Interview: A few words with Curt Heiny of Archnemesis

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At the first annual CounterPoint Music Festival, I was able to talk with one of the members of Archnemesis, Curt Heiny. Archnemesis is the electro-soul duo from Charleston, SC. Made up of Heiny and Justin Aubuchon, Archnemesis brings a live performance that you can’t compare to many others. Combining many different genres, samples, styles and influences, Archnemesis brought a live sound like none that I had experienced.

 

It was heavy and dark from start to finish. The set started with an amazing edit to Jermaine Dupri’s “Welcome to Atlanta,” showcasing how the two can transform something of one genre into something completely different and of their own style. Read on to find out about how they make their music, who they’re listening to now and more.

 

So, how did you and Justin meet? 

We were playing in separate bands. I was playing with Telepath and he was doing his solo project thing, MO Theory. Then, we had a couple shows together and started talking and decided we wanted to do something together as a project. Thus, Archnemesis. 

You guys just released the “Every Man For Himself” EP. How has the response been for that?

It’s been awesome. We’ve had an amazing amount of downloads. Across the board, live [performance] is more of what’s important, how it’s been responded to live and how people feel it. The response has been really, really good across the country everywhere we’ve played it. It’s been fun.

 

Why do you release your music for free online?

Nobody buys CDs anymore. 

But people still buy music.

Ya, I mean we get donations. We’ve actually had a lot of donations on this album since it has been released. For us, we would rather just get the music out there and have people come to the shows and be able to do the live thing as opposed to try to make money selling music. People will be able to find it [illegally] anyway if we sell it, so it kind of defeats the purpose.

Why is Archnemesis so heavily based in the live performance?

We’re both classically trained. I was cello and bass and Justin was piano. We do try to add some of the live elements of playing into it. At the end of the day, I think with the light rig and the overall production and general live show, you just can’t capture that on CD. The studio stuff we try to make as clean and as to the point as possible, but at the end of the day, we expand on things. We do different things live and that’s really where we try to put our focus for the most part. 

I think that’s the right way to go. How has Counterpoint been different than past festivals you’ve played?

Well, I don’t know. We haven’t played yet. But, it’s like any other big festival we’ve done, like Hangout or Camp Bisco. They’re laid out the same with artist relations, artist hospitality, stages, lots of people. 

Would you say you’re on the road more or in the studio more? Which do you like better?

We’re always in the studio, even on the road. It’s kind of both. I couldn’t say one more than the other. I guess, we’re always in the studio, so probably more so the studio. But we tour a lot. We’re now touring in support of “Every Man For Himself,” but we’re also working on the next album. Even while we’re out touring, we are working on new tracks and even trying some of those live. It’s been fun trying this [new] stuff on people. 

How do you guys spilt up the work when it comes to making music? 

Some of the tracks, it’s one of us doing most of the work and then we’ll come together to get another set of ears. We’ll pass it back and forth a lot. Sometimes, we collaborate on stuff and bring separate elements into it and we come up with a final project. At the end of the day, we always mix and master all of our stuff, so we do that ourselves and I think it’s good to have two sets of ears on it [the music]. The process varies on every song. There’s no set way that we do things.

How do you make your sets different and unique?

We do individual songs live that are different than in the studio. Some of the stuff, like transitions, is pretty determined so we’re kind of confined to certain frame parameters in songs but we always try to keep it alive, sort of an improvisational element going. A lot of it depends on how the set’s flowing, on the crowd and on the reaction we’re getting. We kind of move in and out of a set and move the set along with the response. So a set like tonight, we have an hour. So, there’s not really going to be any lull with the set. It’s going to be just bang, bang, bang all night for an hour. Whereas when we do a two hour set live or the road shows, there’s got to be a lull somewhere.

How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard it?

I would say it’s like electro-soul. Electro, hip-hop soul. It’s definitely electronic, but there are a lot of other elements in it that keep it more analog, keep it more – not just electro. I think some of that comes from being classically trained on an instrument and some of it comes from the samples that we use: the horns, the strings, female vocals, male vocals, stuff like that gives it a more organic feel. 

Did you always want to be a musician when you were younger?

