Brought up in Dublin and raised on the lyrics of Dylan, the energy of Springsteen and the melodies of MJ. Not a bad starting point, but it wasn’t until 16 that Kurtis picked up a guitar and decided to put those hummed melodies into practice. At 7, he used to put on shows for his friends and neighbours where he’d dance and sing with his cousin, but it was at 16 that he thought himself guitar and some keys, started writing songs and next, decided to travel.
At 18, he packed his bags, gained a scholarship to the US and studied music. He traveled to Arkansas, listening to and learning from the folk and bluegrass masters before heading to San Francisco and being exposed to the great poetry and literature that arose during the 60s and 70s, fused with an introduction to electronic music and music production. It was his next stop however, that really struck a chord.
Music City USA, Nashville, Tennessee. The home of country music, but that home has an open door policy. You’ll find rock, pop, blues, soul and just about any genre you could ask for. The ideal place for Kurtis to hone his song-writing and shape his own sound. While walking down Broadway one day with his guitar, which you’d rarely find him without, a man outside one of the bars asked him to play a song. Having done so, the man revealed his sons own the bar and he manages one of them, Gavin DeGraw.
Over the course of the following months, Kurtis was taken under the wing of Wayne DeGraw, getting to know Gavin and the whole family, and gaining invaluable experience and knowledge of songwriting, performing and the music industry. Since then, he has rubbed shoulders with the likes of The Fray, Kodaline and blessed enough to hang with one of his favourite bands, OneRepublic.
In January 2014, Kurtis returned to Nashville to record his debut EP with well respected producer, Dune Baydoun. The release is a culmination of the experiences and hard work of the past two to three years. Kurtis says “Hard work is not always a bad thing. To me, it’s what shows how bad you want it. What risks you’re willing to take. Whenever I meet successful artists in the industry, the nicest ones are always the ones who had to work to get where they are. I’m glad to pay my dues like all those guys did. They appreciate it so much more and work all that much harder to keep it. Those are the people I look up to and wish to emulate.”
Kurtis’ debut release is a 4 track EP set for release in May 2014. “The EP is a snapshot of the things that have affected me most over the past couple years and one in which I wanted to show a range of song-writing. I write a lot of songs. Sometimes 4 or 5 a week. I naturally am more drawn to write pop or americana songs and someday I’d like to get into song-writing for other artists; Ryan Tedder is the king of that right now. This EP has a good mix of sounds, some alternative sounds, a ballad, some anthemic pop/rock, a common theme throughout and I’d like to think it all flows pretty well. Personally I’d rather play all these songs live for anyone that wants to hear them because I don’t think anything compares to the power of live music, but the aim with this record is to reach people, to give even one person something that helps them through the day, cheers them up or connects them to someone else in the same way that music has done for me. If that happens, to me, the record is a success. Levon Helm famously said “I’m not in it for my health.” Now, I’m grateful for my health and I want to stay healthy so for me, it’s more like “I’m not in it for fame.” So many people seem obsessed with that idea these days and everyone’s got a fancy camera and a macbook to make well produced versions of other peoples songs to get “famous”. I’d rather get on the street and play for strangers in the hope someone might take a few minutes from our busy lives because they heard something they didn’t want to walk away from just yet. I’m in it for that. And maybe someday keep playing bigger rooms and reaching more people that might feel something from what I wrote from a living room in Dublin.”