Q. With so many great releases out on highly regarded labels and an international tour under your belt you must be feeling pretty chuffed!
A. Yes it’s amazing to have been given the opportunities of the last few years, my only regret is that I didn’t embark on this path sooner in life. Working with labels like Proton, Sudbeat, and Release means a lot to me and is a big inspiration to keep pushing and taking on new challenges.
Q. Can you tell us about some of the highlights from your 2013 tour of South America?
A. I was mainly visiting the continent as a tourist so my experiences as a DJ were probably also seen through tourist-eyes, but regardless it was a fantastic few weeks and taught me a lot about myself musically and of course how different the club scene is compared to Australia. All of my DJ sets commenced after 2am and most finished around 6.30-7am which is completely unheard of in Brisbane, even more so considering the type of music I was able to play. The people were so “up for it”, the energy and atmosphere did not let up for one minute and I actually didn’t realise at one of the gigs that I’d been playing for close to 5 hours, until the Police arrived and shut the event down. Argentina is definitely a hotbed of music appreciation and talent, I had at least 3 people at each gig approach me with their own CD full of their studio productions. I can’t wait to get back there next year.
Q. How do you balance earning a regular income with DJing and creating so much amazing music?
A. I’ve been lucky (or unlucky depending on one’s point of view!) enough for the last few years to have been living the single life, which means very few distractions and heaps more spare time. Having the bedroom studio setup for a while also aided the creativity and workflow, being able to quickly pounce on and capture a song idea at any time is a serious bonus! The day-job is quite separate to any part of my musical life however, which I think also allows for greater focus and productivity.
Q. Progressive house went through a bit of a lull in the late noughties, but it is absolutely thriving now, with so many wonderful new producers coming out of eastern Europe and The Americas. You’ve been lucky enough to work with some of them. How do you see the house and techno scene evolving from here on out?
A. I’m glad to say that I have no idea where things are headed, because that guarantees each new challenge is still going to be exciting and fresh. I think the recent resurgence of the more rigid and clinical sides of old-school techno has had a massive impact on the melodic genres and it’s super cool to hear the old 909 type samples popping up more often in progressive and deep house songs, even to the point of producers discarding their in-the-box synth emulators to return to the hardware versions for pure authenticity and sound quality. Overall I think the genre bending will continue and overlaps between the styles, genres and even tempos will become less obvious and more common, something I personally look forward to embracing in my own productions one day soon.
Q. Your recent releases (Flannel Lime Parade, Safety Thirst) are about eight or nine minutes long. What do you think of the recent trend of progressive house tracks clocking in around the six minute mark, as opposed to them previously being longer?
A. I guess there’s a shift within the majority of underground music genres lately to “get to the point”, consistent with the general attitudes and behaviour of the teenage-thru-late 20’s generation of today. In terms of my own tracks it’s not really a conscious decision as to how long the track should be, the main focus for me is to set up the arrangement properly so the story of the track can be told and developed without sounding like it’s forced or structured. Sometimes musical ideas develop at odd times during the arrangement process and I’ll find myself detouring a track after, for example, the breakdown into a new direction. I won’t necessarily discard that idea because I’m at risk of going beyond 8 minutes but I’m sure many producers who churn out music at a rate of knots will have a more established and defined workflow and are therefore keeping a close eye on the track duration.
Q. Beatport are notorious for labeling commercial and club house music as progressive house. This year Melbourne legend Luke Chable ran a petition to have them create a separate genre. What are your thoughts on that?
A. There’s always going to be a reason for the vast majority of music producers/artists to be unhappy with the “machine”, I don’t really care too much about this particular issue even though yes, it does technically make it difficult for genuine progressive-house music to be discovered on that one website. In the overall scheme of an artist’s career there are far more pressing issues and dilemmas to deal with, but I’ll be interested to see how Luke’s petition goes in the long-run!
I remember when you began posting your sets on In The Mix and how great they were. Not to mention all the excellent gigs you have run with international superstar DJs in Brisbane. Thanks for keeping the scene alive when it was having a bit of a downturn.
Listen to Rich’s latest set here: http://www.undergroundsound.com.au/rich-curtis-resolutions-37-aug-2013-protonradio/