17-year-old Maraia Mariselli from Anaheim, California has been hosting shows under the name Gecko Presents since 2022, their first show being a week after their 16th birthday. Mariselli had been attending an art high school in the music conservatory, where they grew connected to various music genres, and found a gateway to the scene through classmates who were in local bands.
Photo by @fucklilianaxkay on Instagram
Mariselli left high school early, wanting to focus her attention heavily on show promoting and making music. Around the same time as their first show in 2022, Mariselli threw together the band Washer, originally known as Maraia and the Mouthbreathers, to fill an empty spot on a lineup. The indie/alt-rock group started by playing Mariselli’s original solo music as a band. The band eventually evolved, and the group began writing music together, with Mariselli as the vocalist, Joaquin and Frank on guitar, Josh on bass, and Alex on drums.
In January of 2023, the band officially changed the name to Washer and switched up their genre to what we hear now, a mixture of alt-rock, screamo, and hardcore.
“I liked doing my own songs, of course, but I was only doing that before they told me they wanted to write with me. And now, it’s even better,” Mariselli said. “I think it’s cool what our genre has evolved into because we all have so many different influences, and it’s cool to see them all come into one thing.”
Originally, Mariselli wanted to play in an all-femme band, having only played in all-femme bands before. However, they clicked well with the Washer band members. “It’s a good experience, and I feel good with them. I feel safe,” Mariselli said.
Photo from Washer's washer gets eaten alive single
Mariselli writes the lyrics and some of the instrumentals for the band, speaking about topics ranging from political issues, love, mental health, and more.
“I take inspiration from folk and indie rock because of the contemporary-ness, just the melancholy-ness. But I also take inspiration from hardcore and death metal shit, because of all the heavy descriptions of violence and shit,” Mariselli said. “It’s cool to see how I can do that in my own songs.”
“I like to write about my mental health a lot, just kind of shit that’s going on in my head. And I guess some romance stuff is fun sometimes, but I like to disguise it. It’s really hard for me to write a happy song, I don’t think I’ve ever once written a happy song.”
Another huge influence for Mariselli is the Riot Grrrl genre as a whole.
“Riot Grrrl was one of my first influences into everything else I’m into… Bikini Kill, Babes in Toyland, L7, Hole… Hearing girls screaming in the music as opposed to hearing a bunch of guys. It just kind of made me feel like, ‘Oh shit, I can do this,’ because I was always, not like ridiculed, but I feel like for a long time, it wasn’t as socially acceptable for non-men to be into that type of music, even though everyone likes what they like, it shouldn’t be ‘Oh, you’re weird for liking that,’” Mariselli said. “There was a lot of judgment with that, and I kind of felt discouraged for awhile, like, ‘Ah, I probably can’t do it, whatever.’ Then, I heard Bikini Kill, and I was like, ‘Oh shit.’”
Mariselli is a key example as to how inclusivity and representation can inspire the next generation of artists. Seeing lineups including femmes, people of color, members of the LGBTQ+ community, etc., can take away some of that discouragement felt when shows are only promoting the cis-white-male artist. The music industry has always centered the cis-white-male, but we, as the local DIY music scene, have an opportunity to change that.
Mariselli took this into her own hands, creating a three-day music festival at FTG Warehouse in Santa Ana called Grrrlfest — full of all femme or femme-fronted bands. They saw how the inclusion of femmes inspired them to create, and wanted to give this experience to other femmes in the scene.
The three-day fest was comprised of one mixed-genre night, one indie night, and one hardcore punk night.
“I’ve seen a lot of femme fronted lineups, but I hadn’t seen a huge fest with 15 bands that are all femme-fronted or have femme members in it. So I was like, ‘I think this needs to happen,’” Mariselli said. “I was planning it for 6 months before it happened because I just felt like I really needed to do it. Also, just being a femme in the music industry, it’s definitely not the easiest sometimes. The community is definitely getting better and more inclusive, but there’s still a lot of sexism and shit like that… people belittling me or acting like I’m dumb.”
When Mariselli first started throwing shows under Gecko Presents, she was inspired by the lineups she was drawn to, any lineup she felt was interesting, no matter the genre. They wanted to create their own lineups while adding their own insight. “It just made me really happy to make other people happy,” they said.
Mariselli works to ensure her shows are a safe space for all. When asked if they had any advice for other promoters to do the same, Mariselli shared:
“Just checking on people, walking around the place multiple times, I’m just constantly pacing around the show. Being involved in if somebody gets hurt, helping them, telling other people to move out of the way or go help them, things like that. Asking people at the end if they have a ride, I’ve given some of Washer’s fans rides home sometimes. Just making those connections with people, it really helps with making the shows a better community.”
Mariselli’s main takeaway from her year and a half of show promoting was that building a community makes shows run smoother and safer.
“I’ve been doing most of my shows alone, but my last one that I did, OC vs. LA, I had a lot of people helping me for that one and it was really nice. I think that was my biggest show I’ve done yet, I think I got about 400 people in a backyard in Anaheim. It was really fun and it was my biggest show, but it wouldn’t have been the same if I didn’t have everyone helping me… I like the community sense.”
Photo from Gecko Presents' OC vs. The World show on 12/15/23 by @orange_jpeg on Instagram
The connections we are able to make as members of our local scene can further our influence in the music industry as a whole. Working together, uplifting one another, and including people from all backgrounds in our shows can create a scene where artists will thrive even more, and where the cis-white-male dominated industry cannot interfere. The scene supports one another, listening to local bands and supporting them through streams or purchasing merch, making the industry and big box record labels nearly irrelevant.
This is just the beginning for Maraia Mariselli. Washer has plans to release an EP sometime in 2024. Gecko Presents will be putting together another Grrrlfest in the future, with a different twist.
Listen to Washer on any streaming platform here: https://linktr.ee/washerband
Watch the full interview with Maraia below!