OJO is a collaborative art and music group that consists of Joshua Aster, Chris Avitabile, Juan Capistran, Justin Cole, Moises Medina, Eamon Ore-Giron, Brenna Youngblood and various audiences. OJO performs experimental music that delves into transcendental rhythms and communal harmonics. One major aspect of OJO's events aims to remove the barrier between the audience and the performers, so that when one enters the show's environment they instantly become a member of the "band". The way in which this is achieved is by constructing compositions that involve simple music making gestures such as clapping, whistling, chanting, etc. and arranging these elements in a way that creates a texture of communal sound. The audience is coaxed into participating by direct contact with the "performers (OJO)".

OJO formed in 2005 over a love of improvisational acoustic guitar compositions (think John Fahey and Sandy Bull). Slowly new instrumentation and members crept in, expanding the sound and the possibilities of group performances. Shortly thereafter in 2006, OJO performed it's first audience based work entitled, We All, Us Three, at Esthetics as a Second Language in Eagle Rock, CA. Based on the idea of spontaneous crowd euphoria, OJO designed the performance to center around a large stack of amplifiers, as well as a blanket of salt covering the ground, and video and slide projections. The salt as it was kicked into the air by a shuffling and dancing crowd created an extra sensory experience as it could be tasted, smelled, and seen fluttering through the air. It also functioned as a unifying sound making element by incorporating the movements of the crowd into the pulse of the 808 beat and the vocalizations being chanted and yelped through the space by the audience members and OJO. The recording of this event was packaged into a CD produced by James Welling and features an electrifying remix that creates a new experience of the event. These ideas were continued in following works at Queens Nails Annex in the summer of 2006. Also in 2006, OJO performed live on Instrumental at KXLU 88.9FM and on Let's Paint TV hosted by John Kilfduff.

In 2007, OJO presented their individual art at bank in an exhibition entitled, You Are My. Following their exhibition at bank, OJO created another salt-based audience participatory event for LAXART entitled, Passin' Thru The New Amazing. This time OJO added more instrumentation to the spectacle in addition to the 808 drum machine. The gallery released a recording of the event in 2008 as a 12" EP backed with two remixes by Los Cremators (DJ Lengua) and The Collapsible Mammals. Also in 2007, OJO was invited to create an audience based work for the A+D Museum in Los Angeles, CA. The performance, En La Cumbre, unified the audience and OJO in a sea of intense red light. The performance centered on crowd vocalizations, percussion, and dance.

OJO challenged their practice of using the audience as the medium in the piece, Love Letter, for the exhibition, We, at Lizabeth Oliveria in 2008. The group, packed into a '79 Toyota Carolla, drove into the gallery space and performed amplified music while encapsulated in the vehicle, effectively sharing an intimate music experience while the audience looked on.

In 2009, OJO was invited to take part in the series, Engagement Party, at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. OJO presented three new works that engaged the audience in different ways. The first performance, Color Chorus, was largely a continuation of previous audience participatory works, but this time the audience was bathed in red, yellow and blue light. The audience was also separated into red, yellow and blue groups. When the colored light that corresponded to their group came on, they would make noises specified by OJO. When their light was off, they would remain silent. This work utilized the audience as an instrument.

The second work, Flesh Car Crash, was a continuation of Love Letter. This time OJO had the street in front of the museum blocked off, creating a space for two cars, each filled with three OJO members and their instruments, to be pushed around by audience members in a choreographed dance. The cars were wrapped in a collage of human skin and emanated the musical sounds produced from the inside of the cars. One car produced only percussion sounds, the other only melody sounds. So depending where on the street one stood, as the cars passed by they would effectively pan the sound left, right, and center creating different musical combinations. The finale of the piece was when the cars were backed up to opposing sides of the street, and then pushed at a high speed into a head on collision. The sound of the crash was sampled and looped, creating an eerie crunching sound that continued to play after the conclusion of the event. The audience for this work was invited to document the work by photographing and videoing the event and then posting the results to the museum's web site.

The final event for the Engagement Party residency was Interactive Lecture Series. Here OJO created three different lecture events, each 30 minutes in length. The lectures were: The Fire Lecture, Mambo Freeform, and Science Fictions. OJO invited different people to collaborate with for each lecture. Kristin Calabrese presented a Werner Herzog lecture for Fire Lecture. Julio Cesar Morales, blended his expertise of mambo, dengue, and Perez Prado to help create the Mambo Freeform. Science Fictions was a collaboration and conversation with Alex Rivera about his film, Sleep Dealer. Each lecture involved audience participation, a lecture, and music from OJO, although presented in different ways each time, creating different experiences for each audience that saw each work. The audience was utilized as both instrument and content, as the collaborators were chosen from the audience before hand.

2010 saw the release of Ocean View Estate, OJO's first studio release to feature all six members. The album features a mixture of studio cuts and live tracks recorded during our residency at MOCA and the A+D Museum. Ocean View Estate's first song, La Bolsa Blanca, was featured on dublab's MP3 Blog and the whole album was reviewed in the Winter 2011 issue of LA Record. OJO was also featured in ANP Quarterly. The magazine article is an interview with Ben Provo about the group's process and projects. OJO also launched their own boutique record label, OJO Records. The first release is The Collapsible Mammals "Travel Themes" 45. More releases will come out in 2011.

2011 is shaping up to be a busy year for the group. OJO is currently in residency at LACE, as part of their Los Angeles Goes Live program (hosted by the Getty's Pacific Standard Time). For Los Angeles Goes Live, OJO will produce a textual score featured in a magazine that will allow the reader to call into a toll-free number and perform the work on their cell phone. The cell phone call will be recorded by the group, compiled with all of the other entries, and released on a 45rpm record. Finally, in January of 2012, OJO will perform the magazine score live at LACE. OJO also has an exhibition opening at the Studio Museum Harlem in March of 2011, as part of the museum's StudioSound program. OJO's project, Voluminous Sparks, will feature a recorded collection of live audience participatory music, as well as studio recordings that will enliven the atrium of the museum. OJO also welcomed into the group Juan Capistran in 2011.

OJO went to Spain in 2012.

OJO went on hiatus in 2013.

OJO home page / back to Justin Cole home

In alphabetical order: Aster, Avitabile, Cole, Medina, Ore-Giron & Youngblood.