“I grew up on Hip Hop since the early 90′s. As much as things have evolved, I personally am a fan of what’s been coming out lately. I feel like so many variations of hip hop are starting to blend and people are, giving a fuck, less about the whole indie/mainstream thing…” – FREE THE ROBOTS
Behind the moniker Free The Robots we find the Santa Ana based producer and DJ, Chris Alfaro. He released his debut album “Prototype” in 2005 and caught international attention with his 2010 “LP Ctrl Alt Delete” on Alpha Pup Records.
We once had the pleasure of witnessing your live show in Copenhagen, Denmark. You had so many styles of music involved in your set. How did you first get into music?
I first started as a hip hop DJ, rocking house parties, local clubs and entering battles during the mid 90′s turntablist era. I was always collecting records. Actively digging for samples pulled me deeper into the world of Jazz, Psych, Blues and obscure stuff I wouldn’t ever know about if it hadn’t been for my hours spent in record stores.
How much energy do you put into your live performance and what’s your idea of the perfect live performance?
Pretty much all of my energy. A perfect live performance is an honest one, where the artist can get the crowd on their level; in turn, share that mutual energy.
Are you a vinyl fiend or a digital saver?
Vinyl is what I hold close to me. Digital´s are just for convenience.
Did you ever look back and think, “wow why didn’t I fuck with that some more (speaking of music)”?
I fell in love with the idea of making music at an early age and always knew I was going to get into making beats. I made a habit of collecting records even before I had turntables. Having an MPC back then was a dream, but not an option with a lunch money salary. As much as I wanted to experiment with sounds, I had to wait till something was more accessible. Programs like Fruity Loops, Cool Edit, and Reason became available, and I jumped right on it as soon as I could find PC bootlegs.
Who’s been the most vital inspiration source(s) for you throughout your music career?
Among so many others, it was mainly DJ Shadow who really tipped the scale for me. Endtroducing literally introduced me into the world of instrumental based electronic music that wasn’t in the realm of “dance”.
How do you reflect yourself in those cats?
I naturally tend to move more towards an analogue sound. Dirty drums, vintage instruments, Jazz/Psych/obscure samples have always been part of my arsenal. With the exception of certain digital electronic based songs, creating the dirty sound of the 60′s, with new ideas is what i tend to gravitate towards.
From what we can understand, you’re from Orange County. How’s the beat scene down there, compared to the famous L.A. Scene and the one in Europe?
Pretty much non existent in comparison to the neighbouring L.A. area. I grew up making the trek to L.A. every week because it has generally been a more interesting place; musically and culturally. We literally had to build our own thing in O.C. At the moment, theirs a new movement going on of interesting things in the local area. But for now, you can really only get this type of music at my spot (The Crosby).
Can you tell us more about The Crosby and how it got started?
The Crosby is family in the form of a restaurant, bar, venue. A place were anyone could enjoy quality food and listen to good music. At the same time it’s a creative outlet for musicians, DJ´s, chefs, and visual artists. The team behind this are all my actual best friends, who individually have their own different talents and ambitions. The whole thing formed like Voltron, and we turned all of our collective ideas into our dream home base. Due to the lack of inspiration growing up in our local area, and the fact that we are a rare breed of like-minded folks, we figured it was time to do something fresh the way we wanted to do it, on a legitimate level. The Crosby was born. 5 years strong this April!
Flying Lotus, Ras G and Samiyam at The Crosby
I’m not opposed to any musician doing what he has to do to get his music out there, weather it be with a brand or not. As long as the artist feels its something that represents them well, and they generally support what they do. If done honestly and tastefully, I see any type of collaboration as an opportunity to build and spread the music. Although it can be negative, if its for the wrong reasons.On a local tip, who’s the artists, we in the whole wide world ought to know of?
As far as beats/hip-hop go: Jon Wayne who no longer needs introduction, Co.fee (MHD) has always been impressive, MatthewDavid (Leaving Records), the entire Soulection label, the entire Timetable Records label, Team Supreme and more. Other stuff I’ve been on lately is Feeding People; the band fronted by Jessie Jones whom I have been collaborating with on FTR music. And all the bands on Burger Records.
Top: Co.fee, bottom: Jon Wayne, right: MatthewDavid.
Are there any cats from Europe you definitely think “WOW THEY ARE DOPE!”?
Yes, artists from Europe are always impressing me, and always mad cool. I come back home inspired every time. Dimlite has always been a favorite of mine, Mr. Oizo, of course the Luckyme guys, Musique Large etc…
What’s your thoughts on today´s Hip-Hop scene? And where you a part of Hip-Hop when growing up?
I grew up on Hip Hop in the early 90′s. As much as things have evolved, I personally am a fan of what’s been coming out lately. I feel like so many variations of hip hop are starting to blend and people are, giving a fuck, less about the whole indie/ mainstream thing. Which has always been a dividing factor in hip hop community. To me; mainstream, indie, ignorant or smart… If its good “music” that makes you move, I’m all about it.
Also you were on a tour in Denmark last year. What was your first impression when arriving,and what was your impression when leaving Denmark?
I was amazed. Denmark is a beautiful country with great people, and good vibes. It was instant family vibes everywhere I went. That, and you took me to Christiania, which is dope!
Since you are a part of the Restaurant “The Crosby” can you let us in on some of your favorite food experiences?
I ate scorpion in China and Horse sashimi in Tokyo. Next up: cobra heart in Saigon (thank DJ Nobody for this).
Jeremiah Jae talks a lot about eating healthy food, and often puts a spotlight on how the whole food industry works. What’s your thoughts on that?
I am about being health conscious as well. What we put in our bodies effects everything physically and mentally. This is why I enjoy eating in Europe so much; mostly everything is fresh!
Is there anybody out there you think you just HAVE to make music with, before you leave earth and why those cats?
I really just like working with friends. There is a certain dynamic you have to build in the studio environment, and it comes easy with the people I am comfortable with. As much as I respect people who have inspired me, and would be honored at the idea, I haven’t made it a goal to step in the studio with anyone in particular.
Do you have anything you want to say to all the upcoming producers in the world?
Now is the time to lead your own movement. Keep progressing!
Listen to Free The Robots on Soundcloud