Elac alum jumpstarts record label

Condina—Marco Lopez, a founding member of Condina Records, returns to ELAC to visit the Philosophy Department. CN/Diego Linares

By Diego Linares

Marco Lopez is a philosophy major and was a founding member of a record label/cassette tape cooperative while attending community college.

Lopez grew up in Boyle Heights and dropped out of Lincoln High School before his planned graduation in 2010. He attended East Los Angeles College a few years later. “I love ELAC,” Lopez said. “If it wasn’t for ELAC, I wouldn’t be in school right now.”

Lopez has since transferred and now attends University of California, Berkeley.

In an interview with media outlet We Are Mitú, Lopez said Condina Records spawned from cundina, a term used in Mexico to represent community-based funding. It is popular with working-class people who put funds into a pot, and dates are scheduled where group members can use that sum of money.

Condina Records currently has more than 10 members who have released 20 projects on the online platform Bandcamp.

Some members of the label met through an online forum called 404 Freaks, while others met each other through word of mouth and local shows.

The SP 404 is a sound sampling workstation created by Roland Manufacturing, a Japanese company specializing in electronic musical instruments.  Avocado Blood is the only band in the cooperative with members and brothers Anthony and Christopher Velazquez, who also attended ELAC.

Anthony said that although there is a range of music-from electronic,  house, trance, hip-hop and the music Avocado Blood produces- there is a cohesive effort put forth when releasing music. “I guess the kaleidoscope of style, is our style. It’s what Condina is,” Anthony said.

Lopez said that the Roland SP 404 was one of the common threads that allowed people to meet each other.“It was a way to make music without a computer interface, or computer,” Lopez said. “(Anthony) had a sampler too, and so when we were starting the collective we were trying to be diverse.”

The brothers have been playing together since 2017, upon the return of older sibling Anthony, who had returned from a trip to Mexico with songs. Anthony said that he appreciates being part of a record label and the team-building experiences.

“It’s allowed us to participate as a collective,” Anthony said. “Even if someone’s not there – like one member is busy with work or life – there are a lot of other members to pick up the slack.”

Lopez stays an active member by DJing in L.A. and the Bay Area, as well as organizing events. He said that although he hasn’t created music lately, he’s still able to be part of the collective. “It’s interesting. People step up and step back,” Lopez said.

The cooperative has worked with record labels like Rotu and GRN+GLD, as well as DJs like Angela “Spiñorita” Ramirez, who has a segment on NTS Radio called Casual Play.

Condina Records has a residency at a gallery with members of the collective Chewing Foil. The next show will be on Saturday at 9 p.m. with guests Love Cast, Memory Den and Yungatita, a member of group Katzú Oso.

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