Feeding Fingers: La Poetica del Songo – An interview with Justin Curfman (Italian & English)
by Justin Curfman
The following interview with Justin Curfman is from Ascension
Magazine #26 (Italy). Please support this publication. Order physical copies directly by writing them via Facebook, here. The interview is available in both Italian and English below:
You may read the original Italian here:
Feeding Fingers: La Poetica del Songo
- Feeding Fingers: La Poetica del Songo – Interview with Justin Curfman in Ascension Magazine #26 – Page 1 (hi-res .pdf)
- Feeding Fingers: La Poetica del Songo – Interview with Justin Curfman in Ascension Magazine #26 – Page 2 (hi-res .pdf)
Or read the English transcript here:
Feeding Fingers: The Poetry of Song
The following is an English transcript of an Interview with Justin Curfman, frontman for Feeding Fingers, for “Ascension Magazine” #26 – 2011 (Italy) – conducted by Maria Rita Pugliesi.
Can you describe your music to us?
I am afraid that I can’t answer that question. I think that question can’t be answered by any artist working in any medium without sounding presumptuous or pompous.
What are your influences to write music?
I am most often influenced by small things – fragments of
conversations, dreams, violent children, certain gestures – among other, more personal things. I don’t find much beauty or much worthy of remark in politics, popular culture, religion, etc. – to be honest. For me, those things are all sort of a dull, unreasonably complicated and unnecessarily dramatic social and economic game. I do find certain elements of those games novel and absurd enough to capture, sculpt and use as material sometimes. But, ultimately – none of it really says anything to me. I feel that I understand much of it, but I don’t relate to it. And music itself influences me less and less as time moves on. I can usually find more influence and inspiration in a pair of wet socks than I can in music.
What is your songwriting process like?
Music and lyrics are two almost entirely different entities, for me. I write music first – nearly always. I cannot write lyrics first and then write music around words. It doesn’t work for me. However, there is, I admit, two songs on “Detach Me From My Head” where I did dabble in writing lyrics first and music secondly. Those two songs have been well-received by the public and viewed as symbols of growth for Feeding Fingers, but I can’t say that I am altogether pleased with them. I will not say what those two songs are, but our listeners that have stuck around for these past five years or so are probably able to point them out.
Typically, my songwriting process begins with a dream, a hallucinatory moment or some exploration of sensual or psychological indulgence – a small event or fragment that I like to dwell on or find some joyful place in my imagination – nothing ever with an agenda or a literal “message”. I sit on these moments and make note of them and elaborate in one medium or another. If I feel that the thought or fragment it best explored, developed and expressed in song or tone, I do so. But, even still – I don’t write music to the idea itself or the words associated with it. I do my best to never force anything. I think of my songwriting process as something more akin to sculpting.
I will find a sonic motif of some sort from somewhere in my imagination. I will play this motif on a piano, guitar, bass – or in the case for the “Detach Me From My Head” album – a ukulele, until it becomes something like wordless mantra. Then, I will place a bass structure underneath it, followed by percussion, keys and lastly, guitar. Once the music is arranged and recorded, I will sing a non-lyrical melody over the music – essentially nonsense. I will sing over the music until something works – until there is some melodic cohesion. Then, finally, I write lyrics. This process sometimes takes ages. I can’t write campfire-style pop songs. That type of writing feels fraudulent to me. I am not, by definition, much of a musician at all.
Why did you choose the name “Feeding Fingers”?
The name of the band comes from some apparent pre-occupation with oral fetishism and a certain aesthetical joy found in a recurring dream involving girls, walls and a man living between them – feeding his fingers to the girls.
What can you tell us about your album “Detach Me From My Head”? What is the meaning of the title?
It is, I think, my most personal musical work to date. I can tell you that it was released September, 28 2010 from Tephramedia. It has eleven tracks. It is a little over forty minutes long. It is, hopefully, a forward-sounding release from the band. We are currently touring the album. As for the meaning of the title… after knowing the title and hearing the tile aloud and in my head for over a year, and performing the title track on two different continents and never quiet understanding it… I think that might have finally figured it out. But, it isn’t anyone’s business. I can tell you that it is something of a modest plea. I can tell you that it was granted in some figurative way.
Do you think that your new album is similar or different from
The new album is very different from “Baby Teeth”, I think. But, I feel that it is complimentary to both “Baby Teeth” and “Wound in Wall”. The three releases are not so far removed from one another that one might be alienated by one or the other. I feel that the albums, as with all of my work, are pieces of the whole and not really one thing unto another unto themselves.
Can you tell us something about your surrealistic lyrics? What are your usual themes and inspirations?
I can tell you that I don’t write anything with intent. I don’t “look” or even “think” of lyrics. Lyrics find me. I don’t know how to answer this question in a more honest way. I have no conscious theme in any of my lyrics. I have no conscious theme in any of my work. I don’t even remember writing most of my lyrics. Sometimes I find them in notebooks and wonder where they came from and hope that there are more, useful and better ones somewhere.
To celebrate the release of the album ‘Detach Me from My Head’, Feeding Fingers are touring the US and Europe. Can you tell us your impressions about the tour?
Feeding Fingers toured the USA and Europe rather extensively in late 2009 through early 2010 in support of “Baby Teeth”. Those narratives are available, at length, online.
As far as the current tour is concerned – Feeding Fingers are performing only four shows in the USA. We are performing:
January 22 in Atlanta, Georgia
January 28 in Jacksonville, Florida
February 2 in New York, New York – with David J (bassist from BAUHAUS and Love & Rockets)
February 4 also in New York, New York
I am interested in how the shows in the USA will be received since our relocation to Germany from the USA. I can give you my impressions on of the USA shows the day after they are over, on February 5 – if you are interested. Just get in touch with us. You will have to wait until then.
Feeding Fingers will then re-group and start performing again in Europe in June 2011, beginning with a show at Wave Gotik Treffen (WGT) in Leipzig, Germany on Friday, June 10.
Can you talk us about your video artist activity?
I am primarily a stop-motion puppet animator. There are examples of some of my work available online, if you are interested. I have a few other video, animation and film projects in development now which will being to be produced in 2011 through 2013, during times that I can sort of step away from Feeding Fingers and explore other things a bit.
Tell us about the film ‘Ticks’- why did you decide to make the film and what is it going to be about?
“TICKS” is a feature-length animated film which myself and my long-time friend and collaborator, Steven Lapcevic are working on. The film has been in production since 2006 with numerous production complications and interruptions along the way – mostly as a result of a snowball effect of activity that Feeding Fingers has had on my life since 2006.Around the summer of 2010, Steven and I began to work on the film together. Those of you that know Feeding Fingers know Steven’s work. He directed the Feeding Fingers animated music video for the song, “Fireflies Make Us Sick”. Much of the content of the film is summarized in the Feeding Fingers song, “Manufactured Missing Children”. “TICKS” is planned to be completed and released in 2012.
Why do you decide to live in Germany from USA?
I knew for a long time that Feeding Fingers needed to be exported to Europe for the group to stand a chance at having any real acceptance, relative success and longevity. Our tour of Europe in 2010 affirmed my assumption. But, that is just a small reason with regard to the big picture in my own, personal life.