Sunday, August 12, 2012

Troy Joseph Curtis

Name: Troy Joseph Curtis

What do you do?
I play a handful of overlapping roles in the Downtown San Jose community and facilitate culture where I can be of some help. I am a
poet, actor, journalist, songwriter, multi instrumentalist, producer, instructor and curator on the creative side. I am a small business owner entrepreneur and innovator on the business side and I am a community organizer, volunteer and provocateur on the local culture side. I am a working musician and currently run a music production, performance venue and gallery space called Nu Routes Studios located within The Citadel Artist Community in Downtown San Jose. I am about to launch Nu Routes Record, a San Jose focused DIY record label, sometime this fall. I also teach and create youth arts curriculum in schools, nonprofits and art studios.

Where can we find your work?
Nu Routes Records

Nu Routes Studios

Youth and Community Service:

I am the art instructor for a fantastic non profit that creates family resource fairs at Downtown San Jose elementary schools named Sunday Friends. Volunteer and you can make some really fun art projects with great kids.

What inspires you to create and how do you keep motivated when things get tough?
I am truly inspired by the wealth of talented artists and artisans of
all kinds that surround me here in Downtown San Jose. From musicians to urban farmers, makers to visual artists there are so many gifted people sharing inspiring art and culture. Personally mentoring and educating youth is the best cure for when things get challenging. No matter what's happening in my world, I can set it aside and focus on exploring another world with these young artists and it usually gives me new perspective on what ever I’m stuck on.

What do you think is more important content/finished product or technique/process?
I go around and around with this one. My content follows my technique and my process chases my finished product. I tend to get more hung up on content/finished product but I am a deconstructionist at heart so no matter how much technique I learn or what process I apply I am always secretly or not so secretly taking things apart so the whole thing is a set up. I write a piece of music, play the snatch of music relentlessly until the overtones ring in my head. Create a vocal melody from that, let the melody stir up what ever is lurking in my sub conscience...formulate that into a coherent rough draft of a song, take it all apart and rebuild it with stronger more technical parts and less personal neurosis.

Who are some people who influence and/or inspire you?
There are a lot of well known artists and humanitarians I have been inspired and influenced by but it’s the people around me that are trying to live their dreams and overcome the adversities of everyday life that truly influences, motivates and inspires me. Three such examples of people that have an influence impact on me and inspire my work.
-Brian Eder & Cherri Lakey- Owners of Two Fish designs as well as Gallery AD, Kaleid and the Phantom Galleries downtown, Hosts of the annual DIY art & Culture festival SubZERO held in the SOFA district downtown.
These two gallery owners have mentored me for years. I couldn’t say enough about the culture, community, creativity and balance they have
inspired in me. I learn from them on a weekly basis. We share a vision of San Jose as an Art Metropolis and it is their passion and fearlessness that fuels my own creative desire.

-Eric Lichter
Eric and I began talking about music and recording online a few years ago. He is musician and owner of Dirt Floor Studio in my home state of
CT. We both have a passion for old school analog recording and American music. The work he’s doing and the bands he’s working with are a big part of my inspiration for starting a local record label. I feel if Eric can Start a thriving music community in a barn in the backwoods of New England than I have a shot at getting something started in the 10th largest city in the country.

-Erin Salazar

Erin and I are friends and neighbors at The Citadel Artist Community. Erin is a visual artist and recent graduate of SJSU. I am most
inspired by her undying passion to create in the face of school debt, family illness and the overall lack of opportunity for artists in San Jose. It has been a big motivation to watch Erin set up her studio, start a small business and create unique, dynamic work from her large pin-striping inspired paintings to the murals she paints for local businesses throughout the downtown.

If you could be any fictional character who would you be?
Kilgore Trout

When do you get your best ideas?
In bed, usually early in the morning, when I’m just about to wake up or go to sleep.

What materials/tools do you use most to create your work?
Guitar, Bass, keyboards, Vox, records, Sp 404, pen & paper, Kazoo, smartphone, craft beer, Coffee

Are you self taught or formally educated? How do you think that has influenced or affected your work?
My uncle gave me my first guitar when I was five. It was an old Harmony with three strings that he had pulled out of a dumpster. I beat on that thing for years before I grasped the concept of tuning it or having all six strings. Growing up we didn’t have a lot so we made the most out of what we had. I think that informs my style and approach. We never had money for lessons but my mother got me a wurlitzer piano when I was ten and my father got me my first electric guitar when I was twelve both on the condition I would continue to teach myself. As I grow technically as a musician I see elements of my untrained style still come through. It gives me a feeling of uniqueness.

What would your creative work taste like?
Coffee & Flap Cats (cornbread pancakes)

When you are not creating what do you like to do?
I’ve always been into movies, documentaries, cult and foreign films mostly. I enjoy woodworking and refinishing furniture as well as building and riding bikes.

How did you learn to access your creative talents and gain the confidence to put it out there for everyone to experience?
I was a really painfully shy child who rarely spoke. I started writing music and poetry in middle school but only as a creative or emotional outlet. I slowly began reading poetry at bookstores and coffee shops around New England and started getting into slam poetry. In high school I had a Theater teacher named Maggie Kline. She was a passionate renegade English Teacher who grew up right here in San Jose. She was one of the first Americorps volunteers in the country back in the late 60’s and she became my high school mentor. I quit the football team and become Romeo in the school play. By the end of High School I had the opportunity to develop as a person and an artist as well as perform poetry, theater and music in front of thousands of people.

What advice would you give others just beginning their creative adventures?
I have worked with young artists at the beginning of their creative adventures for almost a decade now. As an Instructor I believe I’m there to inspire and inform. In my classes I tell my youth not to limit yourself, or let other people put limits on them. Experiment, explore and gain experience. Don’t wait for someone to tell you what to do or how to do it. Find your passion and answer your own questions.

1 comment:

  1. I'm an East Coast fan. Troy is a wonderful musician and great guy, who has inspired and consoled people near to my heart. Where others might have an "idea" for a play -- Troy writes a script, recruits players, builds a set and puts on a performance. San Jose is lucky to have him.