Brit Es Magazine was invited to chat with Curtis Harding. We sent Guido Benedicto, our man in Benicàssim, to sit down and get to know Mr. Harding’s soul, and to discuss music, art and fashion.
Recently, Brit Es Magazine was invited to chat with Curtis Harding. Born in Atlanta and raised in gospel choirs, the singer-songwriter breathes some fresh air into soul music still reminding us of the old masters. We sent Guido Benedicto, our man in Benicàssim, to sit down and really get to know Mr. Harding’s soul, and to discuss music, art and fashion.
A conversation between two gentlemen starts off “my name is Guido by the way” “Curtis, man. Guido?!” (chuckles) “Congratulations on the gig”.
What do you try to reach?
I try to reach the soul — that’s why it’s called soul music. I just try to reach inside. It’s a feeling, so I try to transfer that, first and foremost for myself; through whatever I’m playing, whatever I’m doing, whatever I’m singing and, then, connect that to the crowd. But it has to be for yourself first.
The crowd is really receptive and that’s cool; you have been doing some duets with Cole Alexander, have you learnt anything there that you have applied to your solo album?
I am always learning things from my friends, from other musicians and other artists. Cole is a guy that, without even playing music, you can learn things from. And likewise, I feel he has learnt some things from me as well. I think you should always collaborate as much as you possibly can with people who are, I guess, out of your comfort zone — I’m not saying that he’s out of my comfort zone, but take yourself out of your comfort zone even if that means like coming from Atlanta to Spain. Do that, because it will add to you as a person and it will make you better in the long run.
You started as a gospel singer and you moved a bit into making something more accessible. Do you keep things from gospel music, are you thankful for this experience when you were young?
I am very thankful for the experiences that I had when I was young and thankful for the experiences that I have now. I think that gospel, rock and roll, blues, pop, hip hop, folk, jazz, dream pop, whatever you want to call it, it is all the same. If you are provoking an emotion and you have something to say, it is all soul music and its foundation — that’s what soul is. It is experiences, feelings, it is making other people feel. It is, like I said, making yourself feel for once, first and foremost. I still sing gospel and I still make gospel songs. It’s just a matter of what the industry and the mainstream wants to label it as; they want to put a stamp on it. You have to put something on it in order to market it and sell it. But it is all the same thing, it’s all good music. And if it’s good, I’m down with it.
You did this fashion campaign recently, what was it like working there?
It was a cool experience. It was not something that I was looking for, it was very organic. I think that if you want to do something like that, that’s the best way to do it. Because I don’t know shit about fashion, I’m more like a personal style kind of guy, I couldn’t tell you anything about fashion. I know that Hedi Slimane, the guy who I’m collaborating with, does all the videos and all the fashion design. He is a cool guy and loves music just as much as I do. That’s why I did it with him, because he feels the same way about art and things as I do.
It was also good to make people know you.
Exactly. You have to make a living, that’s all!
When you write songs, is there a moment where you are like a, let’s say, more rational creator?
In some cases, yeah. It really just depends on what I’m trying to accomplish. Maybe I’m just picking up from something that did actually happen, I’m just thinking in my mind what I would personally do. Maybe I heard a Buddy Holly song, ‘Boo Diddley’ song, and I’ll go “I’ll kind of make a song like that”. But for the most part, I write from feeling. I have to listen to so much music, you can’t just take from what you know and write songs from that experience. For me it’s not necessary to go into it with a plan every time. There is no method to the madness, it’s how you feel, that’s the best way. And that’s still soul music, you do from what you feel.
How is your soul now, is it good?
My soul is good, my soul is really good. I am physically a little tired from this touring so much and the time difference, but that’s when the soul kicks in, that’s when soul power comes in.
Now we’re going to Mark Roson.
Oh yeah. I love Mark Ronson, he’s a good friend of mine.
Are you going to see Blur maybe?
I got my head checked (sings)
What band would you recommend now, what do you like?
They usually ask me, well, it is a little different, “what was the last song that you downloaded?” I listen to the songs repeatedly but I need to buy this actual album. So I bought the new Little Dragon album. That’s the most recent thing that I’ve been listening to mostly and just bought it so thank you Little Dragon for putting out great music if you are reading this interview!
I think we can just go for a drink.
Yeah, let’s do it.
Enjoy, it was a pleasure.
Oh yeah, it is always a pleasure. I’m not in my country.
Do you want a ciggie?
You have a smokey voice, is it because you smoke or it is just your voice?
I don’t know man, I think it’s a little bit of both. It’s a little bit of everything, just all the way around.
Let’s go and see Mark Ronson.
If you want to listen to the full interview, click below: