Curxes consist of two ambitious musicmakers named Roberta Fidora and Macaulay Hopwood, whom according to themselves play something named “doom-pop“. Up until now they’ve released two singles named Creatures/Jaws and The Constructor. When they released the song Haunted Gold with a precision ridden stop-motion movie, everyone was in awe – not only because of the pretty visuals but because of Fidoras singing and the general feel to the song. I got the opportunity to interview these two wonderful human beings about their past escapades, what decade of music they prefer, what they’ve got in store for the near future and much more. Don’t miss this one, it’s going to be a good ride!
Why did you pick the name Curxes? Do you have any background story about it?
Mac: – Our previous band was looking for a name change and we had a song called The Curse. Said band didn’t last long enough to use it, but we liked the moniker ‘Curses’ so thought it would work with the new venture instead. To save getting mixed up with other bands, we put a special ‘x’ in there. Fortunately it worked and it made us easy to Google, which is nice.
Roberta: – Not only that, but I thought it was an apt way of describing how we ended up branching out by ourselves. We’ve had several comments about the spelling as well, but we’re enjoying the speculation too much to tell everyone what the ‘X’ means, haha!
It feels as if Robertas vocals are influenced very much by Siouxsie from Siouxsie and the Banshees. It’s especially noticable in the song Haunted Gold. What impact have she had on you both vocally speaking and personally?
Mac: – Absolutely none at all. It’s coincidence that Roberta’s voice sounds like Siouxsie’s and people have made the comparison so we just run with it. We’ve listened to them since and enjoy what they do.
Roberta: – I’m ashamed to admit when I played my first ever gig in the old band several years ago, a friend in the audience said we sounded a lot like Siouxsie and the Banshees and I had to look them up. After that, I did a lot of research on the band and Siouxsie herself and realised just how significant a contribution she made not only to the punk scene, but in empowering front-women everywhere and giving them the right to be opinionated. Unfortunately for Mac, I’ve never forgotten about that last bit.
What kind of equipment are you using for live-shows and what equipment did you use in the studio when producing your first EP?
Mac: – For live shows we use synthesizers and guitars with the drum beats on a backing track. In the studio we like to be as experimental as possible, just because we can. We know that everything produced there can be on a backing track live so we make our songs out of all sorts of odd objects, Indian drums, keys, pens, etc. We still use the traditional instruments in the studio too, though.
Roberta: – On the synth and tech side, we’re using a Roland JP8000, an iPod (for now) and a Roland D-50 which looks a little worse for wear, due to the two of the keys being cracked. When I bought it second-hand, it was being kept in this awful broken flight case which had nails sticking out from the lining. We’ll probably spruce it up again when we’ve got some free time.
How much time and effort did it go into the making of the video for your song Haunted Gold?
Roberta: – It took eight weeks, many cups of Earl Grey and a great deal of patience. You might spot a few deliberate references to our favourite designers or art projects in there too, like The Small Stakes, Notations 21 and most of all, Reasons To be Cheerful: The Life & Work of Barney Bubbles. I thought the scanner would’ve packed up by the time it was all completed but it seems to be holding out so far.
What do you consider to be the main difference between the two singles Creatures/Jaws and The Constructor? How have you developed since the first release, and which one do you prefer yourselves?
Mac: – We’ve developed a lot since the first single, mainly because we’ve gained confidence in what we’re doing and so have been more adventurous. I think that comes across when comparing the first and latest releases. My personal favourite is Haunted Gold, though that’s likely to change. Whenever we record a song it becomes my new favourite.
Roberta: – I’d say the fundamental difference between the two tracks is the lyrical content. The Constructor was referring to something quite insular, whereas Creatures/Jaws were both written with situations or external sci-fi influences in mind. The Constructor is my favourite to listen back to but Creatures is my favourite to play, although that might change when we give Haunted Gold the first live outing…
I like what you’ve written in a part of your biography on MySpace: “channeling the ghosts of discothèques past“. Does this essentially mean that your music was meant for a club-environment or am I wrong? Could you explain it more throughout?
Mac: – It feels at home in a dingy underground basement, but equally a dark club with flashing strobe lights would suit too. The phrase basically means we are influenced by artists who emerged as part of an important cultural movement and have since passed into electronic music history.
Roberta: – I suppose we wanted to acknowledge our influences (Depeche Mode, The Cure, etc) and the impact they had in a socio-cultural sense but in such a way that was short, concise and perhaps even slightly romantic.
What is your opinion on the music industry nowadays?
Roberta: – There’s a lot of doom & gloom surrounding the current state of the music industry, but the negative press is really only indicative of a couple of the major labels who alienated their audience over the whole downloading debacle. For bands and independent labels though, I think however tough things seem, it’s actually quite an exciting time. There aren’t any restrictions on how creative you can be and the indie labels seem to be on the same wavelength as their audience, like Domino, Mute et al. You can tell they care about the music they release. That attitude and the inclination to build a little musical community is something we can really appreciate and align ourselves with too. It makes the whole thing seem more like a collective that way.
Mac: – Where to start? It’s changing very rapidly and rules that may have applied even 5 years ago are now redundant. The charts are saturated with products, not music. But fans of proper music don’t listen to the charts, it’s all through the Internet or evening radio. It’s tough to get anywhere but nice to see artists succeed by themselves. It’s cut throat though and moves extremely quickly, so people will forget about you in 6 months if you don’t put yourself in front of them all the time. That even applies to major artists like Lady Gaga. Did she fade from public consciousness between her first and third album?
