Armando Records wants to offer to all his audience in Miami the latest tracks and the best classics in latin rythms, rock and dance music.
Armando Fuentes didn´t know where he was waking up. Behind his crooked sunglasses he could guess the outline of a hotel room, half dressed ladies, champagne glasses, full ashtrays and helium ballons with stamped letters, stuck on the ceiling: “Happy New Year” “Welcome 1984”. It had been a hard new year’s party. Behind the curtain he could almost see a sunny day and he thought he saw palm tres, but at first he felt the hangover was getting the best of him: palm tres in New York? Of the night before he had some disconnected flashes: leaving the club in Manhattan, a blurry taxi ride, the champagne flowing, loud laughter, a couple of conversations with Rubin on a recent New Order álbum (something with Power and Lies), a private jet… shit. ¿Where the hell was he? He arrived in the United States by invitation of his friend Rick Rubin. He wanted to party hard on New Year’s eve, away from the traditional colombian family celebrations on the holidays. But it wasn´t just an american vacation. Also, in came 1984 and with it new sound to discover: house from Chicago, punk and hip hop from New York, techno from Detroit, post punk and new wave coming from Europe… Rick Rubin, his old friend invited him to kick back for a while and so he could listen to all these new sonic prospects. Or so he argued. A vacation and discovering all these musical movement didn´t sound bad at all, but now the sun and the palm tres told him he couldn´t possibly be in Detroit, Chicago or New York. He came down to the hotel lobby: hundreds of blonde retired people filled the bar, the sofás, the streets. Voluptous women with dark skin and long hair reminded him for a momento of the streets of Medellìn or Bogota, but when he listened to their accents, it was clear: the were cuban, mexican, venezuelan…half the guests and the staff at this hotel spoke spanish. No doubt about it: the party had wound up in Miami. The cuban receptionist handed him with a smile a small paper with an address near Wynwood and a message written on it: “See you downtown in two hours. Rick”. Something was up when the great Rubin was making him go to a mystery place in Downtown Miami on new year`s day. Cool as ever, hungover like never before, Armando Fuentes decided to explore the city before his appointment. He walked down Lincoln Road and after some time among tourist, fit bodies, relentless sun and latin beats coming from the Windows, he decided to take a cab downtown. He gave the address to the cab driver who asked him in a strong venezuelan accent wher he was from. Armando, feeling his latin roots within him, talked proudly about his dear Colombia, tron by many problems. And in the middle of his patriotic rant he promised that venezuelan cab driver that someday, Bogotá would become a center for music, partying and culture in Latin America. And he would be right in the middle of it. The cabbie smiled through the rearview mirror and nodded with his head. After an hour long ride, they arrived at the spot. A warehouse with Art Deco hints located in a corner near the Wynwood disctrict. Music and laughter came from the inside. It wasn´t even noon and it sounded like a party in there. He came through the door, and the sight was impressive. Rick Rubin behind a huge table was serving mimosas, cheese and crudites to the guests. The sunlight was coming in through the patio and behind his shades he recognized some of his old friends: Michael couldn´t stop talkin with Freddie Mercury about his next álbum: following up Thriller was going to be very difficult and he didn´t want it to be bad. In another corner, Hector Lavoe sipped giant glasses of whiskey, laughed out loud and hugged a very uncomfortable Robert Smith, who wore all black in Miami heat and looked down at his shoes with a nervous smile. Rick suddenly looks Armando in the eye, signals him with his finger and gestgures for him to follow. He enters a side door while the speakers blasted a song from Power, Corruption and Lies that he didn´t know at the time, and he can´t remember today. Once Armando passed the door behind Rick, he saw it: the most impressive recording studio he had ever seen in his rockstar life. It almost equaled Abbey Road where he helped write so many classics with Mick and Bowie. “Es tuyo, amigo” said Rick in a broken spanish. He explained that he wanted to see Miami become a musical center of the world. The place where all artists would come to record, to live and to party. Armando, with his hangover still kicking, looked at his dear friend Rick an didn´t hesitate. He would be in charge of the studio. For a couple of years he moved to Miami as a producer and started working hand in hand with Rubin, discovering artists and recording timeless albums. Frankie Knuckles and Blondie came to visit, recording some tracks which never came out: powerful beats and groove from up north. La Fania also mastered some tracks there and even Hector Lavoe, in his final days, tried to record a last álbum. It was never finished. Hip hop giants like LL Cool J and Beastie Boys recorded in his studio some of the tracks included in their “I need a Beat” and “License to Ill” records. But it was Adam Yauch´s (RIP) words, precisely, which made him close the studio an go back to his country: “You have to be loyal with your own. Never betray your dreams or your people”. With pain in his soul, Armando closed the studio in 1987. His dream of turning Bogotá into a continental rock and party capital couldn´t wait any longer. He went back to Colombia, and found it with even more troubles than before, but with a very promising musical scene. Almost 20 years later Armando has seen his vision come true. His 2 terrace and the 3 stories building with a 1000 capacity venue which includes proyects such as Armando Records, Armando All Stars, Armando Music Hall, and The Armando’s Pub are icons of a Bogota which today competes with Buenos Aires and Sao Paulo as the center for rock and roll and nightlife in Southamerica. Besides being internationaly acclaimed bars and stages this music temple have seen the likes of djs of all genera with exquiste sets by Aeroplane, Breakbot, dj Shadow, Cassian, Goldroom, Fischerspooner among many, many others, and live anglo acts such as The Kooks, The Hives, The Rapture, Hercules & Love Affair, Crystal Castles, The Horrors and Portugal. The Man, just to mention some. And, never forgetting his lattin roots, Armando has also featured some live latin gems at Bogotá with acts such as Los Amigos invisibles, Zoé, I.M.S, Plastilina Mosh, Systema Solar and personal favorites Bomba Estéreo which will do the honours of genesis in this new land. A couple of months ago he was watching the Beastie Boy´s induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of fame. He felt proud for fullfiling his promise to Adam and the venezuelan cabbie, but he remembered another failed dream: his studio. In a second, he turned off the TV and decided to go back. Miami is also one his own. That´s why he decided to pack his guitar, his beach shirts, his legenedary shades and fly back to Florida and this city that opened their arms for him and where he started his first years as a producer. He found a very different citiy in 2016 than what he lived in the 80s. Downtown Miami is today one of the mostvibrant and interesting hotspots for music, art, parties and design. And Armando keeps on dreaming: now he wants to offer to all his audience in Miami the latest tracks and the best classics in latin rythms, rock and dance music. He wants to produce great records, discover new artists and fire up Downtown Miami with the best parties in town. He already has memories of those big mountains and cold nights in Bogotá, witnesses of unforgettable concerts and parties. Now he goes after the promise of this sun and this sea: new partners of sonic adventures, restless dancing and memorable vibes. Armando can´t wait to see you and run smoothly through the heatened Maimi nights.
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