Interview with Genus
Genus is the electronic music project of Dublin based Michael Curtis.
Genus' music draws from a wide range of influences. He is constantly electronically experimenting to create music that tends to be dark at times. However, there is still space in this darkness for beauty and bliss to shine through.
Experimenting with a mix of hardware and software to create his records, Genus also uses his voice as another instrument. Complimenting the music, rather than taking the focus away from it.
Genus' 3rd single "Binary" has been played on Irish national radio stations, RTE RnaG and RTE 2XM. Since then, he has released “Solace,” and his latest single, “Moth,” was released on October 1.
What inspired you to become a musician?
I think music has always connected with me naturally. As embarrassing as it is, when I was a really small kid, around 4/5 years old or so, I used to make my family sit down and watch/listen to me perform a collection of Michael Jackson songs. I am the youngest in my family and grew up mostly listening to what my brothers were into, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Primus, Dead Kennedys, Suicidal Tendencies etc. I always loved the energy in that kind of music, and it really sunk in. So, I've always had a love for music and progressing to making music was a very natural thing for me.
How old were you when you started playing (music)?
When I was around 11 or 12, my older sister had a boyfriend who played drums in a band, which I thought was the coolest thing ever! He gave me a few lessons and a snare drum, sticks and a cowbell to practice with, I fell in love with it. Soon enough I was starting bands with local kids (who I'm still good friends with now) playing Nirvana songs and writing our own terrible songs. We stuck at it though and slowly progressed into much heavier music, pretty much death metal. I played drums in these kinds of bands up until my mid-twenties. Then I stopped altogether and focused on work etc. It was the start of the pandemic when I decided I wanted to make electronic music, I knew I could do it myself at home and I also did some vocal training and knew I could sing, so I jumped in again with 2 feet and here I am now.
How would you describe your music?
Tough one, I have been influenced by so many different genres and styles that I think all of this shows up in my music in some way. I think generally, my music is on the somber or darker side. However, I am writing some pieces that are beautiful and hopeful too. Honestly, I don't like genres and defining music in certain ways, the way I see it is, it's music, you like it, or you don't! I do try to keep things as interesting as possible though. I love experimenting! Whether that's with timing signatures, musical modes or just using unorthodox methods of creating sounds.
Where have you performed? Do you have any upcoming shows?
As a solo artist, I am yet to perform. As I have only started out during the pandemic, currently at the time of writing, live music is still not possible in Ireland. I will definitely be lining up some shows though, most likely early 2022, everything I have worked on musically has been at home in a spare bedroom so I need to get set up with a live rig and figure out how my performances will be put together.
Where is your ideal place to perform?
I'd love to do some ambient sets in a really small intimate venue, like an old pub with a sort of homely, comfortable feel. So, people can just chill and zone out listening to the music.
What is your favorite song to perform?
Well, having yet to perform, I can't say, but my single Binary has a pretty solid beat to it so would likely get people moving to it. I have a really ambient piece that will be released later this year that would be great for the ambient intimate scenario described in the last answer.
Which famous musicians do you admire?
I've always been a fan of Maynard James Keenan from Tool/A Perfect Circle/Pusifer. I love his individuality and how prolific he is, not to mention his incredible voice. I like how he creates music in different genres and does all so well. Also from Tool, their drummer Danny Carey is one of the most amazing musicians I can think of.
I'm a big Thom Yorke fan, a lot of people likened my solo work to his, which I take as a compliment. I also have to mention Aphex Twin who is probably the main reason I got into electronic music. Having been a huge metal head, his unique approach to music really captivated me the first time I heard his stuff and broke my stubbornness of only listening to heavy music.
What is the best advice you’ve been given?
Don't write music for other people, write for you.
If you could change something about the Music Industry, what would it be?
That's a really difficult question. I think I would change people's appetite for music instead of the industry itself. For the vast majority of people, they don't really like music and are happy with any old, regurgitated crap with the same chord progressions doing verse-chorus-verse over and over again. I would love to somehow educate people on music to show how much versatility there can be and what real musicians can create. It's a fascinating aspect of human existence, the human connection to music. If people were more aware of the possibilities, maybe we would see more interesting music become more popular and get the recognition it deserves.
What is a message you would like to give to your fans?
Anyone who has supported me this far, I am truly grateful. I am thankful for every stream, purchase and share of my music. I make music for me but release for others, so I am happy that some people like it.
What’s next for you?
I'm going to be releasing a single every month for the rest of 2021, then, I think I will be releasing an album in summer 2022, possibly followed by a tour. I'll see though, for now I just need to get all of the musical ideas out of my head and out into the ether.
Listen to Genus' interview on the Raffa Music Show on Studio Blue Radio HERE.