On the eve of the Middle of the Map Fest’s second night in Westport (April 6th 2012), I got the chance to sit down with local singer-songwriter Kurt Vee. Previously I’d profiled Kurt and one of his shows at the Riot Room for Demencha, but this time gave us more of an opportunity to discuss Kurt’s music, his ramshackle past and the demons he still wrestles with on a daily basis:
DEMENCHA: When did you start playing music? Do you have a certain memory?
Kurt: In 5th or 6th grade I got my first guitar and I was already in bands or I would scheme or plot to be in bands. So I guess like 11 or 12. Sixteen or seventeen years ago I guess…getting old. [Laughs]
DEMENCHA: What sort of music were you into then? What was your inspiration? Nirvana is sort of the touchstone of that era.
Kurt: Yeah and some local bands. A band from Lawrence called Stick…I mean I guess Frogpond, Outhouse, Molly McGuire, all that 90s alternative.
DEMENCHA: What sort of stuff do you listen to now? We’ve talked a little bit before and I mentioned Kurt Vile just because of the name similarity.
Kurt: I don’t know, I was listening to the Distillers yesterday. And American Football an old emo band out of Chicago. Mike Kinsella [member of American Football] and his older brother Tim were in some bands that I’m always drawn back to: Cap’n Jazz, Joan of Arc…Owls. So like that whole pooling of bands I’ve been kind of running through.
DEMENCHA: You’re doing an acoustic singer-songwriter thing now, are there singer-songwriters you emulate or that are inspirational?
Kurt: I don’t know, I listen to Man Man a lot but it’s just a whole collective mishmash. I listen to a lot of old collaborative efforts.
DEMENCHA: Is that something you want to take your music into next?
Kurt: If people are willing to play around me I’d definitely play with them. It’s just about who. And my life is so chaotic right now…not that anything crazy cool or bitchin’ is going on just alcoholic binges…a band doesn’t want to have to deal with that stuff.
DEMENCHA: Is a band something you would settle down for then?
Kurt: Yeah, I think so…I don’t know. I just saw that Minden is moving to Portland and Capybara might too.
DEMENCHA: Do you know the guys from Capybara?
Kurt: Kind of. I know Marc from it, he used to be involved with the Record Machine. And I stayed with him for a short time in Brooklyn before Capybara had even put anything out.
DEMENCHA: You lived in Brooklyn for awhile or stayed there at least?
Kurt: For a little bit, then I ended up in Europe. Then I came back [to Brooklyn] because I left all my stuff there but I ended up staying in Europe for 7-9 months.
DEMENCHA: What were you doing in Europe?
Kurt: My dad has a place in Austria. I went for two weeks and my dad said he’d pay me 100 Euros a week to watch the place. I really had no goals or anything. I rode the rails around, I had a rail pass. So I did that for awhile and then ended up back in Kansas City. I was here for a year and then picked up a guitar and just drank and worked. Then I moved to Denver for a girl…it didn’t work out. I squatted in downtown Denver with some friends and bought a guitar with some money I’d saved up.
DEMENCHA: Do you have any shows coming up?
Kurt: I just had to cancel a bunch of stuff because I was in the hospital. The plan now is to try to get into the studio and record some stuff.
Kurt is currently at work on his first full length album, tentatively titled Kurt Vee is Going to Die. Look for part II of our interview on Demencha soon.