011 - Lara Manzanares

011 - Lara Manzanares

Lara Manzanares is a multi-disciplined artist, creator, and exceptional musician. I had a great time sitting down with her (remotely) for this conversation. She has an impressive career under her belt. She possesses the rare blend of hard earned musical prowess, a thick skin, and a truly compassionate heart. I very much respect her talents, experiences, and gusto - she's stuck it out as a creative in this ever changing world and she deserves your attention. Follow the links below:


[post image credit: Reece Martinez]



Alex Velasquez:0:00

I am ready. Go ahead and just do a quick mic test. Hey, everybody. Here we go. It looks good. All right, this will be what... Apollo Road podcast episode number 11. With Lara Manzanares. We finally got a date to sit down and record this. And right now it is December 20. So we're closing in on the end of 2020. And this is gonna be my first remote podcast. So fingers crossed. But welcome Lara.

Lara Manzanares:0:43

Thank you so much, Alex. It's a pleasure to be here.

Alex Velasquez:0:46

Yeah. Thanks for doing it. I know. It's It's so hard to coordinate anything these days. So I appreciate it. It's, I know it takes a lot of work... just coordinating and setting things up, even if it's even if it's remote. And we do the best we can.

Lara Manzanares:1:02

Yeah, there's a lot of like gadgetry involved, and gadgets and things and pieces you have to put together and set up and position and lights and like just, yeah, it's it's been a learning curve.

Alex Velasquez:1:19

Yeah. So I mean, you're a very experienced musician. So you've been around that industry for a long time. And I think one of the things that I've learned just getting into podcasting is yeah, there's so much equipment, and there's a proper way to set things up. And I think a lot of that goes unnoticed for musicians, everyone expects to hear beautiful sound that's leveled properly, and the instruments and the vocals, mesh...can you speak to that just getting over that learning curve, and then and then getting to the music and your art?

Lara Manzanares:1:58

Sure, well, that's a learning curve that I am still in. You know, I may have been a musician for a while, but a recording artist, that's kind of a different thing. Land Baby, my album was pretty much you know, my model, I guess I did do another album when I was in my 20s, like, mid 20s. But it wasn't original music, it was very much like just go into the studio and like, sing a bunch of these old corridos and songs that I would sing on the street or at the farmers market. And just like sit here, sing into the mic, play your guitar, and like, boom, like we did a thing, you know, when I was younger is, I don't remember how old I was. But it was before I really was comfortable sharing my own music. But when it came time to record Land Baby, which is my first album of my own original music, that was that was a big learning curve. For me, I I'd never crafted, you know, songs or an album in that way, you know, hired session musicians and kind of done the whole production aspect of it. And there are definitely a lot of pieces. A lot of pieces, a lot of equipment, a lot of knowledge and wisdom that I was lucky enough to be around by working with Jono Manson. Over at the Kitchen Sink in, in Santa Fe. He's originally from Brooklyn, and has done a lot of he's done a lot. He's He's definitely a I see him sort of veteran industry. So So yeah, I mean, I'm still learning and now we have to learn again, because going into the studio to do an album with a bunch of musicians again, like right now, it's not really a thing that it's just really difficult to do something like that. And at the moment, like maybe not something I would want to do like, just for my own, you know, health and whatever is going on. So I and and kind of everyone else probably are having to like figure out, Okay, how can I do this part of the song or an album at home? You know, what equipment do I need? And now I need to do more research and learn more. So so I'm still definitely in that learning curve. And around equipment and so many other things. But yeah, you're right. A lot of folks who aren't in that maybe don't realize how much how much it takes when I was recording land baby. My dad, he would he would ask, you know, we it took about a year in total to do it for a few reasons, you know, not just the production, but but a few different reasons. But it was, you know, stretched out over about a year or almost a year. So my dad kept asking I'd like I'd be I went to the studio and did such and such, and my dad would be like, Okay, well, you know, so is it coming out next week or something like that? And I'm like, no. Right? Like, no. And he would be he would ask me like, well, What's taking so long, like you already, you know, recorded the songs. And I'm like, Yeah, but you have to mix them. You have to, you know, listen, and Is this your crafting it? You know, just just like it just like a physical object? Yeah.

Alex Velasquez:6:04

Yeah. And that's not even like, in the old days cutting vinyl. I mean, that. I don't know how long it took from when you recorded to cutting all the vinyl, and then shipping physical boxes. I mean, and that's sort of the old way of doing things. And now with technology, in theory, it is it is way faster, but it's still, there's still so many steps to it. And yeah, it's not. It's not like live streaming, where you just hit go. And, you know, and there it is. I think we're kind of spoiled now by YouTube, live streams, everything is just instant. And sometimes. It's I mean, and that's, there's benefits to that. But I think from your perspective, it's people should know how much work there is behind the scenes. Before you hit play on Spotify, right? You have to realize that,

Lara Manzanares:6:58

right? And then, you know, before I was doing recording, and before I really was, I mean, I've always kind of either kind of been a musician, or just been a musician, and I, you know, didn't really, at a certain point in my life, I didn't really think like, Oh, yeah, I'm gonna be recording and stuff. You know, music was just some, like a part of me, it wasn't like, you know, this is, it just wasn't thinking about the business and production part of it as a kid, you know

Alex Velasquez:7:28

actually speak more to that. Where are you at right now, in terms of as a musician versus as a business? Because I know, a lot of artists at some point, they face that decision of love being an artist, and that's who I am. But if it's going to be your career, you know, you have to kind of take on the whole business side.

