One of my favorite things to do since I was a kid was to go to the record shop. My brother and I were always exploring all kinds of music when we were growing up. Sometimes it is fun to follow your nose and see where it leads you but also you may need a little extra encouragement and guidance before making that next potentially life changing purchase. I’ve found, every good record store I’ve ever been seems to have a cast and crew with a special way of helping you find exactly what YOU are looking for. They are the experts. They are collectors and they pay attention to all the details and nuances of the music and the art and they have the knowledge to guide you…and they CARE about GOOD MUSIC! This is partially how I became to know today’s featured artist, Arturo Medrano. Although, my first encounter with Arturo was when he had somehow heard about the Cheater Slicks record released on LT back in 2009 and he snagged a few copies for the shop. When I moved to NYC in 2010, I eventually ran into Arturo at Academy Records. He is a very interesting person to speak with. He knows about all kinds of cool music and has indeed tipped me off to some amazing records. He is originally from Honduras, grew up in Florida and moved to NYC in 2006. He has worked at one of the coolest record stores in the world (Academy Records) since 2008. He DJ’s and curates music for events around NYC. He is also a graphic designer and in into making collages. Many of his collages have been used for album covers. You can check out his work at https://convulsive.tumblr.com
LT: We’ve been dealing with this weird coronavirus for nearly half of the year now. How have you been doing and how have you been staying busy through all of this?
AM: I’ve been doing well. I am grateful to be in a position where the virus has not impacted my health or that of anyone in my family. I’m trying to make this as much of a positive experience for myself by doing some self-reflecting and taking care of myself mentally and physically. I’ve also been taking the time to get back into my creative outlet which is making collages.
LT: Your designs are truly amazing. I really love all the stuff on your site (https://convulsive.tumblr.com). Everything looks great! . How long have you been making stuff and how did you get into that?
AM: I started making collages about 10 years ago. I was dating someone at the time who also made them and was inspired by them. I made a lot during the first few years and as time went on I made less and less. I decided early into the quarantine to make one a day and it’s been really nice to get back into it. It’s a good meditative process and I feel like the days are not wasted by having created something each day.
LT: How are your collages created? Are they done with Photoshop or by hand?
AM: All my collages are done by hand. I rarely go into it knowing what I’m going to make so part of the process is sifting through material and letting my subconscious do the work in finding interesting connections. I also like the imperfections and roughness of hand made collages. And it’s also nice to step away from technology for an hour or so and have that process be the focus.
LT: What album covers have you designed?
AM: A few of the albums I’ve designed covers for are Black Time – Aerial Gobs Of Love, Silver Shampoo – Higher And Higher LP, Sex Church – Somnambulits EP, Case Studies – This Is Another Life LP and a few other releases.
LT: I know you work at one of the most awesome record stores in the world (Academy Records). What are some of the coolest things you’ve seen come through the store and and what are you listening to these days?
AM: Too many cool things to mention. We do get a good amount of awesome rare and pricey items and that’s obviously great, but one of the fun things for me is to discover some of the obvious and cheap records we have in the store. Like artists I never listened to that much because they were not that cool and obscure like The Cars or Flock Of Seagulls, or later works by soul artists that are still really good. I’ve gotten into a lot more soul, blues, gospel and roots music over the last few years. I feel like I’m entering my old man phase of music listening.
LT: What kind of records do you spin when you are DJ-ing? … And where do you usually play records? (Parties, clubs, shows??) How’d you get into that?
AM: Depending on the vibe of the place or my mood, I generally play a combo of 60s garage and soul, international music from 60s and 70s, glam, funk etc or sometimes I go more into a post punk, synth wave, new wave dance music vibe. Sometimes I mix a lot of things up just so I don’t get bored. It can also be fun to tell a story with DJing by getting from one genre to another completely different genre by hitting related spots in between. I’ve dj’d mostly at bars in the Greenpoint/Williamsburg area like Ore Bar, Achilles Heel, Magazine, Ramona, and a few others. Academy Records also has a show on The Lot Radio every two weeks which I’ve done quite a bit.
LT: What originally inspired you to get into music and how did you start collecting vinyl?
AM: I had an interest in music from a pretty young age. I had a pretty strong interest and awareness since I was a kid of age 7 or 8. I got into punk around age 12 and as I was getting past the basic classic gateway bands I started to hear about current and local punk bands. I was too young to go to shows so the only way to hear some of them was to buy their 7″ or LP since some did vinyl only releases. So I asked for a record player for Christmas when I was 13 and records have been a big part of my life since.
LT: Is there anything you want to encourage our readers to check out or keep an eye out for?
AM: I haven’t been keeping up with contemporary music that much recently so nothing really comes to mind. I’ve also been spending part of this time revisiting things I haven’t listened to in a while or trying to get acquainted with releases I didn’t spend a lot of time with initially. It’s been good to appreciate the things you do have and that doesn’t apply to just records.