Rising Music Star DJ Alonso Mendez On The Five Things You Need To Shine In The Music Industry

An Interview With Elana Cohen

Elana Cohen
Authority Magazine

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Don’t Compare Yourself to Others — Success is measured differently by everyone. I spent a lot of time in my younger years trying to reach other people’s benchmark as opposed to creating my own.

As a part of our interview series with leaders, stars, and rising stars in the music industry, we had the distinct pleasure of interviewing DJ Alonso Mendez.

Alonso Mendez has worked as a DJ since 1999. Having been half of the defunct Stereo Martini music production duo, he had a chance to work on popular remixes of R&B and dance hits with renowned artists such as Jully Black, Matt Dusk, La India, America Olivo, Sak Noel, Jes Brieden, Davidson Ospina, Oscar P, Maurice Joshua, Sasha Alazy, Lidell Townsell, Sound Bluntz, Lil’ Pete, Cory Bradshaw, Tony Bishop, Emjay, Marcos Pearson, and Jessie Reyez, among others. In 2023, he launched his company Underbite Records and he is set to release the label’s first single Bon Voyage in collaboration with Teria Morada and Choclair, this summer.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit about your “origin story”. Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

Thank you for having me! I was born in Lima, Peru and grew up with my 2 older brothers, my mother and a very hardworking father in Peru until we immigrated to Canada where we all were forced to grow up faster than most, and worked together to get ahead as a unit while navigating all the challenges migrant families face.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

I was always in love with music and theatre since I was a kid, and I always had an entrepreneurial spirit. Growing up, my brothers and I used to record songs from the radio onto cassettes and compete with each other to see who would have the best mixed tape that week or month. Doing our own mixed compilations became a hobbie and when I was 21, my oldest brother and I were able to land a consulting gig with a major record label and do just this for them. We found ourselves getting a crash course in music business by being given the opportunity to help launch them into the latin music scene in Canada. One of my brothers was a DJ and things just started to fit together with having access to exclusive material, access to some great parties and building a local following. So I decided I would start investing my time as a DJ and started to dab into music production. This journey was a lot of fun and I got to open for big artists, have a radio show and many nightclub residencies at the same time….fast forward to now, and I am on the artist side by co-writing, producing, arranging and working with amazing artists and producers and engineers to create releases such as Bon Voyage with Teria Morada and Choclair, which is being released on my own record label named Underbite Records.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

The most interesting story would be of learning how serendipitous this career is to me. I keep coming back to it one way or another which has led me to believe that my musical journey is still at its early stage.

It has been said that sometimes our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When I was in my early 20s, and without previous experience, I was given an opportunity to host a radio show on a local station. I remember that we were going through the top 10 countdown, and I was introducing the top song, at which point I forgot to click off the sound off button so my microphone was on and broadcasting a lot of goofy talk in the studio. I started to receive messages and phone calls that this was happening, but I did not have my cell phone near me. It was embarrassing but it taught me to keep my phone at my side, and to be a lot more careful with my words because you never know who is listening…in this case, it was a lot of people and luckily the silly talk wasn’t too bad.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

There have been so many people that have helped me to learn DJing, music production, music business, and just overall how to handle myself in this industry. To name one would be a disservice. I am grateful for all those experiences, good ones and bad ones as they have all allowed me to be where I am today, and that is a place where I am truly enjoying the creative process.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

There is a quote in Spanish that says “Si La Vida Te Da Limones….Pide Sal y Tequila” which translates to “If Life gives you lemons….ask for Salt and Tequila!”. I think about this quote whenever I am facing a difficult moment to remind me that how I get through those moments is really going to be affected by my attitude towards it.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

The release of BON VOYAGE with Teria Morada and Choclair is right on the top of the list and releasing in May on all platforms. I am also finishing Teria’s EP which is a collection of original and re-imagined Pop Tracks that I have produced and co-written, as well as working on my dance/electronic music Album which includes originals, and remixes of songs I have penned and produced for other artists. I am also in the process of launching Underbite Records and building out to become a platform and avenue to connect with people and release music I hope connects with people.

We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in music, film, and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?

Art is a representation of life, diversity and inclusivity makes entertainment relatable and it can also have the opportunity to positively impact our acceptance of each other. Words and visuals do matter. Living in a globally connected period of time, it is important to be able to celebrate each other’s cultures and that is one of the reasons that our song “Bon Voyage” is such a special project. When Teria first conceptualized this song, it was to really express how multicultural our life experience in Toronto is…it really is beautiful that I can recognize all the key phrases in the song without speaking all of those languages. All those phrases are words that I have heard friends say at different times. We are so lucky that the fabric of Toronto is so multicultural. It really makes our project “Bon Voyage” an international flavoured summer soundtrack and I am so very grateful to be involved in it. Opa Ole!

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Don’t Give Up — Learning that I am deserving of success is a big life lesson, since I deserve it, I have to go get it.
  2. Never stop dreaming — my logical brain used to struggle with the creative side. It took a lot of soul searching to be able to quiet the little voice that asks “Why” and just enjoy the creative process.
  3. Don’t Compare Yourself to Others — Success is measured differently by everyone. I spent a lot of time in my younger years trying to reach other people’s benchmark as opposed to creating my own.
  4. Intention matters — The reason why you do things in life and how you approach them really affects how it manifests.
  5. Manifestation is real — Really believe things will happen and be open to the opportunities life puts in front of you.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Do not be afraid to ask for help from others and from experts. People cannot do everything.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

I would start with the basics and make clean water a human right. I don’t understand why it is not. It is the one basic element that humans need and yet it is not a right in the world. Drinking water for all.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. :-)

I would love to have breakfast or lunch with the Estefans. Gloria is just the queen of Latin Pop Music in my books, and Emilio is an awesome musician that really changed the Latin music industry. They inspired me a lot and seem like such awesome people.

How can our readers follow you online?

Thru instagram @AlonsoMendez and on my spotify or apple music profiles @AlonsoMendez. Also through my record label’s website UnderbiteRecords.com

This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!

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Elana Cohen
Authority Magazine

Elana Cohen is a freelance writer based in Chicago. She covers entertainment and music