Lara Manzanares:7:48

Yeah. So that's, uh, I'd say I'm about in a similar place to how I described my knowledge of, you know, recording and equipment and stuff. Um, yeah... Well, I don't know, I guess when I lived in San Francisco a few years ago, I was there for about six years and before then I would do it too. Well, I guess. Okay, I'm, I'm going backwards in my brain. All the way back to high school.

Alex Velasquez:8:24


Lara Manzanares:8:25

I would I would sing at the farmers market, and I'd put my guitar case out. And people would, you know, put money I was busking. Oh, cool. Yeah, with the term. That's that's called busking. And, and I would play with other musicians who happen to also be Farmers Market vendors. You know, they see me playing and they'd say, Oh, can I can I bring my guitar and play with you? And I'd say, Yeah, sure. So so I kind of, I kind of had a band. Yeah, way of just sort of, sort of, not just whoever wanted to play along, you know.

Alex Velasquez:9:12

So, that's as big as it gets, right. Just kind of that's super authentic. You just kind of show up in whoever's air you just jam. Right.

Lara Manzanares:9:21

Well, yeah, I mean, that's, that's music, right? That's, in its essence, it's people. People. So I think in images, it's kind of hard to... Think of the words but it's people getting together and like and sharing and communicating with their voice or with you know, this thing that they have in their hands that they're manipulating in some way to create these different sounds, you know, so yeah, I guess you could say that is very authentic in that like, that is music. And at that time even I wasn't really thinking of it as a business, but I guess I was making some money. Right, we're giving tips and stuff. And then later on in life, I started to do that a lot more again in in San Francisco. Kind of because the neighborhood that I lived in, was conducive to that, that, that kind of that kind of thing.

Alex Velasquez:10:28

And was San Francisco, like coming from a small town in New Mexico?

Lara Manzanares:10:32

Well, it wasn't. I didn't go straight from Tierra Amarilla to San Francisco. Okay, so I've got I've received that question before. And it wasn't a big shock to me or anything, because I'd gone through a whole process.

Alex Velasquez:10:56

Seat already traveled, I think, tonight, Wisconsin, Washington, DC, Granada Spain, Milwaukee, Chicago, right. Ended up in San Francisco

Lara Manzanares:11:07

In San Francisco. Yeah. So I left, I left at 18 and went to college in Appleton, Wisconsin. And I think that's probably where I experienced the most, quote unquote, culture shock. Yeah, is going from New Mexico to Wisconsin. And so there were a lot of moments and out there where I didn't want to be there. You know, I thought this is like, this is not familiar, this is this is hard, you know, I'm away from home and everything and, and just the things that were in college, like you just life stuff, and like learning how to be in yourself and making a lot of mistakes. And, like, having to learn possibly the hard way, how to take care of yourself, you know. So, there were some times in Wisconsin when I thought, you know, I don't know if I can do this, but, but I had a scholarship and I mean, I couldn't just throw that away. And so I just kind of grit my teeth. And, and got through it. And by persevering through those times, and not giving up and just saying like, well, I'm just got to keep you know, moving ahead. something in me shifted, I think and, and I sort of gained a, I felt like, I felt like by the end of living in Wisconsin, I felt like, Okay, if I can make that shift internally from, like, you know, from being where I'm from, and really, really missing it, but then also like, growing to, like, and love Wisconsin and the people there and and, and, you know, sort of open my mind more to understand and appreciate their traditions and, and that kind of thing. I thought, Okay, well, if I can do that, I feel like I can. I can probably, you know, paying anywhere that I go and like, even if I'm uncomfortable for a while, like it'll be okay. In the end. So so I had that kernel, I think from from the time that I was, I guess 22 when I graduated, and then took that with me. In my other travels to back and forth. I was always had a presence in New Mexico for you know, short periods of time or like a summer, things like that. But I, I moved to Milwaukee for a while, did some more life learning there really valuable life learning. met some really great friends that are still friends to this day. And then from there, I went to Chicago and was at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago for a post bacc year. That was really cool. I got more into design. I was in the visual communications program. So that was that was the school part of it was pretty neat. And the cities the city is neat.

Alex Velasquez:14:34

I love Chicago. Yeah. It's one of my favorite big cities. Because there's something about East Coast west coast where there's they're so they're so unique and how you know how they operate. But Chicago is like a weird blend. You can walk the streets and it's not so crazy that you're just inundated and there's little nooks and crannies on the Riverwalk. And you know, the architecture I really liked. Like it was like, the level was a little low or it wasn't quite at a at a fever pitch. And so, in that way I like it. But

Lara Manzanares:15:12

yeah, I really enjoyed that part of Chicago too. It was really, really cold. And by that time, I was like, pretty much done with Midwestern winters. But, but you're right, there is something sort of exciting about sort of the I don't know, like, it's it's a grittiness, but it's different from like, you know, New York, different from San Francisco, if there's like a, there's like a denseness to Chicago, that I like an industrial denseness I don't know any other way to describe it. That's it with a lot of history, like, in all the buildings, I used to, like walking through Millennium Park, and just just looking at, looking at the buildings, and, like you said, finding all kinds of nooks and crannies that are like old architecture, or like walking into a building. And there's this, you know, really old timey elevator randomly, and you're just like, oh, with like, a elevator, an elevator operator? Right? Which, maybe there's that kind of thing in like, you know, New York or something, but I haven't really spent more than a few days ever in New York. So Chicago, I guess, is the closest to that, you know, kind of urban? Yeah, I guess that I've spent a good chunk of time in

Alex Velasquez:16:44

Yeah. Well, I, you know, two things that kind of jumped out at me is it was such a diverse youth traveling, I think that opens up anybody's mind to just how the rest of the world works. And obviously, if you travel internationally, especially, you know, you just get a better worldview. And I, I'd have to imagine that, that makes your music much more nuanced. And it definitely it definitely sounds like it. I mean, I was listening to your stuff on Spotify, last couple days. And, you know, typically when people see Oh, that's a northern New Mexico, you know, artist, and you definitely have a lot of the traditional sound and you're bilingual. So you do sing in Spanish and English. And typically, those artists or they all sort of follow a similar track, but I think your sound has a lot of elements of other sounds, other rhythms, other styles. That is really cool to have it all blended in. And so you've been playing the piano since you were four? Is that right?

