Interview: Kurt Travis on There’s A Place I Want To Take You
Posted: by The Editor
Kurt Travis is set to release There’s A Place I Want To Take You on May 17th. The record’s release is a joint effort between Kurt’s own Esque Records, and his former bandmate Will Swan’s Blue Swan Records. The former Dance Gavin Dance vocalist performed with the act from late 2007 to 2010, but Kurt’s musical career began much longer ago. Since 2001, he has been creating music with post hardcore acts, worked on a folk solo project, and most notably also fronted A Lot Like Birds for awhile. So to say he is no newcomer to the scene is an understatement; he was, to some degree, formative to it. Gearing up for his sophomore studio album, and first release as a solo artist in 3 years, Kurt was kind enough to answer some questions for us.
The Alternative: Let’s start off with the important questions. The video for “Easy Peasy” showcases you in your morning routine. What’s your go-to smoothie to get your ready for the day?
You’ve been teasing this new record since 2016, so what’s happened between then and now? Three years seems like an exhausting amount of time to focus on one thing. How does it feel to finally see the culmination of this release?
It feels good! This is kinda how it goes with me. Hopefully my listeners understand the process. Multiple personal adjustments made for set backs, and certain events pushed myself to record the same album almost three times. It’s a wild ride, but I’m super stoked that I’m finally getting to see this solo records’ release.
What are some of the lyrical themes on the new record? How did you go about composing these songs? Was it more of starting them out instrumentally and writing lyrics to fit, or finding the words first and then composing instruments to convey the mood of your words?
The music came first, quite quickly in fact, but then the structures changed and melodies changed. The lyrics always come last for me. I sit on song instrumentals a lot, I think, because the words have to mean something before the song can become impactful. Good lyrics sometimes take awhile to think about and construct. Sometimes I find myself writing for a few pages before I find something I like, and then work from there.
How does it compare being a solo artist in complete creative control of how your songs come together, as opposed to how it was joining an already established act as a frontman?
It’s limiting and liberating haha. On one hand, you do have creative freedom, no one to butt heads with. On the other, there’s also no one there to bounce ideas off of either. Even though this album is my solo effort, I had a great deal of help from a ton of musicians that are my best friends and they helped me every step of the way. Mike Watts and his vocal harmony ideas give moments so much texture, and all the percussion of Joseph Arrington on this record… I’m truly blessed. From the second single we released “Best Way” all the synths were performed by my very dear friend Matthew Tucker. I had lots of help on this, I’m very fortunate that I know so many talented people that could collaborate, and can’t wait to see how people respond to it!
In the 18 years you’ve been making music, your bands have spanned from post hardcore, to folk, to the more ostentatious post hardcore that’s become your signature style, along with your more relaxed and collected solo work. Where did this desire to try so many different creative styles spawn from?
I love all styles of music! When I meet someone that expresses their detest to other genres, I feel as though they just don’t get it. There’s great music in all genres, you just have to keep an open ear and learn to gain influence from unexpected sounds. I love it when I hear a little bit of mixed styles like R&B and post hardcore.
I’m so excited to see you bring these new songs to life when you perform them live. “Best Way” is a sultry, hazy flood of synths. How does the crowd usually react to the songs? I would hope they abandon their mosh tendencies to get groovy for a little bit at least.
I’ve never played these songs live! I will though, starting May 17th, I have a full U.S. tour! kurt-anders.soundrink.
I read somewhere that one of your early influences in music was Counting Crows. If Adam Duritz hits you up tomorrow and wants to collab on a cover like they did with Vanessa Carlton on Big Yellow Taxi, what song are you covering together?