thesalting SPOTLIGHT | adrian bartos / stretch armstrong : DJ/new yorker :  photographed by ellen mc dermott and bridget sciales
thesalting SPOTLIGHT | adrian bartos / stretch armstrong : DJ/new yorker :  photographed by ellen mc dermott and bridget sciales

biggest thanks to our friend Adrian for jumping in on our NYFW/NYMD presentations this year and providing the ultimate music experience for us: spinning live vinyl. shining the spotlight on this already bright individual.


thesalting: how did the name stretch armstrong come about?

ADRIAN BARTOS: when I got the chance to have my own radio show in 1990, when I was already playing in clubs downtown, I still didn't have a DJ name. DJ Adrian didn't exactly roll off the tongue, and it would've sounded very off brand for a hip-hop show in 1990. a friend had been calling me "stretch", and I added the "armstrong" in the tradition in DJ circles of naming oneself after comic book characters or super heroes.


ts: please tell us your very first concert?

ab: my tastes as a kid were pretty standard. my grandmother took me to see The Beach Boys at radio city. I had an incredible time. while my taste at 7 may have been basic, my appetite for music was unusually voracious. I'm sorry this isn't a terribly interesting answer, ha.


ts: last concert?

ab: I program, host and DJ a jazz monthly at the wonderful Nine Orchard Hotel here in NYC, and every month I am front and center at some of the most magical musical experiences I've ever had in my life. last month, bassist and recording artist Endea Owens performed with an ensemble of equally gifted musicians, and throughout the night I yelled out uncontrollably, shed tears and goosebumps.


ts: best concert?

ab: The Clash at The Pier in nyc, in 1982. I was 13.


ts: last movie you've seen?

ab: American Fiction, but I fell be continued.


ts: morning or evening?

ab: I'm a relatively new dad, so it's all morning for me. unless there's a crowd in front of me, I'm useless at night.


ts: largest crowd you've performed for?

ab: I don't get booked for festivals as much as I did in the late 90s and early 2000s, but in those instances, 10,000 to 20,000 people. I honestly prefer smaller venues where I feel like I am part of the party. playing on stage makes me feel disconnected.


ts: favorite venue?

ab: currently, probably Public Records for their design, OJAS sound system and overall ethos.


ts: strangest DJing experience?

ab: I was playing at Lotus on west 14th street around the year 2000. it was early and I was just getting started. back then, we played vinyl and DJ'd the whole night, 10pm to 4 or 5am. Billy Joel was sitting at a table with a woman near the booth. they were just enjoying themselves. billy got up and started walking towards me. when he was right in front of me, he asked me what kind of monitors were in the booth. it was a weird thing to ask since he couldn't even hear them from where he was sitting. for a moment, I was excited that I was about to have a conversation with an absolute legend, but his question left me kind of flummoxed, and he walked away after I told him they were electro-voice speakers.


ts: best DJing experience?

ab: I was asked to play the after party for the first two Sade shows at the garden for her Lover's Rock tour in 2001. this, too, was at Lotus. I was set up in the basement, and after the concert ended, a rush of the band's friends and family, the band and Sade showed up, filling up the tight downstairs area, and the door behind them was closed. Sade danced from 10:30pm to 5am, never leaving the dance floor, which was the size of a large bedroom. her brother would come up to me throughout the night to tell me how utterly happy his sister was. at 5am, Sade was one of three people left downstairs. it was magical.

the next night, I went to the garden to watch the band, and backstage, Stuart, one of the band's founders and Sade's co-conspirator, invited me to open, a bar on 22nd Street and the west side highway. I headed over there, and was pleasantly surprised by how few people were at the bar, maybe 15 people. at that point, I had never met Sade, which was a surprise to Stuart, because he and I had many friends in common, but I was likely working on any night that Sade may have been hanging out in those circles. I was brought over to Sade to meet her, trying to think of something to say to fit the moment. we were introduced, and before I could say anything, she grabbed my hand and began thanking me profusely for the night before, not letting go of me the whole time. I remember her saying that the only reason she left at 5am was because she had to at least appear to have some dignity. she barely let me get a word in. shortly after, everyone was getting ready to leave so I said goodbye to Stuart. as I headed east on 22nd, I heard my name called from down the block. under a spotlight stood Sade, waving at me. it honestly seemed unreal.


ts: summer plans?

ab: Roland Garros, Wimbledon, Stockholm, Lisbon, Obidos, the Greek Islands, jazz at Nine Orchard, US open, block parties, outdoor parties, Watermill...and as much of the aforementioned as possible.


ts: favorite spot in nyc?

ab: it isn't really a spot, but the stretch of Tompkins Avenue between Putnam and Hancock in Bed Stuy when the weather is warm is where I wanna be.


ts: favorite 3 restaurants in New York?

ab: Ghenet Brooklyn, Sushi Yasuda, Jajaja Mexicana.


ts: how do you erase hate in your everyday life?

ab: through music and community, and limiting my time on my mobile, which admittedly is a struggle I'm not exempt from.