Lara Manzanares:18:01

Yeah, I think my first lesson was, yeah, I was about four years old

Alex Velasquez:18:05

super young. Typically, it seems like, you know, when you're four, and you're doing something, and you stick with it, for the rest of your life, it's like typically those, those are the people that are very, very talented. And you know, they got that start super early, right. So, what was that like? growing up? Did you ever think, and know that music was kind of where you want it to go? Or was it just kind of what you fell into?

Lara Manzanares:18:32

Well, I loved music I loved you know, playing the piano, I I don't feel like at this point. That's I was sort of a childhood thing. I don't feel like I'm practiced enough now at the piano to like, perform with the piano. I'd like to get there. You know, but that was my first instrument. And I don't know as a kid, I mean, I don't specifically remember a time of thinking like, I want to be a musician. So I, I always sort of had this narrative. Like, it was just it was just who I am, is just, this is what I'm doing and who I am. And as an adult, that's kind of what I had been telling people, you know, but then of last year sometime, or maybe it was right after my grandma passed away, who was a huge supporter of music. She's the one that paid for and took myself and my siblings to music lessons to be on the lessons to guitar lessons to, you know, she kept telling me saying like, you know, don't be shy, like just like singing and so she was a she was a huge supporter of Me and music. And after she passed away, we were going through some old papers and stuff. And my mom, she found this paper that apparently I had written like in sixth grade. And maybe I'd sent it to my grandma or something. And she said, Oh, look at this. And I looked at it. And it was like, it was like my very first research paper from when you're in like, yeah, like sixth grade, they're like, this is how you write a research paper, and you go to the library, and you get the encyclopedia. And the internet was like, just starting then. Like, just starting, so it wasn't really a thing. And and there's this research paper and the cover page is like, how to be a musician. Or like, a, you know, how to have a career in music or like something. It was very specifically like,

Alex Velasquez:20:56

like, their old school newspaper wording, right? Where they, you know, how anyone can succeed at this endeavor?

Lara Manzanares:21:04

Yeah. And I opened it, and apparently, I had, you know, researched in probably in an encyclopedia, okay. Like, what is a musician's salary, you know, ranges and like, you know, how long does it usually take? And I done? Maybe it was the career assignment, you know, I don't remember the assignment Exactly. But we had to write a research paper and about and I chose, apparently, when I was in sixth grade, like how to be a musician, and then I wrote the paper, and then I guess I forgot about it. Cuz I, or maybe I wrote the paper, and, like, realized that the amount of work and the pay weren't like, weren't gonna be as easy as I thought or something I don't I really don't know. But I totally forgot about it until a couple of years ago. And I was like, oh, Hmm, I guess maybe I did want to have this career when I was a kid.

Alex Velasquez:22:01

That'd be an interesting blog posts, you know, just stuff like that, that people like to read about. And it kind of gives him the background of what, what the inspiration was for going down your musical career. That's very cool, though. I, I accidentally deleted the hard drive with all my writing from you know, sixth grade high school. I was copying files over onto like a backup hard drive.

Lara Manzanares:22:27


Alex Velasquez:22:28

I just I made the wrong click. And I was like, oh, delete and say, Oh, wait, that was. So I have a few a few of those, like, early writings on paper, but yeah. Yeah, that's, it's so funny that when you read stuff from your, your past self, right, and you kind of remember vaguely what it was, like, how you were thinking back then.

Lara Manzanares:22:53


Alex Velasquez:22:54

But I would say that sounds like you were sort of thinking about the business and career side, maybe subconsciously, and kind of, you took the steps, at least to like, you know, like, Hey, you know, what are the actual steps? And what can I expect? And how would I plan it out the best I could, and, you know, that's like more business thinking than most people ever. Consider, right?

Lara Manzanares:23:18

I said, I was surprised that I did that. And it's like, looking back on my life, too. It's like, Oh, yeah. Okay. It's like I, in a way, I was laying out the groundwork for something, but I didn't really know what I was just being myself, like, you know, playing music because it helped me. It helped me get through a lot of tough times. You know, it's, it's sort of my little own little, you know, therapy or whatever, or maybe not therapy, but a way to understand what's going on with me what's going on around me. And

Alex Velasquez:24:00

yes, it's catharsis, right. It's, that's one element of it, and especially writing lyrics. I mean, I think that's like a great form of processing. I'd imagine and, you know, you kind of realize, like, probably what, what feelings are important and what weren't and, and, you know, once you write them down and saying, I'm, I'm, I'm sure that's gonna feel pretty good to just, you know, get things out and, and make a beautiful song along the way, right? Like it's, it's maybe does all of those things.

Lara Manzanares:24:30

Yeah. It's, it's a little bit like, I don't know what your design process is like, when you're designing a thing. But I have found that with music. Or maybe I just approach it this way, because I'm also a designer. There's like an interesting balance between - between planning and and having sort of a structure that you're working with, but also like, getting into that structure and and just not thinking. Like how, you know, there's like thinking but not thinking at the same time. So I don't know, I don't know if you have any insight on that from from your work as well, since I think it's interesting to maybe, you know, compare something like music, which is seemingly so ethereal with like actual industrial design.

