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Free The Robots

From the Low End Theory to The Crosby with Orange County artist Chris Alfaro

Known as Free The Robots, 28-year-old Santa Ana Californian Chris Alfaro counts visual artist, music producer, skateboarder and restaurant owner in his job description. By all accounts, the dark, epic psychedelic sonics of his debut album, Ctrl Alt Delete are sending LA’s beat kids wild. “The record release party at Low End Theory was quite possibly one of the heaviest nights I’ve experienced for a live show,” beams Alfaro. “Completely packed, mosh pits, people climbing over neighboring buildings to hop in, stage diving, and people just getting out of hand. It’s sort of a weekly meeting spot for all the family in Los Angeles. I’d call it my second home and haven of inspiration.”

On top of these musical accolades, his much loved gallery/book store/bar/restaurant, The Crosby, in Santa Ana’s Artist Village just celebrated its second birthday. A blazing example for all the young creative entrepreneurs out there, whilst working at the now defunct Subject Matter gallery, Chris and his partner Phil Nisco knew they needed to go it alone, and after a year of scheming, opened what would be their own award-winning restaurant with another crazily young, super talented multi-tasker, head chef Aron Habiger.

Dazed Digital: How did those first conversations go that would lead to you opening The Crosby?
Chris Alfaro: With the way things were run at Subject Matter, we knew things couldn’t continue. For the last year of working there, everyday was spent doing research, brainstorming ideas, going to happy hour, skating and somehow, out of all the mess, and the endless acid-9 ideas, everything fell into place.
DD: And you were only 26-years-old?
Chris Alfaro: We built the place from the ground up and did a huge amount of the day and night labour ourselves. Trying to juggle construction, permits, zoning, food and liquor licenses and the million other things you need to open a restaurant, while getting the run around by the city, was pretty intense. The restaurant industry is known to be one of the toughest businesses to get in to. And doing something this unorthodox in Orange County was very risky. Somehow we pulled through it, and were still going strong.

DD: Can we talk about the visual art side to Free The Robots?
Chris Alfaro: I’m a huge fan vintage psychedelic/exploitation/old sci-fi movies, and feel that the images really reflect the music I make. I pretty much used the same formula for my visuals at the bar with the videos for Ctrl Alt Delete. Phil added extra imagery, effects, and text to beef them up a bit. I just wanted to make them short and disturbing as can be.

DD: How do you see the relationship between food and culture and music?
Chris Alfaro: In the restaurant world, their is a huge separation between high-end foodie culture and out-goers on a budget. We’ve sort of broken those boundaries. Everyone wants to enjoy a good meal, with good vibes and good music - this is what you can find at The Crosby. There are not many places where you can enjoy a beautifully plated, gourmet sole fish while listening to the Wu-Tang Clan. On the other hand, you’re not gonna find many places where you can grub on sweet potato fries while drinking PBR cans, under candle lights and jazz music. The food, culture and music that emanates out of The Crosby breaks people out of their shells. One thing this (Orange) County needs, is something different.