A boy robot and his army of droids is taking over pop music one trend at a time. Find out what Simon Curtis says.
Hi Simon! How did you get your start in music?
I started performing in musicals and operas at age 10, and was an avid theater performer, but by the time I reached my teens, I set my sights on pop music. I stopped performing in musicals and worked on writing music and finding my own voice instead.
Before 8bit Heart, your persona was a bit different. What caused the switch? How did “8bit Heart Simon Curtis” evolve?
Well, interestingly enough, I really feel like 8bit Heart is the first “official” Simon Curtis persona, as it were. I’ve always had a very distinct vision as to the kind of pop artist that I wanted to be, and in doing my first album completely independently, I was able to create everything from the ground up in that vision. Before that, any semblance of a public persona I might have had was me as a Nickelodeon kid. I’m glad that people are getting to see that I have a little more up my sleeve, and that none of it is manufactured by anyone but me ;)
8bit Heart is currently free to download on your website, www.simon-curtis.com, I would have to say that not many people would give away an album for free – I personally think its genius and gracious of you. From a music marketing stand point, you want people to hear your music and discover you, no matter the cost. How did this come about?
Well, one of my best friends, Andrea Lewis, was on Degrassi with the artist now known as Drake. She kept me up to date on what he was doing in the mixtape scene well before he became the household name he is today, and I was completely fascinated by his meteoric rise to prominence. So many people are making a name for themselves with free music (Mike Posner, Dan Black, Drake, just to name a few), & I truly believe that it is the way of the future. This is me, as an artist, working toward a fanbase without the aid of a label, and in a way, having the market like this now signals a shift back to genuine artistry & talent, from my perspective at least. I’m excited to prove what I can do without a label. That just means that I will be able to be more of an artist of my own design by the time I am able to work with one.
How did the intro‘s like “Boy Robot” and “Brainwash” evolve? I love them, I feel like their introducing the story.
Well, I am a bit of a nut when it comes to the album creation process. If I have an idea, I run with it, expound upon it, foster it, and try not to ever second guess it. There are layers and themes and hidden meanings that I like to lace my music with, and the little nuances like the intros only help me to further develop them. BoyRobot was a bit of an homage to Pinocchio, and was a great way to wrap up the album in a thematic package, in my opinion.
Speaking of a story, 8bit Heart feels like a story is being told – where did this concept come from?
There is very much a story within the album, & the concept came from my heart. I always find that when one writes his own experience, writes what he himself truly knows, the final piece of work will convey that in a genuine way. Yes, there is a character that I’ve created within the music, yes it is pure pop & very theatrical in its own way, but at the end of the day 8bit Heart is my heart & soul, laid out for all the world to listen to... for free. haha I’m inspired by fantasy, science fiction, 80’s movies, 8-Bit video games, Mozart, etc. so why shouldn’t I put all of that into my music? Like I said, I never second-guess myself ;)
In “Diablo,” I recognize the Britney Spears influence and nod to “If U Seek Amy” – is she a big influence?
As soon as I wrote the chorus to Diablo I actually said out loud “this is a Britney song,” which in turn lead me to inserting the If U Seek Amy lyric. I like to wear my influences on my sleeve, & if I am going to let myself be so inspired by something or someone as to write a song that’s such a clear product of influence by that inspiration, then I am probably going to give it, or she, or he a direct shout out. In the case of Diablo, it was Britney Spears. She’s definitely been a huge influence & idol of mine. She was my gateway drug to pop music.
Recently, I have seen your name and your work all over the blogesphere and on Twitter. How did it feel to be a trending topic on the world chart for Twitter and getting all this great blog love?
It was incredible! I’ve been so fortunate to have so many people really taking to the album, and now that I’ve started performing, I can’t wait to share it with everyone in person.
So you’re a boy robot, made, not created. Is this true?
Made by himself. A bit of a paradox I know, but so it is indeed true. Haha
Artists such as Janelle Monae and Robyn are big into creating an “other worldly” persona and references in their music much like yourself. How did the “robots” come about to you?
Well, I was making an album with 8-Bit video game music samples & writing about mind-control & other sci-fi things, it was somewhat inevitable.
I notice a lot of Twitter posts to UK pop guru Frankmusik. Is something developing there? I must admit, a Frankmusik/Simon Curtis collaboration would be poptastically good!
Yeah, we’ve been in his studio together quite a bit recently, & I am really thrilled to say that there is something big coming ;) Shhh...
What’s next for Simon Curtis and his legion of robots?
Well, I am typing this from my hotel in Kampala, Uganda, where I’ve been in the jungle and out in the wilds for 2 weeks as part of my work as an ambassador for the Uganda Wildlife Authority & their Friend A Gorilla campaign (visit friendagorilla.org to learn more), but I am excited to get back to the states and back to work with my beloved Robot friends. Haha
I will be opening for La Roux in Kansas City on June, 5th (which I am really thrilled about), and after that hopefully performing a lot more around the country and starting work on the 8Bit Heart sequel.
Now, I’d like to switch it up and do more of a “rapid fire.”
Growing up I…
had the most vivid imagination imaginable, still do!
My perfect night is…
spent with my best friends hanging out, eating food, watching movies, and laughing.
My favorite music video growing up was…
Michael & Janet Jackson, Scream
My favorite time in music was…
Late 90’s early 00’s!
I describe my style as…
Nerdy and hobo-esque
My glasses make me…
Feel like I can get into character easier
I have always been obsessed with…
People would be surprised to know that I…
have never had a pet, despite my love for animals
One thing I think is overrated is…
One thing I think is underrated is…
I’m happiest when…
I am comfortable & lounging with my closest friends and family.
The craziest thing that has happened to me so far…
Getting grabbed by a baby East African Mountain Gorilla (one of the most endangered animals on Earth) while hiking in the jungles of Uganda on the Congo border. Insanely, astoundingly, mind-blowingly incredible experience. Words can’t do it justice!
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