Alex Velasquez:25:33

Yeah, I definitely agree with you that it's number one, don't overthink it before you start. That's how I derail myself all the time, if I get an idea, and then I'm like, Oh, this would be really cool. And then if I start overthinking it, before I start it, then it's, it just it never works out. And I don't have any, any musical talents or inclination whatsoever. So it is interesting to hear you say that there is a similar approach in creating a musical product, similar to like a physical product, it's, and yeah, for me, it often starts when I just fall into something, and then don't notice what I'm doing until I'm like, Oh, wait, I have something here. Yeah. But by then you have enough momentum where you just you just see it through? And it seems like it works out.

Lara Manzanares:26:27

Yeah, that sounds fairly similar to music, except with, with visual design, for me with visual design, and with graphic design, and with weaving. I'm a very visual person. And so I let you know, I like I can put it on the wall and like look at it, and kind of, you know, leave it for a couple of days or whatever, and then come back to it and like kind of work on this thing. That sort of like it is part of me, but it's now outside of myself, in a way. But with music. With music, there is still that process of like letting it be for a while and then coming back to it and kind of thinking about it. But I have a harder time separating it from from me and like, you know, looking at it partially because, uh, because of the format, I think maybe with the visual, I can look at it and and, you know, say, Well, I'm here, and that's over there with with the singing. I am listening to myself, and that can sometimes be really excruciating. Yeah, it's a different, it feels like a different thing to, to critique something that's on the wall. And that's like, something I made, but that's there versus like critiquing in my own head, my voice and being like, you know, that's like me.

Alex Velasquez:28:09

Yeah, I totally get what you mean, it's it. Because anytime you want to reproduce the work, you have to sing it or play it. Right. And so you're right, it, like music is unique in that it does live within the artist forever, right? I mean, obviously, the recording is its own standalone thing. But to get the real deal it, you know, has to come from the artist. And often that's, you know, you have to sing it, you have to play it, you have to sing it over and over and over again. And and yet, there's no you can never get that out of you. Right. It's it's the same song, but it's always different.

Lara Manzanares:28:47

Yeah. And yeah,

Alex Velasquez:28:49

I totally get that. I mean, you know, you can build a piece of furniture and sit in the corner. And there it is, you know, I can look at it. And yeah, there's some flaws here and there, but it's always gonna be there. And it's no longer in my hands. Right. It's easy to let it go.

Lara Manzanares:29:03


Alex Velasquez:29:04

And actually, that's a good pivot point. You should you mentioned that you are a weaver as well as a digital artist and photographer also, right?

Lara Manzanares:29:16

Yeah, I'm a weaver. I don't my art I wouldn't I don't know if I would mean it can be digital. It's but yeah, an artist, I guess. You know, I like to draw and yeah, paint some but mostly draw.

Alex Velasquez:29:36

And so would you say in order.

Lara Manzanares:29:38

Just creative stuff. And photography. Yeah.

Alex Velasquez:29:41

Yeah. Cool. So musician, weaving, photography. I mean, that's like a good, it's a good stack of talents there. And I know you've done some performance art where you kind of combine a few of those. That's true. Yeah. I love that. That sounds really interesting.

Lara Manzanares:30:01

Well, so so if you're listening to this podcast, you maybe didn't see Alex's hands, gestures, but he, when he was naming these things, he was sort of stacking them, you know, music on top and then weaving underneath and stuff. And, uh, I think it's natural to, to stack things as like one being the main thing and then you know, the others kind of what's second, and what's third and what's fourth, but in, and that's fine because we need to kind of organize things and organize ourselves like as human beings but but it's, it can be difficult for me to make really definite tiers, you know, with those because the ways that they work and the ways that creativity work, I often find that, that it's, it's, it's not separate boxes, right? We're humans, and we're like, we're feeling things and we're, or perceiving things and like our bodies, and our brains and our spirits or whatever are, are there, you know, doing some vibrations in us and then something comes out and it's not necessarily always like just music or just art or things like that. So. So, it's, it feels natural to me, to combine all of those things. It feels when I'm doing the performance type stuff, it feels it feels like I'm just being me, the most recent thing that I did was include weaving in one of my concerts was right before the pandemic and it was it was really cool I was this was probably the show that I was most excited about, because I felt like it was the most me the most Yeah, I had a loom on the stage, and I had a spinning wheel on the stage and I had been playing around with the with the sounds from the loom and the spinning wheel. I had I had I had one contact mic that I had actually made back years ago in grad school in this like sound design class at California College of the Arts. And so I had that one and then found a couple other ones and I you know, place the contact mics on if you're not familiar with what a contact mic is, it's a mic that actually sits on the surface of something and and oops,

