Elyssa Bustamante is ensuring Downtown Phoenix stays fun, fresh, and funky.

Bustamante, mainly known as “The Funky Latina,” is an event producer, host, and DJ based in Phoenix.

In 2022, Bustamante founded The Funky Latina Music Festival, an annual event highlighting Latinx indie artists, making it Arizona’s premier Latinx indie music festival.

No stranger to the spotlight, Bustamante began her career as a music blogger and has hosted various events, including the pop-up concert series “Joy to the Polls,” the Latina-owned “Mujeres Mercado,” and many other live performances throughout Arizona.

The Funky Latina Music Festival returns to Downtown Phoenix on Saturday, March 30, at Crescent Ballroom. This year’s lineup consists of artists from various genres, including R&B, rock, and pop.

We sat down with Bustamante to dive deeper into the rich history behind The Funky Latina Music Festival, what awaits attendees at this year’s festival, and how she orchestrates an unforgettable show.

Elyssa Bustamante, founder of the Funky Latina Music Festival, pictured outside of the Downtown Phoenix Inc. office. (Photo by Mischa Aurita)

What inspired you to produce the Funky Latina Music Festival?

The inspiration for the Funky Latina Music Festival came to me during the pandemic when music venues were closing their doors. After interviewing musicians (who were stuck at home) on my Instagram Live show, a band from Texas talked about the challenges they faced getting booked for festivals. This conversation motivated me to create my own festival, specifically for emerging Latinx musicians, and we had our inaugural event in 2022.

What sets the Funky Latina Music Festival apart from other music festivals?

The Funky Latina Music Festival is the only Latin indie music festival in Arizona. All the artists on the lineup identify as Latinx and represent all genres of music. This year, we have pop music, rock, and electronic. The festival also features a variety of booths and activations, such as a glam station sponsored by Urban Decay —my longtime favorite cosmetics brand. VIP tickets are also available — which include early access and a gift bag with products curated by yours truly. It’s truly a unique event!

What has been the most rewarding experience with The Funky Latina Music Festival?

The most rewarding aspect has been seeing the festival’s impact on the artists and attendees. The festival provides up-and-coming artists with an audience. And in turn, that audience experiences new music, food, fun, and a sense of community. So, it’s a win-win for both the audience and the artists — and that’s extremely rewarding.

How do you juggle your full-time role at Helios Education Foundation while maintaining your brand and producing events like The Funky Latina Music Festival?

Time management and iced coffee are crucial. I run on the cold brew from Fair Trade Café — a longtime sponsor of the festival. Secondly, there is a common theme between my role at Helios and my work with The Funky Latina Music Festival: building community. Helios provides opportunities for students in Arizona while the festival celebrates the Latino community. This shared focus enables me to juggle both roles. Did I mention iced coffee?

Singer-songwriter Lissett Denis performing at the 2023 Funky Latina Music Festival. (Photo by Kyle Knox)

How do you select the artists and performers for the lineup?

Curating the lineup is the most fun part of my job. I select performers through a variety of methods, including my Instagram talk show, “Let’s Hear It!” – where I interview musicians one-on-one. I am always attending live shows, festivals, musicals, and even music cruises. And I stay plugged into the local music scene in Phoenix. Each year, my goal is to create a diverse lineup of rising stars.

What advice would you offer to anyone wanting to pursue their passions?

Don’t wait. Every step is a learning experience. And the sooner you begin walking, the quicker you can run a marathon! Also — find a mentor. I’ve been lucky and grateful to receive guidance from mentors like Sandy Ferniza, Dusty Hickman, aka Pickster One, Henry Terrazas, Alicia Iniguez, and David Tyda.

Attendees at the 2023 Funky Latina Music Festival, hosted at Crescent Ballroom. (Photo by Kyle Knox)

What do you hope attendees take away from their experience at the Funky Latina Music Festival?

The festival is a showcase of rising musical talent, so I hope that attendees discover their new favorite band/artist. I also hope concert-goers experience the safe space and sense of community that the festival fosters.

Are there any new features or surprises planned for the upcoming festival?

Yes! This year, we have increased our sponsor booths and activations. We have a surprise activation from our presenting sponsor, OneAZ Credit Union, that will make the experience memorable!

What are your future goals for The Funky Latina? Any other exciting projects in the works?

My future goal is to expand the festival. I am always seeking partnerships with local businesses here in Phoenix that are eager to support Latino artists, culture, and community. Spreading paz, love, and funk is my mission.

To learn more about The Funky Latina Music Festival and purchase tickets, visit thefunkylatina.com/festival2024.

To receive regular updates about the festival and other Funky Latina happenings, follow Elyssa on Instagram.

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