Armando Pérez is a focused and prolific musician, composer, and producer originally from Chicago, and currently based back in his hometown after stints in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Over the years, Armando has been an important, contributing figure in various musical scenes, with projects ranging from composing/recording under the name The Single Helix, hosting DJ sets and other concerts, playing with Latin fusion group Jugo de Mango and Afro-beat/cumbia ensemble ¡ESSO!, and spinning house and global soul music. In his interview, Armando comments on Reflection and Response through the intriguing nature of his surroundings and the process of absorbing its various scenes. He also discusses his efforts to stay continually busy to help fuel positive production and creativity. The future is naturally bright and full for Armando with records coming out for his various projects along with multiple upcoming performances, so we were lucky enough to catch up with him for the feature below!
It’s pretty cathartic to read your own unfiltered thoughts. It helps put life into perspective.
– Armando Pérez
Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?
AP: I was born and currently reside in Chicago, IL. I am working and living in the Hermosa neighborhood, writing and recording new music under the alias The Single Helix, as well as hosting monthly DJ and live music nights around the city. I’m blessed to have the outlets I do; performing with Latin fusion band Jugo de Mango, performing Afro-funk and cumbia with ¡ESSO!, and DJing global soul and house music. I do music full time: licensing beats, engineering live shows, guesting with musician friends and recording various artists. Having lived in Los Angeles and San Francisco, I decided Chicago had the best scene for my creative aspirations. Home is where the heart is, so here I am.
What does Reflection and Response mean to you?
AP: For me, it means I discover who I am and what I stand for: I witness, I absorb, I process, I respond. There are so many variables in where we are and what we see and feel. Strong moments make me reflect on what it means to be true to myself. It leads me to my voice.
How does your work fit in with that definition?
AP: I am surrounded by city life. I see people, friends and family coming and going, searching, dealing with their social and professional triumphs and problems. It all affects me. My entire creative life has been a documentarian response to all these experiences. I keep journals. I read them back and find idea nuggets to make new music. I’m literally talking myself into it. It’s pretty cathartic to read your own unfiltered thoughts. It helps put life into perspective. Beyond those lyrical ideas and notes, melodies sometimes come to me out of nowhere, sometimes in my sleep! I’ll have to wake up, get my guitar, figure out the melody or chord structure and record it on my phone. When I sit down to write, it comes out more controlled. Once my vocal melody is solid, I can fit it to lyrical ideas phonetically. It is all reflection of what I’m feeling.
What have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?
AP: I am really excited about releasing a special song I co-wrote and recorded with the talented rhumba flamenca, Vivian Garcia. We are now finishing the video for our single, “Loc@s.”
I’m also wrapping up a personal album of sexy songs entitled “Pillowtalk” featuring prodigious opera singer Erica Rose Sauder. It will be released under the SonicOctopus/Dilligaf label at the end of April.
In May I’ll be completing an album with West Coast producer extraordinare Izznyce. We are working as a breakbeat collaborative called Oso Gigante, repping San Francisco and Chicago. We will be releasing our first record “Rarities Vol.1” and be back in the studio with emcee Planet Asia in early May.
Beyond that, I have DJ remixes in the works for the dance floor and a live ¡Esso! record and tour planned for this summer. Did I mention the new Jugo de Mango record coming out this Spring?
What inspires you?
AP: More than anything, with the state of the world where it is, and how strong I feel about the value of family and time, I’m inspired to document artistic release as much as possible. I try to be as productive as I can. Staying busy with various projects makes my output more enjoyable. Collaborating with different artists and musicians keeps things fresh and inspiring. In terms of creativity, I think we reach our full potential when we find new ways to channel and release our talents. Whatever it takes to get the idea out. Original ideas live on in art; books, paintings, music, etc., whether visual, sonic, structural, figurative, or literal. They have a chance to stand the test of time. I want to make interesting honest music that means something to me. If I can do that, I’m happy.
Also, no joke, lazy people inspire me too. If I see someone doing nothing, it makes me want to do something.
Is there anything else you would like the Collective to know?
AP: General truths I’ve experienced: Love is greater than money. Be good family. No one dies if they are remembered. It’s never a waste of time if we learn from a mistake.
Shout out to…?
AP: My supportive wife Rebecca, my family and friends, Sal Catanzaro (Brick Records, Cotter Records), David Chavez and Fausto Lopez (Sound Culture), Vivian Garcia, Dan, Ryan & Juan (Jugo de Mango), Kevin, Alec, Julian (¡Esso!), Erica Rose Sauder, Diana Mosquera, Alonzo Alcaraz, Hector Ivan Garcia, Sandra Trevino, Dave Serengeti, FEx, Northrock 360, Phos Kolden, Keoki, and Ryan Wukovitz for helping me get that music out! And of course Vicken & Peter at the LIFESTYLE. Thanks y’all!
Reflection and Response.