Name: Luca Venezia aka Curses
Occupation: DJ, producer, musician
Current release: Curses' Next Wave Acid Punx is out now on Eskimo. A 3CD collection of past and present material, it follows the historical development of New Beat, Electro, EBM, New Wave and Dark Disco, while also offering a glimpse into the future.
If you enjoyed this interview with Curses, visit his website, bandcamp account of Facebook page. We also previously spoke to Curses about DJing.
In an interview, you mentioned you were re-reading "1984". Interestingly, your recent compilation Next Wave Acid Punx, goes back in time pretty much exactly to that year. In terms of the music, what's your take on that year? Did Orwell's dark predictions manifest themselves in sound somehow?
1984 was such a heavy and impactful year worldwide. Fear of nuclear war, the AIDS epidemic was rising, gender roles were being blurred by artists like Boy George and Annie Lennox, but many of the dystopian warnings didn’t come to fruition from Orwell’s "’84" until 2020 hit.
Orwell predicted the censorship battles and control of artistic expression, and music was the true “freedom of expression.” I think music has kept us all very sane throughout this pandemic, and brought us together, hopeful for change and resolution.
The mid to late 80s are a fascinating time, with many new styles appearing, flowering and then mostly ebbing away in the clubs. In the beginning, at least, genres were not as solidified as they are today, with DJs spinning different styles side by side. For you personally, does that period embody a certain ideal in a way?
I relate heavily to this style of DJing and not being afraid to mix different genres. Mixing songs with a playful energy, selecting tracks by mood and attitude was commonplace. I also respect and appreciate the hypnotic architectural approach with a techno set, building layers of sound with the tracks, but I personally relate more to this 80’s rooted genre-mixing way of DJing. It feels closer to playing an instrument, a more live band approach.
Many of the productions on your compilation, such as the Suicide piece for example, still sound visionary today. Why has this music proven to be so particularly timeless, do you feel?
Suicide’s music helped build my confidence in combining both a passion for electronic music and rock n roll. Before discovering them, I felt as if I had to live a double life ... one day I was a punk skater goth, the next I was a raver. It all changed after I heard the song "Dream baby Dream".
The early 80s in NYC were a crazy time. The rich were rich and the poor were very poor. This struggle and divide created a visceral spark in the arts, and the DIY- and raw attitude of Suicide was something that came out of this urban cauldron. They were hated at the time, but they were doing what they loved.
I believe timelessness can only happen if you do what you love, without worry of what others think. Eventually that love becomes contagious.
This music on Next Wave Acid Punx stands for an intriguing relationship between man and machine, seemingly a very different one from today … How would you describe it?
Whether its a New Beat track from Belgium like "BPM AM", where you hear the samples clipping when triggered, or the witchy cosmic vocals of Fantastic Twins on a driving beat by Juan MaClean … there’s this uninhibited energy that is powerful, and comes from the relationship between human and machine working together. Unlike some forms of techno or house today, the monotony of loops can loose that emotion of human element, and all of the songs on Next Wave Acid Punx have some sort of human chemistry with machines, one way or another.
In the press release, you mention that the tracks are held together by a common attitude. Can you talk about that a little more, please – especially in how far it influences your own work?
Taking a DIY approach to writing and tapping into the subconscious brings me back to that innocence of youth again, conjuring up the free spirit, the punk energy of feeling uninhibited.
Giving the song a language, an identity, a purpose to spark emotion or conjure dreams through honest delivery becomes contagious. When I write lyrics, I sing gibberish, nonsense, speak in tongues. Then I listen back to everything and discover the words my subconscious was trying to deliver to me.
The context and meaning of the song usually comes to light after it's released, and I've performed it multiple times. Something unexplainable clicks and I understand my subconscious self, giving the song and lyrics a new life.
There is a fine line between cultural exchange and appropriation. What are your thoughts on the limits of copying, using cultural signs and symbols and the cultural/social/gender specificity of art – especially with regards to the subsequent use of certain tropes and sounds from these underground tracks in mainstream productions?
I think it’s very important to respect and understand context when it comes to something like, sampling whether it be visual or sonic. I come from the habit of championing your predecessors in art. When you sample something, you are sampling what that particular person's state of mind, struggle, or happiness was at the time of recording. There are a lot of questionable vocal samples in some EDM, and classic 90s house music riffs completely stolen with no remorse. It's actually a big pet peeve when I hear a killer 80s or 90s classic totally redone to some bad autotune vox on the radio today. Let it's original magic exist as it was meant to be.
Some of the styles disappeared from sight for a while. Where would you personally go to hear them?
Not for me? If something fades from the popular attention, it doesn’t mean there aren’t smaller clubs still playing the styles, and of course there are so many powerful communities and forums online who cater to every sort of niche sub-culture sonics. Discord especially has many nice ones. Ca†acombclub, LOST FUTURE, to name a few ...
What makes Next Wave Acid Punx such a great release is the inclusion of a disc of brand new, yet musically related tracks. How do you see the future for the attitude and music contained on it?
Impactful music sparks memories for me. Attachment. New emotion mixed with nostalgia. The innovation will only work if you use nostalgia as an influence rather than a motive. I love how the wax niche genres always move in cycles, come and go and return reincarnated with a twist. I see this heavily now with EBM and Italo.
I have to say though ... there is a very fine line with music inspired by the 80s, compared to music trying to sound like it was made in the 80s. Don’t imitate, use an era as an influence to create a future nostalgia that hasn’t happened yet.