INTERVIEW: Curtis Longstaff | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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It’s always exciting to see what the next generation of music might bring. One artist in the very early days of his career is Curtis Longstaff. One brief glance at his Soundcloud page gives away his hard work and dedication: he’s been uploading music regularly for over three years. Longstaff’s sound ranges from ambient electronica to mellow alternative rock and his debut EP, Strangers, is due out this month.

Curtis explains that all his music is homespun: “I write, record and also mix every song of mine that you will find out there right now, as I’m not signed under any kind of label. I’m self-taught in everything I know musically, except for some starting lessons from my Dad on the guitar. I’ve recorded everything myself, I’ve never been in a proper music studio. I think it’s had a great impact on the outcome of my musical demos. Hopefully, my material doesn’t sound too ‘standard’.”

Longstaff’s music certainly doesn’t fit easily into any one genre. Maybe that’s in part because of his less-than-standard introduction to music, which in turn became his path into creativity:

“Everything seemed to stem from the moment my Dad bought me a Yamaha keyboard when I was seven. I remember sitting on the bedroom floor, playing each note with both hands until they met in the middle – that would be my song. I’d learn half of somebody’s song, then I’d be compelled to write something of my own instead of finishing the piece. There are a lot of songs that I can only play the first verse of. There are recordings of me using vocal effects on my Dad’s computer when I was about five; that early exposure to software, hardware and music fuelled this passion of mine.”

Curtis specialises in relaxing melodies, but twinned with hard-hitting and emotive lyrics

Curtis specialises in relaxing melodies, but twinned with hard-hitting and emotive lyrics. Judging by his extensive list of influences, it’s no surprise that he ends up with such a dynamic myriad of sound. “My main influences span the range of many frequencies. I’m a total sucker when it comes to Radiohead. Thom Yorke’s solo material is absolutely incredible too. Johnny Cash has never failed to give me goosebumps either. Among the many others are Pink Floyd, Childish Gambino, Bob Dylan, almost any classical music, Jon Hopkins, Nick Drake, Patrick Watson, The Rolling Stones, Elvis, and I think I’ll stop there… Oh, and Joni Mitchell. She’s sweet, and an amazing lyricist.”

Longstaff might be a solo artist, but he does have a couple of ideas about who he’d like to collaborate with in the future. “Jon Hopkins is, well, words fail me here… I can’t really believe he exists. I’d also love to write a song with Eve Simpson. The stuff she has written holds a certain place in me, and maybe our voices would harmonise well. I know Jeff Goldblum plays piano really well too, maybe he’s up for creating something special. I can see it now: sitting in an LA jazz bar. Jeff and I are both on the piano with whiskies on the top, playing stuff from La La Land, and possibly something from my EP.”

There’s nothing wrong with ambition, and if he keeps working as hard as he is now, the sky could be the limit. After all, Jeff Goldblum is always open to suggestions.

Curtis Longstaff releases his Strangers EP this month.


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