“For me, OPENING is about transformation,” explains Christopher Willits, “the experience of changing oneself to be more of who you know you can be, and, ultimately, the joy that comes with that change.” The multi-talented San Francisco artist is describing his brand-new album, an audio-visual experience which combines his detailed ambient productions with an array of transcendent visuals. All things considered, OPENING is an expansive project: a seven-song record, a 45-minute film, aphoto series, a live experience, and, as Willits intends, “a space where people can open up, relax, and recharge.”
Now that OPENING is available to stream (both the audio and visual components) and purchase on physical, digital, and subscription formats, it seemed like the perfect time to catch up with its creator. Willits gave us some great insight into his project’s background and creative process, as well as what we can expect from this fall’s North American and European tours. Reading over his answers gives the impression that Willits has only just tapped into the next chapter of his creative career, and OPENING is the exciting first step in that evolution.
Why is now the right time for your first audio-visual album?
Everything I know and love has come into this piece. All of my experiences both in life and on a technical level are woven together, with all available technologies and tools helping to make it possible. The timing feels incredible to me.
What inspirations did you draw from while shooting and editing OPENING‘s visuals?
I have always loved nature documentaries since I was a kid, but rarely love the commentary and narrative they create. For a long time, I’ve wanted to make a piece that overlaps the sounds I hear in my head with the beautiful Earth I seek out with my eyes. I love the films Baraka and Koyaanisqatsi, but feel that both are so heavy with such negative dichotomies about humans and the Earth. I wanted to create an inspiring, lifting feeling of openness. We can change and transform, absolutely we can. It begins with our own personal opening.
Did any specific locations from your travels affect the creation of OPENING more so than others?
The first dedicated trip to collect footage was to Maui in summer 2012. Visual artistAndrew Binkley and I went on some massive hikes, exploring all of the gorgeous locations out there with the intention of blending these tripod shots with the music that I was starting to work on. After that trip, a workflow of collecting imagery began to emerge and the location of Hawaii was a huge inspiration to the scenes we were building. A few more trips to Maui and the Big Island with both Andrew and Scott Hansen (Tycho), trips to Japan and Thailand, and explorations around San Francisco provided me with all the footage that I needed.
What can we expect from your upcoming live performances?
The live show of OPENING is going to be the film performed live. I’m using my guitar, voice, and an Ableton Push to control everything. I want to soak into the sounds and images with everyone. We’re all going on a journey together.
After finishing this project, do you see yourself making more visual albums like this?
Absolutely. Visuals have always been a big part of my creative process, but now I feel a new fluidity with these materials and tools. I’ve honed my ability to move from an idea in my imagination to a physical experience. My work is becoming more immersive in both sound and image, and I’m so excited to share the next adventure.
Project site – christopherwillits.com/opening
Buy the Album – theghostlystore.com/products/christopher-willits-opening