Little Village Magazine: Interview with Russ Curry
by Michael Helke
This is the full, untrammeled, but still edited-for-clarity interview which is the basis for the Curious Music story in Little Village.
By Michael Helke
MH: How far back does Curious Music go?
RC: Curious Music goes, as far as it actually existing, back to the late Eighties, to about 2000, 2001. It had a thirteen- or fourteen-year run, coming out of college for me, and then I shut it down for about seventeen years, and fired it back up in 2016. So it has had two lives, in a sense.
MH: What precipitated your walking away the first time around?
RC: Because — and this has changed a little bit — two things: one, there just wasn’t a large enough for the type of work, the genres, the styles of music, the artists that I’m working with it — the market and audience for that work was just super-small, back in the Nineties, for example. And now it’s growing, and it’s bigger, and it’s a little easier to communicate because of technology. That’s one of the reasons. And I knew there was a market for these special vinyl packages and things like that.
The second thing was, there was no e-mail; cell phones just starting to come in; no Internet, back when I was doing most of my work. It was very, very difficult to reach even a small audience, and, heaven forbid, growan audience, at that time. It was really hard. That has changed, of course, now. But there’s still the problem of every person on earth composes ambient music now [laughter] or electronic music, you know. That’s why I walked away: it was just too hard to reach and grow the audience. I thought we were doing great work, and I still — I always try to work with music that I think is amazing, but you have to be able to sustain that financially, or it’s ultimately a waste of time, if it’s not worthwhile in that respect as well, in addition to being creative work.
MH: When you started the first time, did you follow the same course as now or was your musical focus different?
RC: I would say the core of Curious Music has always been the same, in pursuing music, first and foremost, that I like. There’s really no more complicated answer than that; and I’ve always tried to work with artists and musicians that I enjoy working with and that I think do really interesting work that can be turned into meaningful, artful products. I would say, for both iterations of Curious Music, that’s always been true. My focus, when I relaunched in 2016, has been to at least try to create these beautiful, little, artful products that are special, limited-edition things, works of art themselves, in addition to the music that’s being presented. That’s been my intention; and, in line with that, I felt the audience that would like my work moving forward would be an audience similar to those that would be interested in things going on in museums, especially more forward-thinking museums. That’s one of the reasons, for example, you see The Roedelius Cells at the Figge [Museum, in Davenport, IA, 225 W 2ndSt], because I want to work more in that roughly, general realm, and create these things that are special and meaningful to people, as opposed to just being a record label. I’ve never viewed Curious Music as just a record label. I would say those are the similarities and differences between the two times I did Curious Music.
MH: Tim Story has done a special printing of The Roedelius Cells on CD. What do you think of that single work as opposed to the eight-speaker installation that ran at the Figge [from 27 to 29 September]?
RC: I would view that more as a document of the Cells installation, as opposed to a replica or a true representation of The Roedelius Cells. I mean, you experienced firsthand —
RC: — what The Roedelius Cells is like; and that obviously can’t be captured on a CD.
MH: No. [The Roedelius Cells is a collection of tapes of the piano music of Hans-Joachim Roedelius, some lasting about a minute in length, some no more than a second, which Story played simultaneously through eight speakers. The artistic intent was that the music would change in relation to where the listener stood inside the ring of speakers. By the listeners’ proximity to the speakers, no two experiences of the Cells can theoretically be the same.]
RC: So that, obviously, isn’t going to happen. [laughter] That’s more of a document or a memento of the event, I would call that CD.
MH: I was wondering if you had a bunch of people who had that work downloaded onto their phones, and they set them up just so, so they could do their own rogue Roedelius Cells.
RC: You bet! And people have done that, going — I mean, it’s gone back — cassette culture, you know, at least thirty or forty years. Back in the mid-Nineties, back when I took Cluster on a tour of North America, we almost did a — it was called a “cassette concert” by Conrad Schnitzler. That was going to be the opening act. With that, it was four or five cassettes of music of, like, sine-waves, almost, that were in five different boom-boxes. We would give people the boom-boxes and then they would walk around to open the evening through the venue, and they would create a unique work of art each time. So, in theory, it’s somewhat similar to The Roedelius Cells. But this is back in the mid-Nineties; and there’s been stuff like that going on for — you know, back to the Futurists and Dada, back to the Twenties and Teens.
