Brian: On DC music rocks we're shinning a spotlight on the great songs, artists, and incredible people behind the DC regions music scene and Curtis Bergesen, aka DC Reggae, was born in Washington and grew up in Bethesda, Maryland. He's a collage artist, a publicist, drummer, vegetarian, and a man of many words as we're finding out now. While attending the University of Delaware he got involved with radio and created and hosted a show called Mixed Vegetables while he was there and he played a wide variety of musical genres through his 100 plus radio shows including underground and independent artists. So Curtis then started booking and promoting concerts and one of the first artists that he ever worked with was Giant Panda Gorilla Dub Squad which he has now shared with you by name multiple times so clearly we know there's love there. And in 2009 Curtis created DC Reggae which is to spread the word about Reggae concerts coming in the DMV.
So DC Reggae's whole purpose is they share information about all of the Reggae music whether it's international, national, local through their social media networks and their mailing lists and Curtis' passion for the arts extends beyond music. He also makes handmade collages under the alias Collage The World so he's got visual art and musical art and honestly I've been following you since I ran into you at, I think it was, we were at Gypsy Sally's when Giant Panda Dub Squad was there. Imagine that, I met you at a Giant Panda show.
Curtis B: Me and [crosstalk 00:01:23].
Brian: Sensing a theme.
Curtis B: Yes we met at Giant Panda Gorilla Dub Squad in February we were introduced by the infamous, too tough, Andy [Serdi 00:01:30]. Hi Andy. Great person in the DC music scene.
Brian: Yeah he's the guy from Fort Knox recordings we had him on the show a couple of times. He's heavily involved in the scene.
Curtis B: Serious connector, good human.
Brian: But it's, I've been a fan of yours and the work you're doing ever since so thanks for being here man.
Curtis B: Thank you so much.
Brian: How did you get into Reggae?
Curtis B: Let me just say I totally forgot I sent you this bio and it's incredible how well you seemed to know me Brian. In fact I was telling you some of this varying information before this episode this show. I was trying to tell you about this stuff and I'm like, "Oh the bio that I wrote and sent to them. Whoops." So how did I get-
Brian: Well we all ready know that stuff so now tell us more stuff man.
Curtis B: Yes so basically I've worked in the music business for over a decade specifically with mostly nationally touring Reggae bands, none of whom are actually from the DC area. And as time went on I said, "Well I'm from the DC area I may as well start a Twitter @DC Reggae to tweet about shows that are coming up in DMV." And as time went on I then made DC Reggae on Facebook and then an Instagram profile and around December time I thought, "Man it's really time to make a mailing list and start sending out a monthly newsletter with a concert calendar ticket giveaways and other fun things. Information about Reggae music et cetera and so that's basically where we're at. I am taking a little bit more of an active role DC Reggae rather than passively, occasionally posting about upcoming shows.
I'm trying to take it a little bit more seriously and do a more sort of across the board comprehensive job of promoting and, again, anyone who's out there give me a shout on socials or whatever. If you have a show coming up or you're excited about a show coming up that has anything to do with Reggae music in Washington D.C. in the surrounding areas please get in touch 'cause I'd love to spread the word about your show. And as we all know from DC Music Rocks it's all about connecting with people and spreading the word, I think more importantly than ever, verbal communication, text messages to your friends about cool shows or cool things going on it's not hard to stand out and make a little bit of a difference with some extra promotion outside of just sending an invite to a Facebook event or hoping that someone likes this Instagram page your friend runs that you mentioned to them one time.
Brian: I must say you got that speil down. Clearly you've been doing this for a little while. You got, you're all ready arming them with don't, you know, send a text, not a Facebook invite, like boy you clearly. I love it man. You're definitely involved with this thing but it's also everything that you're saying is true which is that the little bit of personal touch and clearly you put a lot of personal touch into what you do too with creating this DC Reggae thing. So I love that man. What part of the city is home for you?
Curtis B: So I grew up in Bethesda. I was born at Columbia Hospital for Women thanks to my mom for having me and giving birth to me. She's a special lady and I also learned, in preparing for this interview that Duke Ellington and Al Gore were also born at this hospital which is now been turned to condominiums, but anyway, yes I-
Brian: That was the most random story and I love it. Like we went from you being born, thanks mom, Al Gore, Duke Ellington, condos. I don't know if we could've done it any better man.
Curtis B: I'd like to thank my ... I'd like to thank my sponsor Wikipedia on that last information blast.
Brian: Oh God I love it. Thank you Wikipedia. All right so ...
Curtis B: I just moved in to a new apartment in, I think the neighborhoods called Cathedral Commons, but I don't know if that's-
Brian: Up near the National Cathedral?
Curtis B: It's near the National Cathedral-
Curtis B: There's a lot a trees and forests nearby which is super crucial when you look out of a apartment window all day if you do that sort of thing. My girlfriend Crystal and I just moved in the past couple of days. It's been stressful as anybody who's ever moved [crosstalk 00:05:05]-
Brian: Oh wow one of those. Congratulations on the new place man.
Curtis B: Thank you so much.
Brian: That's exciting.
