Listen/Vision 06

Pub date May 5, 2009
SectionMusicSectionMusic Features

PREVIEW In addition to making music, Christopher Willits is a guiding force behind the art and experimental music site Overlap ( In conjunction with Overlap’s next event, I caught up with him by e-mail.

SFBG What was it like to collaborate with Ryuichi Sakamoto on Ocean Fire (12k, 2008)?

Christopher Willits It was surreal. We fell into an oceanic trance, and a bunch of music suddenly emerged. Then a Godzilla-like sea monster morphed out of his piano and he vaporized it with his max patch.

SFBG You’ve also worked with Brad Laner of Medicine. Are you an admirer of that (ahead-of-its-time) band?

CW Medicine [had] a mind-splittingly original sound — it was a soundtrack to many high school adventures. Now it’s an absolute joy to be friends with Mr. Laner. Together we are the varsity band members (guitar I and II) of the North Valley Subconscious Orchestra. We’re aiming for nationals next year.

SFBG What do you like about the Bay Area’s close proximity to the ocean?

CW The smell of fresh wind, and dreams of flying great white sharks.

SFBG I saw a fave list of yours once that had Magma, the Carpenters’ "Close to You" and Sun Ra’s Lanquidity on it. Who is inspiring or obsessing you at present?

CW That is a timeless list — can I say them again? Let’s add Morton Subotnick, Wild Bull (, all Eliane Radigue, all Elvin Jones, John Coltrane, and that band that plays at El Rio on Sunday night.

SFBG You recently toured in China, including a performance with images on ice. What did you discover?

CW I discovered a resilient community of artists and experimental musicians pushing against the grain (and firewall) of this mammoth country or force. They understand my history and what I’m doing — another win for Chinese bootlegs? I also found some of the best food ever: huajiao (flower pepper) with asparagus! But hold the boiled big brains. Those I’m definitely not into.

LISTEN/VISION 06 With Christopher Willits, Taylor Deupree, and Classical Revolution. Sun/10, 8 p.m., $10. Café Du Nord, 2170 Market, SF. (415) 861-5016.