MH: The Flaming Lips came up with [their version of] that concept [for 1997’s Zaireeka, a four-CD album, intended to be heard by playing all four CDs in four separate CD players simultaneously] —
RC: Yep, I’m aware of that one, too. That idea, which I’m quite attracted to, actually, I like: it’s really unique and interesting. The challenge of that, of course, is to capture and memorialize that, whether it’s a CD or vinyl, or even a digital version. To put that together and make that be something that is artistically of interest after the event is tough to do. In a way, that’s sort of cool: I like the idea of — you have this artistic, creative, enjoyable moment that exists only at that moment, and then it’s done; and it’ll never be back again. [laughter] And you can record it, but it’ll never be what it was at that moment. I like those ideas. That’s one of the, I would say tenets of Curious Music, is capturing the moment. It’s sort of related to — you know, I release both new albums and reissues, and when I reissue albums from the past, I’m not really doing it in a nostalgic way. I’m trying to visualize what that moment was and then enhance it and re-present it, almost, so that it’s another moment. I would use the example of [Harold Budd’s] Luxa, which is the last vinyl album that I put out. [Luxa was released originally in 1996 on All Saints Records in the UK.] I view it as a snapshot of a moment, and I’m re-contextualizing that moment, and bringing it forth in a slightly different context, and trying to make it as beautiful and meaningful as it was originally.
MH: What did the original “moment” caught by Luxa meant to you versus what you’re doing with its re-contextualization?
RC:That’s a good question, and that cuts, actually, to the core of why I did it. Luxa is the perfect example, as Brian Eno [who is associated closely with All Saints] has collaborated a number of times with Harold Budd. When that came out in ’96, I didn’t have anything to do with it; I of course just bought it and listened to it. But I always felt, when that album came out, it came out as a CD-only release, and it’s just beautiful, beautiful music. I always felt, going almost back to the day that I first encountered it, that it was under-represented visually. It had a beautiful cover, it had beautiful titles, and the music itself was beautiful; but I didn’t feel that it was represented well. I’ve always thought that one of the key reasons that I re-initiated Curious Music, I always thought albums and records and artistic projects, or whatever you want to call it, and this is a perfect example, should be presented in the most beautiful way that they can be appreciated on a number of levels: visually, musically, artistically — and there’s even, to me, there’s a relationship between the work that I do on Curious Music and things like architecture and all that stuff, where a good architect is trying to create something that is aesthetically beautiful in addition to being functional, and ticking all of those type of boxes. So that is what I do, or at least attempt to do, on each Curious Music release. Luxais the perfect example of something that I saw from 1996 and I said to myself, “I can make this into a beautifully-produced, artful work. In addition to the fact that the music, the record, the sounds are art, I can make something beautiful out of this.” I think I’ve probably ninety-two percent [laughter] succeeded. I find problems with all my records after I put them out, just like anyone else does when they put stuff out. That is a great example; and I do that with my other ones, too: I think [the re-release of] Buzzle [by Tim Story, originally from 2007 on Barking Green/Nepenthe Music] and Inlandish [by Hans-Joachim Roedelius, 2011, Groenland Records] in particular came out very well. But I’m trying to take them from a wonderful piece of work that I don’t think has been fully realized to something that is a work of art, that’s — I use the term “museum-worthy” [laughter], partially tongue-in-cheek when I say that, but not completely tongue-in-cheek — and so I want something that a person can appreciate on a number of different fronts, just like good architecture or good design. I have an iPhone in my hand right now, and it is an incredibly functional piece of work that helps me in my work life. I’m looking at my MacBook right now, and these are amazing tools that help me run my business, but they’re beautiful works of art as well. That iPhone is an example, and a little bit of a corollary, of what I try to do [laughter] on my releases.
