Interview by Bre Cura and Matt Davis
Photos by Bre Cura
Article by Amanda Sigman
A hardcore kid at heart with a passion for punk, Curtis McDevitt truly branched out of his typical work with his solo project, Curty. This EP, Transyldelphia, takes a unique twist, as it was inspired by both his own life and his favorite genre of movies, horror. Drawing sounds and feels from both real life and cinema, Curty created a 5 track EP that takes listeners on a journey of self-reflection. We had the opportunity to sit down with Curty and learn more about his journey in the music industry as well as personal influences! Read more below.
Tell us about yourself. How did you get into music?
“I’ve been playing and listening to music my entire life. I started taking guitar lessons when I was 6 but didn’t start writing music until I was like high school. I played in a bunch of bands, up until now. I’m still playing in hardcore bands and punk bands and stuff like that but sometime in high school I started writing my own solo music. I didn’t really know what to do with it and then 2 years ago I had a class that was Ableton based (which is like electronic and stuff). I never really made beats or composed music on anything. I would always just write with instruments and stuff. I made a beat for a project, had a friend rap on it for a requirement, and I was like I hear a part here so why don’t I try it. I ended up trying it. That song is so goofy now, but I guess that’s kind of where the Curty thing started (being a solo musician I guess), but it’s changed a lot since then.”
How did you land on Curty?
“People have been calling me Curty since middle school. It felt like it kind of just stuck so when it came time to choose a name it felt appropriate.”
Tell us about your sound? How would you describe your sound?
“I could try. It might sound corny. It’s a blend between hip hop and well, I like to think I incorporate a little bit of folk into my music. This EP that I’m putting is the first thing that I’ve worked on that has been super personal and has meant something to me instead of working with other people. It’s been way different.”
So, you say you’re inspired by horror films. How does that theme of horror play a role in your music?
“The fact that things can be scary without it being graphic. Life can just be scary.”
Describe yourself as one horror film character.
“I’m so bad at names, but I guess the little boy in The Shinning. I feel like he has a balance of being naive and self-aware. He can know what’s gonna happen but I guess he’s not doing everything in his power to prevent it. That’s kinda how I’m living. I can see all the faults. When something bad happens I think I should have known that was going to happen but was I going to do anything to stop it? No.“
Tell us about the EP coming out!
“So, I started working on the record like in April of this year. Just kind of writer’s block. I didn’t know what I wanted the sound to be or if I wanted to continue music under this project in general. I was having a really hard time with where I was at. Being in Philly, not knowing if I really belonged here, low on mental health. I finished most of the songs in July and August. It’s really just a reflection of who I think I am. A little bit of some unhealthy overanalyzing. Trying to be certain about things I know I’ll never be certain about.”
Favorite songs off it?
“I really love the first song, “TRANSYLDELPHIA”, and the last song, “NEWNIGHTMARE.” I feel like those really mean the most to me.”
How does being a hardcore kid play into your music or do you think it’s completely separate than that?
“I definitely take some influences. I feel like it was with guitar a lot on this record. The production style of that. I’ve been mixing and recording and mastering for all my other records. Figuring out what words for that and trying to implement into this and make it work. I felt like I was able to understand where the extremes of things are. When I’m writing hardcore, well I was a vocalist for a few projects and through writing lyrics I could find myself really hyping things up and being over the top. I felt like I could take what I learned from that and apply it to this and figure out where the middle ground is.”
What is drawing you towards a slow electronic project vs. a guitar band?
“I’m still playing with all the bands. I just wanted to have full control. I heard the sounds I just wanted full creative control over that. I’m still writing so much music with other people, I just wanted something that was mine.”
Have there been any big moments that have driven you to really focus on this project? Any cool moments?
“Well I was putting out singles earlier this year, just like hip hop stuff, SoundCloud rap, stuff like that and I was just doing it for fun. The first song I put out, we made a music video for it in like 3 hours and I was like ‘I’m just gonna put it out.’ It got a bunch of plays and people were texting saying it was super cool. I put out a few more songs and made a few more videos and people were like ‘When’s it coming? When’s the next EP?’ I didn’t really have plans for anything. I guess that’s kinda where the writer’s block came from. I really wanted to get something out there and people were telling me to get something out there, but I had no clue what I could even do.”
Was it nerve-racking venturing into that new territory?
“Yeah. I am so uncertain about everything. Everything is so scary. I flip back and forth between loving and hating these songs every single day. It’s crazy. Getting feedback from what you’re working on is hard. Someone will be like, ‘Maybe you can try this’ but like you could be really zoned in on what you hear, regardless if it’s good or bad, and you won’t even realize it at the time because this is what I’m making. That’s what’s been hard. Taking criticisms, learning from my own mistakes. I did so many rounds of masters on this record and I was like, I’m just making this worse I need to start over.”
Would you call yourself a DIY musician? If so, do you like it?
“Yeah. This whole EP is produced by me, mixed by me, mastered by me. It’s been fun. I’m definitely down to collaborating. I’m working on a few songs right now that are made by other people. But for as far as records go, I want to keep it to me. I feel like it’s the easiest thing for me. If I collaborate on something that I’m really attached to, I might start comparing myself to the other people on it. I feel like there’s actually like a level to compare yourself to.”
Favorite horror movies?
“Pumpkin Head. Candy Man. I think my all-time favorite is Nightmare on Elm Street. I talk about it in the last line of my EP. I kind of wish I could go back to old times. How the song opens is I’m 9 years old and my dad put on Nightmare on Elm Street and I heard Thriller by Michael Jackson that day. It was real close to Halloween. I had to work on Halloween this year and last year. Just like every year my favorite holiday starts to feel less and less what it felt like to me before. It’s kind just wishing.“
“My friends kind of inspire me to do a lot. I see so many of them doing great things. Some of my friends are doing solo stuff too and for a while I was watching them do it and thinking ‘I want to do this too.’ They’ve been helping me every step of the way. it’s awesome to see that they care so much about what I’m doing like how I care about them.
A bunch of other musical influences too. Gabi, my publicist, put me on to Bon Iver. The only things I listen to now are Brockhampton and Bon Iver.”
How has being in Philly helped or hurt you music wise?
“It’s been great because I met so many people that have supported me. I’ve been able to make so many new friends just by being here and going to school here and going to other shows. So many of my earlier punk projects wouldn’t be a thing if it weren’t for like all the houses in West Philly or all the Facebook groups. I would post in those Facebook groups all the time if I had like a hardcore EP coming out and hit people up all the time and ask when they could get me in a show next. I like being here, but I think it’s not really good for me. I don’t even know why that is. I’ve been trying to figure it out. I think it’s what I’ve been trying to do with this record honestly. I just feel alone. I feel like even when things are going right, it doesn’t feel perfect. I don’t even know if it’s because I’m here. I don’t know if it’s Philly in general. It could just be me. But, I’m kinda scared it’s gonna be this way everywhere I go. I guess this is just a step in the process.“
Do you think writing music helps you explore those feelings?
“When it works, yeah. A lot of the time I find myself frustrated that I can’t articulate what I’m feeling.”
The more you make music, do you find it easier to articulate those things?
“No. I wish. I actually think it’s kinda gotten harder just because I’m thinking about what I’m doing way more. Instead of wanting to put out music, I want to put myself into the music and then worry about it later. I want to feel what I’m making instead of just making.”
So, what’s the next step for you?
“We’re doing a bunch of shows. I think we’re gonna do a tour in February and March. Release show on the day the EP comes out.”
Make sure to stream Curty’s new EP Transyldelphia here!
To catch all of Curty’s future releases, follow him on Instagram!