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October 02, 2020
The Spark: Talking to Music Entrepreneur Danielle Quebrado Jimenez

BY JESSICA CASTILLO

Photo by Nico Hernandez

After working with some of the biggest names in music, Danielle Quebrado Jimenez established herself as a formidable publicist who keeps her clients’ best interests in mind. That ethos is so important to her that in 2019 she founded No Other Agency, a shop dedicated to uplifting artists of color and minority-owned brands.

“I was having conversations with artists, managers, and people from labels who were people of color, women, members of the queer community and they would tell me, ‘I just feel so connected to you because you get it,” Quebrado Jiminez says of the inspiration to start No Other Agency, whose clients include Snoh Aalegra, Sevdaliza, and Baby Rose. “They didn’t have to sugarcoat how they were feeling. They felt comfortable, seen, and respected.” 

For the first-generation Mexican-American from Southern California, creating a safe space for her own self-care and passions required plenty of therapy and more than a little unlearning what she’d been taught as a child. We caught up with her to talk about how she hopes stigma around cannabis shifts for the next generation of Latinx people, the way she uses cannabis for self care, and why she’s over jobs that require you to burn out.

On her evolving relationship with cannabis:

A lot of Latinos and Mexicans grew up Catholic and drugs are a big “no.” Especially for old-school parents, anyone that does any kind of drugs, has tattoos, and wears black clothes, is a marijuano. It means someone that smokes weed but it culturally encompasses every kind of drug possible. So very early on, I was taught that I should not smoke cannabis or touch any kind of drugs. My relationship with cannabis wasn’t great because I internalized those stigmas. 

It wasn’t until I went to college that I discovered and began exploring a relationship with cannabis that turned into something beautiful. When I started working in music, I was so stressed out and doubting myself. Two of my friends kept telling me, “This will help you, it will relax you.” When I started smoking, it felt like the opposite of everything that had been told to me by my family and the media. Sometimes I have so much anxiety because I have so much going on. If I feel like I need to treat myself or I need to love myself a little bit, I partake. 

On her favorite cannabis products:

Running a company and pushing up against the establishment on the daily comes with its fair share of stress and tension. These Canndescent pre-rolls help me unwind at the end of the day. I love to use them to help me fall asleep when my mind is racing. I also really like these Camino Watermelon Lemonade gummies, they’re delicious and great for those times when I want to be more outgoing or looking for a little energy boost.

On how the music industry’s relationship with cannabis has evolved:

10 years ago, when I started in the industry, you could talk about weed on the DL, but it wasn't out in the open. Now it is used for community building: The new thing is just being sane, chill, not destructive and smoking. I talk to my artists who use it to help with anxiety or to be creative. It's another way they self-care. 

On the stigmas about cannabis in black and brown communities that still need to be broken down:

We’re still being criminalized for small things like carrying weed, which is systemic oppression at its finest. It's something that Latinx people can internalize — the reason my mom was telling me not to do it was because someone had told her that it's bad.

I don't know if the mentality of associating Black and brown people with crimes, poverty,   violence, or drugs is going to change in my lifetime, but it needs to. It’s my responsibility to go to where I'm from and give back. I'm the first one to go to college in my family, I'm the first one to have a job like this, and a lot of young Latinos are the same way. I want to show that you can be successful and still partake in cannabis' benefits.

On breaking into the music industry as a first-generation Latina: 

About 40 years ago, my mom came here from Mexico and she cleaned houses for most of her life. My dad was a landscaper while all my uncles worked in construction. That's how we made money and how I went to college. No one had a degree, went to school, or had ‘professional,’ corporate jobs. At the end of the day, a lot of us first generation kids were forced to be adults. I translated for my mom, helped her pay bills, and I knew I had to be independent. 

I remember the first time I heard about internships and I was like, Oh, that's how you get into music or entertainment. So I Googled all these companies and reached out. I would just run into a wall, boom, and have to try something else. But eventually, I got my first break. I was always curious, asked questions, and pieced things together along the way.

I first thought I wanted to be a music writer because I learned English while listening to Motown artists like The Temptations and Etta James. Music was always a way to explore and to find my identity when I felt lost. It’s like in Selena — you're not Mexican enough. You're not American enough. What am I? It was just a constant struggle for me and music was always a safety net. 

On representing her artists:

In my 10 years of working in music, I’ve noticed that most publicists for artists of color don’t usually look like their clients. That by default is a disconnect because music is so personal. When a publicist can’t identify with being marginalized, the way they put their artist out into the world can feel sensationalized. 

The music industry moves so fast that we can forget that we're working with human beings who need love, support, warmth, understanding, and belonging. Over the years, my introverted self realized that if I want belonging, that means other people want that too. Connecting with people has become my super power and I've managed to build this beautiful company around humans that are special to people like me and my community. 

On setting boundaries in a demanding industry:

In Latinx culture, there’s a sense that you're more valuable if you break yourself down for other people. Doing things for yourself and taking care of yourself are not things that are looked upon fondly, especially for women. We’re taught to sacrifice ourselves for our parents, siblings, etc.  

Therapy really helped me with self-love because I have a lot of guilt about taking care of myself and about wanting different things from what my parents and community want. It's important to incorporate those values into this company. The music industry is really hard on people. You're not supposed to set boundaries. “If you really want to get this job, you're gonna have to sacrifice yourself for it.” I disagree — you can be a really good employee without that struggle.

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