MH: What about the specific inspiration that Luxa conferred upon you initially?
RC: It started with the music. I love Harold Budd’s music —
MH:Was there an emotional connection of some sort, or an aesthetic connection?
RC: Absolutely. In the case of Harold specifically, whose music I grew up with — going back to when I was probably twelve years old, I grew up in the Midwest, and, you know, when I was twelve or thirteen, I was one of those people, and kids have these epiphanies sometimes, where, growing up in the Midwest, you sometimes look around and everything seems grey and conformist and samey and things like that. When you’re twelve, and you’re getting into your teens, and, you’re starting to see things differently, and understand, you know, slowly understand a little bit more about the world, that was when I encountered these wonderfully weird works of arts by the Surrealists or, you know, photographers like Edward Weston or Claude Cahun, and then some of this really beautifully weird music that lit a real fire within me and was much different to what I was exposed to in the Midwest, you know, being twelve or thirteen years old, like Foghat, Boston [laughter], you know, all those things that are classic rock now and still exist and are still very prevalent. I have since learned to appreciate the music of Boston, in a different way, but that’s another story. But Harold Budd, and people like him, created this wonderful music that I would say a defining characteristic that touched me at that time and still does is that I’m drawn to music that is extremely original, much different than anything else that is around, and seems to have its own internal language of a sort; and Harold’s music is like that very much, and it’s very beautiful, too. From the time I was about twelve or thirteen and I first encountered Harold’s music and Brian Eno and Kraftwerk and Cluster and all that German electronic music — that had a tremendous impact on me, particularly being a young boy in the Midwest. It had a tremendous impact on me.
I’ve always been a big fan of Harold’s music — it’s meant a lot to me — and so, encountering Luxa, when that came out, you know, most of his albums when they came out, I would buy them and love them; and particularly I love Luxa, the minimalism, the — it’s not really abstract music, but it’s extremely original. You can’t really compare it to other music. It’s lumped into other things, but it doesn’t really fit into anything, which is one of things I love about music. So when Luxacame out, I did have an emotional connection. I was already a Harold Budd fan: I knew I was probably going to like it; and that album in particular I did love — it’s probably my favorite Harold Budd album — and so it was an honor and a pleasure when, as years go by, you know, here we are, twenty years later, and I actually had the opportunity to create — or, as I said earlier, re-create — I would call it “creating another moment” rather than “recreate or relive the moment of 1996”; to revisit what it was that inspired me in that album, which was the beauty of the music — and the titles, too, I must say; and in the case of Luxa, the original cover photo, which is a Polaroid, I’ve always thought was just gorgeous, but I never thought it was presented well; and so this is one of many examples where I’ve said to myself, “I can do this better” [laughter] “than it has been done”; and I think I have. And I re-did the cover without any text on it, when I did the vinyl. I think it looks gorgeous: the cover looks beautiful without any text on it. That’s the inspiration; there was an emotional context. I have to be attracted to and in love with and emotionally connected to any work that I’m doing, any collaboration I’m doing with an artist, with a musician, with a graphic designer — anyone I’m collaborating with, I really have to be passionate enough about the work that they’re doing, and I have to have an easygoing working relationship, or I will shut it down!
MH: With regards to your re-releases, did you have to do any mollifying of any of the original principals involved, be it on the design end or the production or what-have-you?
RC: I’m not — how should I say it — I’m not too precious about re-arranging things. I don’t worry about that. Luxa is an example where I fairly substantially redesigned it. I pretty much redesigned it from scratch. Actually, the only thing on the Luxavinyl design that’s the same is the cover, but even the cover’s been modified; and, more or less, some of the color and shading, the schemes I used. But other than that, I completely redesigned the layout of Luxa. I’m fairly lucky: even this, I mean, just like — and you understand this, Michael: when you’re working with folks who are creative, they don’t always think in the most, how shall I say it, linear fashion [laughter], and so I try to make sure — and I have a little bit of that in me as well — but I try to make sure that collaborate with people that I have easygoing working relationships with, and I am honored when I can work with an artist and they trust my vision and my passion that I can bring to their work, whether or not it’s a new release or it’s a reissue. I view the work that I do on my labels as a, first, a creative collaboration with the artist, and then second, there’s the business/commerce side of it, and I never have trouble pivoting between the two, and a lot of artists have trouble pivoting between the two, because it’s not their nature; but it’s a great honor for me to work with these musicians and, for the most part, they trust me with their babies and allow me to pursue my vision: for example, like re-designing the Luxa cover, which I think is creative work that I do; but it’s in collaboration with them; and I get probably my greatest pleasure from Curious Music within those collaborations.
