Strawberry Spotlight with Feeding Fingers
Lady Audio: Hi everyone and welcome to the Strawberry Spotlight Radio Show. I am Lady Audio and I will be your host. Our guest this week is Justin Curfman of Feeding Fingers. Welcome to the show Justin! How are you today?
Justin: I’m doing really well. How are you?
Lady Audio: I’m alright. So my first question is: what attracted you to the realm of music?
Justin: Oh, wow. That’s a big question to start with. Let’s see I’ve always had a relationship with music since I was a child. My grandmother was a musician. She used to play country music at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville when I was a kid. My father was also a bit of a guitarist. They were mostly working with country music and blues music and stuff like that. I just grew up in a musical household. That was just part of my life since I was a child, really. Then as I got older I developed an interest in film and literature and things. Music, for me at first, was sort of a background hobby, but over time I just started to develop more of an interest in music and in a lot of other things from there. It’s hard to say – it’s basically since I was a child. I found that music was probably the best sort of creative outlet for me and I just sort of stayed with that and that’s where I am today.
Lady Audio: What do you like most music?
Justin: What do I like most about music what? What I like most about music is that it’s one of the few sort of art forms that you, ahhh….for example if you’re into painting, that’s a pretty solitary art form or if you are into film it’s also somewhat solitairy. But, with music it’s something you can create and you can perform music, you can share music, you can give people music. It has a little bit more of a community element to it than other art forms, I think. Also, music is one of the few art forms that can transcend cultures and language. So you can write a song and give it to someone in Indonesia from a Western perspective. I think it’s more of a universal – it’s definitely more of a universal art form compared to a lot of others. That’s my belief anyway. For example “Gangnam Style” was a giant hit, you know? (laughs)
Lady Audio: Right! (laughs) Is there anything about music that you dislike?
Justin: I think the only thing I really dislike about music is sort of the business aspect of the music. It’s something that I don’t really care so much for. I think there’s too much concern about winning popularity contests, and constructing music that kind of appeals to the lowest common denominator, especially now since music has been so demonetized. I think a lot of artist sort of work beneath their abilities so they can do the best they can to get a couple of extra pennies from Spotify and write music that’s not necessarily pushing the art form very much. So a lot of artists – I’ve seen a lot of artists that are sort of they seem to be in a bit of a state of suspended arrested development really – because they sort of find one sort of niche they can maybe squeeze a little money out of and they just basically right the same song over and over and over again. But that’s sort of one of the downsides of the way things are going right now. But those two things are the things that bother me the most. Artists having the limit themselves to appeal to a group. Other than that some of the new laws about public performance – especially lot of places in England right now – with a lot of clubs are shutting down. Those kind of things – I don’t care much for that. Outside of that not so much.
Lady Audio: So you record most of your own music if not all of your music. I wanted to ask you if you could describe one of your most frustrating experience is in the studio.
Justin: Most frustrating experience in the studio? Is anytime you have to record drums. (laughs) I think anything else if you have enough patience you can pretty much do anything else but when it comes to recording drums – if someone else is playing drums. I think maybe my most frustrating experience was in 2009. I was working on my second album I had to work with my original drummer on the album and I had a lot of troubles recording percussion and everything. That was probably my worst experience. Other than that outside of percussion and trying to capture room acoustics appropriately. Those are my only frustrations, really. But also the frustrations you find a lot of joy because you’re find a lot of problem solving. So if everything was easy you wouldn’t have any interest in doing it anymore, I think. If you don’t find some challenges then where’s the fun in it?
Lady Audio: Yeah. So what about one of your most wonderful experiences in the studio?
Justin: Most wonderful experience in the studio? Probably any chance I get to record with other people. Most the time I compose just about everything, but when I collaborate with somebody else, I will compose the base music – the architecture of the song and then if I have the chance to work with an artist that can give creative freedom to – to provide a solo or something like that for me – that makes those experiences really interesting because I get to see another artist sort of interpret a very general direction. I think my last album, “Attend,” the one that just came out recently, I was working with violinist, named Marica Filomena Coppola, here In Italy. Working with someone through two different languages and recording music that’s outside of my own musical education – it was a really beautiful experience for me. So, that’s probably my most favorite.
Lady Audio: So, off of the new album, “Attend,” I really like the song “At Play With Wasps.” I wondered if you could talk a bit about it and let us know what it’s about.
Justin: That song – I sort of wanted to make an attempt to write a song that was based on Flamenco music and Bossanova music, but sort of through like a a filter that I tend to work with with my own music, combining genres and stuff. I started writing that song on the ukulele and then I moved to a mandolin and then just kind of constructed it from there. But as far as what the song is about that’s always a difficult question for me with the lyrics. I think a lot of the times lyrics for me are almost more like painting – painting with words and tonality. I don’t really write songs that are clear narratives. I really can’t say. It’s more of an open ending interpretation for the song. That’s about the best I can give you as far as explaining about what it’s about. (laughs) But, the lyrics on the internet so you can interpret them for yourself…
[Play “At Play With Wasps”]
Lady Audio: Another song I really like I really like – I really like the title of it too, is “The Firstborn It Stands Sedated.” I wanted to ask you if you could talk a bit about that song, too.
