ARTIST SPOTLIGHT - by Mark E. Waterbury
ARTIST NAME: Julius Curcio
MUSICAL GENRE: Alt rock singer/songwriter
BIRTHPLACE: Camden, NJ
CURRENT RESIDENCE: Philadelphia, PA
YEARS IN MUSIC BIZ: 10 years
WEB SITE: http://www.notcd.com
MM: Do you have plans to release your music in a CD format?
JC: I actually have an abundance of music recorded that I am waiting for when the time is right to release them on CD. What I have been doing in the mean time is releasing the music as downloads on my web site, and also I load it onto an MP3 player I call the J-Pod.
MM: Did you feel that the J-Pod would work better as a marketing tool for your music than a CD?
JC: I think it would work better as a marketing tool. Another reason is that I am recording music all the time, and I also work several jobs including computer based jobs. So for me the technology allows me to come home from work maybe at two in the morning, sit down with a guitar and write some cool music. Then rather then waiting for eleven other tracks to be finished and putting it on a CD, I can put everything on the J-Pod right then and there. It’s a little different from an I-Pod, I have a program so that when people plug it into their computer they can download the music that I have and also use it as a personal MP3 player. For me it works, and I know some people in the industry probably think it is kitschy and cute, but as compared to releasing music on a CD, this is the way I want to distribute my music as an artist.
MM: Were you a chief songwriter in bands that you were in before you decided to do your own music?
JC: Yeah, although I spent more time as a guitar player in top-40 bands. I did do a lot of writing that I would take to the bands I was in as well. I always loved writing the songs but never really thought of doing them more on my own until recently.
MM: What was it that made you want to focus on your own music?
JC: I was working with another musician Rich Cox who had been working with a producer named Tony Reyes. Tony came to one of our gigs and he really dug what I was doing, and asked me why I wasn’t doing my own music. Tony helped me set up my little home recording studio and worked with me on some of my songs along with a drummer Andrew Owens that we knew. We really got into it, and since then we have been working that way a lot. I’ll get some songs together and Tony will come down along with Andrew engineering it, and the three of us would record them. I was discovering that these songs would always feel good recorded this way. In the past, I tried to record my own music by taking it to a studio where I would drop a lot of money to finish it half way before realizing that it sucked. It was mainly because of the people involved and the gear they had. With Tony and Andrew, we all work together and we may not have real high end gear, but we get the best sound possible out of what we are using.
MM: Once you started recording your own music, did you start performing it live as well?
JC: I started out first in a band setting, putting together an outfit called Family Jules. I had another guitarist, and then Andrew playing drums and Tony playing bass. For some reason, live it just did not seem right, and I wasn’t really comfortable doing the band thing first. Then Tony had to go to L.A. to work with Janet Jackson and Gwen Stefani, so I had to do a gig with a replacement bassist. Then the guitarist couldn’t make a gig and I had to get a fill in for him. With the live shows, the music kept changing a bit because of these guys with their day jobs, which is understandable. I was trying to get the proper representation for the music, which I couldn’t achieve with different players every night. So I decided that the most honest way to represent my music would be to use my own name and start doing acoustic shows by myself.
MM: Did you discover right away that this worked better for your music?
JC: I think with the bands it was more of a crude representation for my music. When I am performing solo, just singing with an acoustic guitar, even with no P.A. people can hear the singing and they can lock onto the voice and the lyrics. So that is the way I really prefer to do it. Once in awhile I will do a special show with the band if the guys I originally was working with are available. But I am at the point in my life where I am not the seventeen year old kid singing in a garage with a band anymore. I found myself, I found my voice and when I am doing it myself, it represents the music in a better way.
MM: What inspirations do you draw from in your lyric writing?
JC: Sometimes the idea for the song will just pop into my head. When that happens, I have to write it down so I don’t forget about it. Sometimes I plan to sit down and write and nothing will happen, and then...wham, it just flows out of me and I can write a whole song until it is finished. So it’s not like I really try to write, but I don’t worry about having writers block because I figure if I am not writing songs then there aren’t any songs there. When they do come out, then that is when it is time for me to record them. To me writing songs of quality is the most important aspect.
MM: What do your fans seem to like the most about the music?
JC: I get a lot of good comments on the lyrics and the vocals. I am building a small but growing base of fans who are very loyal to the music. Lyrically, the music is pretty easy to understand and there are not any cryptic messages in them so people tend to identify with them.
MM: Beyond what you are doing with the j-pod, what are your other plans to market your music?
JC: What I have been doing for the past year and what I am still doing now is working to distribute my music very easily and very quickly to whoever and wherever. Whether it is ten people in Idaho, or a million people in Japan, I’m trying to connect to them through the web. Then I’m just going to get in a van and go play everywhere I can, and hopefully people who see me will think, “Hey, I kinda like this guy” and they will tell their friends.
MM: What level of success would you like to see with your music career and what will it take for you to achieve that?
JC: Success to me would be exposure. My biggest ideal is to try to get someone to pay attention to what I am doing. Sometimes it is a big challenge just to get the right people to listen to your music. So exposure, whether someone likes it or thinks it sucks, is very important. Also meeting people. There was one club here in Philly I submitted CDs to and called time and time again and couldn’t get a gig. Then I met somebody who knew somebody and I ended up getting a gig. And at gigs you never know who you will meet. If you meet someone who knows someone and that person says “Give this guy a shot because we know him”...if that’s the way I have to go, then I will do it. :->