Alex Velasquez:32:51

like that,

Lara Manzanares:32:51

just like that see, if I touch this mic you can hear like a little noise so contact mic is actually designed for that it picks up the vibrations of whatever's going on whatever it's you know, touching or you can tap on it and like make noises and all kinds of things. So, I I was using putting contact mics on different locations on the loom and on the spinning wheel to kind of see what kinds of sounds I could I could create while using while using the the weaving tools. And I kind of worked on not kind of I worked that into the whole show it was a two hour show and there was a weaving narrative that went the whole way through it started off there was some acapella singing like around the loom and using the loom and using the spinning wheel and singing while I was doing that and then likes spinning wheel with the guitar and and then the music throughout with the band as well. But I would kind of go back to the loom and and I interacted with the audience and then the second half was more weaving focused, I interacted with the audience I had them help me design a piece to weave I have they helped me choose the colors and then I would weave some and you know kind of get input feedback from them while I was weaving and yeah, played some more walls. And then at the at the end of the show. I went back to the loom, everything got quiet again, I went back to the loom and was like singing my own little song and finish the piece. It didn't end up being a big one. It was just like whatever was there and finished it off and then I cut it off with a loom and took it off of the loom and kind of showed everyone what they had helped me create and then, and then I like threw it into the audience. Which for me, I was like, for me that was like, I don't know, I had never done anything like that before, but it just felt right. And it felt like, okay, maybe this is a little you know, grandiose but whatever, like, this is a show, this is a stage there's, I can do this at somebody is going to appreciate having this like physical artifact of, of the show, you know, that that was created sort of like during the show, a visual and physical record, I guess, of it. So. So that's Yeah, that's the latest thing that I did. There's some other there's a couple of other things that I did mainly in grad school, but but performance and including art, performance art, I guess, as part of what I do is it feels natural to me.

Alex Velasquez:36:05

Yeah, that's, that's so that's so cool. I, I've always had a really, I've had a lot of respect for performance, because I've, I've never been good at it. And I've always been super. You know, like, I'd rather just hold up in the studio by myself and listen to music and make a piece of furniture or something. Because, you know, I don't really do that well in public. And so I think there's something to be said for somebody that can create while performing, because it's high pressure, and also maintaining presence. Connecting with the audience. I mean, that's like that. It's such a unique event that you did that, I think that's an it combines so many of those very, very hard. those skills are very difficult to get proficient at. And the fact that you can do all of those at the same time. And that's, it's pretty cool. I think that was like the one thing that struck me when I was kind of researching your stuff and going through your YouTube videos and your music is there's just like, I think there's no better way to say it, but there's a thread that goes through all of these things that you do very artistically weave together. And it shows in all of your work. And it's it's a very diverse body of work. And so I'm very, I'm just very impressed.

Lara Manzanares:37:36

Well, thank you, I, I will bask in the glow of of that. But I also need to tell you that that it didn't just it didn't just like happen, you know, a lot of these things are just things that like, like my performance, I can trace my performance performative energy, I guess back to childhood. I was I guess, I'm, I don't know if I would consider myself shy right now. But as a kid, I was very self conscious and very. I wasn't a big talker. You know, I was very tight lipped very, like just observing and just like, you know, not wanting to say anything wrong or kind of as a little little kid, I was kind of afraid of the other kids. You know, that kind of that kind of a thing very introverted. But when I started weaving, I I started learning when I was around eight years old, and it was at Tierra Wools weaving shop up in Los Ojos, New Mexico, that my parents that along with several other community members had started. the year I was born actually, they opened the weaving shop, and weaving workshop and showroom, you know, it was, and so I grew up there. And I grew up around people that were making things, you know, weaving all the time making things and so that part felt very natural to me. Part of the workshop part of the, I guess charm of the workshop is that people who come to see it, and to buy things or whatever. There's a showroom, and then there's the workshop so they can go in and watch the weavers working. And so as a kid I was like I was learning how to weave in public, basically, you know, I was learning how to weave I was basically doing an apprenticeship. It was informal, but I was learning from all the people around me, mostly women, there were a couple of men, but mostly women. Were the weavers and so I was kind of learning by just being there and weaving in you know, classes. The Apprentice style though that's not what we called it, it was just like, what I was doing. And, um, and so I, I learned in public and I had people coming over and showing interest people who were tourists or people who came to the shop, and they would come and they'd stand there and watch. Watch me while I wove and ask me questions and, you know, kind of have conversations and stuff. And so it was maybe not the most comfortable thing, you know, to, to learn in that way sometimes, but I mean, I didn't really know any better. I, I was a little kid. And this was just like how things were. So I, in addition, like, while I was learning to weave, I was also learning how to talk to people about what I was doing. And, and kind of show off a little bit sometimes, you know, get that kind of like zing from performing, like, hey, I'm doing this thing, and these people are interested in it, and they, you know, they think it's, it's cool. And, like, that feels nice, you know, When, when, when that's, that's going on. So, so that was, um, so I've had a lot of practice, I guess, with the weaving and then I translated that I think to music, which I was very, very shy about very shy about sharing my music, I didn't sing at all in high school, not to anyone I knew I would sing at farmer's markets, like where I didn't know anybody. Right. But I wouldn't necessarily never, I'd never sang in front of like, my classmates or anything like that. And, but but through life and like busking, you know, I kind of carried that same from the weaving from like, talking to people and interacting while I was while I was working kind of followed through to the music as well.

Alex Velasquez:41:54

Yeah, that's, um, yeah, that does add, add a lot of depth to that. I guess for people that go and watch your performances now online. And in the future in person, you'll kind of know, more of like, what it took to get there. Which is helpful, I think, is audience members of any craft. The more you know, about how it, how it was produced, how it was made, how much work went into, even aspects of it, that will never even see the light of day, you know, all those failed attempts and redos and all of that, that, you know, never sees, that never gets published in any way. But

Lara Manzanares:42:39

some lifetime worth, too. Yeah. You know, yeah.

Alex Velasquez:42:45

Yeah. So where are you at now? Because I know you have your music on Spotify. I know that industry is, you know, I'm sure when you were younger, like when you wrote that research paper, you know, it was like, well, you have to get signed to a label of some sort and get into production studio. And, you know, they'll sell the CDs and now with streaming. I mean, isn't it like, streaming is great and that you get a lot of exposure, but there's also just so many people out there that the odds of you making it big just from that is

Lara Manzanares:43:17

Yeah, no, yeah. You the odds of making it big from streaming or very.... Yeah, I mean, it's it's good to have like, yeah, like you said, it's good and bad.

