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From misfit to songstress: Singer Marti epitomizes creative devotion

Misfit Marti is a DC musician, singer/songwriter, opened for Kari Faux at SOB’s on September 23.

I had the opportunity to speak with her after her set. We discussed the transition from model to musician and the DMV creative scene on the rise.

We also discussed, her values when it comes to creating visual content. It’s important that whatever she creates aligns with her identity as a biracial woman.

misfit marti performing
Marti Photographed by Jade Rodgers

Misfit Marti is an incredible creative whose music is soulful and unique. Watching her open for Kari Faux was amazing. They are both incredible performers and have a vibrant presence off and on the stage.

Marti and Kari Faux photographed by Jade Rodgers

How do DMV artists stay connected?

Misfit Marti: I like these types of interviews. I prefer in-person. I feel like it just gives a certain type of energy that you don’t get through email. You look so familiar.

Jade: I know Jada, maybe we’ve crossed paths through her.

MM: Yeah, Jada that’s my homegirl!

Jade: I was gonna say that earlier when I came down to photograph. I didn’t want to be fucking weird.

MM: Nah that’s not weird, DMV shit!

Jade: I used to stay at Street Meets so maybe you’ve seen me around.

MM: Okay, word!

Jade: I actually wanted you to talk about that. A lot of DC artists are coming up right now!

MM: Yeah, yeah, they are.

Being a D.C. artist do you feel like you have to do justice to the art scene back home? I feel like a lot of people think the art community in D.C is not as vibrant as other places.

MM: Well, I’ve been in and out of DC since 2010. I was in New York for five years, the beginning of the last decade, and I lived in LA and London.

I’ve traveled but I’ve always come back home, and I don’t think about bringing things back to DC because DC already has it.

– Misfit Marti

We are an asset to everywhere else I’ve ever gone I have added to their community. I’ve added to their sauce like DC is so eclectic and so versatile and we are one of the original like pro-black, pro alt black, and all of the things that fall in between. In all of those categories, I don’t feel like I need to bring anything back.

Jade: I hear the opposite all the time. I think a lot of people from where we’re from don’t view it that way.

How did Misfit Marti bridge the gap within the underground scene?

MM: Well, I also used to work for Bombay Knox, hosting, and we brought a lot of artists to DC trying to bridge the gap of the underground rap scene. Between other underground rap spaces, in that time, I realized what DC needed, was connections.

We have those now. We have connections to New York. We have connections to LA. We have connections from Atlanta to Miami and Houston… To wherever the f*ck any of us want to go.

“I think any artist who says ‘that it is hard to maneuver hasn’t figured out their lane yet. Once you know that, then everything falls in place no matter where you go.”

– Misfit Marti

I remember the beginning of the decade being from DC was a joke. In 2010 I moved to New York and everyone laughed at me. Now I’m coming back and it’s ‘oh DC this…DC that.’ I’m like yeah, RESPECT, period.

It’s because people like me and other pioneers went forward and spread our seeds so I don’t think that DC artists don’t feel that love in other cities. We get mad love and if you’re not getting that love then you haven’t figured out how to network and maneuver yet. That’s not anybody’s problem but your own.

singer misfit marti
From left to right: Songstress Marti and Guitarist Alireza | Photo Cred: Jade Rodgers

Misfit Marti the multifaceted musician

Jade: Also, I noticed that you were modeling before this. I was very curious about what that transition was like going from modeling to making music. Did people make you feel out of place?

MM: Oh, I was definitely out of place I moved to LA to make music. I was in New York and I’ll never forget someone who told me to stick to the things that you know, you are a nightlife personality you got this hosting gig in the bag.

I emceed and hosted a lot of parties in DC and in New York before I started making music. It started with Keith Charles from Awful Records. Actually way back in the day, now he’s just known as Keith Charles Spacebar. Back then he was a part of Awful Records and he’s one of the first two people. He and Denzel Curry really pushed me to make music.

Jade: What year was that in?

MM: From 2014 to 2015, I could not sing girl, to save my life! I could not sing, but I had an idea. They were very supportive but no one else was supportive. I moved to LA to start recording because no one here would fuck with me. That was in 2015 when I moved to LA and now it’s 2021.

I’m just now staking a claim as like an actual musician. Getting booked for shows doing things like SOB’s and you know, having features on Dazed and i-D.

“Things take time when you rebrand yourself. When you like completely jump off the bandwagon from what you were doing before those things take a lot of time and I learned patience. Patience with my music most definitely. It was giving, If you love it, you’ll wait for it.”

– Misfit Marti

Jade: Yes, I completely agree with that. I don’t know if you heard me earlier, but I was saying that I was a computer science major. I had taken the leap to like, come here and be a photographer, and try my hand at this.