Justin: Oh yeah, that song was interesting. That song I started work on that song in Germany, well, mostly on the border between Germany and Austria. I was working at the violinist there doing some rehearsal preparation for some concerts that I wanted to perform. During the rehearsals I would work with her also on recording sounds from a cello and sounds from a violin. Not necessarily notes, just like textural sound recordings and I had a pretty big collection of recordings that I’d made with her under my direction. From there I started building piano motif on top of that and then it sort of built from there with some percussion. Then, later in Italy, the same violinist that I mentioned earlier – I worked with her, here, earlier to record the lead violin parts. That song actually took a long time to finish that song. I wrote it within a span within several months. In several months and two or three different countries. The song came together pretty well – I was pretty happy with it. The only thing that was difficult about it that I had to record the vocals inside of an apartment in Germany – very, very late at night and everything there has to be really, really really silent because everyone gets very angry with you if you make any sort of sound. So I had to sing – sort of like in a whisper tone – but, I think, it actually complimented the song very well. So, I was pretty happy with the results of it.
Lady Audio: Yeah, I think it did, too!
Justin: Thank you. Thank you.
Lady Audio: And one more tune and I think it’s one you’ve gotten a lot of good feedback from. It’s called “Where All These Towns and Choices End.” What’s the story behind that song?
Justin: Nice short title, huh? (laughs)
Lady Audio: “Where All These Towns and Choices End.” (laughs)
Justin: That song – the concept of that whole album. It’s a triple, vinyl album with 25 songs. I tried to make every song as different as I could, working with different instrumentation and different sort of approaches to song construction. I always wanted to write a purely electronic song, but working with microtonal music. I know a lot of people don’t know what that is, but microtonal music is in music you have a chromatic scale 12 notes from C to C. But microtonal music works with notes that are in between the notes. So, if you have C & C sharp – there’s also frequencies in between C & C sharp, so you can have – I think the human ear can detect 64 tones within one octave, I believe it’s 64. So I worked with the notes in between the notes to write that song. That one was a real nightmare as far as with the electronic stuff goes ‘cuz you can’t just take a regular synthesizer with the 12 notes. You have to tune everything with an oscilliscope and find – not the note – but, the actual kilohertz. (laughs) One thing to another like that. So I built the song using some really unusual synthesizer approaches, and unusual software, and I worked with some old analog drum machine stuff…
[Play “Where All These Towns and Choices End.”]
Lady Audio: Cool. So what new projects are you working on now?
Justin: Right now, I am working on another album that I don’t want to talk too much about it because “Attend” just came out – not too long ago. But I’m working on another album right now and I’m also working on a stop-motion animation film. The two the two should be released simultaneously as a complimentary project. I’m doing everything that I can to write some new music that hopefully doesn’t become redundant from the older stuff. But that’s what I’m working on now. I can’t say how long it’s going to take for me to do it because stop motion animation takes so long and plus after writing “Attend” – the 25 songs – I’m a little (laughs) I’m fishy fried as quickly as I can. I don’t want to burn myself out.
Lady Audio: Yeah, a triple vinyl LP is definitely – a feat. That’s a lot of work and I can completely understand and it just came out this year, so, wow. When I first saw the pictures of it, I was like, “wow, look at that thing.” It isn’t just likea regular any other kind of a triple vinyl ‘cuz if you’re going to put that much effort into making something like that – the artwork, and the color choice of the vinyl record itself i- all of those things come into play when you’re making a piece of art like that. So I just wanted to say really, really great job on that.
Justin: Oh, thank you. Thank you. The artwork was it made by collaborator that I’ve worked with now for almost 10 years now, his name is name is Steven Lapcevic. He’s an animator who’s in the United States – as a matter of fact most of the music videos that I have had been done by him. I don’t know if you saw the music video for “Your Candied Laughter Crawls,” from “Attend.” He did that music video and he did the “Fireflies Make Us Sick” music video and a few other. Thankfully, he was there to help with that ‘cuz after finishing the music I was ready to just go away. “I’m finished you guys can do whatever you want…” (laughs)
Lady Audio: Yeah. Alright and now for a scenario. Are you ready?
Justin: Oh, no! Okay.
Lady Audio: It’s early in the morning. The shadows are long. The air is crisp and as you take a deep breath suddenly you noticed that you’re holding something in your hand. It’s a music box. As you turn the crank on the side of it what is the tune that it plays?
Justin: Oh, gosh. I hate to disappoint you but I have a song on my album before this one that was actually written on a music box – on a Teanola French punch card paper music box. So, when you tell me that – that song actually pops into my head. (laughs)
Lady Audio: What’s the name of that song?
Justin: “Walzer für eine Spieluhr,” “Waltz for a Music Box.”
Lady Audio: Wow, that’s really cool, actually.
Justin: Yeah, I have to send it to you. It’s on my album The Occupant. That one popped into my head, I guess the Happy Birthday song would have been my other pick.
Lady Audio: And last but not least, what is your favorite flower?
Justin: You know, I like carnivorous plants a lot. So maybe the Venus flytrap.
Lady Audio: Cool. So where can people go to listen to and purchase hear music?
Justin: I think probably the best, I mean – you can get it anywhere iTunes, Amazon and all that – everything’s pretty homogenized right now. But I think probably the best place – the most ethical place – to buy music now is Bandcamp.
Lady Audio: Yeah, alright cool. Thank you, Justin, for joining me today. I really appreciate it.
Justin: Yeah, no problem. Thank you for having me!