BY: KIARRA DELOUIS
Meet Humberto Mendez: A Sophomore majoring in Business and Administration with a specialization in Marketing at American University. Raised in El Zulia, Venezuela until he was eight, he relocated to South Florida as a political refugee, a place he calls "a cool melting pot."
With his sister cheering him on, Humberto started playing the guitar at six years old. "She was in a rock band, she sang and played guitar," said Humberto. "I'd watch her practice." A decent computer was his first acquired resource before he upgraded and built a home studio.
Around this time, his parents were in the middle of a divorce and he began to struggle academically. Wanting to find an outlet for Humberto, his sister's boyfriend at the time took him under his wing. He allowed him to sit in on his recording sessions which exposed him to sound engineering and production.
Electronic Dance Music (EDM) was the main genre Humberto was involved in from 12 years old onwards. DJing at 18+ and 21+ nightclubs, he had to be accompanied by his older sister as he was underrage. Going from DJing at underground clubs to more exclusive clubs in one day, he would receive $100 per hour for work. "I was very frugal with money," said Humberto. "I never tried to flaunt. I always used the cash as disposable income to put towards the next project."
Event teams would buy out the club, promote via Facebook, allowing most people in the entertainment industry in Florida to be exposed at all age clubs/events, without compensation. Promoters were not the most ethical, but Humberto was fortunate enough to know the right people who had the power and privilege to not fear the consequences.
Starting at an early age was beneficial for Humberto but also consisted of low points because the music industry is a very â€˜dog eat dog' environment. "With music I had more low points than anything," he recalled. "It all started off cool, I connected with some of my best friends through there, but everyone is trying to do the same thing."
He reminisced about the times he was doing shows in Atlanta and Houston with his late-best friend Anthony, "Sonic C". "It became too much influence for me at that time. Too much drugs and alcohol going on," said Humberto. Once his best friend passed away, he stopped doing EDM, but continued mixing and mastering his own music.
Rapping was a hobby, then career, and then it became a hobby again after he found film. Humberto's passion for film and media began in a class that he chose in high school for an easy grade. He dug deeper into the curriculum, learned the terminology and grew enough interest to take his basic level understandings to the next level.
Humberto describes one of his inspirations, Wes Anderson, as someone who pays attention to detail like how characters should be dressed and how shots should be framed, as well as Spike Jonze, a modern day rebellious director. "[Jonze] started off doing skateboard videos, became the owner of the company â€˜Girl', got an Oscar award winning screenplay, bought Viceâ€¦," said Mendez.
"I f--k with people who know they can do other mediums. They aren't masters of none they are masters of all," he added.
Humberto later became a partner with the first blog that ever put him on called, Electrokill Media. "I use to write articles. Their facebook page had about 12,000 likes. Page outreach increased to 130,000 likes when I came into the picture," said Mendez .
Prior to becoming a label, Electrokill Media did distribution through Beatport and iTunes. Sometimes Humberto had to miss school for these label meetings or walk out of class to take business calls.
After a label meeting ended, someone mistook him as an intern and asked if he could bring them coffee. "I snapped on him which probably wasn't the best thing to do but I was 14, I wasn't prepared for any of this. I felt like I wasn't being respected in the field. I spent a year and half there before calling it quits," said Mendez. His lifestyle became stressful â€“ his grades were dropping, but his resume continued to grow.
Humberto was the Assistant Director for Denzel Curry's music video, "Good Night". Curry is a rapper who is signed to Universal Music Group and this video had a budget of $20,000, the largest budget Humberto has ever worked with.
Recently, Humberto was the producer for rapper Rari's video, "Famous/Spaceship," funded $5,000 by All Def Digital. He credits his friend David Wept for the opportunity, a man with an amazing vision, who has done projects with Rihanna and Fenty Beauty. "[David] needed a producer so I had to skip a midterm to travel to LA. We called in a few favors and featured a pink ferrari in the video," said Humberto.
Career wise, Humberto envisions himself being a line producer or assistant director because he is good at managing time and people. "I want to work on more videos and films with people, and get paid to do what I love. I'm currently writing a script for a short film that I wanna shoot this summer. I'm gonna try to submit it to festivals like South by Southwest which will be directed by me. Shoutout to my cinematographer Javi," said Humberto.
Humberto says that versatility is very important especially in this day and age when it comes to media: "Don't confine yourself if you know your abilities.. Its important to try different thingsâ€¦ so you can better understand and empathize with those involved. It helps workflow and communication".
"I wanna make sure that the next thing happens sooner than later, but when the opportunity strikes I'll definitely be prepared to go after it per usual," said Humberto.
Check out his music video "Dark Out" here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BxTxOJhNRYE
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