MH: You had mentioned having seen some acts go under because of their failure to deal adequately with the business side of music. From your vantage point, do you think that the generations coming up are much savvier and less prone to financial disaster, or do you see the “artist-slash-businessman” paradigm is still firmly in place, and not going anywhere anytime soon?
RC: I would say both. Many, many of the artists that I have seen, and some of the artists that I have worked with, are truly, deeply creative people, and they make work that I think that is spectacular and original — but that’s what they do. And they’ve either been screwed because of their own ignorance and/or because they don’t have any interest in the business side of their work, which I think is an absolute shame. So there’s good and bad if you’re a music-maker now, particularly if you’re a new music-maker. You’ve met my daughter; she’s in her twenties. The folks that are her age — due to technology, and several other reasons, too, but primarily technology, anyone can be a musician and a composer. You can do that in your bedroom or in your basement — anyone can do it, okay? And everyone doesdo it! [laughter] I view that as a negative. It’s positive in theory, because people that are inspired and truly creative, truly original, can make music on their MacBook or however they can get it out to the world — and they can reach me in Coralville, Iowa, fifteen minutes after they make it. I view that as a negative, because everyone is doing it, and the universe is so crowded with music and creative artistic work that I don’t think is of true, intrinsic merit. People make it because they like the idea of being an artist or they like the idea of being creative — but they don’t have that creativity within that I think produces good work. I think that’s pretty common. The positive side is that the people in their twenties and thirties and teens now, part of their nature is to understand how things like Spotify and iTunes and Bandcamp and stuff like that work. Most of it’s technology-related, in there is a commerce framework or template or chassis built into all of those things. If I’m twenty-one years old and I’m making music, I can put a track up on Bandcamp and sell it for ninety-nine cents. I can do that: I can sit down right now on my MacBook, I can make a three-minute track, and, an hour from now, I can have it on Bandcamp. So, just by the nature of the beast that exists these days, the folks that are younger or newer have savvier when it comes to the relationship between artistic creativity and commerce, okay? And the people I work with in their fifties and sixties and seventies, and even eighties — none of that was around [in their formative years]. So they would create a work of art — they would do it in a studio on reel-to-reel tape, and there was this long, laborious process to get it onto an album or a cassette or to potential customers, okay? It’s like night and day. And then there’s all this other stuff, like publishing and licensing rights, and even thatstuff is much easier to do now. There’s a plus and minus. I think it’s a net minus. It’s hard for me — I have people, certainly at least once a week, present music to me, and say, “Hey, would you like this?” or “Something you would think about for your label?” Most of it I don’t like because I don’t think it’s very interesting: I would say ninety-five percent of it, I don’t think it’s interesting. But every once in a while — I had this happen two months back — I hear something that I think is really good. Of course, that’s subjective; it’s just my opinion. But every once in a while, I come across something that is really interesting. But it’s so hard, even for me to find. I try to make sure my brain is not calcified; I try to keep an open mind and listen to music; and I would certainly be opening to putting brand-new things from brand-new artists out on my label. But it’s super-hard for me and that great piece of work to connect. [laughter] I know they’re out there, but it’s really hard to find.
MH: Because time is short, life is short, and there’s so much great music already we’re still scratching the surface on.
