Episode 013 : itsblunk
Friday, February 19th, 2021
CLINIK: What does your hometown of Los Angeles, CA mean to you and how has it impacted your outlook on music?
itsblunk: Being born & raised in Los Angeles has played a major role in my upbringing influencing a ton of aspects of my life including the music I vibe to. LA offers a variety of music scenes for all tastes, whether you're checking out live music or dancing into the morning at an after hours. I mean just walking the streets you experience this wonderful symphony of sound coming from this buzzing city - jazz bands playing streetside, clubs blasting hip-hop & EDM or local lowriders bumping old school soul & funk. This is really one of the many beauties of growing up in LA. This diversity of sound was exactly how I was raised. I come from a hispanic family & my grandfather always listened to Spanish, lounge & jazz music while my parents listened to disco, funk & rock. This diversity in sounds keeps me inspired & exercises my creativity in fusing different genres into my sets.
C: How did you initially start mixing?
IB: I was introduced to mixing back in college, I’d say around some point in 2011. It was a pivotal moment in time as I had decided to close my soccer career. I always had a deep love of music & at the time I had one of those iPod mixers that you would hook up to different iPods & mix different songs together. My buddy, Phillip Arzola, who went to ICON, an electronic music production school out of LA, thought it was something I would be good at so he showed me this mixing software, Traktor, in my apartment on campus.. I fell in love.
C: Your set at CLINIK’s Future Bliss streaming event was a hit with viewers. What type of vibe were you going for with that set? Why did you choose to film the set at that particular beach?
IB: Aw man, it was an honor to be a part of Future Bliss - I’m super grateful for those who tapped in live & for those who listened or watched the playback to support me. For that set, it was really about 2 things. First, to lean into my role for the event - I was the opener so it was important to welcome everyone by setting the tone for the event. Second, it was about structuring my tracklist that would get people hyped for the rest of the event while playing my favorite sounds. Ultimately every mix I put together is about making it timeless & challenging listeners to discover new sounds while sprinkling in some of my favorite edits of popular songs that they would recognize. Similarly with sounds, for Future Bliss, it was important for me to have visual depth & meaning to my background so I chose to shoot my set at the iconic backdrop of the Long Beach harbor as this diverse & culturally-rich community has become home to me.
C: How do you go about putting together a mix from a streaming service such as SoundCloud?
IB: I tap into the community of producers & artists on SoundCloud & other music streaming platforms. Soundcloud is what I primarily use because it really is the underground of the music scene. I listen to a lot of the recommended playlists based on the tracks I’ve already liked along with listening to other online radio shows. I also just dive deep into the artists I’ve already liked & see what else they are liking, reposting, etc. I primarily focus on creating mixes that embody a feeling that can be heard. With all the tracks I find, I sort them by specific sound or vibe & place them into private playlists for future mixes. Once I have more than enough tracks in a given playlist, I go to the decks, start having fun & before you know it, you got yourself a stew.
C: What inspired you to start Do Better Together Project and how have you used the organization as a way to give back to the community?
IB: Do Better Together Project was actually derived as an extension of a podcast idea I had. In the process of creating my podcast “Do Better Together Podcast”, which is still in development, I was meeting with a colleague of mine talking about the concept of the podcast. I was expressing how I wanted to build a community of individuals in the process of doing better for themselves & for society to which he said it would be dope to have people come together to serve our community. I really loved that idea & being that this was pre-pandemic (January 2020) it was fairly simple to plan events where people felt safe to give back. Initially, my goal with Do Better Together Project was to have monthly gatherings where individuals could come together for discussion & action centered around the issues prevalent in our community. In January, we kicked things off with a street clean up & in February we put together a lunch drive which served 224 lunches to those in need. As the pandemic has transpired it has required us to be creative with the ways we can serve our community. In May, Clinik Productions provided a tremendous opportunity by partnering with us to bring awareness & support to some really wonderful charities, LiftUp! & March On Foundation's Dine 11 & The Coco Fund, providing relief to those that had been impacted by the pandemic. Since then, we have also been developing some deeper grooves in which we can move to continue to promote change for the generations to come.
C: You are very active on social media. How has social media helped you grow your own brand?
IB: Social really allows me to engage with the audience, build community & extend my reach to which I get to meet new friends. It is a powerful tool so I take great responsibility in ensuring that I stay true to my values as well as support those that are along their journey whether they are an artist, small business owner, etc. It has been important for me to voice what is on my heart, provide valuable content & give exposure to issues in our society.
C: What does your role as a Growth Coach entail?
IB: My role as a growth coach is really to just help individuals work through whatever it is that they are going through in their life whether it be professionally or personally. It is not about being the answer for individuals but a partner in helping them discover the answers that they seek. A majority of it is listening, holding space & asking questions. The topics of focus between my clients & I include purpose, integrity & mindset. Ultimately, my vision is to see everyone win & provide the support to empower my clients to achieve their goals.
C: The social media content you produce, such as your Tik Toks videos and reels on Instagram, are engaging and eye-catching. What are your goals for this content and how do you go about putting it together?
IB: I've created some pillars of overarching themes from my experience that I am passionate to share with others. I utilize these pillars to concept & write scripts for my content as talking points, press record & edit! Much like my mixes, these pieces of content have helped me get to where I am so I figure it is best to share this insight in hopes that it will have a positive impact. My main goal with my social presence is really to change the narrative of what so many of us see from social. I don’t wish to only post my highlights any longer - rather to keep things real & raw in an either entertaining, educational or inspiring way or better yet all three at the same time.
C: Who are three artists that you love to listen to?
IB: This is a hard question haha. For me, it is really the season in my life that dictates the music I gravitate towards. Right now, I am listening to a lot of Toro Y Moi, Duran & the Indications & J Dilla. I would like to say that being that I have been heavily influenced by J Dilla over the years it was only right to do a little tribute to him in my mix for Clinik Radio as this is the month we celebrate his life. I realize I didn't really answer the question so a few artists that I always have on repeat, in no prioritized order, are Eydie Gorme, A Tribe Called Quest, Sublime &, if I may, I’d add a fourth in.. D’Angelo because, I mean, come on it's D'Angelo, baby.
C: What are your goals for the rest of 2021?
IB: My goals are to continue expressing my creativity while exploring different mediums to do that & to grow & cultivate my businesses, my connections & myself.