to find out where all the different possibilities can take me.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Well, I would take them to Apiary of course!
But in all seriousness, I still feel like I need someone to show ME around LA since I moved here during the pandemic and still haven’t seen so many of the cool spots!
So I am going to cheat a little bit and make this a list of places I know and love, along with some places that I still want to explore.
Ok so first one – This spot here is a secret shared between me and my friend Josh Leon, an amazing artist/songwriter. We were biking around the rose bowl a while back and had to stop on the side of the road to catch our breath in the middle of this super steep hill. As we veer off to the side of the road to avoid cars we look out to the side and we see this beautiful beautiful creek with water, some ducks, and all different kinds of trees and plants and it was HUGE! We immediately ditched our bikes (good move?) and ran down to explore. We were down there for hours. If you want to find it go to the rose bowl and from the big parking lots, head on your bike up the road leaving the rose bowl to your back, and maybe a half a mile up you’ll see a bridge on top of you. The creek will be behind the bridge’s massive pole on your right. Hit me up if you can’t find it I got you.
Ok also – With Love Cafe (s/0 my friend Aria for hipping me to this spot) – such a cool spot to do work. The staff are super friendly, the coffee and food are great, and it even doubles as a mini grocery store.
And finally – Peace of Mind in Compton! POM is a venue and community space and they host amazing events! Music shows, open mics, food drives, community workshops, and the list goes on. For sure if you’re about supporting small businesses and local creatives, this is the spot to check out! 2125 w compton blvd.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Wow! So many people so let’s jump right in. Mikey Aguilera – My great friend and business partner/ co-owner of Apiary – I was struggling running Apiary by myself. It was impossible to keep the show running the way it was with me wearing 20 different hats, and I am grateful that Miguel came along to split the hats with me 10 each 🙂
Kani Webb and Peace of Mind (@Peaceofmindcpt) – had he not believed in my vision and allowed me to use his space, “Apiary” might’ve never existed. He is always down to share his knowledge and his ideas, and I have learned from both your kindness and your wisdom, Kani.
Sean Harrison- aside from being a great friend, he is my Co-Musical Director at Apiary, and I have been able to rely on him week after week for his wisdom and advice. He is someone I trust to always be honest with me, which is a rare thing to have, and I appreciate him greatly for it.
Kendra Celise, Hayley McClintock, Swornima Thapa – The newest members of our team. They are passionate, dedicated, and I am infinitely grateful that they choose to believe in our shared vision and continue taking initiative in our push forward.
All our Bees – At Apiary, everyone that joins our community is a part of our beehive. Without all of you that come out every single week to support, this would be completely impossible. You are Apiary and you are the reason we do this, the reason we can, and the reason we will continue to. We’re all different bees, but we make the same honey.
Other: My website is in the works, so I am linking Apiary’s site! My instagram, linked above, is the best way to reach me 🙂
Breanna Lynn Wesley Chandler