That’s all I’ve known. I started playing cello in the fourth grade. Justin started at a pretty young age piano-wise, I think. Then we both studied jazz, theory, comp. and stuff like that. That’s just what I’ve known since a young age and I think Justin is the same way.

So, whom are you listening to now? Any new artists you want to share with us?

We listen to everybody.

Everybody?

From Brittany Spears to Ellie Goulding to Willie Nelson. I can’t remember what we we’re listening to on the way up. I don’t even remember. I mean we listen to everything. I, personally, listen to a lot of jazz. We listen to a lot of old soul stuff too, like the Blaxploitation stuff.  

That’s funny that you bring that up because I’m in a Black film class and we’re studying Blaxploitation in movies.

Ya. A lot of the samples we get are from either old Blaxploitation soundtracks or that era of music, the old soul and funk kind of stuff, the horn lines and the strings. A lot of the vocals that we get, the little samples of stuff we use, come from that era. We’re always listening. We’ll be driving and find an old album. We’ll listen to it and be listening for samples. ‘Oh, that’s a good horn line.’ ‘We could use that.’ At the end of the day, we listen to everything and we listen to it on numerous levels. 

What do you mean by that?

I mean a lot of the pop stuff, we listen to [it] because the production is so on point and it just doesn’t get much better than that. That’s why they’re huge stars. The Katy Perry’s and the Ke$ha’s and the Ellie Goulding’s. From a production standpoint, we listen to a lot of that stuff and take tips from that. Then you have your Skrillex’s and your Pretty Lights’ and your Bassnectar’s and all of those guys that are doing their thing electronically. Their production is really good as well. Outside of sample digging, it’s fun to listen to everybody else’s take on production and what sounds good to somebody and what sounds good to somebody else.

Obviously, these guys are a pair of very talented individuals who know what they’re doing. Below is the list of remaining tour dates that go through New Years Eve. There are a lot of shows, so there is no excuse to miss Archnemesis live in action. They said it themselves: you can’t capture what’s going on in their live performances on CD. Go see for yourself.

Upcoming Tour Dates
10/31 @ ZYDECO w/ DrFameus & Superpro- Birmingham, Alabama
11/2 @ Mississippi State University
11/3 @ Clube Frequency – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
11/7 @ Mojo’s w/ Alpha Data – Columbia, Missouri
11/8 @ 2720 Cherokee w/ Foreign Beggars & Alpha Data- Saint Louis, Missouri
11/9 @American Legion Post 676 w/ Alpha Data – Springfield, Missouri
11/10 @ George’s Majestic Lounge w/ Alpha Data – Fayetteville, Arkansas
11/14 @ Mad Frog w/ Meiosis & Athockalypse – Cincinnati, Ohio
11/15 @ The Intersection – Grand Rapids, Michigan
11/16 @ The Miramar Theatre w/ Alpha Data & Haywyre – Milwaukee, Wisconsin
11/17 @ The Cabooze w/ Alpha Data & The World Class Art Thieves – Minneapolis, Minnesota
11/21 @ The Bluebird Theater w/ Ill-Mannered & Dynohunter – Denver, Colorado
11/23 @ The Tap House – Steamboat Springs, Colorado
11/24 @ The Abbey Theatre w/ Ill-Mannered – Durango, Colorado
11/28 @ Trees – Dallas, Texas
11/29 @ Stubb’s BBQ w/ Psymbionic – Austin, Texas
11/30 @ Varsity Theatre w/ Perry Gaffney Jr – Baton Rouge, Louisiana
12/1 @ Soul Kitchen – Mobile, Alabama
12/5 @ Wonder Bar w/ Beard-o-Bees of Lotus – Boston, Massachusetts
12/6 @ Stella Blues LLC w/ Beard-o-Bees of Lotus – New Haven, Connecticut
12/8 @ The 8×10 w/ Biodiesel & Futexture – Baltimore, Maryland
12/27 @ The Riviera Theater w/ Lotus & Zoogma – Chicago, Illinois
12/29 @ Snowglobe – South Lake Tahoe, California

12/31 @ Lights All Night – Dallas, Texas

via Bionic Beatlab

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