Dominique: You're famous in New York as a hip hop DJ, but is it true that before you did your radio show you were a house DJ?
Stretch Armstrong: Not exactly. In the 80s, things weren't as segregated by genre. A DJ may have been known for specializing in a type of music, but chances are, the same DJ made it his business to know and play music from a wide spectrum. In the 80's and early 90's there were virtually no outlets for new club music, with the exception of weekend mix shows on radio and some other very underground shows on community and college radio.
Stretch on his NY sh!t
So you had to go out to listen to the latest music.
Club DJs really were the tastemakers, and club goers would go out to hear the songs from the previous week that they couldn't get out of their heads - or hear anywhere else. They went out to dance and to be turned on to the latest music. When I started DJing professionally I was into everything from dance music to Jamaican music, as well as hip-hop and everything in between.
Tell us about your first experiences in New York clubs.
I started going to clubs as soon as I was 18. The first ones I went to were The World, Nell's, Save the Robots, Big Haus and MK. Each of these had a particular flavor but there was still this sense of a coming together of a lot of people from different walks of life, old and young, all sharing in this palpable urgency to be there. The energy at clubs in the 80's was electric, week to week.
Seed 02: LOVE ME, A Stretch Armstrong Mix
I know you got to see some great acts early on, like The Clash in 1982...
Before I was old enough to go to clubs, I would go to concerts that let in minors - luckily I had parents that kept me on a pretty loose tether. I got to see Run DMC, The Clash, The B-52s, Black Uhuru, Queen, Siouxsie and the Banshees, the Police, Talking Heads, Beastie Boys, LL Cool J, Public Enemy and others before I even turned 15!
What do you think is the most exciting thing happening to music right now?
I think the explosion of DJ culture and EDM, like anything, has it's pluses and minuses. Yes, a majority of the music is formulaic, but I believe that as some of these kids get older, their tastes will mature and they'll gravitate towards more sophisticated sounds.
Saturday August 16th, Le Bain presents A Night With Plant Music featuring Stretch Armstrong, Domninique Keegan and Black Russian. Doors 10pm. The Standard, High Line.