Chris Mendez is a Hub LA host on Tuesdays and Thursday evenings and hosts office hours every Saturday for Tech Startups. When he’s not at Hub LA, Chris works at KUSC, a classical radio station. He’s been instrumental in developing the app Geotunes, which allows users to listen to songs based on a city, landmark, or event as they explore an interactive map that places the songs in context. Geotunes was a finalist at for the 2014 SXSW Interactive Award. Chris just launched his new site, GuitarPick, which is another music platform for people to learn about the guitars used in their favorite songs and the artists who swore by them. I asked Chris about his new site and where his inspiration came from.
What is GuitarPick and how did you get the idea for it?
GuitarPick is the premier interactive guide for the online guitar community. The website tells the story of the world’s coolest guitars –and the musicians who made them legendary– through short stories, rich media, and a community-driven forum.
The GuitarPick team is made up of 3 music fans dedicated to creating a new kind of music experience we call “story-driven listening”. We believe that music education can really be enhanced through new media storytelling.
How has your time as an office hour host / Hub LA member informed your project?
This project took a year to research, build and launch and it would have never gone live had it not been for the support of certain Hub LA musician/members such as Matt [Stokke] (@mattstokke), Derek [Davis] (@derdav86), Charles [Zivko], Alice [Lin] (@meatspirit), Tim [Yang] (@TIMPOSSIBLE_) as well as the guidance and advisement of my tech office hour colleagues Paul [Olund] (@olundp) and Diego [Prats] (@mexitlan).
The hardest part of GuitarPick was finding the perfect writer, Tim Herscovitch (@TimHMusic), who could craft interesting, byte-sized stories for audiences online and a top-notch illustrator, Gustavo Perez Rangel (@dysrupter). It took months to find them both but it was worth the work. To top it all, the team has never met in person!
This is really a “Chris Mendez in a nutshell” project – tell me about how it merges all of your worlds.
GuitarPick allows me to combine a few of my favorite things. I love music, I respect good storytelling and I enjoy presenting those stories through new media. Best of all, I get to engage with the online guitar community whom I admire greatly. Talk about early adopters, the guitar community has not only been around since the early days of list-serves but in the 90′s, they invented a new system for sharing sheet music online called tablature.
What’s next for GuitarPick?
I’m currently brainstorming a new kind of interactive experience. It’s sort of like an IMDB for instruments found in songs. For example, every time I hear Dick Dale’s “Misirlou”, the opening track to Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, I’m reminded of the power of a tremolo picked Fender Stratocaster. You don’t need a music degree to hear that sound and say, “surf-rock”! As a precursor, I’m collecting data through a feature on GuitarPick.fm called “What’s that Sound?” All users need to do is pick a song and ask, “What’s that sound in this song?” From there, I’ll get started on rest.