The Santa Ana Sentinel

A Hip Hazard Morning: An Interview with Local Photographer Marcos Huerta

Posted in Conversations, The Inkblot by samtheinkblot on January 26, 2012

A Hip Hazard Morning:

An Interview with Local Photographer Marcos Huerta

By

Samuel Muñoz

Marcos Huerta

I first met Marcos Huerta a bit over a year ago. It was at an Inkblots show held in a tiny place called Mars Bar in Buena Park. Marcos was kind enough to take a few photos of us in action. He gave me his card and I was so impressed with the photos he took of us that I decided to book him for a photo shoot of the band. That photo shoot took place on the streets of Downtown Santa Ana. The product of which became the majority of the photography that adorned our website and our Trap Doors EP that was released in June of last year.

From the Inkblots photo shoot

Marcos has since then continued to practice his photography under the brand name of HipHazard Photography. A fellow music lover himself, he has lend his artistic eye to fellow Southern California bands such as The Vespertines, Colombian Necktie, and Santa Ana’s very own Electro City. A self proclaimed loner, Marcos’ work exhibits a kind of maturity uncommon for a man who seems uncomfortable calling himself a professional. He considers much of his work the product of improvisation (the tag line for his brand currently reads: “Where accidents happen”). However, one cannot help but wonder if there may be an underlying calculated approach. He has a gifted ability to capture and communicate through his images the passion and raw atmosphere of the live shows and musicians he chooses as his subjects. Something that seems to have been lost in many of the images of the mainstream musicians one sees in the music magazines of today.

Marcos was kind enough to meet with me on a Saturday morning in Downtown Santa Ana to talk about himself and his work.

Samuel Muñoz (SM)

So tell me about yourself. Where did you grow up and go to school?

Marcos Huerta:

I was born in Los Angeles and I moved here (Santa Ana) when I was two. I went to school at Taft elementary, then Greenville and Macarthur. I went to high school at Saddleback (graduated in 2006) and then moved on to OCC (Orange Coast College) where I unfortunately dropped out [laughs nervously].

SM:

When did you get interested in photography?

Marcos in action

Marcos Huerta:

I didn’t actually get interested in photography until my sophomore year of college. I took one class and then I thought I could do it on my own so I dropped out [laughs nervously again]. I’ve always been interested in the arts. However, I sucked at painting. I mean it was really bad. I can’t draw. The camera, on the other hand, came easy. I just look at something and take a picture.

SM:

So it was in 2008 that you took up photography. And at first it was more of hobby I guess, right?

Marcos Huerta:

Yeah pretty much. It still is. I mean, it’s hard to make a profit out of something that you enjoy. It’s kind of weird to sell that kind stuff and make a business.

Edgar Espino of Electro City

SM:

Tell me about HipHazard Photography. How did that come about?

Marcos Huerta

Originally, HipHazard was intended to be a magazine. It was going to be the magazine title. And well, I needed a group of devoted people to really get this going which at the time I did not have. Maybe I would be able to that now, but back then I didn’t. I wanted it to be something of a locals only thing. It’s still something that I want to do. It’s a work in progress; I’m still trying to network. Anyway, that is how that idea originally started, but when I knew I was not really going to be able to get that done, I wanted to at least use the name to make a statement about my photos. I figured that I needed to brand myself and so I used that name.

SM:

How long ago did you start HipHazard?

Marcos Huerta:

To be honest, it’s only been about a year. In fact, you guys were really my first official job. Thank you for that.

SM:

No, actually thank you. Who else have you shot for? I saw some great photos of Electro City and there’s this one photo of a girl with a trumpet that I really like. Who was that?

Marcos Huerta:

Well that’s this band called The Vespertines. For my 22nd birthday I went to see them at Alex’s Bar in Long Beach. They’re really good; they are kind of like that psychedelic, jazz fusion type band. I took some good pictures of them. Mostly, I like to take shots of live shows. With Electro City, I took some shots of them when they played at the Mars Bar, the same place that you guys played. I’ve also done some great shots of this LA metal band called Colombian Necktie. I’ve been helping them out a bit with promotion.

Vanessa Acosta of The Vespertines

SM:

So do you have any kind of concept or technique to how you approach your photography?

Marcos Huerta:

There is a reason why I chose HipHazard. It’s a play on the word, haphazard. Most of my work happens by accident. I try not to stage everything because I want my pictures to look more natural. I really like high contrast images and something about shapes, like squares and triangles, they interest me. If I can get something with an angle of a line, I really like that. I don’t know. It’s hard to explain your work and not sound like a douche [he laughs].