RC: I always feel like — even with the artists I currently work with or have worked with, there’s so much great stuff out there, there’s a lot more crap; and that’s the stuff that gets in the way. But you can’t blame people from wanting to be creative and wanting to try to do good work. I would never dissuade anyone from making music and trying to make an album or whatever, but you have to do all those things with your eyes open, because you’re probably not going to buy groceries with your income from making your first record on Bandcamp. But I don’t know!
MH: I think you’ve hit on the root of the matter with “interesting”, because I think it’s always been the case, really. Even when you go to a specific point in history, like the mid-Seventies, with the advent of punk, whose organizing principle was, “Let’s clear away the dead weight, the decadent, overblown, overproduced music, and get back to basics.” The form was sold as, “Anyone who has a guitar can be a musician”; and that went on for a while until people realized, just because you have a guitar, and perforce a musician, doesn’t automatically make you interesting. There are other things a person has to be aware of, like aesthetics, and one had better have a solid background in that if they are going to dare pick up an instrument and try to get my attention, anyway.
RC: I think all good artists share a, there’s a certain je ne se quois or something within what they do, something inside of them, which you can’t teach or your can’t — I don’t think you can really learn — that allows them to create something that’s very special; and Hans-Joachim Roedelius I would use as an example as someone who is definitely like that. He just has this ability, literally dripping off of his fingertips, to create music that, to me, is stunningly original and interesting. There are lots of others, but he’s someone that — it’s fairly obvious to me, and I know him very well, of course — but there’s a lot that don’t. That’s right. I tell — I have people ask me fairly frequently about the music business and things like that, and I tell them to be realistic, in that it is a gift if you are able to generate an income, let alone think about even making a living off of music. That is a tremendous gift. So don’t make your music for that purpose. [laughter] And I run into people who want to be musicians and want to do that as their calling in life, but I don’t think their music is very good; and so I warn them, not just because I don’t like it, but I warn them about trying to pursue a creative path as a way to fund your life, basically. That’s very, very rare.
MH: Our parents were right: we really do have to have a Plan B in place.
RC: You do; you’ve got to eat. You’ve got to choose — this is another thing I tell people — I talk to entrepreneur groups sometimes, too — and I say, “You have to choose the quality of life that you want to live. Do you want to drive a Volkswagen or do you want to drive a Volvo or a Tesla or a Porsche? What kind of house do you want to live in? How advanced do you want your TV to be?” Stuff like that. “You have to decide what you want, and then you have to figure out how you’re going to get that.” That gets into the conversation of materialism and all that stuff, too. But I try to recommend to musicians and creative folks that, be realistic on how you approach these things, because there’s a thousand other people that think their little ten-minute ambient track is really special. I could pull a thousand special ambient tracks up, made in the last week, on Bandcamp right now. [laughter] There are a lot of them up there.
MH: It’s good advice, but who knows that a particular musician might be in the chrysalis state of their talent, awaiting some sort of breakthrough, where experience hasn’t impinged itself upon them yet to allow them to make that creative left-turn at Albuquerque.
RC: I would never tell someone, “Your work completely sucks. You should quit.”
RC: I will tell people their music isn’t of interest of me, and I’ll explain why; but I’ll never, ever say to someone, “Your music is bad music.” Because I’ve encountered, on many occasions, someone whose earlier work I didn’t think wasn’t very interesting, made incredible work later on. You’re absolutely right. The creative muse and the passion and the ability to make interesting and original work can actually be inside of a person, gestating for quite a while. You’re absolutely right.
MH: I don’t think that I would personally have the guts to tell a person to his/her face, “Your music sucks.”
RC: I would never say it. Sometimes this does shock people, but I try to say it tactfully. I’ll tell someone if their work isn’t of interest to me, and I’ll explain to them why I’m not interested in it. It’s a little bit of tough love, but I think, ultimately, I’m fairly certain that person will appreciate what I say to them. Maybe not at that moment, but [laughter] a month later… I try to do it out of love and being thoughtful to that person. If I see someone going down the wrong path and they think they’re going to sell two thousand copies a month of something they’re doing, and I don’t think they’re going to, I will tell them that. But I won’t say, “Stop making music.”
