I speak to Luis Alvarado, founder of essential Peruvian label Buh Records, and offers a beginners guide to their vast discography that takes in the country’s rich musical traditions, avant-garde greats both old and new, unreleased gems from wider Latin America and more.

Buh Records, in operation for almost two decades under founder Luis Alvarado, offers a comprehensive perspective on left-field Peruvian music both old and new. If something is released via the label, it’s because it’s either the first time it’s ever been published or it’s something that’s been hitherto obscure or difficult to access. “I am interested in discovering new music, which applies to [both] traditional and avant-garde,” he tells tQ. 

A music lover from childhood, Alvarado spent his formative years at concerts in Lima and was soon associating with an underground circuit of rock, punk, and metal bands. A breakthrough moment for him was reading a book called Music In Peru when he was 18. “It opened a world of important music to me, especially Peruvian academic music from the 50s,” he says. Much of what emerged as most interesting to him was not easily accessible; his desire to know more fed into the aims of the work that followed.

He began with an alternative music fanzine called Autobus, of which only two editions were published, along with compilations on CDr which were the first to feature the Buh Records logo, an image of a ghost. “The name is an onomatopoeia for ‘Boo’, the sound that ghosts make, and the label’s concept is that it is a scary music label.” After branching out into organising concerts, friends then began to ask Alvarado to release their albums too. First releasing in 2004, Buh grew from CDrs to professional CDs, and later vinyl.