When I’m back home I’m freelancing. Being here in New York is completely different. This is the second opportunity I’ve had that I’m kind of, like, excited about. I feel like you are embodying some of the things that I kind of imagined it would be like moving out here.

Yeah, welcome. It’s a hard city, but it’s not hard when you believe in yourself…”

– Misfit Marti
dj sydney gonsalves
Dj Sydney Gonsalves | Photo Cred: Jade Rodgers

Misfit or vampire songstress?

Jade: So where did your passion for songwriting stem from?

MM: I’ve been writing music since like, first grade, no lie. The moment I learned how to write I was writing songs. I didn’t forget that song by 3 Doors down [mimics chords].

I remember, having the guitar chords in my head and, and carrying them around and being like, they stole from me! Maybe I had to be five or six years old. I wanted to be in a rock band. And you know, I was also very heavy in the gogo scene.

I’ve been writing poetry my whole life and I think that music has always been there. It was just a matter of honing in on it, you know? So like, I wrote my very first song, at seven years old, and it was called, “She Hates My Guts.” And it was an ode to my ex-best friend who hated me.

Jade: Would you ever make that? As an actual track?

MM: Child no! That song is terrible. I made it just for fun, it was terribly written. That’s the thing.

“I kept writing poems and then when I started writing songs, I started writing them as therapy. You know, like, I couldn’t afford therapy.”

– Misfit Marti

I remember the very first thing I wrote: [singing] It’s such a damn shame that you don’t love me? And I try so hard now to give you my all. But you don’t love me? And baby I know this is such a damn shame. Ah, I’m yo-yours. I’m yours. I wrote that on the train coming from the hospital.

Jade: That was beautiful, you’re amazing.

MM: Thank you. I think most of my songwriting comes from my own personal experiences. When I’m very happy, and life is very great. It’s very hard for me to make music, I have to experience life and have to experience some type of hardship.

I have to experience some type of confusion, my music thrives off of that, and that’s, you know, to each its own.

“I can write whatever but music for me is a very intimate, very healing process.”

– Misfit Marti

Jade: You can definitely hear it like when you’re singing, it’s like, I don’t know what it is. Reminds me of those songs, that just take you, back to when you were young? You feel like you are in a church type of setting. I don’t know, it’s was really really great watching your performance.

MM: Thank you so much. I really appreciate that. I love aunty in the church. That’s what I’m always trying to give!

misfit marti dc artist
Marti performing at SOB’s | Photo Cred: Jade Rodgers

Misfit Marti on finding identity and understanding

Jade: Speaking of that, I saw that you made a video that called back to Black portraiture in the 1800s. I’m really, really a big fan of Black history and I’m a photography major. So I wanted to speak about your relationship to history and why that representation is so important in your work, or in general?

MM: I’m biracial… I have a white father. But my Black family who I grew up with, who I’m very close with, my mother specifically, has been in DC since the 1700s.

And there’s a street named after a great uncle of mine. As well as a famous barbershop named after a great grandfather of mine, you know, I think about black excellence in DC and what that meant “Chocolate city” and before gentrification, like imagine now but the 1900s.

How rich and beautiful that must have been… I think that being a DC native, I wanted to push that narrative of beautiful black essence. I’m just a sucker for history. I’ve always been a history nerd.

I think with the video for “Easy” I really just wanted to show the beauty of, black love throughout the ages. We don’t get portrayed like that. While blackness is angry, blackness is darkness, blackness is violence. Our blackness is also light and love and giving honesty and purity and transformation. It’s all those things. We are such-. I can’t think what the word would be, multifaceted.

Yes, very eclectic people. And I just wanted to show a softer side of that because we don’t get shown a lot of that now especially with this craze, the 90s, and the 80s and the crack era and all that. I was born in ’92. My father was locked up the day after I was born, from crack, and I don’t glorify that shit.

I don’t think that that’s what should be glorified in black culture. Thug and I don’t want to say “Thug.” I hate that fucking word.

“I don’t want to portray the darkness of blackness, it’s important to be shared but we all don’t have to share that story. I’d rather share the beauty of blackness and that’s what I choose to do.”

– Misfit Marti

Jade: I was so curious about your referencing of these early images of black people and like how we took this medium that was really inaccessible to us.

MM: Yeah, only the elite and I think about that too. When I think about capitalism and the economy. I think about black excellence, where the standard is Beyonce and Jay-Z’s, but being a billionaire or a millionaire is not sustainable.

It’s not ethical, and those who suffer are black people. People save up so they can look regal and take a photo that would last forever because those photos were important back then. They are not important now.

They come and they go but capturing those moments was the most important thing of black life because it was very rare that anybody cared about what the f*ck we were doing.

So even if it was for the rich elite blacks or for those who saved up their life savings to do it. Either way, I think that it’s a beautiful thing. Definitely and they should be celebrated. I think they should be celebrated and that’s what I wanted to do.

sobs show kari faux
SOB’s crowd | Photo Cred: Jade Rodgers

What was it like opening for Kari Faux

Jade: What was the experience like tonight performing?

