On their Bandcamp page, Curta’s music is filed under the genres hip-hop, art rap and post-punk. Really, there’s nothing like the music Curta creates on the Denver scene currently and their second full-length album, Broken Machines, captures the beautifully bizarre combinations of industrial rock and hip-hop influences. Currently touring through the Midwest, Curta’s Jake Danna chatted with AXS in this exclusive interview.
AXS: What brought Curta together?
Jake Danna: Brent, who is in the shower right now at the motel we're crashing in tonight, came out of a really different scene than I did. He grew up in a Cheyenne suburb so he was part of industrial projects growing up and pretty goth I believe. As a young kid he was into some pretty heavy and I think precocious bands for his age. When I was listening to the Space Jam soundtrack he was into The Downward Spiral, to put it curtly. No one really sees this ever but he can play some pretty intense metal licks on his guitar.
I grew up in suburbs too but in Colorado, I left after high school to live in a small mountain town and write things. I did that, but also got involved in performing and touring as a spoken word act with some friends of mine. This was brutal and formative for me. I remember playing nightclubs in Chicago that were great and empty coffee shops that were...not so great. So when we met, and got together to make music it was so incongruous stylistically that it just fit in a janky way. We have informed each other a lot over the last few years.
I remember we mostly used to get together to play with remote control helicopters. It is a good thing those broke because we may be still flying them instead of touring right now.
AXS: Where was your first show in Denver, and what was the experience like? Who else did you play with at the show?
Jake: We played a drone show at the infamous Unit E venue on Santa Fe for our first show. So, us, banging out beats on guitars and keyboards, rapping and screaming, and then noise bands. No lyrics and no rhythm. I don't mean that in an insulting way either it is what they were going for. I recall that we were completely unknown and unexpected and people vacated to hang off the staircase outside and smoke cigarettes about the time we went into our third song.
I think it was good though, because we often feel like an oddity on a lot of bills we play and it is good to get to a point where you are like, take it or leave it. Know what I mean? Like we are going to do this stuff either way.
AXS: Have any Denver musicians inspired Curta?
Jake: So many Denver musicians have inspired us but don't tell them we said that or that we are stealing their brilliant ideas.
AXS: What else is Curta involved in locally, either as individuals or as a group?
Jake: We put on a monthly show called the Noise Floor with our friends and collaborators. It is incredible and continues to surpass our expectations. Shouts to Deep Grey who is an amazing visual artist/musician that helps run Noise Floor. So many great Denver bands come through Noise Floor and every now and then we get some nationals so it keeps us all really busy.
Brent and I are in another band that is kind of like a machine jazz project. Just like some artists doing music for fun and recording these long, free form sessions. We have to have outlets like that because otherwise we won't remember how much we love this stuff because we put so much energy into making new Curta albums.
I am part of a podcast that happens once a week with a musician that no one knows because he actually disavows any formal publicity. If that sounds crazy it is because it is kind of crazy...So shouts to our secret listener!
AXS: Does Curta have a goal in mind for the sound the band produces? Are there certain influences or themes the band tries to inject into its own music?
Jake: We are always changing as a soundscape. At least we make ourselves believe that. We are sometimes like, oh, wow, this kind of cloud rap sound would be cool to use for a song I wrote about someone that cannot escape their own pursuit of excess and is actually neglecting to live. But we don't do the formal type of music thing where bands are like, lets do a Bavarian ragtime shuffle beat for the drum fill. I respect bands like that but our main concern is just doing us right now. And I forgot to mention we aren't talented enough to do things intentionally. We have conceptual goals mostly. And they usually mutate to other things.
AXS: What projects are Curta currently working on?
Jake: We are in the midst of a follow-up release to last year’s Broken Machine. Also a lot of our musician friends are remixing the instrumentals from Broken Machine so we are going to release an instrumental mix with all these collaborations from awesome Denver bands. Have gotten a few back and they are sounding sweet.
AXS: For the UMS attendee who has never seen or heard Curta, what would you tell them to entice them to watch your set?
Jake: I would say that aside from the pyrotechnics, pole dancers, and t-shirt guns that are at every Curta show, we are also pretty decent folk to spend a half hour with.
AXS: What would Curta’s ideal live show look like?
Jake: We don't have any ideals because right now we are just playing as much as we can and not turning anything down. Our focus is on getting confident enough as a band to turn any situation into an ideal show, or at least an alright show. We like to play with lots of different bands and enjoy an eclectic bill. Our friends that are musicians sound nothing like us and there is a mutual respect for each others oddities that makes it such a fun clique to be a part of. We just want to leave the stage sweaty and feeling empty/exhausted inside, knowing that we did our job. If I can make someone laugh or scream at some point I feel good because I am desperate for acceptance like that.
AXS: Besides your upcoming performance at the UMS, what other shows are you looking forward to this summer?
Jake: We are lining up a couple shows in August. They will be announced soon.