Curtis Harding is Getting Better & Better
I find that a lot of the best creative people come from Atlanta. Do you agree?
Sure. I think creative people come from all over, but definitely from Atlanta. There’s a lot of creativity floating around. I think it has something to do with the water.
In what ways did Atlanta help form your creativity?
There was just a huge community of musicians from all different styles and genres. That really helped because we all kind of hang out together, no matter what style of music we do. A large part of why Atlanta has been a powerhouse for forming great artists is that we all support each other.
Does history or context play a role in what you do?
Sure, I mean history is the reason we have blues, the reason we have rock and roll. That goes without saying for any musician. You have to know your history in order to know where you’re going. It has a lot to do with keeping music fresh and being progressive. When you don’t know history, you’re doomed to repeat it.
Your album Face Your Fear was coming out the last time we spoke—how has the rollout for the album been? Have the shows been good? How has it gone over?
It’s been great—the response has been awesome, especially in Europe. We’ve been playing sold out shows. People are really interested in seeing how the record translates live. And so far, so good. The band is getting super, super tight. We were rehearsing eight hours a day, man—getting primed for the road. There’s really nothing like playing live. You can rehearse as much as you want to, but getting that energy and feeling from the crowd is just an indescribable feeling. Critic-wise, I’ve been getting some good reviews from people. And it’s always great to hear rave reviews about your record, but I take that with a grain of salt as well. It’s been good, man. I’m really happy with the way things are going.
Do you have a favorite tour stop?
Europe in general, but I really liked Portugal. I hadn’t played Portugal in a few years, but I can’t get that place out of my mind, man. Lisbon is a beautiful spot—the people, how receptive they are to music, the food, the wine, it’s just great. As far as Europe, I liked Portugal a lot.
Would you say it’s essential to see you live in order to fully experience your music?
I think so. Music is the only universal language there is. Sometimes, especially in soul music—because sometimes soul music involves a mold, a certain vibe—that’s universal. In terms of the lyrics, maybe not. To me, music is more so about feeling. I put a lot of emphasis on my lyrics, too, but it has to feel good first and foremost in order for you to even write anything. You have to feel an emotion. So if you can translate that emotion, then the rest is kind of secondary.
Instrumentation is something I think is kind of in limbo right now. It seems strange to not use a computer for all of your sounds nowadays. I’m assuming your album involves a lot of live instrumentation. Where do you think that switch is from retro to modern sound?
Honestly, I feel like you can use whatever is at your disposal to get your point across. It’s up to you. It’s up to your technical ability and your soul to make it sound good or not. There’s a lot of electronic music that I really, really dig, and there’s a lot of live shit that I hate, you know what I’m saying? Good music is good music, man. For soul music, you can do soul music as just that—as long as it comes from your soul. In church growing up, a lot of times they wouldn’t have instruments. It’d just be old people stomping on the floor. It’s less about what you’re using in your hands, more about what’s fusing out of your soul. That’s what soul music is all about. You can use whatever you have at your disposal to get your point across. I pass no judgment on any artist that is trying to get a point across and trying to express themselves. My opinions I hold to myself for my music. If I hate something, then there are probably a billion other people who have a different opinion.
What would you say is the number one thing you’ve realized performing this new album is? Did this new album make you realize anything about your music, or about you in general?
It’s just standard, man. I just wanted to get as tight as I possibly can. My whole goal with playing live is just to get as good as possible. I wanna be as good as I can at my guitar, with the other guys and band members—I try to hire musicians that are better than me just because I’m always trying to get better. The one thing that I do realize now is that I want to step up the stage production. I want to have more visuals to show because I feel like if you can marry imagery and audio, if you do it right, you can create really memorable moments for people. That’s one of the things I realized—every night, constantly thinking of new things that I can do visually for people, as well as audio.
Visual paired with audio is way different than just audio.
Have you been working on new music at all? Or are you just focusing on touring?
Yeah, I’m always working on new music. Even if I come home and I’m just picking around for 10 minutes on the guitar, I’ll just pick my recorder up and I’ll record a couple lines of something. And then I’ll go make dinner or something like that. I’m always curating ideas. I might not be there in the studio for hours when I get off tour because I have family obligations that I’d like to take care of as well, but I’ll get back in after a while. Because I’m literally fresh off of Europe, I’m trying to get my sleeping schedule back. The past couple days have been really good. We had a snowstorm here in Georgia, and everything shut down so I’ve been able to just stay inside. But other than that, I’m constantly just doing something. Every day I try to write something and play the guitar. I try to practice every day on something.