Obviously when listening to music you must get something out of it. Could you describe what kind of feelings you get out of listening to different artists and bands? What feeling have been the most worthwhile and what band or artist made that feeling surface?
Roberta: – The song “This Woman’s Work” by Kate Bush is a song I always go back to on a bad day, though Godspeed You! Black Emperor was a popular choice when I used to travel to a horrible job on the bus. On the flipper, Erasure and Pet Shop Boys get me motivated and Pulp or early M83 may work for the gentleman seducers out there, haha.
What do you consider to be most influential musically speaking. The music itself or the aesthetics behind it? What would be the main influence, both musically speaking and aesthetically? Does it derive from the aesthetic influences of other bands or does it just come naturally with the musical influences?
Roberta: – The music should always be paramount, although they do feed into each other so wonderfully. You can form some of your songs from the art and aesthetics of yesteryear or you can introduce another aspect of your character or viewpoint through a visual element. It shouldn’t be forced though – much as musical notation represents the system of notes making up the composition, any visual content should be representative of the song elements and not just for the purpose of being flashy.
I have this feeling that music in the 80s and 90s were better than now in the 21st century. Somehow the bands and artists of those decades and even before that had some longevity to their production. Now I feel that there’s really few bands that are or will become timeless classics. Do you agree or disagree?
Mac: – I disagree. The quality of music is just as prevalent now as it was in the 80s and 90s because people need to try so much harder to get noticed. There’s also huge expectation to deliver a developed act straight away. In the 70s and 80s you could produce a first album that didn’t sell and the record company would keep you on. Now you get dropped if you don’t sell 50,000 records. In terms of production, agreeably the recording sounded nicer because artists recorded on analogue equipment, whereas now it’s so easy to self produce with digital. Of course there are pros and cons with this; it’s cheaper and faster but lacks a lot of the soul and warmth of analogue. Artists are unlikely to become timeless now because they’re so pressurized from the start that they don’t have time to develop, there are simply too many about, and the audience have heard everything before. If Tainted Love were to be released now would it be a hit?
Roberta: – I’m going to be controversial and say that I think music was better in the 60s, late 70s and 80s because you had the golden age of pop and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop in full swing. Then there were the social commentaries of punk and early synthesizer music in the late 70s, not to mention the postmodernist art and design influenced by the disillusion of the 80s. Those scenes or movements were born from the changing faces of politics, attitudes and what was socially acceptable and it must have been incredibly exciting to be part of that the first time around. I agree with Mac about the production too, we prefer some of the methods employed to create particular sounds, which is probably most evident on “Haunted Gold”.
What would be your dream line-up if you’d get to choose anyone, live or dead to join you on a future tour?
Mac: – It’s that difficult question of whether you’d want to support, or be supported, but mine would consist of the big hitters; Queen, The Beatles, The Smiths, Radiohead. Not necessarily in that order.
Roberta: – I’d love to say Kate Bush, Pet Shop Boys and Depeche Mode, but I think Fad Gadget if he was with us now with NIN and The Cure would work better in a live sense. We’d go on early, obviously.
If you had to do a split-CD with a maximum of three other artists and bands, what would then be your ultimate pick?
Mac: – Good question! Mew, The Knife and Depeche Mode (the DM from the 80s of course).
Roberta: – J.S. Bach, Vince Clarke & Giorgio Moroder. They’d be a splendid mix.
Do you have anything out of the ordinary to tell the Invisible Guy? I’m thinking about what’s happening for you in the near future, any new release on the way?
Roberta: – We’re looking for alternative places to play other than the usual gig venues, such as old buildings, galleries and cinemas, but that’s still at the research stage and I’m about to start work on another animation soon too, though the idea is slightly mad! Prior to that, we’ve got the Haunted Gold release online and on vinyl. We’re really excited about the vinyl actually. I saved up to have them made and designed the sleeve, then Mac and our friends at a design agency helped prepare it all to go to press. They’re called Bonzo Creative, so we’d like to say a big thanks to them.
And now for the less musically-oriented questions. What would you consider to be an average day and what would be a great day?
Mac: – Average would be juggling the demanding day job whilst constantly having music on the brain. A great day would be spent recording in the studio from dawn to dusk. Recording is my favourite part of the whole thing.
Roberta: – On an average day, probably falling asleep and waking up to a blank computer screen, both writing/animation wise and on a great day, sharing a track we’ve been working on in the studio and seeing what happens. In addition to that, love playing live, even if I get nervous to the point of sickness.
Do you have any great everyday stories to tell me? Or for that matter – really crazy stories from your lives?
Mac: – I brushed up against a Bond girl at a fashion party in Claridges. That was pretty surreal. I have officially touched up a Bond girl.
Roberta: – We almost joined a band with Tony Hadley’s son-in-law and talked about flashing suits but decided that ultimately, our music didn’t really fit with what was required. We also recorded a jazz version of The Constructor for a cat food advert. Ok, I may have made up the cat food one.
What are your last word of wisdom?
Mac: – More tea vicar.
Roberta: – Stick to your guns (metaphorically speaking) and be courteous in all situations. It’s goodnight from me…
Mac: – …and it’s goodnight from her.
Here’s Curxes song Haunted Gold:
You can find them over here: