deadwords » interviews 22.08.2007
Free The Robots – Musical Freedom

Das Projekt „Free The Robots“ ist bisher nur wenigen ein Begriff. Stößt man, wie ich vor ca. einem Jahr, zufällig mal auf deren MySpace-Seite bleibt man jedoch erstmal auf den fantastischen Songs hängen, und bekommt sofort das Gefühl: „wie konnte mir das bisher entgehen“. Wahrhaftig scheint sich um „Free The Robots“ in letzter Zeit einiges zu bewegen. Wir sprachen mit Chris Alfaro und erfuhren mehr.

DEAD: Hello, for those that have never heard about you: could you please introduce yourself? Who is „Free the Robots“? Is this a one man band or is this a project with more people involved?

Free The Robots: My Name is Chris Alfaro, 25 from Santa Ana, CA; one of the founding members of Elsewhere Studios. Yes, Free the Robots is just a one man deal. When I first started FTR in 2003, it was a side project. At the time I was playing with different bands, producing MC’s, and Djing full time. It wasn’t till I finished the Prototype EP when I realized that FTR was the only project that satisfied me as an artist. I took elements from my past, and what I had been working on at the time, new free-minded ideas and dumped it into my own project.

DEAD: Is there a special meaning behind the name „Free the Robots“?

Free The Robots: „Free the Robots“ can mean a lot of things. Anyone can make a different meaning. For me, it’s about my own musical freedom. No more having to cater (hence robots), or fit in formulas or genres. Their’s so much I want to do.

DEAD: On your old album you have a song sampling King Crimson. How much of your music is sample based? Which equipment do you use and do you play instruments as well? Do you feature guest musicians sometimes?

Free The Robots: The song „Moonchild (King Crimson)“ was more like a remix track. The main vocals were the sample, which were chopped and altered to flow with the rest of the track. The drums, glitches, Rhodes, additional Bass lines, were my compositions played through different controllers and keyboards. My formula changes from song to song. It usually starts with chopping a sample from an old record or live instrument. I add other sounds with controllers, and instruments (keys, guitar, turntables) to keep the blend of Sampling and original composition balanced. I do feature guests on tracks for vocal parts, scratches and what not.

“nothings more comfortable than my simple bedroom laboratory.”

I don’t work in a huge impressive studio. It’s more of a comfort thing than an equipment thing for me, and nothings more comfortable than my simple bedroom laboratory. My equipment consists of a computer, a few analog instruments, some dirty clothes, digital keyboard/pad controllers, turntables, mixers, and effects pedals.

DEAD: You have worked together with the famous artist Obey The Giant and released a CD with his artwork on his label. How did that collaboration come together?

Free The Robots: Obey doesn’t really have a „label“ at the moment. The CD was part of an on-going limited edition music series that features select DJ mixes, released with Sheppard Fairey’s art concepts. The „City to City“ mix is a „Roam&Urth“ production (fromElsewhere/Free the Robots). Make sure to check out the other ones by Low Budget, DJ Shadow, and A-Trak.

DEAD: Your new EP was recently released. Where can people get this CD and what will be your future projects?

Free The Robots: The EP is very exclusive at the moment. It’s available at stores in Japan and the US. You also can find it at FTR shows, events, and online on myspace.com/freetherobots or turntablelab.com.
There are several future projects in the works at the moment. Other than the FTR full-length record (release date tba) there are remix projects, collaborations, re-releases, and compilations due to release very soon.

Just to name a few: The next Equinox records compilation will release the official vinyl version of the classic prototype track „Times like this.“ Then, a rare track will release on the Seventh Letter/Known Gallery project called „Wake up or die,“ (Free the Robots feat. The Gaslamp Killer), a remix of „Kick at the ceiling“ by „The Valley Arena“ will release on 7″ vinyl, and lastly there is the Pepper&Butter project, which is still top secret!

“Myspace has so much to do with the growth of Free the Robots, and I’m sure it’s pretty much helped everyone. It’s just convenient for independent artist.”

DEAD: You have a lot of plays on your myspace account. How big do you think is the influence that myspace has towards your popularity? Did myspace open new doors for you?

Free The Robots: Myspace has so much to do with the growth of Free the Robots, and I’m sure it’s pretty much helped everyone. It’s just convenient for independent artist. Networking, expansion, collaborations, understanding and communicating with your audience; it’s all there.

DEAD: Let us talk about the musical scene in L.A.: are there a lot of venues and locations that you or similar musicans can perform?

Free The Robots: The music scene in LA is very diverse and scattered at the moment. There are little pockets everywhere that welcome experimental/electronic artists like myself; you just have to search.
I’d say the number one weekly event that embraces producers is the Low End Theory. If you dig this music and you happen to be in Los Angeles, make sure to stop by’
Other than that you can find good vibes at events such as L_ephunk, the Do-Over, DanceRight…etc

DEAD: You have been to Berlin last year to play a dj-set at an art excibition, I think. How was your impression of Germany?

Free The Robots: I was in Berlin and it’s definitely one of the best places I’ve ever visited. There’s so much to do, so many great people, so much art, music, culture compacted into one city; pretty much anything that inspires me exists in Germany. Some good ass beer too!

Published in DEAD Magazine Issue III
Foto(s): Mark Yamaoka