If you have been around the Jersey Shore over the last few years you are probably familiar with at least one Nude Curtis Persona. From DJ’ing to podcasting to finally dropping his debut album, he’s a guy that moves in a few different worlds and makes art in several different mediums.
NJ Next’s Angelo Gingerelli got to talk to this man of many talents about his new album, the Jersey Shore and pursuing multiple passions at the same time.
When does Hip-Hop enter your life and when did you make the transition from fan to artist?
I would sneak in to my older brother’s room and listen to his CD’s, his first hip hop albums were NWA, Eazy E, and Public Enemy.
I think the first time I actively sought out Hip-Hop was when I got The Fugee’s The Score.
I would listen to it over and over and would notice little things each time, how the lines could have multiple meanings and get the references they would make, and that fact that I really enjoyed it, and that I would keep discovering things put enjoying it in a feedback loop.
I became an artist in that respect when I went to college. It took moving away to realize the things I enjoy I could make for other people to enjoy, that is the intention anyway. I was in a band in college, and from that I would meet other artists and different types of musicians. I picked up on how to record and make loops and whatnot, and the interaction with the band became a negative experience, or at least that was my perception of it.
Anyway, I quit the band and started making my own music and hung out with people in the local Hip-Hop scene. This was in Albuquerque. So I would make beats and different people would jump on the tracks. Then they would perform the tracks and would invite me to perform my verse, which was such a great experience and I am so thankful for that.
Explain the differences between Andrew Talcott, Andrew Top Hat and Nude Curtis.
Hahahaha…Wow…OK…I was not expecting that!
Andrew Talcott is the name my parents gave me. He is a daytime business man doing business type things. Andrew Top Hat was a name given to me in an Albuquerque bus station and became my DJ name. My friends would call me that and I started using it for any time I would be on stage or performing in some form or another. I use it on my podcast now too, I think I like saying it, it’s less boring that saying Talcott, and it catches some people off guard which amuses me. I have known people that thought my name was actually Top-Hat, how cool would that be?
Nude Curtis started out as a joke between me and a friend of mine. It came about when I used to DJ a lot. We would refer to this imaginary DJ as “Nude Curtis.” Like the embodiment of everything we would make fun of other DJ’s about: all about the “scene,” playing the popular crap, dressing the part, stuff like that. The name stuck with me, and the more I thought about it, the more I realized Nude Curtis was more than that.
That DJ was popular. That DJ was about the “scene” because he was in it, he played popular crap because he was a popular DJ, and he dressed the part because he was the part, so why wouldn’t you dress cool? By making fun and judging others I was just being a hater. I realized that there was more to Nude Curtis too, he was confident, he believed in himself, didn’t care what other people thought, and he genuinely thought that his art was great. So, when I started shifting my attention back to making music after a little hiatus, I took the name as a joke. But that idea of being confident and believing in myself meant that I could turn the personal editor in my head down and not listen so much. If I was Nude Curtis, I would believe in the songs I was making and not be so hard on myself, things were actually getting done because I stopped second guessing myself and made finishing the album a priority.
I wanted to make an album where I was being honest with myself and confident in what I was doing. The more I worked on the album the more meaning the name took on for me and the more it represented how I felt.
Why is the project called “A Season in Hell” and what is the significance of the cover artwork?
The original idea for the album was a concept album. There is this movie from the 80s called “Eddie & the Cruisers” about a band whose leader (spoiler alert) faked his own death because their record label rejected their second album. There is a really crappy sequel where he comes out of hiding.
I was going to sample these movies. There are a lot of great lines I was going to pepper through the album. So in the movie the name of the album that got rejected was, A Season in Hell, which got its name from a book/poem this French poet Arthur Rimbaud wrote. At first naming my album the same was just a reference to the movie, but after reading the poem and getting in to actually making and finishing tracks the name felt like it fit. I felt like I was coming out of a tough time in my life, and that this album was a reflection on that time, the more I worked on it the more it helped get me through it, it was strange.
The cover art is a picture of the sky that was taken over the Belmar Bridge. My wife and I were driving over it and I asked her to take a picture, it was like the time of the season where the weather was becoming steadily warmer and it was just beautiful. The type of day when you know the cold crappy weather is well behind us and we can look forward to even better weather to come. I had this idea of having a beautiful blue sky on the album cover because this is the feeling I wanted captured, it reminds me of the feeling you get where you went through a very tough situation, but now you are on the other side of it, when you can finally breath and take a minute for yourself without being in stress mode.
