Artist To Artist: Curses & Holy Ghost!
Ten years after it's intial release on Institubes, Luca Venezia is reissuing his Curses cut from way back then, 'The Deep End'. Now coming on his Safer At Night label, it features a remix from his schoolyard Brooklyn friends Nick and Alex, better known as DFA's Holy Ghost! As testimony to that friendship, Luca and Nick stirred up some memories and quizzed each other.
Curses: What’s up guys? Soooo, where and when did you remix the Deep End?
Holy Ghost! (Nick): It was done at my house, way back when, when our studio was still in a windowless bedroom in my apartment. I remember Alex came up with the basic groove without me while I was on tour with The Juan Maclean as I distinctly remember waiting hours for the MP3 to download via dial up at my hotel in Calvi. So I think that would have been early July 2008.
A lot of those old remixes I don't remember but that one I have very vivid memories of. Alex playing the piano on his CP60 which I believe he bought from YOU shortly before we did the mix. We really liked the sound of your guitar but I think we changed the key of the song and so the main guitar was redone on a weird Fender baritone that I borrowed from Andrew of Midnight Magic. I remember I was trying to learn finger tapping at the time, hence the guitar "solo" in the break which took many, many, many takes to get right to the dismay of my roommate Damon. I remember tracking the lead line on a CS50 that had one very badly out of tune voice which I can still hear and still sounds cool. I remember recording Nancy and Alex's vocals and us all getting very drunk on some very fancy whiskey which was the only booze in my house for some reason. I remember being worried you and/or Maggie would be pissed we rerecorded the vocals.
I remember it being very difficult to mix. This was probably due to inexperience but we also had a pretty crude set-up at the time. It was mixed with only 16 channels on a Soundcraft console from the 80s. But it still sounds very cool to me and we still play it out sometimes. Definitely one of my favorite things we've ever done.
A High school Auditorium concert at The Day School (1997)
From left (Luca curses, Nick Holy Ghost on drums, Ben Fries on guitar, Ali Bing on Sax)
Holy Ghost!: So what was that magical guitar in the original? I just listened to it again and my memory has not deceived me. It still sounds very cool.
Curses: I had sampled this iconic b-movie trailer – “The Deep End Of Horror” and felt inspired to channel Morricone, and somehow came up with this somewhat out of key eerie but catchy riff. Its all about that drop D tuning.
Curses: Time has flown by so fast, I feel like your remix could've been made today though. Are live instruments coming back in electronic music or was I lost in techno and they never went away?
Holy Ghost!: I think you were in a bit of a techno bubble. They went away for a while but I think that predated us and this mix. We certainly were not the only people using live instruments at the time though I guess it's more common now than it was then. Still not too many people using live drums though.
Holy Ghost!: Speaking of being behind the curve; how's Berlin? I feel like everyone was moving to Berlin around the time we did this remix. Now everyone is moving to LA. So why there? Why how? And how's it treating you? Is your family still in New York?
Curses: I actually did move here 10 years ago, and it wasnt right for me. This time around, I feel inspired and excited by the prominent Italo and 80’s influence in clubs. I will always wear NYC on my sleeve, but right now it’s just not challenging me creatively the way it used to.
Curses: What's one of your top weirdo Disco tracks and how'd you hear it first?
Holy Ghost!: Hard to pick just one but over the past year I keep coming back to this Sabu track called "We're Gonna Rock." I listen to it at home all the time and it never leaves my bag though I can never work up the balls to actually play it out. I don't quite remember where I first heard it. I have a vague recollection of Jacques Renault playing an edit of it at 205 circa 2006 or 2007 but I can't find an edit of it anywhere. Gotta ask Jacques about it.
Curses: Are we making a smart decision or bad mistake reissuing this vinyl only? Will the USB and Serato kids be mad?
Holy Ghost! (Nick): Ha, yes probably. It's definitely cool to re-release it on vinyl as that's still my preferred medium and to be honest the original white pressing – while very cool looking – didn't sound great and it's been out of print for so long. But yeah, make it available to the kids!
Curses: Who's Holier than the ghost?
Holy Ghost!: You of course.
Holy Ghost! (Nick): Fun fact: When we were high school Luke and I had an unspoken competition about who could wear the biggest pants. Problem was we were both pretty tall (I'm 6'2", think you're about the same, right?) so we couldn't buy pants big enough off the racks. As a result we both learned to sew and both made our own pants. So this is a two parter – whose pants were bigger? And do you still sew? I honestly don't remember the answer to the first. I don't sew anymore but would like to take it up again at some point.
Curses: Hahaha, yeah because Mom And Me’s just weren't big enough. Holy Curses apparel line coming soon?
Holy Ghost!: Nerd question: you were the first person I ever knew who made music entirely in the computer. This would have been like, 1998? 1999? What program were you using and what exactly were you doing? It seemed like sorcery to me at the time.
Curses: haha I was REALLY into Max Msp (now Max 4 Live), which is very confusing and potion making like. Ive gone way more analog these days, majority of my drums are from The Tempest, but still do all the final mixing in computer.
Luca (Curses) playing guitar at CBGB's in the band Recess in a pair of some home made big ol' raver pants (1998)
Holy Ghost!: Should we try and play this live at a Day School high school reunion? We missed the 15 but could probably get something together for the 20. And who would be in the band?
Curses: 100% should happen. Chris Glover, Ali Bing, ben Fries, Rapozo, Morgan, they all gotta be in this.
Holy Ghost!: Last one; not to toot our/my own horn but a lot of people we grew up playing in bands with have managed to make a living playing music. Or are at least making a living in a creative field. Do you think there was something special about New York at the time when we were kids? Like do teenagers have the same opportunities and resources we had at the time like all ages venues, rehearsal studios, etc? If not in NYC, elsewhere? Or if not the same, comparable opportunities? I doubt there are as many all ages venues in NYC, but virtually any kid has access to recording technology that we could have only dreamed of which is cool.
Curses: Our highschool and college experiences were definitely unique. I think we were extremely lucky to have access to this and be able to jam and throw shows from a young age. If anything I hope it inspires other kids now to just say 'fuck it' and put on their own shows and jam and experiment.
Thanks again for making a timeless remix, well re-work really, of a weirdo western acid house track!
Curses – The Deep End is released on Safer At Night on 27th January 2017. Look here for more info on the label.