Artist to Artist: Curses and Chinaski


Curses and Chinaski may have operated in the same musical sphere for many years, including remixing each other's work, but until now they've never collaborated before. Dischi Autunno, the sub-label of Jennifer Cardini's Correspondant, is the home for their new EP Forever: a deep dive into synthwave, thundering drums and new romantic vocals.

Based in Berlin and Frankfurt am Main respectively, between them the pair of charted releases on Omnidisc, Bordello A Parigi, Ombra International, Throne Of Blood and Wrong Era. While NY native Curses is getting ready for the release of his second album – a collaboration with bassist Dame Bonnet, Chinaski (who also operates under his S-F-X alias) continues his close ties with clubbing institution Robert Johnson as a resident and sound artist working on visuals for their labels. 

Off the back of their collaborative release we invited them to shoot the shit about Berlin goth attire, the power of Queen and upcoming projects…

Curses: What music did you grow up listening to? Does it still translate with what you produce today?

Chinaski: I think first comes Queen. Maybe I was around two or three when my parents first put it in the cassette player. Yeah it has had a big impact, but I think it’s more the sound design of records like "A Kind of Magic". For example I still ask myself today: is there a coffee machine on the intro to "One Vision"? Or a flush? I’m quite obsessed with the search for sound sources in terms of old music gear. On our new single "Forever" I used two machines that Haruomi Hosono used on "Philharmony". Let’s say the influences come from a technical approach.

Curses: What non musician artistic medium inspires you? Film, Fine Art? Would you, or have you, collaborated with any theatre or gallery artists?

Chinaski: I think the most impact I’ve felt in the last two years was from John Cassavetes. I saw A Woman Under The Influence in the Museum for Film in Frankfurt and from an artistic view it totally knocked me out. It was so unique and killed all expectations about a movie. The strong will for independent creation impresses me on a new level. I think the most influence I feel comes, not from music, but from movies, design and fashion. Thats why I love YMO. I love the music of course, but everything they touched is sophisticated and well done. It’s a more global view, not only on music. I want to hit the fine line between art and commercial stuff. It’s the will to not go out too late.

Curses: Has a song bothered you so much you almost vomited? if so what and where were you?

Chinaski: No, but I start to scream when I hear Sparks.

Curses: Besides our weird take on a pop song, what other new projects do you have coming up this year?

Chinaski: Some Chinaski and S-F-X Factory work is going on. Before I release music it must feel like more of a new dance track for me. It needs some aura. To be continued, as they say.

Curses: What's happening differently in your brain when you are making music as SFX versus Chinaski?

Chinaski: S-F-X is much more personal. More direct influences and moods. It's not the technical obsession behind it like Chinaski. Chinaski is a production: an idea of whatever. S-F-X is the truth. S-F-X is past and future. S-F-X is eternity.

Curses: If you had to be reincarnated as an 80s movie character which one would you be?

Chinaski: Jack Torrance behind his typewriter. Smiling. Me at work. All the long cold days behind your gear. No ideas coming. Can’t wait to see u again, Luca. 🙂

Curses: New wave, new beat, or new age. One of them has to be erased from existence which one and why?

Chinaski: All are good, but I can’t live without new wave and new age – so get rid of new beat.

Curses: If you had to listen to one guilty pleasures on loop forever, what would it be?

Chinaski: The Halloween 3 soundtrack backwards.

Chinaski: What’s your most embarrassing live performance to date?

Curses: I once came offstage and realized my fly had been unzipped the entire show. I realized all those people cheering in the front row were actually trying to warn me haha, oops.

Chinaski: When you came to Berlin were you afraid of all the creepy lookalike people?

Curses: Actually when I was living in NYC, I was only wearing all black, but when I got to Berlin I changed because everyone all looked like they were in a techno goth uniform. I get it, the sun goes down at 4pm in winter and the summer lasts two months but those summers, I think that’s what makes everyone move to Berlin. You visit for a weekend in July, get toasty at some open air event and realize you belong in this city and then winter comes and you wait, and wait, until the summer returns.

Chinaski: You’ve told me that you’re working on a new album. I’m curious. I liked Romantic Fiction very much. It was clearly the vision of an artist who know’s exactly who he is. What’s your new album gonna sound like?

Curses: Thank you my friend. Since launching the live show, my friend Dame Bonnet plays bass, so the new album has a lot of music that we have written together while either on the road or jamming in rehearsals. The sound is still very dark disco and wave driven, but less club and more song oriented. The next album is more personal lyric-wise, and Dame Bonnet’s bass really drives many songs as a backbone energy.

Chinaski: What’s the instrument you never learned to play but always wished you had and why?

Curses: Being able to properly play the theremin would be an awesome party trick. My music professor in college, Bob Bielecki was an absolute wizard. I remember he helped me build a midi-controllable theremin with Max/Msp. Eek. Is my inner geek shining through? Well, it was awesome… I wish I still had this theremin. You could load up a vocal sample and control the pitch and granular direction of it by waving your hand.

Chinaski: Do you follow any technique for writing lyrics? On our new single "Forever" I always had the feeling that you got yourself into a certain mood to perform, to help the words come.

Curses: I know many artists tend to set aside time strictly to lyrics. I have some friends that write the lyrics as poetry before even hearing any music and then apply that to the song… I personally take more of a spontaneous intuitive approach. I will listen to the instrumental music for days, and let it resonate with me, singing the first melodies that come to mind, speaking gibberish, no real words at all really. Then, I'll go back, listen to what I’ve recorded and turn the gibberish into real lyrics. Most of the time I dont even know what the meaning of the lyrics are about until way way later. They eventually match an emotion or occurrence that clicks and makes sense to me down the line. This happened with our song "Forever". I had visions of kinetic late night clubbing mixed with the calming of a significant others presence once you’re together at home. Losing sense of time and self and being lost and found, together.

Chinaski: Do you have a style icon? And what’s your clothes size? I want to borrow some clothes from you 🙂

Curses: I definitely have a few. Besides being very into deadstock military and workwear attire. I guess Gene Vincent in leather is pretty iconic. We should work on some matching outfits for our first live performance together. Double leather? Or maybe matching painter suits?

Chinaski: When I went to New York you gave me so much advice for places to visit and food to try. Do you miss New York?

Curses: I meannnnnnn, the food in NYC is THE BEST. Growing up there is something that sticks with you forever, but I don't really miss living there so much. I miss my family, friends and the food, but I can’t handle the chaotic lifestyle anymore. After moving to Berlin I found myself attracted to a more relaxed and slow-paced life. Sure you can find a party at any time of day in Berlin, but there is this other side of tranquility and calm that I really enjoy after spending most of my weekends in loud clubs.

Chinaski: Do u have any type of ritual when you come home from tour, to bring yourself back down to earth?

Curses: Well, me and my girlfriend are obsessed with true crime documentaries but maybe everyone is also hooked on this trend at the moment. I would love to make the soundtrack to one. Think Tangerine Dream vibes on top of some true crime doc. slick win.

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