A blue sky like that always makes me feel better ever since I was a little kid. It is one of the reasons I moved to Albuquerque, it is sunny there like 98% of the year. I really dislike a grey cloudy day, always makes me feel worse, when I was a little kid I would imagine that there was a device that could cut a hole in the clouds like a cartoon, just so I could see the blue sky. So the album cover is meant to recognize the idea of making it through a tough time, realizing it will pass and you will again get to see blue skies.
This album has taken a while to actually hit the public, what took so long?
Duuuuude. Making an album takes time! From the jump I knew that if I was going to do this, I was going to make it in the most professional way possible and the process showed me there was a lot I didn’t know.
I tried recording the vocals myself but it sounded like garbage. No matter if you like the songs or if you think they hold artistic merit, I wanted everything to sound professional, to sound great from a production standpoint. So I hired engineers and producers to make sure the mix sounded great. I also had a couple samples in the songs that I had to replace, I wanted the album to not have any issues with legalities with samples. That is one reason that none of the samples from “Eddie & the Cruisers” made it in either. I wanted it to be legit. There were some unforseen holdups that were not on my part, but I really had to learn patience and humility. Because once you are in the process, you can either keep going or you can quit, and for some reason on this I was not going to quit. So, even when I told friends and family that it was almost done and it kept dragging on I knew I sounded like a flake, but I just breathed and kept the faith that it would get done, turns out it got done just in time for a pandemic where everyone is stuck inside.
What was your creative process like for the project?
The beats came first, when I first started working on it I reached out to other people for beats, but I didn’t like most of the stuff I was getting. There are a few on there that other beatmakers made but most of them I made or coproduced. I made a bunch of instrumentals, I need the beats before I can write the lyrics in most cases.
After that I would drive around and listen to them. I have this thing where when I am working on a song I have to do it from beginning to end, I can’t, work on it in pieces. So, I have to play the song from the beginning, spit the lyrics that I have and then start the track over from the beginning until I have them all.
I can’t just start the song in the middle for some reason. I wanted to experiment too with how I did the different songs. For example on Theme from Nude Curtis, I didn’t write any of those lyrics, I wanted to do it like Jay Z or Lil Wayne and come up with it all in my head. I ended up doing that for some other songs too, but that is the only song where I didn’t write any of the lyrics down. Also, before recording the vocals I would memorize all the lyrics and practice until I had all the lyrics committed to memory before going in to the booth. That way it would cost less in studio time and I felt I would get a better flow going with the beat.
What’s next for all three of your personas?
Andrew Talcott is running his own marketing/creative agency and the business has been getting better and better, as the business grows I am learning more and more what it takes to run a business. Nude Curtis made me realize that doing what I am passionate about has to be at the forefront of whatever I do, so the business has been leaning on more of my creative talents and working with clients and people I enjoy being around and helping, and less trying to convince people of what to do when they don’t want to do it.
Andrew Top Hat has been a part of that too, through the podcast I do called “Totally Local” I interview local businesses and colorful characters in and around Monmouth and Ocean County.
DJ Andrew Top Hat is pretty much retired. I never found my audience, which translates to I never drew a huge crowd and it became frustrating. I like to play what I enjoy hearing on big speakers and the crowds, for the most part, didn’t get where I was coming from. It’s a thankless job, unless you can really rock a crowd and you have found your audience. Epic shouts to all the DJ’s in Asbury Park, the scene is sweet and there are a lot of talented DJ’s in the area.
As for Nude Curtis, the sky is the limit.
I have the formula and I will only perfect it, I want to grind out more and more music, I am shooting for at least one album a year if not more. I am working on some collaborations right now which you will hear about soon enough, I learned my lesson with this last album, I am not letting anyone know about anything until it is done. Out of anything I have done in life, this album made me feel like I was living what I was put here to do, and I think when anyone finds what they are truly passionate about they should not lose sight of it.
Rapid Fire Questions
Top 5 Rappers of All Time:
Top 4 Producers of All Time:
Top 3 Music Venues in New Jersey:
Anchors Bend (outside in the summer)
House of Independents
I love Asbury Park.
Top 2 Nude Curtis Songs You Would Recommend to a New Fan:
One Reason Everybody Should Check Out Nude Curtis:
I put my soul into this, and everything I rap is me at my most vulnerable, free of fear and doubt, being my most true self. If you feel lost or depressed or things seem hopeless and you are looking for a blue sky…check it out. If it inspires just one person then all the work and hours I put into it is worth it.