In one way or another, Armando Mendes is always spinning. DJ, producer, creator of Turquoise Records and the music curator at W Koh Samui, Mendes is now bringing his own music to life the old fashion way, releasing his new album as an actual vinyl album! Hailing from Portugual, Mendes soaked up a love for electronic music while living in the pulsing city of Barcelona, bringing his unique beat to the island paradise of Thailand’s Koh Samui. Both vibrant cities were inspirations for his album, showing off W Koh Samui’s breathtaking scenery for the video of his single Now & Then, an hypnotizing electro track featuring the crooning voice of Larissa Kapp.
We caught up with the multifaceted musician talking analog vs. digital, past vs. present, and how sometimes music can transcend time and place.
What were your main inspirations for the vinyl you just released?
Armando Mendes: I get inspired by the cities or places I lived in these past eight years. During my recent transition from Barcelona to Koh Samui, Thailand, I got the inspiration from my surroundings, both mixing it in my studio in Barcelona and then finishing it in Koh Samui. Barcelona is a very vibrant and eclectic city music wise, from extremely talented street musicians to the exquisite programming of Palau de la Musica or Ramatazz club, so I absorbed a lot there. On the other hand, Koh Samui is a little piece of heaven and easy to get inspired by. The breathtaking sea sights and gorgeous lilac sunsets really influenced me.
Why vinyl? Is there a reason you were drawn to releasing it in this old school way?
AM: Music nowadays is a very disposable art. Everything is a “file” and it pains me to see that people have their music on one single hard drive, USB, or phone! For me, that warm feeling of owning something tactile and it being physically in your hands is unfortunately absent with digital. But vinyl has made a comeback over these past few years and the new generation of music lovers is realizing that this is an art form you simply can’t underestimate. Quoting the wise Friedrich Nietzsche: “Without music, life would be a mistake.”
The reason I released it on vinyl was for the indisputably quality, the warmth of sound, and the physical and visual art of it. Also, I value my hard work, passion, and effort of the music I produce, and in the long run it’s the legacy and milestone you leave behind has as an artist, not just a file tucked away on a hard drive. This was the first vinyl release and launch of my record label Turquoise Records and I couldn’t be more happy with the collaboration of the amazing singer Larissa Kapp and the remixes by techno German legend Oliver Kapp. We also had the opportunity to shoot the official video at our amazing Woobar at W Koh Samui!
Where or when is the perfect place to listen to these songs?
AM: The A side original and remix of Now & Then is a perfect scenery of paradise landscapes and stunning beach sides that you can listen and enjoy while drinking a coconut under a palm tree or warming up for a night out. The B-side dub mix is quite a dance floor stomper; Oliver did an excellent production with the bits and pieces of the original and is getting a lot of love and support lately.
If you were a cartoon character or famous person, who would you be?
AM: Definitely Discothèque Stuart, usually known as Disco Stu from the Simpsons. He’s the owner of Stu’s Disco and is a disco aficionado usually wearing a rhinestone-encrusted leisure suit from the 70’s and an Afro. Legend!
Who are your icons and why?
AM: That’s a tricky one as I get inspiration from many kinds of music, from jazz to techno. The artists that always blew my mind are Charles Mingus, Bill Evans and Herbie Hancock in jazz. Ludovic Navarre “St Germain” Kruder & Dorfmeister, Jeff Mills and Laurent Garnier in electronic music. And of course my dad Armando Manuel Mendes is such an amazing musician and drummer. ☺
What was the first song you made and is it anything like what you do now?
AM: I’m inspired by all genres and styles of music, when I’m producing my own music I can reflect those influences in my own sound and compositions. The first meaningful song I composed was called “Sun7 – Closer” also featuring Larissa Kapp. This song was released on my debut album in 2012 under the moniker of Sun7 “Into Deep.” It’s one of my favorite songs because of the composition, arrangements and Larissa’s vocal register. Such a timeless track.
What was your first concert?
AM: The one that sticks in my head is from 2000: The Rolling Stones, Coimbra Stadium Portugal. I can still feel those stage flames blazing over the audience while The Stones performed “Sympathy for the Devil”. What a monumental show!
Where is your favorite place to visit and why?
AM: Porto, Portugal. I highly recommend it not just because I was born there but because it has a very special feel. Captivating culture and gorgeous architecture!
What song is stuck in your head right now?
AM: Mall Grab’s “Can’t.” What a smart twist on the original by Alicia Key.
What piece of clothing are you obsessed with?
AM: I’m a sneaker freak!
Three things you can’t live without while traveling?
AM: Music, a good biographical book, and Ableton Live.
What new artists or up and comers are your favorites right now?
AM: Bishop Briggs.