Interviews: Abre Ojos
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In this episode we chat with Scott Baker the man behind the Abre Ojos project - self-described as being "improvised sound and vision for dystopian meditation..."
Before we get in to the interview I'd best mention you can download a free copy of his piece titled "The Tattered Curtains of Velvet". It is featured on the "S.I.N.G.E.D. 2" compilation album. There are links to video and more music below.

Interview by DJ Robot Citizen - Firstly, how many items (like albums/EPs/DVDs) have you released as Abre Ojos and where are they available from?

Abre Ojos:
From a quick count of my Bandcamp page there are 11 albums and EPís. Most of the albums were also released as DVDís or in a dual format. There are probably a few more that have slipped from memory. I try to make AbreOjos.net the repository of all things although there are a few rarities that are lost to the aether, but everything else is at Vimeo, Bandcamp, or SoundCloud - but the website gathers all of that and a bit more together. Vimeo is for all audio-visual releases, bandcamp has all albums & epís plus (usually) a heap of bonus material when you download from there and Soundcloud is for sound sketches, live recordings or things that havenít made it to a release.

Which is the most recent release? If there's anything you'd like to say about it, please do!

Abre Ojos:
Sleep Promotes Sleep is a Bandcamp EP release. It was one of those releases that was a rag-tag collection of tracks but that were all made in the same period with the same collection of equipment but wasnít built specifically as a release.

There is also a new audio-visual (AV) track - "The Precipice of Utility" - which has 5 discreet tracks inside it. It is an 18 minute journey of psychedelic electronic somethingness. [In case the embed below does not play here's the link https://vimeo.com/174000804]. Every now and then these longer AV tracks kind of appear and feel more resolved and complete than trying to make them fit into a 40 minute + album.

The Precipice of Utility from abre ojos on Vimeo.

Robot: Is there a philosophy/idealogy/ethos or set of aesthetics that acts as a guide or framework for Abre Ojos? If so please feel free to share.

Abre Ojos:
If there is a philosophy or motivation for Abre Ojos then it is about the exploration and experimentation of materials and equipment. There are particular ways I like to use the ingredients for an audio visual track. For audio my main ingredients are morphing waveforms/waveshapes. Taking the electronic precision of a constant waveform and modifying it over time and filtering the result is the foundation of a track. Samples of varied types then add layers along with occasional vocals. For the vision side geometry is a core element, mixed with public domain images or video with generous lashings of video feedback and effects.
There are personal conceptual and emotional aspects that drive the compositional process that are derived from the everyday experience of life both locally and globally. You only have to see the last election result to see how divided we are as a nation. I pray that the wisdom and guidance from the traditional custodians of these lands and waters will show us all that our place here is as caretakers for the planet and our culture will shift as a result.

Robot: When did you commence upon this project?

Abre Ojos:
In the late 00ís. Abre Ojos was originally created solely as an audio-visual project but as time goes on Iím less strict having released some audio only output.

Robot: What initially inspired you to create, to embark upon the Abre Ojos project?

Abre Ojos:
The moment a laptop was powerful enough and capable of playing/effecting audio and playing/effecting video in a live context. With a distant part of me being a visual artist the ability to work in the sandpit of both vision and audio was enough to kick things off. The next thing was discovering the concept of deep listening.

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Robot: And, if different, what inspires you currently?

Abre Ojos:
The ability to restrict my creative tools yet still know there are endless possibilities.

Robot: Do you perform live, and if so, what are some events that you remember most fondly?

Abre Ojos:
Playing a midnight set at Rainbow Serpent was super but some of my favourite gigs were at the old Glitch Bar in Melbourne (now Long Play) which was a ramshackle small cinema with a cracking sound system. It is a location made for audio visual performance as it forced the audience to sit and listen rather than standing at the bar chatting with friends and listening to the (background) music. So the best gigs are ones that suit the context of deep listening and treat the visuals as equally as the music.

Robot: How do you perform the material live? Do you seek to emulate the studio recordings or achieve something different?

Abre Ojos:
For me playing the same live is as equally important as recording in the studio so much so that my process in the studio and performing is one and the same. There are options to hide some mistakes when working in the studio compared to playing live but the core of all releases are a live performance in the studio. This means that I have to limit my equipment to an easily transportable package which keeps things simpler in the studio. The current set up is either a TTSH or eurorack suitcase, audio interface, Beatstep Pro and laptop running Ableton Live, NI Maschine and for visuals Quartz Composer and Resolume plus a Korg Nanokontrol to control them.

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Robot: What do you feel, are the challenges that independent/underground musicians face today; overall/worldwide and, if anything, anything that seems specific to being in Australia?

Abre Ojos:
Challenges match intention. Access to amazing tools is easier than ever and the process of creation has become more accessible and with that the amount of global creative output has gone up and the opportunity to share the plethora of creative things is possible with the internet although in the parallel existence of the internet machine there is the correlation of sharing your output to standing in your backyard in a remote rural town shouting to the world about your creations. Physical geography matters little now for releasing content but playing live there is still a geographical disability.

Robot: What are some potential solutions? Is there anything you'd like to see (or make) happen that can improve things?

Abre Ojos:
Australia no longer has the local cultural cringe factor hanging around our neck. The recent Black Mountain Festival in the Blue Mountains run by Hostís Nathan Jenkins is testament to that. The exceptional quality of all those Australian artists over those two nights was better than other festivals full of international acts. There were many audience members who had recently been to such a festival in Tasmania that said exactly the same thing. It is also amazing to see these acts are not trying to emulate international superstars instead they bring a unique Australian edge into their music and performances. Military Position and Armour Group spring to mind. So maybe the potential solution is to run more local gigs with more local talent?

Robot: I agree. What are your plans for this project for the near future?

Abre Ojos:
Itís patchy. With a young family, full time job and the rest of life getting time currently to make things is rare. Any opportunity is taken and out of all my previous creative outlets Abre Ojos is the one that constantly challenges me, rewards me and allows me to explore the universal languages of sound and image.

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Robot: Thanks for taking the time to be interrogated. I send best wishes for more free time and continued success in the future. In closing here's a list of Abre Ojos websites where you can learn, hear and see more:
- AbreOjos.net
- Vimeo
- Bandcamp
- Facebook

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