SM:

I completely understand.

****

Marcos continues to work with bands around Southern California. In addition to working with musicians, Marcos is quite the gifted photographer with inanimate objects as well. Take a look at the photos below.

Spheres of Light and Shadow

Spheres of Light and Shadow

Frozen Gravity

If you would like to book a photo shoot with Marcos please email him at hiphazphoto@gmail.com. You can learn more about Marcos and view more of his photos on his facebook pages http://www.facebook.com/#!/profile.php?id=604536621&sk=info and http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/HipHazard-Photography/100924936644647?sk=info

Hip Hazard Photo

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A Discussion with Samuel Muñoz

Posted in Art Music, Conversations, Downtown, Pop Music, The Inkblot by Omar Ávalos Gallegos on November 15, 2011

Thanks to Sam for writing this piece and allowing the re-posting of it here. Sam Muñoz is a fellow Santa Ana musician and writer on music. He’s the founder of the popular Santa Ana rock band The Inkblots. Their music is available on iTunes. For more of Sam’s writings on music click here for an interview with DJ Sal Navarrete and here for an interview with Electro City.

Samuel Muñoz writes:

It was working on my last article with Sal Navarrete that I met Omar Ávalos. He had kindly allowed Sal and I to conduct our interview in his studio in downtown that he rents together with other Santa Ana musicians. At the time of meeting him, I had no idea how great of a guitarist he really was. I knew first of his writings on his blog, The Santa Ana Sentinel, where he unleashes his uncensored commentary on pretty much everything Santa Ana including politics, culture, and, of course, music. A kind of controversial figure to some of the locals, Omar’s blog posts have received attention both positive and negative from the likes of OC Weekly’s Gustavo Arellano (mostly negative), the Santa Ana register’s Andrew Galvin, and the OC Latino Link. It was not after reading a few of his posts that I discovered his unique talent for the guitar.

Currently finishing his masters in musicology at Cal State Fullerton, his thesis entitled “An Anthology and Study of Nineteenth-Century Mexican Guitar Music,” Omar is an accomplished academic and cites as his most important influence, the music of Manuel M. Ponce. Although his original compositions specialize in flamenco guitar, his overall range on the guitar is extensive from rock to classical to jazz. One can hear his many original compositions in his sound cloud at http://soundcloud.com/flamencali.

Omar was kind enough to meet with me last week during The Day of the Dead celebrations held at Fourth street. We met at the Gypsy Den on the second street promenade to talk a little bit about his history, his love and study of music, and his writing.

Samuel Muñoz (SM):

So tell me about where you grew up and where did you go to school.

Omar Ávalos:

I grew up in Ward 5 [see map of the wards in Santa Ana here]. I’ve lived there all my life. I’m right on the edge of ward 5 on Willits and Diamond. My neighborhood schools were Spurgeon and Valley. But I did not go to Spurgeon. I went to Greenville and Macarthur. Greenville had a lot to do with instilling music in me. Although prior to that I had already been inclined to do music as a five year old, Greenville gave parents that option to put their kids in music. So, that was a big defining aspect of myself, being in that school. After Greenville and Macarthur, I went to Tustin [high school] for a year and then I came to my neighborhood school, which was Valley. At that point on, I partied like there was no tomorrow [he laughs].

SM:

It’s understandable. It’s what you do at that age.

Omar Ávalos:

Yeah, I partied like there was no tomorrow and I started to bounce around schools. Now that I look back, that time became another defining moment for me because I had to stop myself and really start thinking about what I was going to do with my life. And so I opted on music. I looked in retrospect and I said “ ok I’ve done music since I was a kid. I’ve always liked it a lot, so I guess I’ll do music.”

SM:

So where did you study music after high school?

Omar Ávalos:

I went to SAC [Santa Ana College] and I did the music program there and I got my Associate’s. From there I went to [Cal State] Fullerton and did the Bachelor’s in music composition. In between, I went to Spain and studied Flamenco guitar briefly. It was a course in Sevilla. Then I came back to Fullerton and I did the Master of Arts in music history.

SM:

I also heard that you are an instructor at SAC?

Omar Ávalos:

No, I’ve been an assistant music instructor. I’ve been there since 2001. I help run the music lab.

SM:

How did you get into Flamenco music specifically?

Omar Ávalos:

I guess it was a challenge. A challenge that was put to me by someone who just asked me “Do you play Spanish guitar?” And I said “No.” But those kinds of things create a spark. For example, I had a teacher ask me “Do you compose?” and I said to him at the time the same thing, “No.” But then that became a stimulant for me to begin composing. So when someone asked me “Do you play Spanish guitar?” I made it my business to learn that.

