‘We are filling a niche’ | Arts & Entertainment


When Edgar Quiroz was growing up in Telluride, he had big dreams.

He knew from a young age that he wanted to be a musician and music producer, and that he wanted to establish his own record label.

Making those dreams happen, however, was tricky. Opportunities for a kid on the Western Slope who wanted to create, perform and produce hip-hop were pretty much non-existent.

“Growing up as a young musician, there were no resources to have an affordable creative space, or a creative space in general, to make original music — certainly not hip-hop,” he said, adding that Rock ‘n’ Roll Academy was able to give him some help, including a mentorship.

Undeterred, Quiroz spent his teens composing his own music, experimenting with different software to produce it, and also performing in venues in Colorado and California as SkoolkidD.

Fast forward to today and Quiroz, now 27, is the founder/owner of record label La Familia Music Group (LFMG), manages a number of regional talents and owns a recording studio in Montrose.

He also performs as a hip-hop artist under the name EQ and, with the support of a Telluride Arts grant, is about to drop his latest EP, “New Vintage,’ which is out next month.

Most recently, Quiroz established a program in collaboration with CASA of the Seventh District, a nonprofit that serves at-risk young people in San Miguel, Montrose, Ouray, Delta, Gunnison and Hinsdale counties.

Called In the Lab, it aims to provide Western Slope kids with just the sort of opportunities that Quiroz feels he missed out on when he was younger.

In the Lab offers summer and after-school programs for kids ages 10-18 who are interested in songwriting, recording, beat production, audio engineering and more.

While the program began under the auspices of LFMG, Quiroz said he could see early on that cost was proving a barrier for some families. So, he went a step further and set up a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, LFMG Music Academy, to offer In the Lab’s programs at no cost.

“We were offering what we thought was a very affordable rate, but still we were seeing that it was hard for some,” he said. “The idea of creating a nonprofit was scary, but I could see we were making an impact, so we wanted to make it free and more accessible.”

The after-school iteration of In the Lab is currently underway.

“It’s basically Monday through Thursday from 4-5:30 p.m. and different age groups go on different days,” Quiroz explained, noting that to date participants have included kids from the Montrose and Telluride school districts.

“We open up our recording studio and we invite young artists of all abilities,” he said. “Some have no experience or no music background at all, and there are others that have some understanding or knowledge.”

He continued, “They each have a computer to work at and they get to create, whether it is beat production, song writing, recording, audio engineering, graphic design or the business side of things. We are providing that safe space for them to explore, from learning how to rhyme to mastering a full project.”

Quiroz emphasized that the program is unique in many ways.

First, he said, participants get to work in close collaboration with people who are actually making a living in the music world: Quiroz himself, as well as Grand Junction-based hip-hop artist Enshiloh and the audio engineer from LFMG’s recording studio.

In addition, he explained that while participants can work within any musical genre, most want to focus on hip-hop, which, he noted, is very relevant to young people but often left out of youth arts programming.

“The generation now mostly listens to hip-hop and there is no one teaching hip-hop,” Quiroz said. “You might find classical music or art classes, but I think we are unique. We are filling a niche in our community.”

He added that the breadth of instruction, which covers the earliest creative moves through to, as Quiroz called it, “the business side of things” is also one of a kind.

“I don’t think what we are teaching is available anywhere else,” he said. “These young leaders are getting the tools they need to be successful in a music career.”

Now that LFMG Music Academy is a standalone nonprofit, Quiroz said he hopes to extend its reach, including working with kids as young as age 3, as well as connecting with young people who have had contact with the criminal justice system or those dealing with substance abuse issues and other risk factors.

And, he is working to engage the wider community.

“I’m just trying to get the word out about what we are doing and what the impact is on these kids,” he said. “We would like to get support from people for our work so that we can keep our programs free.”

Added Quiroz, “We absolutely need to have safe places like [In the Lab] where kids can have healthy, safe options to be creative.”

To learn more, visit lafamiliamusicgroup.com/lfmg-music-academy.

 



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