Alex Velasquez:43:35

So it's more of like a complimentary tool now, right? So you have Spotify, you have YouTube, you have SoundCloud, you have a Patreon. Do you use all of those tools? I mean, hopefully there's like that all helps people get into your music and then ideally now it's like the live performances are probably where you would make the most

Lara Manzanares:43:58

Yeah, live performances not this year so much but although surprising, there there are...surprisingly, there have been a few oper - cool opportunities this year, which may not have come up in a regular year. But But yeah, live performance seems to be the way that most musicians have to make their music now live performances in publishing, you know, getting your your song in a movie, something like that, you know, getting a chunk of money from that. Yeah. That would be like song placement, things like that. I still sell CDs actually. I mean, on my own, people still buy them at shows mainly not this year, because, right? So much but but that's that's still kind of a surprise. I don't know surprising. I Not surprising, I guess because people want to have like, you know, a memory from a from a show or right. But people do still buy albums, at times I have found. But yeah, streaming. Ah, I honestly it's it's good for, you know, experiencing getting your stuff out there and being accessible, but I really feel like musicians are getting a raw deal with with that, as far as like, you know, it's Yeah, I don't really know what else to say other than that, I can't control that kind of stuff, what I what I can do and what I'm, I just recently launched my Patreon account. And that's, that's one way, that's one way to go one way to not only financially, like, I don't know how many people out there, actually make a full living off of like, something like Patreon i'm not i'm not sure, but you know, it doesn't hurt, to have to have a platform where you can connect, you know, on a deeper level than say, like social media or something with your patrons and, and feel some of the love, you know, for, for the work that you're doing.

Alex Velasquez:46:27

Yeah, I, I kind of have that same love hate relationship with social media, you know, because I think it really does suit people that want to put their face out there and our you know, love to talk and a mic and be on camera and love to, you know, share everything. I've never really been that type of a person. So I don't, I don't use it as much as I should. But it is so valuable. If you kind of approach it as this is just a it's just a way for people to dip their toes into my world. And if you're interested enough, then maybe they'll follow the breadcrumbs. And yeah, go to my website or go to a YouTube channel or something that has more, you know, feature length content. And do you use Instagram? Because I know it's you know, for music. It's a little different cuz everyone's on their phone and it never really, you know, it doesn't always sound great watching on a phone, right?

Lara Manzanares:47:21

Yeah, but yeah, there's, like, yeah, there's pros and cons to the whole scene right now. I do. I'm on Instagram. Oh, I should say my Patreon is patreon.com/laramanzanares. If anyone is interested in that,

Alex Velasquez:47:40

all these in the description stuff. It'll be very easy to access. Okay. I saw that you were connected with Rust Is Gold, that coffee shop. Do you know did you ever perform there? Or was that

Lara Manzanares:47:56

I have not performed there. I've been to a show or two there. I think I might have who did I see? This is a while back? I think I might have seen Lucky Mays there. Before I really like you know, knew who he was.

Alex Velasquez:48:15

I used to go to that place when I had a motorcycle, you know, it's like cool coffee shop and you know, go over there. And those are some really cool guys and think what - the owner's also from San Francisco or California somewhere and yeah, they brought a cool vibe.

Lara Manzanares:48:30

Yeah, I appreciated the way they decorated it and you're right, the vibe, the vibe is really neat. I'm glad that they started that up. It's way across town for me. So I don't I haven't really made it there. Especially now during the pandemic and I am not a coffee drinker either. I mean, I drink tea. When I go there. I usually get a tea but but I'm not, you know, drink my coffee every morning you know pick up a Starbucks type of person person I just right. Not really not that I coffees fine. I just not. Not something that I do.

Alex Velasquez:49:08

Know, and it's, it's interesting that so like rust is gold. I'll put their info in here too, for people that aren't familiar, but that's to me, they they kind of are a good example of they have, you know, their core is a coffee shop, you know, you go there for coffee and tea and other stuff, but they incorporate live art, performing art they have it's sort of in a cool little. I don't know what that term is. It's like an indoor market now. And they're also they also have a podcast and they have a good social media presence. I think that's sort of the way that artists are starting to promote now we're so yeah, let's leverage social media to just get people in the door. But once you go there it's like a really cool place and it offers a lot of different things. And it sort of is like a weird blending of, you know, the digital. Yeah. social aspect with an actual physical place. Yeah.

Lara Manzanares:50:10

Do they still have - sell records there?

Alex Velasquez:50:13

As far as I know, yeah. And honestly, I haven't been there during the pandemic either. And because they're still far away from me, too. But yeah, I mean, that's sort of, I think it's a cool concept, right? Just going back locally, it's like leverage the global tools of the internet, but apply them more locally. And, you know, I'm assuming you're, you have experience with trying to make that work?