MH: It would seem their instincts would serve them well to take your insights on board.
RC: Well, that’s why they ask me, because they know who I am and they know about my label, and they know the things that I do, so I try to — whenever somebody tries to give me something, I always try to listen to it, I try to give them as much time as I can, and I try to be thoughtful in my interactions with them. In this world, you know, going back to what we were talking about just a few minutes ago, anyone can communicate with anyone. I find, not only for my label, but as a person, it behooves you to give people your time, to be kind, to be thoughtful, to care, and people will do the same to you. That goes for Curious Music customers and the artists that I work with and the record-pressing plant and everyone I interact with. I try to be a kind, thoughtful person. I try to be a good business person and make good business decisions; but I have found, over time, that it pays to be thoughtful and caring to people. [laughter] I try to do that as often as I can. I’m not always like that, but I try to be!
MH: It’s a hard-won lesson. Morrissey was right: it takes guts to be kind.
RC: Yes. I would say — and I like some of Morrissey’s stuff more than others — but I would say he was exactly right. I tell people that once in a while. I say, “It’s easy to be disgruntled and unhappy and complain.” It takes real courage to be positive and to be kind and careful and thoughtful and try to be a little bit happy. That is where real strength is from.
MH: Going back a little to an earlier question, do you see a future in the type of format that Tim Story and you had set up with The Roedelius Cells, where fans are more interactive with their ownership of that work, or do you see something of that nature as being a complete one-off — as something that can’t be replicated? But with the music industry as it now stands — unsettled and unable to adapt more profitably to streaming services — do you see a way forward for how they can adapt?
RC: Yeah, I do. I think it’s quite obvious — you know, The Roedelius Cellsis one of many interactive ideas in ways to interface music and art, and the “consumer” or customer or the person or the patrons who are appreciating the art in an interactive way, and I absolutely see that becoming more and more common. There are literally hundreds of somewhat similar museum exhibits or things like that in museums all over the world, whether it be music or visual interface or sound or things like that. That’s a burgeoning area of art and art spaces and museums, and I see that becoming, and excitingly, more and more prevalent in the art world. For my label, I’m sure I will continue to have — there will be a growing interface between Curious Music and projects like that. With that, in fact, I’m working on two, possibly three, projects for 2019, where we will continue to work with museums. One would be — I wouldn’t call it more of a traditional context, but, as an example, I’m working with Kate St John [a composer, arranger, producer, and instrumentalist, who came to prominence with The Dream Academy in 1986, with their Number-Seven-charting single “Life in a Northern Town”, written as an elegy for Nick Drake] and Roger Eno [a distinguished composer in his own right from his brother, Brian Eno, with whom he’s nonetheless collaborated over the years]. I am working with them right now to come over here and to do maybe two or three small residencies in museums, where they come and play in small chamber settings and have a master class and things like that. It’s a different type of project than The Roedelius Cells, but it continues the collaboration between Curious Music and museums and art spaces, as opposed to just issuing records and distributing an album. The answer to your first part of your question is, yes, I see that technological interface continuing to develop, and also, be it my label or other entities, I see my label’s relationship continuing to develop within the art and museum world.
MH: And clubs?
RC: I’ve done clubs. [laughter] I’ve toured, I’ve done clubs and bars and community spaces and all of that stuff; and I’m not really interested per se in doing that work again. If the club had the right structure and interface for the project, sure. I know clubs that used to be EDM, or have more of a chill or ambient type of interface. But these projects are expensive, so it has to be the right thing.
MH: It’s not cost-ineffective, insofar as one can set it up, break it down, and take off, all economically?
RC: Right. You can’t do something like that for five-hundred dollars in a club; and clubs usually couldn’t afford to pay what these types of projects require. Whereas museums and art spaces have patrons and donors and all that stuff. The business arrangement or the agreement is more reasonable and allows these things to exist.
MH: Well, it seems to pose a creative challenge beyond logistics, putting more challenging fare across to a broader segment.
