Whitney McGuire and Norvis Junior

Two sides of the Las Vegas arts community

Whitney McGuire and Norvis JuniorKrystal Ramirez

“I’m the hand and she’s the mind,” says Norvis Junior of his working relationship with his wife, Whitney McGuire. Together, they’ve formed a creative agency for the arts called SwiMMMers Ear. And yes, the extra M is intentional: to represent music, math and mechanics—elements the couple says are all essential for human progress.

She’s a legal pro. He’s an artist. But their roles in the company aren’t so easily defined. McGuire tends to handle the business side but will provide consulting and generate ideas for aspiring artists. She also recently directed a music video for Brooklyn duo Dave Giles II and Sam O.B. “W e help people develop their artistry and take it to the next level,” she says. “We try to incorporate our own philosophy of freedom, love, happiness and value creation—and apply it to everything we do.”

Junior, who says that “sometimes the thinking is more within the body than within your head,” focuses on music as an artist, producer, songwriter, singer and performer. “My uncles and my father, they all played different instruments,” the Dallas native says. “I was raised around bands, but I never had a designation of ‘You are a musician’ or ‘You are a singer’ even though they knew I could sing, they knew I could play a few different instruments.”

“And he can dance,” Whitney interjects with a laugh. “And I can dance,” Junior agrees. “I took dance classes. I was raised in the arts.”

Junior, born Nelson Nance, records at the couple’s Henderson home, with the general goal of creating three to five beats a day, and selling them for placement in songs. Otherwise he’s usually practicing piano, editing videos or designing animations. “The roles vary, but they’re always steeped in creativity,” he says.

Junior met McGuire in New York when they were introduced by a mutual friend at a Christmas party. The connection was instant. “We found each other at a time when we were both feeling very at home with ourselves,” Junior recalls. “We saw that in each other.” The two bonded over a passion for the arts and promoted small-scale music festivals together. Junior had been doing videos for websites but actually found greater financial success in music. He quickly realized he could take things in a new direction with McGuire by his side. “She said, ‘Your videos are good, but maybe we can create a business that treats people with respect in handling freelance workers or small artists in the production field.’”

McGuire was practicing as a licensed attorney at the time and had built a reputation for her work in fashion law. “Every industry is regulated by laws, so fashion is no different,” she says. It can include labor issues, trademarks, patents, criminal laws regarding counterfeiting as well as mergers and acquisitions. During a stint in Washington, D.C., she worked with a lobbying firm on a bill that enhanced copyright protections for fashion designs. McGuire says the struggle of factory workers overseas is also an issue that captures her attention. “Everything that’s made cheaply is made by someone who sacrificed a lot,” she says.

The couple relocated from New York to Southern Nevada so McGuire could take a job as a judicial law clerk for a federal judge. She hopes to eventually have a practice of her own in Las Vegas, focusing on familiar topics such as intellectual property rights within the arts community. She was recently named a board member for both the Las Vegas Arts District and the Las Vegas Fashion Council.

Meanwhile, SwiMMMers Ear will continue to be a priority. Junior and McGuire enjoy working and collaborating with other artists, but stop short of managing them. “Managing myself is enough of a day-to-day victory that I want to focus on,” Junior says. “I don’t want it to be required that I’m responsible for someone else’s success.” He is quick to offer help, however, including free beats, to artists who are struggling to make money on their music, especially with streaming services such as Spotify.

“They hate on it and say, ‘I don’t even have enough money to pay my Spotify subscription,’ and I understand that,” he says. “But they’re putting out a release every other year on Spotify. I’m putting out four or five things a year on Spotify, and as a result, all those clicks add up.”

McGuire knows that as well. “I’m always analyzing from a legal standpoint how he can maximize those royalties.”