MM: Oh! nerve-racking, I’m so nervous before shows. I feel very good now but like oh my fucking god, I am a fucking wreck all day. I thought I was gonna throw up.

Went to a job interview today and then they like gifted us food. I ate the food It was delicious. But then I was like I’m gonna throw it up. I like got home tried to meditate couldn’t meditate. I was really freaking out. Um very uncomfortable.

“I’m very serious about my art. And it’s very personal to me. Everything that I’ve written is a truthful experience of mine and to be vulnerable.”

– Misfit Marti

When I have this whole Misfit Marti persona of like, you know, the girl with the safety pin in her nose. People like don’t remember me or this very, like hard alternative black girl who’s very strong, and the music is very soft. It’s very hard to let your guard down and be soft in front of strangers. When the whole world has told you not to ever do that, especially as a black woman. So I be freaking out.

Jade: You did so amazing though.

MM: Once I get on stage like you know, everything is everything. And that’s just what it is. I love performing. I hate it all the way up until I get on stage.

misfit marti performing
Misfit Marti performing on stage at SOB’s | Photo Cred: Jade Rodgers

Jade: I think that’s how I feel when I’m photographing. Until I’m actually in it. I’m nervous. I was nervous to come down earlier to talk to you. Now I’m like, Oh my god this woman is amazing.

MM: Yeah, no, no actually like, please don’t ever be nervous with artists. If artists are rude to you then f*ck them because we are humans. This is human interaction. It shouldn’t be anything more than that. You’re not doing me a favor by talking to me and I’m not doing you a favor by talking to you. This is an honest interaction and that’s what it should be.

Jade: That’s beautiful, thank you for that.

MM: You’re welcome.

Marti leaves us with something to live by

Jade: What advice would you give someone in trying to make their way onto the music scene?

“Patience! Things can take five to eight years to pop, don’t let age factor in…”

– Misfit Marti

Jade: Okay!

MM: Yeah, you know, black don’t crack, come on baby! But I’m 29 years old, and I didn’t start making music until 25. I’m just now getting here. Don’t feel rushed. Take your time. Be honest, be honest with yourself, about your music, be honest with yourself about why you want to do it. Because if you want to do it to get out of your situation, to like better your life or anything like that, that’s cool.

And I’m not gonna judge you for that. And no one should ever judge you for that. But you got to do this because nothing else feels good. If you feel like you cannot live unless you create music, and you share it with the world, then do it. Cuz that’s the only thing that’s going to keep you going. This world is a hard one, you got to have a hard backbone. And I think that like unless you truly love this, don’t do it.

You have got to want this, you got to want this more than being alive. You gotta want this more than you want a better relationship with your parents more than you want to be in love more than having children, you gotta want this more than any of that. And those things can happen, of course, because like life is multifaceted.

“You got to be willing to sacrifice everything to potentially gain nothing.”

– Misfit Marti

And I think that that’s what people need to come to terms with. You could do all this and end up with nothing. I don’t know if that’s good advice.

Jade: It actually is because a lot of people don’t want to face the reality that sometimes the thing that you want and desire the most could still slap you in your face. Yeah, and you need to be prepared for that. You prepare for the worst, and hope for the best. Yes! So that was very valid advice.

MM: Thank you.

Jade: I don’t want to even make music but I feel that I can apply that to anything. Alright, so the last thing, what can we expect from you in the future?

Marti kari faux signing
From left to right: Marti and Kari Faux | Photo Cred: Jade Rodgers

MM: I’m dropping an album or an EP, we don’t know what it is exactly. But it’s a project that’s called A Rose with Root Rot. It’s coming out early next year. It’s my baby I’ve been working on for five years. I think it’s finally come together. It’s a beautiful project that I think everyone would love.

I think you expect more from me being more social on social media, I really want to connect more with my fans. So I’m going to make an effort to do that.

Anyone knows what I was maybe short films, maybe major film, maybe TV placements, who knows I’m open to any and everything. But right now, you can expect this project from me and I’m also doing creative direction. And so I’ve done a couple of music videos that are coming out soon for some really cool artists, local artists, and I’m very, very proud to be working on those.

Jade: That’s awesome, thank you so much looking forward to everything!

MM: Yeah, of course!

Follow your heart

While talking to Misfit Marti I think I learned a lot from the DC artist. It’s really dope meeting musicians who are unapologetic. Pushing to go after their dreams but also putting in the work to get things done.

It’s never easy but worth the effort. If there’s anyone you should be looking out for it’s Marti! She is creating, and advocating, and encompassing all her passions into her career. That multifaceted way of thinking and creating is important and I hope we cross paths again.