Lara Manzanares:50:41

Well, yeah, like, you kind of have to, I think, if you're gonna try and even attempt to make something approaching a living, doing music. Yeah, social media is is a good marketing tool. I'd say. It's interesting to think about how it's developed since. So, Facebook, started in 2005, I think around there. And, and I remember that, and I remember or every now and then, because it shows you memories and things like that. And every now and then it comes up, like, you know, memory from today from like, 2006, or something and something like that I wrote on my Facebook wall or something, and, and it just looks so like, innocent. And so like, I don't know, I just like I'm just like, I'm eating a cookie or something like that. Like, oh, wow, like, it's just kind of crazy, how much not only it has changed, but how much we have changed in response to how we use social media. And so yeah, it's a good it can still be a good marketing tool. I am. To be honest, I'm not the biggest fan of Facebook, but I think, you know, it's it's kind of reaching a for a while now, it's been sort of reaching a point of kind of a titanic scenario. But you know, I still have people you know, friend requesting or following me almost every day on Facebook, so I don't feel like I can leave it. Instagram is Instagram. Instagram, it has its limitations as well. And I am on Instagram as well. And I have not started a tik tok even though it became super popular this year, I've not started one. And that's partially because it's like, okay, you know, I'm, I have these different platforms that I have fans or people on that may not overlap with each other. Some of them. Yeah, probably a lot of them. Maybe they do. I don't know. But so I have to, like, in each of the platforms for the format of them as each a little different, or very different. And so the posting just is like, How much time do I want...do I really want to spend doing all this posting doing all this marketing, quote, unquote, right? versus like, writing music? You know what I mean? So the time going into that stuff into social media versus like, I mean, I don't know it's, it's like it's like streaming like you're kind of you're, you're creating content. So they call it you know, you're a content creator, you're creating content, which I kind of have issue with cheapens content. Yeah. Like this, like amorphous blob of content that like we're just creating to be like, consumed over a matter of seconds. And then like, discarded, you know, it's like,

Alex Velasquez:54:14

right, it's like, give me three contents, please. I want to have a good day.

Lara Manzanares:54:17

Yeah. And I think that the root of that, like, it's not a bad thing. It's like some kind of communication that you're creating for that. Yeah, someone may see it and say like, it brightens their day. That's not a bad thing. But yeah. It's like It's like, like, you know, Spotify, we're creating content for this big machine. That's how it feels anyway and like, what are we getting? We're getting some things but we're like not getting paid. You know, where we can get paid but you have to be kind of crafty about it and like circuitous and like use it as a part of your strategy for other things. So, that that feels kind of frustrating to me. But, you know, if you encounter someone else who has a more optimistic and, and happier take on it, you know, please send them to me so that I don't want to be a Scrooge. So much I sometimes I feel like, like, Okay, I gotta, you know, shift my perspective, I have to look at this in a different way. Because my grumpiness about it is probably holding me back in some way.

Alex Velasquez:55:35

Yeah, no, and I don't I don't think you're wrong to have that attitude towards it. Because I have that same attitude where it's like every now and then something comes through, like I you know, okay, this is still it's still working out, you know, but you just have to deal with the negatives of it. And just, you're right, focus on the positives. Yeah, so like, right now, where would people if they want to support you directly in the best way possible of just supporting artwork, whether it's music, or weaving, I don't know, if you still do still sell the LaraLooms or

Lara Manzanares:56:10

Oh, my gosh, I forgot I gave them that name. And then I totally forgot this.

Alex Velasquez:56:15

That's such an eye. That's a cool name. I like that name. Yeah, and, and hey, I think that's something that people would, you know, if you want to, if you want something to sell, that's not, you know, it's as easy to just put it in a box and ship it, especially now. That's something I would consider, because I think they're, they look really awesome. And it's got a good name. And, you know, it's done by hand, I mean, that's, that's what, that's what I appreciate these days.

Lara Manzanares:56:43

Thank you. I actually I designed those belts. Because I was, I don't know if you could really see it in the pictures you kind of can I designed. Rather than putting a clasp on it or like a buckle or something, I wanted it to be something that was just, or even Velcro, like just that it was a self containing structure that would keep it you know that you are on yourself without having to tie a knot or anything. So I actually looked around. That was one cool thing about San Francisco, was I could just get inspiration from all kinds of different things that were there, including clothing and things like that. So I designed those belts. To have these like, I think there's two eye holes. I had to get the size of the of the eye hole. Right? It's such that when you put the belt into it, like it'll hold, right. If it's too big, it'll slip and come out. But if it's too small at it, so I had to kind of create that. I don't know, in the podcast, it's kind of hard to describe sometimes objects, but I'll put an image up I can and

Alex Velasquez:58:07

they I mean, yeah, they look right at when I saw it at first is like wow, that kind of has like a mobius strip element to it. Where you the seams Just so you know, it's such a good pattern. And it just, it's like pleasing to look at.

Lara Manzanares:58:18

Let's see, no, there's one eye hole and you put you put it through Yeah, you put the basically lays over each of the ends lay over each other. And then the the part that's on top goes, goes in through the eye hole, and then it lays under. Right, right. So yeah, that was I don't know if I actually have any of I have one of those. Still those those were those were a while back. Those were from when I was in San Francisco and I was kind of still trying to figure out what I wanted to do. And that was one idea was to, you know, create this brand called LaraLoom and sort of an Etsy you know, homemade sort of Etsy style thing, like not nothing mass produced, at least at that time. I don't know, I guess it could always be an option to do something bigger. But that was Yeah, that was back in San Francisco. And I was also doing music but like I was busking. I was doing a lot of busking on the streets and like just, you know, trying different things. And working I was an instructional designer, a technical writer and I designed some instructional games. I've done a lot of different things.

Alex Velasquez:59:43

Yeah, that's it's a it's such a good I don't know, curriculum, vitae - dunno how you say that. But when you when you look at it all written out. You're like, oh, wow, cool. This is a there's some good stuff here.

Lara Manzanares:59:56

I Well, I think I think it's a good CV, but employers historically, like I'm not working a nine to five right now. But, you know, when I wanted to not do the job I was doing anymore for instructional design, and I was looking around for other opportunities, I found that employers tended to have a more difficult time. Because they couldn't place me maybe, sometimes. I don't know, I didn't necessarily have the resume that said, okay, like, I went to law school, and then I became a lawyer, and I'm a lawyer.

