Late Night Radio’s vinyl underground at Belly Up Aspen
IF YOU GO …
Who: Late Night Radio
Where: Belly Up Aspen
When: Saturday, Nov. 24, 9:30 p.m.
How much: $5
Tickets: Belly Up box office; bellyupaspen.com
Alex Medellin has an uncanny and original ear for old samples and new sounds that have positioned him to follow in the footsteps of DJ acts like Pretty Lights and Big Gigantic who’ve leapt from Denver’s club scene to the international stage. A prolific DJ and producer, performing under the nom de spin Late Night Radio, Medellin will return to Belly Up Aspen for a Thanksgiving weekend show Saturday.
Originally from Texas, Medellin made his way to Colorado via a ski bum detour to California, where he worked for Big Bear doing online snow reports, social media videos and mixing music.
“I got to a breaking point when I’d made one too many Christmas songs,” he said during a stop in Aspen last year. “I was over it. For the music I wanted to make, I saw Colorado as the most blossoming, up-and-coming scene.”
In 2010, as that Denver scene was spawning acts like Pretty Lights and Paper Diamond, Medellin saw it as an ideal place to make a go as a producer.
“It was very fresh,” he recalled. “I saw it like, ‘If I can break through in that scene, that would actually mean something.’ … So I just moved out here from with the goal of being able to play shows.”
Since then, over seven volumes of his “Vinyl Restoration” series — the latest released last winter — he’s carved out a niche for himself with laid-back and soulful hip-hop beats that mix snippets of dialogue with old-school sounds from funk, soul, rock and rap. He’s also found himself with hip-hop greats like Del the Funky Homosapien.
Aspen audiences got to know Late Night Radio through some high-profile opening gigs at Belly Up — supporting Big Gigantic in 2014 and Thievery Corporation’s two-night Independence Day run in 2016 — and solo spots over the past two years.
The 32-year-old DJ, who often brings along a live drummer and guest rappers, believes there are few scenes more fertile than ours in Colorado at this moment.
“If you’re into hip-hop-influenced soulful bass music, there’s no other place you can go and just have everyone from Derek (Vincent Smith) and Adam (Deitch) in Pretty Lights to Grant (Kwiecinski) with GRiZ, to everyone who is popping in doing secret sets,” he said. “It’s a unique place right now.”
And, yes, the DJ behind “Vinyl Restoration” still works from vinyl samples.
“I’m still a purist,” he said. “I like sampling from vinyl. There’s something personal about going to the record store, digging through, coming home with a stack of records and finding that one. For me it’s about emotional connectivity, finding what touches me. There are things that, the second I hear them, I know they need to go on the record. It gives me chills and I can already hear the song around it.”
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