Stretch Armstrong is a DJ, music supervisor, and writer, and has become well known for providing music to a discerning crowd throughout downtown. Known for his infamous Monday night parties at Tribeca Grand in the past, he's back with GrandLife in Soho Grand's Club Room with Stretch & Friends every Wednesday. When he's not behind the booth, he's working on his tennis game, skiing, writing, cooking, shooting photos, and hunting for vinyl.
What would the title of your autobiography be? “Shhhh, Listen”
What can’t you travel without? I only use headphones when performing, and since every trip has a particular soundtrack, I can’t roll without a portable audio device with a speaker.
What’s your favorite travel destination? Anywhere I can eat and nap on the beach. Tulum. The east end of Long Island, where, despite the warm weather influx of hoi palloi, you will find some of the best beaches in the world and the best clams, which is the one violation of my veganism I allow myself.
What’s your favorite thing to do on a Sunday afternoon in NYC? Grab a bite to go and walk to Central Park or over the Brooklyn Bridge.
What are your favorite NYC restaurants? When I’m craving Ethiopian, which happens often, I head to Ghenet in Brooklyn. Another Ethiopian spot, Injera, just opened in the West Village and it’s almost as good. I frequent Miss Lily’s for the best callaloo patties and the friends-and-family atmosphere.
Where are your go-to spots in NYC for drinks? In colder months, The Ship on Lafayette. When it’s warmer, Barzinho for a barrage of caipirinhas. Year round, Temple Bar.
What’s your favorite NYC brunch spot? It’s limited for vegans, but vegan or not, Sacred Chow has a great brunch. The French toast is obscene.
Where do you get your art fix in NYC, and do you have a favorite artist? There are too many to name, but without giving it too much thought Francis Bacon, Brice Marden, Vik Muniz, Il Lee and Kara Walker. I enjoy the fairs like The Armory and Frieze and of course the classic and reliable, MoMA and The Met. For photography, the International Center for Photography.
What’s your favorite late-night hangout in NYC? The Club Room at the Soho Grand for the luxurious living room feel, great bar, familiar faces and great DJs.
What are some of your must-do recommendations for NYC visitors? For a taste of Soho from the 70s and 80s, when it was primarily artist’s home studios and galleries, visit the Judd Foundation. The newly-restored home and studio of American minimalist Donald Judd is the only single dwelling cast iron building in NYC, and is filled with Judd’s art, furniture and museum-caliber pieces by other artists he collected. Check out Walter De Maria’s Earth Room and his Broken Kilometer, both visually striking installations that have been here since the late 70s. For a really unique view of the entire city, go to the Queens Museum and walk above the panorama of NYC, which was updated in 2011. Then go to Jackson Heights for lunch, but first decide whether you want Mexican, Middle Eastern, Polish, Indian, Korean, Thai, Kosher, Peruvian, Jamaican, etc. You get the idea.
What’s your favorite NYC store? If you have a thing for furniture like I do, check out reGENERATION in Tribeca which is part gallery, part store. They have gorgeous pieces, often rare.
What music are you listening to these days, and who are some of your favorite musicians? At home I’ve been on a reggae streak, listening to everything from 70s live to early 80s pre-digital DJ tunes, from Studio One to Joe Gibbs. My all-time favorites include The Beatles, The Clash, several reggae outfits and solo singers.
What would you consider your personal soundtrack to NYC? “Red Angel Dragnet” by The Clash, Blondie’s “Rapture,” Run-DMC’s Raising Hell album, LL Cool J’s Radio album, The Strokes’ Is This It album, Don Cherry’s “I Walk,” and The Tom Tom Club’s “Pleasure of Love.”
When you think of NYC, are there any particular emotions or memories that immediately come to mind? In many ways, New York City is a memory. You can leave the city for a few months, return and have the distinct feeling that it has changed.