RC: It always does. There are so many pieces, people don’t often think about it. Going back to your earlier question, when someone is younger, and they’re making little ambient pieces on their laptop, they sometimes get sticker-shock when they start to think about how to present this out into the greater world. The logistical and organizational challenges of putting together good work like this are incredible, and, of course, all those things are expensive. There’s always that. That’s partially why people like me exist: because we help put all those pieces together. But every project I’ve ever worked on, there’s a hundred different pieces that need to be moved around and put into place; and to do it well, it takes some thought, and some time, and everyone involved in the project has to be all working for the same reason, which is to do really good work.
MH: I saw what was treated as a throwaway gag on an episode of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”, where what looks from one perspective to be a loud club turns out, upon closing in, to be a roomful of patrons, all silent, bouncing to the same beat on their headsets. Traditionally, clubs have had to deal with noise complaints from the neighborhood.
RC: I saw that.
MH: There was a part of me that thought, “They may be onto something.”
RC: Yeah. That’s not a super-new idea; I think it’s been around probably the last ten years. I’ve seen that in a number of different contexts. I like those ideas in principle, of, you see those things and think, “Why didn’t somebody think of this before?” [laughter] “That’s such an obvious idea. Why hasn’t anyone done that before?” But I like those things. I like the individual experiences, a little bit of a correlation between that and The Roedelius Cells. But, yeah, I like all sorts of ideas like that, that place or contextualize things in a slightly different way. I think those are fun. Some of them are more of interest than others, but I support things like that.
MH: Concerning Tim Story, you knew him before you put out his music. Could you talk a little bit about that?
RC: Yeah. I went and visited Hans-Joachim Roedelius; I met him for the first time in Vienna, or near Vienna, in 1986. I didn’t know who Tim was at that time. While I was there, he said, “Oh, you have to meet this guy, Tim Story. He’s in —“ He called it “Oh-hi-ee-oh-wah” —
RC: — which isn’t the first time I’ve heard that word. But he said, “Oh, you have to meet him. He’s like you, and you’d get along with him, blah blah blah.” When I got back to the States, Tim and I — I think I might have wrote him a letter, or I don’t know — somehow we hooked up, and that started a friendship. I didn’t know anything about his music orhim, prior to Joachim telling me I should hook up and get to know Tim. So we connected, and that was about thirty-five years ago. We’ve been, first and foremost, great friends ever since then. We’ve increasingly been collaborators on many different projects in many different ways. Not only — I’ve put Tim’s music out a number of different times, but he does a lot of re-mastering of other artists for Curious Music. He’s helped me out in many ways; I’ve helped him out — I mean, quite obviously, the Figge thing was my idea, because that’s in Iowa. I think it’s pretty obvious, you know. [laughter]
MH:Yeah, props, Russell.
RC: I’ve helped him with The Roedelius Cells and he’s helped me. We have this — a little bit formal, but mostly informal working relationship, where we support each other’s work, we’re in each other’s projects, our hands are in each other’s projects, usually one way or another — not everything, but a lot of them — and we just work together well. One of the things I like about Tim is he knows enough about the business side that he and I can have transparent conversations fairly easily, and I would guess, I believe he respects my critical opinion. For those reasons, I think we get along really well, and I think we enjoy working together.
MH: You’ve heard the anecdote about Picasso being asked how long it took him to execute a particular drawing, and he replied, “Five seconds and thirty years.”
RC: Yeah, I’ve heard variations of that theme before. I would completely agree with that. For people who like my work and think I do good work now, I tell them it is a fifty-year plus work. [laughter] “How long did it take you to put that project together?” “Well, sort of fifty years, in a way.” [laughter]
MH: It seems like sometimes the best advice to give a person in a creative endeavor is to just wait a while.
RC: That was true with Curious Music being in two pieces. I walked away from it, and I came back to it because I have lived 17 years of life in between the two existences of Curious Music. I am refreshed and think that I can bring something interesting forward. I know the kind of people I want to work with and don’t want to work with. I try to also be sensitive to my own strengths and weaknesses. I really don’t view Curious Music Mach Two as a continuation; it’s something somewhat different.