By Madison Rutherford
Darrin Armijo-Wardle is a visual artist and musician living in Phoenix. The ASU alumnus writes music every day, usually before he paints. “Music is integral to my process and I feel like the act of creating music gets my brain ready for my visual work,” he says.
You may recognize his visual work outside of Downtown Phoenix’s dimly lit speakeasy Melinda’s Alley, where a colorful, 70-foot mural of an African-American socialite from the 1900s named Malinda Curtis camouflages the entrance of the underground cocktail lounge.
Armijo-Wardle became involved with the mural, which graces the north wall of the Renaissance Hotel on the corner of Central Avenue and First Street, through fellow Phoenix artist, Hugo Medina.
“The corner itself is imbued with a lot of history; not only is it home to Melinda’s Alley, but it’s the former site of the Hotel Adams twice over. The first Hotel Adams burned down and the second was knocked because, for a while, Phoenix had a fever and knocking down historic builds was the cure.”
Many figures central to Arizona history made the Hotel Adams their watering hole. That’s where Curtis comes in. “What many considered an urban legend, ‘Melinda’ turned out to be a real woman. She ventured to Phoenix like most of us, to start anew. Malinda became a well-known figure in Phoenix, admired by all for her kindness,” the painter says. “She also had run-ins with the law and she told people she saw ‘flying creatures.’ Everything I’ve learned about her just leaves me wanting to know more.”
Want to know more about Armijo-Wardle? You can find his work at the Hive Gallery, Phoenix Institute of Contemporary Art and at darrinarmijowardle.com. Read on to learn more about the music that motivates and inspires him.
TOP 6 FAVORITE SONGS OF ALL TIME
“Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’,” Michael Jackson
“I’m a child of the ’80s and back then Michael was a superhero. This song captures Michael’s amazing vocal dexterity and Quincy Jones’ legendary production. By the time you get to ‘Ma ma se, ma ma sa ma ma coo sa,’ you should be floored.”
“Waiting Room,” Fugazi
“Children of the ’80s grow up to be angsty ’90s teens and you’d be right in thinking the clear choice of the ’90s is Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit.’ But, nah. Fugazi is the band that transformed my teen angst into a righteous fury.”
“So Fresh, So Clean,” Outkast
“Hip-hop/rap didn’t become an obsession until this album. And what a glorious album! Andre 3000 and Big Boi defied genre and gave us 24 tracks of soul, funk, groove and drum ‘n’ bass. I almost loved this album to death.”
“The cold, glitchy digital soundscape weaves in and out of electronica, techno, jazz and classical. ‘Idioteque’ is like listening to the synapses of an artificial intelligence becoming aware and it’s mesmerizing.”
“Two Weeks,” FKA Twigs
“An interesting mixture of fuzzed out industrial and glitchy R&B. Count me in! For me, this marks a turn to shamelessly loving a ‘love song’ again. It’s something that the righteous anger of punk and prohibitively introspective white-guy-indie-rock simply can’t or refuses to do anymore.”
“Never Catch Me,” Flying Lotus ft. Kendrick Lamar
“Flying Lotus, like most of what I like, defies easy categorization. His records are like somersaulting in someone else’s dream. This song features Kendrick Lamar, who is one of my favorite artists, and it’s brilliant.
PREFERRED WAY OF LISTENING
“I prefer a stereo system, whether it’s vinyl, CD or iTunes.”
FAVORITE SONG BY A LOCAL ARTIST
“They don’t have an album that I’m aware of, but I’m loving Las Chollas Peligrosas. Catch them live!”
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SONG TO LISTEN TO WHEN YOU PAINT?
“At the moment, I’m listening to Low’s new album ‘Double Negative’ while I paint.”
GO-TO GUILTY PLEASURE OR CLASSIC KARAOKE TUNE
“In my nearly 40 years, I’ve never done karaoke. But if I did, I would do ‘Run for the Hills’ by Iron Maiden.”
DESERT ISLAND ALBUM
“Probably Johnny Cash and Willy Nelson’s ‘VH1 Storytellers’ live album. These two legends bantering back and forth and playing their greatest hits like ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ and ‘Always on My Mind’ is gold.”
WHAT ARTIST WOULD PROVIDE THE SOUNDTRACK FOR THE MOVIE ABOUT YOUR LIFE?
“Moses Sumney would provide the soundtrack to my life. If you’ve haven’t heard his album ‘Aromanticism,’ please do – it’s a vastly underrated album. Moses’ otherworldly falsetto sounds beautiful, melancholy and exhausted. The lush string arraignments can both soar and stay grounded. It’s perfect for me!”