Free the Robots / After Nosaj Thing, both Teebs and Flying Lotus have graced Chinatown venues within the past couple of years, and now fans of the LA beat scene have another entry from this emerging and evolving genre to enjoy. Free the Robots (or Chris Alfaro) comes to Nextdoor this weekend, courtesy of art and music collective Space & Sound.
While his debut LP on the Alpha Pup label, Ctrl Alt Delete, came out just last year, Alfaro is no newbie to DJing. The Santa Ana native began DJing at age 14 and was an active battle DJ in the mid-’90s while still a teenager. His influences are extensive, reflecting the countless hours spent in music stores “just digging for those rare records that I would have never known about,” says Alfaro. “I just got really into jazz and reggae and psychedelic music.”
Alfaro’s speech flows easily and enthusiastically, demonstrating the natural energy level necessary for someone who not only works on his own music for a living, but also is constantly involved in numerous side projects (think Ikey Owens of The Mars Volta and Nocando). In addition, he helps run The Crosby, a restaurant/bar/nightclub in Santa Ana that he co-founded.
As with many musicians obsessed with beats, Alfaro’s evolution occurred when he realized he wanted to create beats, not just sample them. He learned how to play piano and guitar, which enabled him to blend sounds, play in different bands and eventually form Free the Robots in 2003.
Ctrl Alt Delete has been described as having devastating hip-hop beats, mixed with futuristic synthesizers, live instrumentation, gritty sounds and plenty of experimentation. It’s dark and spooky, but still a pleasure to listen to. When asked about the tone of that album, Alfaro says, “It was a really stressful time…It really was just an affection of that time. I can’t really explain it any other way. It’s my darkest.”
Of this year’s upcoming album, however, Alfaro says, “This one is kind of a meeting between Ctrl Alt Delete and my original stuff, especially psychedelic jazz meets the electronic sounds. I’m doing other stuff I’ve never done before. I feel like these past couple of years of traveling and getting a lot of inspirations–different music internationally–I’m inspired to do more with my music.” One thing that’s also helping Alfaro do more is the fact that he’s finally found a singer. “I’m working with a vocalist right now. It’s the first time. It’s something every producer’s always wanted to find.”
Because Alfaro has a diverse arsenal of music he’s built up over the past couple of decades, for the Honolulu show, he says, “I wanted to preview some stuff on [my new record]. I also want to go all the way back in my history. Since it’s my first time in Hawaii, I wanted to give the whole array of music that I’ve done over the years.” With this promise, listeners are sure to keep their ears locked on the stage, succumbing to powers even a robot could love.