Alex Velasquez:1:00:42

You know,

Lara Manzanares:1:00:45

there's a lot more stuff on there, that sort of made me look like probably like some a wildly creative person, but maybe not as buttoned up. Straightforward as they might have been comfortable with. I don't know.

Alex Velasquez:1:01:02

Yeah, definitely. No, I'm in that same boat. I, you know, like I gave up on resumes years ago, because, you know, it's just, I'm sort of boxed into working for myself now. And it's like, it's like the hill I'm gonna die on because I, you know, I just, I can't really see doing it any other way. But, I I'm so glad that we got to do this finally. And we're coming up on an hour here. So where can people find your work and support you directly? You know, obviously, Spotify is like probably the easiest just for the music. But if people want to support you, what's the best way?

Lara Manzanares:1:01:46

Well, I'd say my Patreon page. Cool. And what

you can find out my website too:1:01:51

Laramanzanares.com, there's a link to the Patreon you could check out my work in my music on my website, you know, before you decide to become a patron. But yeah, my patreon I think, will you you'll be able to see more of me a music but also all these other things that I do, and sort of how they all talk to each other. And I mean, okay, the show that I mentioned, where I did weaving, and also music and like, did all these things. I look at my patreon as like the digital version incrementally of like, that kind of experience, right? I am, I am a musician, but I do other things, and it is part of the music, you know. So yeah, my patreon would be probably the most interesting as well. For those of you who are interested in what I do, and interested to, you know, find out how it all fits together. And

Alex Velasquez:1:03:12

how it fits together, that's like a good way of putting it because you're right, there's so many, you have so many unique things that it's a good place to just see it all kind of come together.

Lara Manzanares:1:03:21

Yeah, in a way that I do posts on social media, but, but they're generally more like, you know, I have a show coming up and come see the show. And there's not a ton of like, behind the scenes type of stuff on at least not the intellectual part of it. You know, sometimes there's like, Hey, I'm recording you know, selfie type of thing, but, but if you want to, if you want to, you know, sort of be come along for the ride and learn more about more about, like that picture of me of the selfie recording and like what's, you know, what's the song like, what's happening with that, then my Patreon is probably the best place.

Alex Velasquez:1:04:08

Awesome. And I'll put, I'll put your website, I'll put all the social links and all the links in the description, and then all the posts and stuff so people can click through and anything else? Anything else I didn't, I didn't ask or that you wanted to share.

Lara Manzanares:1:04:30


Alex Velasquez:1:04:32

mean, essentially, we're in a holding pattern. We're waiting for things open. We're waiting for a lot of things to happen, right? So ideally, in the future, hopefully next year is whenever, you know, we can all go see live and perform. But for the time being,

Lara Manzanares:1:04:49

I wish I could tell you like come see me at this festival and this thing, but at the moment. At the Yeah, we're kind of in a holding pattern. Can you sign up for my email list? That's a free way to be in the know about things. You know, if you're not ready for two for Patreon or something like that, you can always go to my website and sign up for my email list and get those notifications about projects I'm working on or shows that are coming up that kind of thing, videos that are coming out this podcast, you know, you could sign on and, and you'll find out about this podcast. Cool.

Alex Velasquez:1:05:33

All right, well, thank you. Lara.

Lara Manzanares:1:05:35

Thank you so much, Alex. It's been a pleasure.

Alex Velasquez:1:05:38

Yeah, it was fun. And I think we can definitely connect in the future. We can do more, more podcast episodes. And you know, it's, it's a good start. I think the best we can do now is just keep connecting, keep sharing, you know, our history as artists and where we're at where we're gonna go, what we're doing just to tread water, and just hopefully just get the message out that hey, we're still here. Still creating.

Lara Manzanares:1:06:06


Alex Velasquez:1:06:07

we're still gonna be around. We're still going forward. But

Lara Manzanares:1:06:09

yeah. Oh, yeah. One more thing. I'm working on a new album.

Alex Velasquez:1:06:15

Actually, I can't believe I forgot to ask about, hey, when's the new music coming out?

Lara Manzanares:1:06:19

Yeah, well, I don't have a like release date or anything where it's in the very early stages. But you know, I have the songs I'm working on, you know, on the demos on getting everything, the initial stages of the album crafting process. So that's, that's cool. I mean, the financial and if the pandemic... 'pandemically' speaking. Yeah. Aside from the financial, huge downturn, as well as all the other stuff that everyone is that we are all experiencing, at different levels, you know, grief and loss and those kinds of things, artistically and creatively. This is kind of an exciting time, because it's so different, you know, from anything that I think any of us have really ever experienced before. So I'm looking forward to when this is all over, and things are blossoming again, to experiencing some of that creativity coming forth, and to contribute to it as well like with this album that I'm working on, and who knows what else?

Alex Velasquez:1:07:50

Yeah, that's a beautiful way to put it. I think the rulebook may have gotten ripped up this year. But hopefully we can write better rules and and artists, you know, they seem to thrive in new unexplored territory. So I think you're I think you're absolutely right, that what's coming down the pipeline is probably going to be pretty interesting.

Lara Manzanares:1:08:10


Alex Velasquez:1:08:13

Awesome. Well, I guess that's, that's all we got for today.

Lara Manzanares:1:08:18

Cool. Thank you so much, Alex.

Alex Velasquez:1:08:21

All right. We'll sign off here and everybody stay safe. Take care and support your local artists. Alright. Peace.



Fort Collins