SM:

Tell me a bit about Flamencali?

Omar Ávalos:

It is just a name that I have performed with from time to time. It became a “brand,” a name for a group that I thought of. Just like there is Devil and His Friend [another band from Santa Ana], there is Flamencali. I did shows here at the Gypsy Den with dancers and around southern California [under that name]. It was also about identity with the region. Instead of having a pretentious name associated with Spain, I chose something that would identify with the area.

SM:

Can you talk a bit about some of your influences in music?

Omar Ávalos:

Oh definitely Silvestre Revueltas and Manuel M. Ponce [both Mexican composers active in the early 20thCentury]. Those two are probably my biggest influences. For guitar, there is a guitarist named Julio Cesar Oliva from Mexico, and Juan Manuel Cañizares from Spain who is just an amazing Flamenco guitarist.

SM:

In terms of your musical compositions how do you go about creating your own work?

Omar Ávalos:

Well, I think there should be a purpose. If there is a purpose, a reason for your composition, like if it goes with something or it’s for an event, that is when I compose. I don’t just compose to compose. But when I’m on the guitar things come, you know. Call it “noodling” or whatever–you’re thinking of things and you compose things as you go. But I think that there should be a reason behind a composition, a purpose for that composition. […] For example, when I did my recital in 2005 at Cal State Fullerton I put on this eclectic display of genres; it was a play in genres. I learned from Manuel Ponce to be versatile, because he was a very versatile composer. He could write like Bach or the romantics. He was called the father of Mexican musical nationalism. I remember listening to a talk from Conrad Pope, who did music for Seabiscuit; he was talking about the film composer John Williams, and he told composers there that day to be versatile in genres. He described John Williams as the most successful, the most well known, and the most versatile composer. So, this is something that I had in mind before I got to Fullerton. You had all these composers that put themselves in this niche that wanted to be “cutting edge” and like John Cage and only that. Others just wanted to be minimalists or of the avante-garde and I wanted to show my versatility like Ponce.

SM:

I want to talk a little bit about Santa Ana, the Artist Village in particular. I want to know, since you have been active in the artist community for quite some time now, your opinion on the changes that have happened to Downtown.

Omar Ávalos:

Well it was very obvious back then to me that the area needed improvement. And it is still very obvious to me that it needs improvement. When I started coming here there was no Gypsy Den where we are at today, no Memphis, or any of this stuff. All there was, was this place called Maury’s Deli, before that it was Neutral Grounds, but they used to have open mics and poetry on Thursday nights. I used to come for that. As far as the changes happening, I think there should be a balance as far as the ethnicities represented here. I don’t agree with the arguments against having improvements or changes here. I think that people need to be part of the solution and propose businesses and get into the business class. I strongly believe that. […] I have said before that I would like to see local people getting involved and turning local people on to business, so that we are at least represented equally. Why not have Latinos from Santa Ana owning the commercial real estate? I know that it is a “crazy idea,” but I would advocate for that. Lets take care of our community through business. And instead of complaining, or picking up your toys and leaving, which I understand some organizations have done because that is their way of protesting the changes or improvements, they should stick around. If they have a network of musicians that they can bring somewhere to, for example Eibar Coffee, then stick around. […]

SM:

Lastly, I want to talk about The Santa Ana Sentinel and how that got started.

Omar Ávalos:

It started off as a political observer last year [May 27th, 2010] during the election year because I got tired of just hearing that one voice that is just anti city council and saying things that are suggestive, or what I interpret as suggestive, criticisms of the Council whether it was Amezcua, Pulido’s challenger, or Arellano, of the Weekly, or whoever. […] And so I started that as a response, as an alternate voice, out of concern. I wanted to opine about matters. It is not that I am blindly pro status quo, but I just think we need to keep a balance because I think too many people follow blindly just for the sake of getting behind “Che” or Subcomandante Marcos and the like.

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Downtown Soul and Reggae Love

Posted in The Inkblot by Omar Ávalos Gallegos on October 14, 2011

Muñoz: Downtown Soul and Reggae Love.

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RAW showcase OCT. 6th 2011

Posted in The Inkblot by Omar Ávalos Gallegos on October 8, 2011

Muñoz: RAW showcase OCT. 6th 2011.

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Electro City Lights: A One Night Stand

Posted in The Inkblot by Omar Ávalos Gallegos on September 26, 2011

Muñoz: Electro City Lights: A One Night Stand

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