[Locals Only] DJ Frankie Alvaro Is in the Vanguard of Vintage
Like many artists, DJ Frankie Alvaro wears a number of hats. By day, he’s a master stylist at Salon Pop in Long Beach. By night, he supplies the sweat-glistened, booze-fueled masses with rock & roll of the vintage-’60s variety. On Dec. 10, he’ll be presenting a rock show at Alex’s Bar featuring New Fidelity, the Champanties (of which he’s a member) and Dante Vs Zombies. Is he chasing a waterfall with the whole vintage thing? Perhaps. Does he exhibit a prolific work ethic based on a foundation of passion? Undoubtedly. Originally moving with his family to Orange County from Lima, Peru, the now 26-year-old made his way to Long Beach before plunking down in Echo Park. We tracked him down to hear what was crackling.
OC Weekly: What can someone expect from a typical DJ Frankie set?
Frankie Alvaro: I play a lot of Northern soul. I like to play a couple of ’60s hits as well, so people know what’s going on—so it’s not too obscure. A little bit of garage, a lot of Motown. Always ’60s. When people come see me DJ, they know what to expect.
What would you say has fueled your obsession with this type of music?
Growing up, I had a pretty strict [upbringing]. We were only allowed to listen to K-EARTH 101 or, like, Frank Sinatra or Benny Goodman. So when I was in the fourth and fifth grades, those were my favorite bands. When I hit middle school, I got into Nirvana, and I tried to branch out and rebel. But as soon as I got into my later teens, I just kind of went right back into it. It’s just where my heart is. It’s just what I love.
Where do you spin regularly?
I do a lot of shows in Long Beach. I put on Secret Affair, which is a dance club at Alex’s Bar the first Friday of every month. I put on a club in LA at the Medusa Lounge the second and third Thursdays. Those are my only two big residencies right now.
Can you compare the differences between spinning at a place like Alex’s and a club in LA?
Secret Affair has grown into something that I never would have thought it would grow into. [Originally], it was just friends and people who enjoy soul; [now], there’s all these people who are so eclectic and people I would never expect to see. But they’re all loving the music. It was really mind-blowing, really flattering. Yeah, in LA, its mainly our friends and people you would just see at shows.
What can you say about the Long Beach scene right now?
There’s so much great music coming out of Long Beach. It was actually kind of freaking me out. I’m like, “This is all going on, and no one’s recording it.” So I’ve been video recording all these shows because maybe one day I can make a zine or I can just have this on file.
KROQ’s Rodney Bingenheimer has endorsed the New Fidelity song “Blue Eyed Girl” via National Public Radio’s show Off-Ramp, but we’ve heard very little about the Champanties and Dante Vs Zombies. What can you say about them?
I’m actually in the Champanties; I play the organ. There are three girl singers harmonizing; it’s a doo-woppy, ’60s, bubble-gum, Shangri-Las type band. Friday was our first show at the Redwood, and it went over extremely well. Dante Vs Zombies are Dante and Jeff from Starlite Desperation, plus Gabriel Hart and Jada from Jail Weddings.
When you DJ, what do you use—a laptop or turntables?
I’ve always, always been all-vinyl. No CDs, no iPods, no laptops. For me, if I walk into a bar and the guy’s deejaying, and I’m like, “Oh, this is a rad song,” and I run up there and see him playing a computer, well, fuck you, I don’t care. It’s completely irrelevant. But if you’re playing vinyl, you actually hunted for it. You spent money on it, and it’s actually meaningful to you, which makes it that much more exciting for me.
DJ Frankie Alvaro presents New Fidelity, the Champanties and Dante Vs Zombies at Alex’s Bar, 2913 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach, (562) 434-8292; www.alexsbar.com. Thurs., Dec. 10. $5. 21+.
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