(Free the Robots + The Crosby/ Why & How?)
(GM) - First off, what led you to decide to ‘Free The Robots’? Tell us about your musical project and what it’s all about.
(FTR) - Free the Robots is an honest musical outlet that i created for myself. I enjoy a lot of different music, and always love to challenge myself. The music comes out as feeling, without much thought or direction. Just impulsive musical freedom geared towards Jazz, Psych, Electronic, Hip Hop, and such; The name describes it best.
(GM) - The theme of this month’s issue is Gemini, about having two different sides to ourselves and not being one thing at all times. Do you believe that living two different lifestyles is possible? Making two different dreams come true?
(FTR) - It’s not easy juggling the two, but its possible, and all worth it if you love it. The restaurant industry and a career in music are typically opposites, but it works for me, granted The Crosby is blends cohesively with what I do musically. The main struggle is staying in creative mode while having so many obligations. It’s a constant battle being torn between finding and maintaing a deep musical state, while having to deal with any situation at the restaurant. Upkeep, meetings, helping with service, being a sound man, booking, designing, to the simplest things like having to pick up cranberry juice can knock your balance off. It all requires both sides of the brain that naturally don’t work together. My partners and management have my back when i need my time, but I’m still trying to find the balance. it’s getting better by the day.
(GM) - With the growth of the Crosby and the success of your latest album Ctrl Alt Delete you seem to have garnered a lot of attention in a relatively small amount of time, but you have been working with music for a while. Can you tell us some of your other musical sojourns prior to Free The Robots?
(FTR) - it was a long process and evolution. I started in the mid 90’s as a battle DJ; one of the youngest competitors in the circuit during that time. I was deeply rooted in Hip Hop that came out of LA, but also was drawn to the local punk scene in Santa Ana as well. Their was not much independent culture in OC, so i clenched on to any bit of difference as i could in my suburban surroundings. Over a decade of collecting records, making mixtapes, DJing & throwing parties, around LA and OC Inevitably lead to the understanding and creation of original music. I went from scratch crew, to hip hop groups, to bands, and eventually i found my calling as a solo artist, FTR.
(GM) - ‘Ctrl Alt Delete’ reminds me of the instant escape command on a PC that is used when everything has locked-up and gone to shit and you just need to start over again. It would be nice if such a thing existed in real life. Was this an implied meaning behind the title of your latest album?
(FTR) - Yes. At the time i was making the record, I was in the midst of construction at The Crosby. Unstable, trying to make ends meet, confused, with unpredictable income, playing spot dates, trying the make a record, and build a restaurant, from the ground up, at the same time; I was sort of going crazy. I had to stay creative to keep my mind from exploding. By the time I finished the record, The Crosby was already open and slowly moving towards a stable state. My life was getting back together; it was a new beginning.
(GM) - What is your source of inspiration? Is there somewhere you go or people you look up to, to use as a divining rod for inspiration or is it perhaps granted to you from the fabled ghost that inhabits The Crosby storage room?
(FTR) - All the people around me inspire me. The people i work with, the people I meet at the restaurant, to all over the world, while on the road. Staying creative is more about feeding off of good vibes… I don’t watch good movies, nor do I don’t listen to good music to get inspired. I enjoy quality stuff, but I’m not trying to think about what other people are doing. I just feed of whatever life has to offer, and go with it. if i feel good, i create in a less stressful state.
(GM) - Great food, great music and great art exude from The Crosby. What goes into establishing such an inspirational hangout?
(FTR) - The direction of what’s going on is fueled by our collective interests as owners and operators. Everyone works hard, but its really more about having fun. The food, the music, and everything in between all work together because, collectively, we love what we do, and always want to progress. The synergy between the people behind The Crosby, and the patrons is amazing. Good vibes; its like family for us, and we want it to feel like family for everyone.
(GM) - What’s it feel like to look up from the DJ booth and see people grooving in unison to one of your tracks in your restaurant?
(FTR) - I tend not to play my own music unless its an actual show. and It always feels weird when people play my music in my spot. I usually hide out in the kitchen till the next song plays… wait it out till the coast is clear and come back out. ha!
(GM) - Some would argue that this kind of atmosphere is something you could only find in the big cities like LA. Why did you and your partners decide to set up in Santa Ana when it seems so out of the norm for a suburban crowd?
(FTR) - It’s about creating the vibe from the ground up. Too many talented, hungry people live in Orange County, but there is a huge lack of something fresh and local for them. Everyone ends up moving on to where the inspiration is; big cities. I know for myself growing up in OC, their was only a hand full of spots where i felt sane, so I spent most of my time in LA. The Crosby was built as a local place that i would have loved to have growing up. We felt it was time to give something to the local community, that it has lacked for years. As a Santa Ana native myself, it was the only place that fit.
(GM) - Tell us about what you feel The Crosby embodies now. How will it adapt and change? What does the future have in store for The Crosby?
(FTR) - We are about to move in to our third year, and looking back, I feel like we have grown up tremendously. Paid dues, and solidified our presence in both the food and entertainment community. That said, I still feel like this is the beginning. We just went through a major 2011 overhaul; tightened things up, and were much more confident, and a bit more comfortable with how things are running. Just know we will continue to keep things fresh with new items on menu, and proper musical talent. hopefully we can expand on space. working on it!
(GM) - What’s your advice to those that are torn between conflicting passions and expectations in life?
(FTR) - its really simple… do what makes you happy. It’s a sad thing when things like worrying about staying with the “norm”, get in the way of progress. Things are changing these days, and people have much more power to define and peruse what they want to do. If you’re really passionate about something, put all your energy to it. Just make sure to play your cards right