How Seattle indie bands are benefiting from big brand partnerships

Poppin’ off like Topo Chico

When Cade Legat, a Kirkland-based songwriter and electronic producer, was working at 5 Stones Coffee in Redmond, he would occasionally improvise little ditties about the sparkling water brand the shop carried.

“I started coming up with the beginning of the hook, ‘I’m poppin’ off like Topo Chico,’ and would joke around singing it,” he recalled. “Enough people heard me sing it and would ask, ‘What song is that?’ or ‘Man, you got to do something with that.’ ” 

In 2021, he released his effervescent single “Topo Chico” on digital streaming and social media, and caught the eye of the Mexico-based sparkling water brand. Based on that connection, Legat, 23, was selected for “Yellow Room,” a shared space within Seattle’s London Bridge Studios, where several emerging Northwest artists have been invited to record their own original music — completely on Topo Chico’s dime. The resulting singles are expected to be released in summer 2022.

Topo Chico is not a Seattle brand, but the company has field marketers whose job is to keep the brand relevant across a variety of local markets. Seattle’s Topo Chico guy, Daniel Mattson, also happens to be a well-connected local musician. After watching the pandemic decimate live music, he approached Erik Laviolis, a recording engineer at London Bridge Studios, with a desire to support emerging artists.

“Daniel and I frequently talk about the scene and potential collaborations and it kind of evolved into talking about this potential idea for the Yellow Room,” said Laviolis.

With the Yellow Room, Legat and four other emerging artists will each be given a week of studio time with a London Bridge producer to record and release their single. Topo Chico will then assist in promoting the song on its social media channels. Mattson insisted that all profits from the singles will go back into the artists’ pockets, as will the rights to their songs.

Laviolis said he’s proud to be involved with this partnership, which can do a lot for independent artists in a time when finances are tight, access to a quality recording studio experience is expensive and opportunities for live shows are still limited.

“Having something tangible to share and sell is necessary to be able to book shows,” said Laviolis. “Touring is how most folks make their living — and how most artists reach their fans and grow their audiences — so for emerging artists who didn’t have the chance to go to open mic nights or perform as an opener [during the pandemic], that really limited opportunities for growth and discovery. Topo Chico’s Yellow Room [helps] provide a platform.”

Legat, for his part, is also elated to be involved, noting that working with corporate America as an artist does not have the same connotation now that it did for previous generations.

“You always hear stories of bad deals with labels or brands, so there is a certain level of hesitation that almost every creative has, but I will say that Topo Chico eliminated that,” Legat said. “I think brand partnerships are becoming a more common occurrence in the indie artists community, especially as brands get into micro-influencing. A lot of indie artists that I know see it as a huge win.”

Legat said he’s noticed heightened awareness and accountability from some big businesses as a result of consumers’ newfound desire to engage with brands that give back to the community and operate ethically.

“With brands being held more accountable in this COVID era, I feel more open to collaborative works with different corporations,” he said. “I hope that more companies and brands reach into local communities and uplift them.”