Curtis Harding is probably the coolest person I know. He’s so cool that he makes me physically nervous (more so than usual), a side effect that was exacerbated by the fact that we conducted this interview over pho (soup is so slurpy and chopsticks so unwieldy). The former rapper (cool) joined Cee-Lo’s band (cool) when he moved to Atlanta, later teaming up with Cole Alexander and Joe Bradley of Black Lips and Danny Lee Blackwell of Night Beats to form the band Night Sun (very cool), all the while working on his own personal brand of sensual, booty-shaking (yes I just said booty-shaking because I am NOT cool) neo-soul, or as he describes it, “slop-n-soul” (super cool).
I brought my friend Sara Nataf along for moral support, mostly because she’s French and I figured her sexy accent would distract from how much broth I was spilling on myself, and together we interviewed the Mr. Harding, who just recently put out his first solo album “Soul Power” on Burger Records, about a variety of topics ranging from snacks, sad songs, and the many selfies of his drummer, Jonah Swilley (amongst other things):
Sara Nataf: Is your name Curtis because of Curtis Mayfield?
C: Nah. My dad’s name is Curtis.
Yasi: Is your dad’s name Curtis because of Curtis Mayfield?
C: My dad is 83.
Y: I picture your father to be a very dapper man.
C: He was! Now he’s just very laid back, very chill. Shirt off type of dude.
C: Like a guilty pleasure? Probably Bryan Adams. (Laughs)
Y: Like old 80s Bryan Adams?
S: So that’s like your secret?
C: It’s not a secret anymore! He’s also Canadian.
Y: He’s a big fashion photographer now.
C: Is he? I like Bryan Adams.
C: (Laughs) I don’t know, I really haven’t thought about it. I produce myself.
S: You produce everything yourself?
C: Yes, all my own music.
S: Is there a producer you look up to?
C: Yeah I like Willie Hutch a lot. He’s the shit. He was on Motown for a while. Producer, singer, songwriter, rapper. You ever seen this movie called The Last Dragon? You should check it out. It’s a Berry Gordy film. It’s like a black version of a Bruce Lee film. The guy in the movie is actually called Leroy. Bruce Lee is actually an inspiration for the film.
Y: What are a couple of albums you think we should listen to? I like sad songs.
C: Sad songs? I have to think about that one. There are a lot of sad songs. Do you like Gospel music? You should listen to The Consolers.
Y: That’s a perfect name for a band that a sad person should listen to. It literally sounds like it would make you feel better.
C: Sometimes it will make you feel better.
Y: Honestly sometimes I listen to sad music to feel worse.
C: You’re not the only one.
S: What about happy music
C: Yo Gabba Gabba
S: what kind of snacks do you like?
C: Gummy bears. Cheetos, of course. White cheddar popcorn. Orange Fanta soda.
S: Is that the stuff that’s on your rider?
C: I have a lot of booze on my rider.
Y: What’s your go-to booze?
C: Bullet Rye. It’s not too sweet, not too expensive, not too inexpensive. It’s just right.
S: What were you like in the 90s? What music did you like?
C: I listened to a lot of hip-hop. Wu Tang of course, and a lot of West Coast stuff. Whatever they played on the radio. Ghetto Boyz, DJ Screw, HiC. I listened to a lot of gangster shit.
Y: Who is your crush from the 90s?
C: Neneh Cherry
Y: What’s your go-to karaoke song?
C: Probably New Edition. “I Can’t Stand The Rain”
Y: What’s your go-to karaoke song Sara?
S: “If you wanna be my lover…” Spice Girls!
Y: Curtis, would you date an older woman?
Y: How much older would you go?
C: I don’t know! Old enough.
Y: What’s your sign?
Y: I don’t know, I’m just pretending that means something and I now know something about you, aside from what you’ve already told me in this interview.
C: Those could have been all lies.
Y: Were they?
C: Maybe! Let’s just lie about each other to each other for the rest of the day.
Y: Tell us something that will embarrass Jonah (Swilley, Curtis’ drummer)
C: He takes selfies when he’s alone. (Laughs)
Y: You’ve caught him?
C: He posts them all the time! It’s not really a secret.
Y: Is this the best interview you’ve ever done?
C: Yeah it is! Lies, all lies.
Tue. 06-10-14 New York, NY Mercury Lounge
Wed. 06-11-14 Brooklyn, NY Glasslands Gallery
Thu. 06-12-14 Washington, DC DC9
Fri. 06-13-14 Pittsburgh, PA Three Rivers Arts Festival
Sat. 06-14-14 Chicago, IL Schuba’s
Sat. 07-12-14 Atlanta, GA The Earl
Thu. 07-17-14 Nashville, TN Exit / In
Fri. 07-18-14 Louisville, KY Headliners Music Hall
Sat. 07-19-14 Asheville, NC The Orange Peel