So yeah – my third favourite artist of all-time (since Last.fm was created), Simon Curtis finally released his brilliant debut album “8Bit Heart” a few weeks ago for FREE and a staggering 100,00 people have downloaded it thus far from www.simon-curtis.com. If you don’t have it yet – seriously, GO GET IT. I’m really happy that the world is finally seeing how talented Simon Curtis is and by judging from the reaction “8Bit Heart” has received – I’d say we have a little superstar in the making here.
Long time EQ readers know that I’ve been writing about Simon for years now and have interviewed him a few times “back in the day” and now since he’s everywhere, I kinda wanted just to chat to him and catch up – everyone is rightfully so asking him about the new album and I kinda just wanted to steer clear of those questions as much as I could and get his opinion on a few other things – mostly because he’s really an interesting artist chat to.
So, in part one of our EQ interview with Simon Curtis, I asked him about his thoughts on growing up in the download and blog generation, whether or not we will see some of his older “Alter Boy” material re-surface (you can listen to one of those tracks after the jump) and how he’s handling his new found internet fame as a “pop messiah”.
Stay with us as well for part two where I probe the robot boy on his thoughts about recent Ricky Martin/Adam Lambert “situations”, his REAL thoughts on Glee and how a few songs on “8Bit Heart” are reminiscent of a mutual favourite singer of ours…enjoy!
EQ: Hey Simon – So I must ask you, how are you finding your new found internet fame?! “8-Bit Heart” is blowing up at the moment. I must admit, for me it’s kinda weird because I’ve been writing about you for so long and now you’re everywhere – every time I see a new article about you online I’m like “Ohhh, it’s Simon!” I’m feel like a proud mother hen I guess.
Simon Curtis: [Laughs] It’s really really incredible! I was a trending topic on Twitter this past weekend and it really blew me away! I did an interview with Gaganews.com and after the interview they were feeling the love and decided to start a trending topic campaign and within a half an hour they managed to get me on the trending topics and that was crazy! That then spurred a lot of different things – Adam Lambert asked me to write a song for his new album and the downloads went through the roof – it was insane! I’m loving that people are reacting so positively to my record!
That’s awesome – now you’re one of those kids who grew up in the download generation – sometimes downloading music for free, sometimes not. You decided to give “8Bit Heart” away for free so I am just curious as to why you decided to go this route…
Well I wanted to give away an album for free now for well over a year after talking to one of my best friends Andrea Lewis who did Degrassi with the artist now known as Drake. He released free music until he blew up. His last mixtape is what made him a superstar and I was really inspired by that and seeing how free music can galvanize a fan base for an artist these days. I stand behind the product that I make, I stand behind the artist that I am and that I am going to further develop into from here on out. This campaign wasn’t about just potentially reaching out to fans with my music, but it was also a call to record labels and industry people to show them “this is me – this is what I’m doing, I’m not going away and I’m not fucking around”. [Laughs]. It was my call to arms essentially.
One thing that I really appreciate about your campaign as that you embrace pop culture and music blogs – as an artist you always have. What are your thoughts on blogs replacing magazines and traditional media these days?
Blogs have totally taken over precedence over magazines – especially music magazines! The taste of music is dictated by the young people and I’m sorry, but young people don’t read Rolling Stone anymore…Pop music fans have blogs like Popjustice and Electroqueer while rock fans have Stereogum and Pitchfork – they have honestly at this point and especially within the next couple of years will render music magazines completely irrelevant. I think it’s a sign of the times, it’s a sign of how we consume our music. I mean our music now is mostly consumed via the internet so wouldn’t our music critiques and exposure come from there as well. It’s hard for people to not view magazines as “behind the times” or antiquated in a sense. It’s all starting to make sense now and I’m glad to see the transition….
Cool – Now I’m gonna be one of those people that will proudly say “I knew Simon Curtis back in the “Alter Boy” days” when people are going on about your debut album “8Bit Heart”…
Of course you are allowed to because you did! [Laughs]
How do you feel about those old “Alter Boy” songs now that you’ve recorded and released “8Bit Heart”? You had some amazing pop tracks like “Broken” and “Casual Encounter”. “Answer” is still one of my favourite songs of all time…do you think those songs may ever resurface one of these days?
I’m definitely not opposed to it! Right now they are representative of my past and part of me doesn’t necessarily want to go and revisit a place where I already treaded. Some of those songs that you mentioned like “Answer” – I would love to take that song and retool it and potentially use in the future. Some of the concepts on the “Alter Boy” album (which never came to fruition) I’d like to revisit. I find that I always make concept albums when I embark on a new recording it’s always entrenched in some sort of concept and that was evidenced by “Alter Boy”. Like I said though, those songs are a part of my past and I don’t know if I want to revisit it, but we may see some of those themes and something pop up from “Alter Boy” in the future!
That’s cool – I can’t tell you HOW many times people have begged me for those mp3s and I had to resist the urge to send them to people because I knew it wasn’t your current sound-scape…
[Laughs] – I would just have to re-tool them honestly. The quality is just so different to “8Bit Heart” – the music and vocals sound old. Me and my producer have both grown so much since then in terms of our capabilities and our talents. Those songs wouldn’t get my stamp of approval these days – they would totally have to be re-done…
Well I do hope that for a few of them, you do the old Madonna Re-Invention to! You know one of the songs that I was kinda secretly hoping would end up on “8 Bit Heart” was “Pop Messiah” because it’s kinda relevant and before Gaga blew the fuck up, you had originally paid tribute to Madonna in that track. Do you mind telling the readers a little bit about that one?
Oh yeah! That song honestly started out as a bad ass track and we sat down at the computer and the keyboard and we banged it out and it was sick – I loved it. Then you provided a quote for my original press kit back in day and you said “Simon Curtis is the Pop Messiah” and I used that phrase as a title to that song because the track was SUCH an anthem and it needed a big bold vocal statement to go along with it. So I started to write “Pop Messiah” and that song sorta helped me find my shtick of making references to singers and name-checking them in songs and “Pop Messiah” WAS my Madonna shout-out song. It starts out with a sacrilegious re-tooling of the Hail Mary prayer that was about all Madonna, the mother of disco and the whole song just became an anthem about dubbing myself as a “pop messiah” and bringing pop music back – BUT Lady Gaga got to it first and I can’t call myself the pop messiah anymore because she is now. [Laughs]
“Pop Messiah” is still my favourite anthem of yours! One of these days maybe you’ll put it on a b-side eh? [Laughs]
[Laughs] I totally would want to update that song to the point where it’s good enough to fit in with my current stuff!
Don’t mind me Simon – I’m just reminiscing about the old days – shall we take a listen?
Sure – why not!
Stay tuned Robots, Part Two is coming…