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INTERVIEW: Curtis Newart

Hi Curtis, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Busy! I just spent two weeks in Canada with my family over the holidays, and I’m just wrapping up a successful six-month radio and publicity campaign. My new album, Rock the Chandeliers, was added to over one hundred radio stations, and it charted at number 43 on the College Radio Charts for North America. I’ve been doing radio interviews, and signed licensing agreements with NASCAR, The Discovery Channel, and the TV series Total Divas.

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Superhuman”?

I wrote this song for my husband Robert. He’s a 911 dispatcher, EMT, and former firefighter. It could really be about anyone in your life you look up to and admire.

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

One day shortly after moving in with Robert, I slipped and fell on a rickety old wheelchair ramp leading up to our house. He ripped the entire ramp up with his bare hands right then and there and threw it onto the garbage heap!

Any plans to release a video for the single?

If I do a video for this album, it will be for the song “Rock the Chandeliers”.

The single comes off your new album Rock The Chandeliers – what’s the story behind the title?

When I moved to Montana, Robert and I lived in an old house from the 50s with very little glamour. One of the first things we did was buy a chandelier for every room. I’m a rocker, so when I rock, the chandeliers rock.

How was the recording and writing process?

Originally, I had written a very dark album. When it came time to record, I changed my mind and decided to make a fun album inspired by Cyndi Lauper’s album “She’s So Unusual”, which played an important part in my life at a pivotal age. It taught me I wasn’t the only Goonie on the block, plus I got into shape rocking out to it on a daily basis. I discussed this with Jacob Wing, my producer and co-songwriter at Ill Eagle Studio, and Robert, who served as co-producer and co-songwriter on the album. I was listening to a lot of AronChupa and Little Sis Nora at the time so we threw that vibe into the mix. Jacob sent me original music tracks electronically, then Robert and I brainstormed the lyrics. I wrote the final lyrics, adapting them to fit each track. Robert and I recorded the demos at my home studio (Immaculate Records), then we sent them back to Jacob. After some reworking, I recorded the final tracks at Ill Eagle. Jacob not only did all the original electronic programming, he also played all the live instruments and sang backup on “Man on the Moon”.

How has R.E.M. influenced your writing?

They weren’t a conscious influence on my songwriting, although I think they’re a great band. The reason I recorded a cover of “Man on the Moon” is because it suits my voice and range and I had sung it for many years.

What role does Canada play in your music?

I’m not really sure, eh.

Do you tend to take a different approach when you are collaborating with or covering someone else rather than on your own?

I definitely preferred having Robert’s input choosing words and phrases to develop into meaningful lyrics for this album, compared to writing on my own as I did for my first album Exploits in a Modern World. It was more fun and imaginative, having someone to bounce ideas off of, not to mention being able to pick up something and running with it when we realized it was starting to go in the right direction. On my own, it was too easy to stop and start with greater periods of time in between songs.

What aspect of sex and party life did you get to explore on this material?

It was all very playful and non-committal in the song “Rock the Chandeliers” when I sing about “party in the bathroom, someone’s knocking at the door, unlock the lock and we’ll show them a little more.” In “Thru the Keyhole”, there’s some innocent flirting that leads to a rendezvous upstairs at a dinner party. “Down the Garden Path” is a little more evolved, with dancing in the ballroom then romance in the garden. “Perverse (2018)”, explores a different side of sex, including kink and role-playing, which in and of itself can be a party.

Where else did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

The Carifest Caribbean festival in Calgary, Canada, where I was born, partly inspired “Confetti and Beachballs”, with multiple stages and non-stop dancing. Club-hopping at lavish nightclubs in New York City and throughout Mexico during the filming of my music videos for my first album inspired “Rock the Chandeliers” to a degree. “Down the Garden Path” came to me from memories of flirting at soirees at estates with gardens in Vancouver, Canada, notably the Rogers’ sugar family mansion on Davie Street. “Perverse” was inspired by the dark streets of the red light district and the darkrooms of the clubs in Amsterdam.

Any plans to hit the road?

I’m torn between shooting videos for the album then touring or just getting on with the next album. We’ll see.

What else is happening next in Curtis Newart’s world?

Robert and I are selling our home in the mountains of Montana and moving to New York state so I can be closer to the music scene in New York City. I’m launching the world’s largest Cyndi Lauper fansite, Lauperland, soon, and possibly working with the estate of a legendary giant of the wrestling world. Oh, and buying more Chandeliers for our new home.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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