Curtis B: And also Crystal was a good sounding board for me yesterday prepping for this interview which I've been extremely nervous about and thanks to whoever's listening out there and sticking with me. I appreciate you listening because compared to Brian-
Brian: Curtis you're doing great man.
Curtis B: Compared to Brian-
Brian: Just stop it. Just stop it you're doing great man. Don't do it. So what's the, tell us about your earliest memory with music man?
Curtis B: So my earliest memory with music it's hard to say definitively but I remember my dad quizzing me about what song was on the radio. He'd say, "Okay who is this?" And I would say, "I have no idea." It was so hard to tell it was just like who knows. Led Zeppelin, The Police, I mean Doobie Brothers it could have been anyone and I got frustrated with him for it, but at some point this is the magic of communication and I don't know, potentially good parenting or music sharing. At some point I started remembering who it was and I could hear the song and I would say, "Oh this is so and so." Now I don't know how old I was or how long this took me, side note, again another girlfriend shout out, I now do this to my girlfriend Crystal. I say, "Oh what song is this?" And she's-
Brian: Oh God. It's your parents taught you and now you're doing it there too. That's funny.
Curtis B: She says, "I have no idea. I'm only interested in what Beyonce is doing with ..." Yeah. Her next world tour which I am also interested in. Beyonce is absolutely incredible.
Brian: That's like the bae squad. She's one of the baes. Yeah.
Curtis B: Yeah so early music experience I credit to my dad quizzing me on what song we were listening to and-
Brian: And was that in the car or was that at home? Where was that normally?
Curtis B: I would say probably the car. It could have been at home, again, I'm in my late 90's now so it's hard to say exactly what decade it was but-
Brian: We did, we did see you if you look at the pictures on social media. We got the ... There's definitely long hair version of Curtis and a short hair version of Curtis and various lengths of beard Curtis. So it's been a lot of evolutions over a year. 90 plus years you're just talking about now [inaudible 00:07:00] that's, I like it.
Curtis B: My hair farming came to an end after three plus years in this past fall and I've had a lot of work done. So all though I'm in my 90's I do appear to be more like my mid 30's.
Brian: Oh incredible. Well whatever that plastic surgeon is we shouldn't plug 'em here.
Curtis B: Yes.
Brian: What's, now what about you on the personal side? Outside of this music thing what else do you do? Hobbies? What do you do?
Curtis B: So one of my main things that I'm doing these days is handmade collage, or analog collage as you referred to in the scene.
Brian: And if they don't know what that means?
Curtis B: Yeah so cutting and pasting, sometimes ripping. Usually with scissors or an X-Acto blade and gluing or sometimes taping different pieces of magazine or brochure or pages out of a book or pretty much any random printed object. Taking pieces from different places and gluing them together into a new idea or concept or piece of art. And for visually getting to what I'm talking about you can check out my Instagram at Collage The World. It's basically the word college but with an A. Collage The World. My most recent piece I just finished a couple days ago is actually a collage featuring David Hinds who is the front man of the incredible Reggae band Steel Pulse. So-
Curtis B: It's actually the first Reggae oriented collage I've done, but I'm spending quite a bit of time making him a collage, aka art, and that's something I've really been diving in hard on the past year or so and have gone down some serious rabbit holes on Instagram discovering and connecting with collage artists from all over the world. It's an amazing piece, style of art in that anyone can do it, even someone like Brian, who I don't know if he's artistic with paints or drawing or anything. He could take two pieces of paper, rip them or cut them and glue them into a new composition and I would by them for a lot.
Brian: Oh but a [inaudible 00:08:48] somehow that, you know I love this, I love this conversation too because that's something that like the time and the patience that it must take to collage is just astronomical to find the right picture and then collage it together and that's ... And like I love creating. With the radio show and I'm the drummer in a rock band and so everybody has their art thing that they love and I love talking about this because that's like I personally wouldn't collage, but I've seen some collages that look absolutely incredible so I love that this is a cool little side thing you got going there.
Curtis B: Well exciting side note, those of you who are familiar with Reggae music Chronixx, arguably, the biggest Reggae artist in the world right now who's in his 20's who's from Jamaica very talented. He also has an amazing band. Chronixx's most recent album Chronology which I think won, was Rolling Stone magazine in the top 50 albums of last year which Rolling Stone doesn't give too many nods to Reggae music so that's saying something. Chronixx's last album, the album cover and also the inner album artwork, if you have the vinyl or the CD, were done by a collage artist Dewey Saunders.
Brian: Well look at that. Cool man.
Curtis B: So album artwork which is always a very tricky thing as any band members or artist can attest to collage is any amazing way to go.
Brian: That's cool. I do, now I want to ask you one piece, if my favorite question. If you could offer one piece of advice what would it be?
Curtis B: Well you're going to hate this 'cause I know we're crunched on time, but I have a few things. First of all, go outside. Go outside five or ten minutes every afternoon, if you work at home this can be especially critical but also if you're at an office job at a cubicle take five to ten minutes, go outside in the afternoon, get some fresh air, even if it's nasty outside and if you're boss says, "Hey what's up?" You can be like, "Hey well what about Don who's smoking cigarettes all day long going outside? I don't need a cigarette to go take five minutes to feel a little bit better about myself and to get a breath of air and a recharge. My next advice and this is a critical one for music-
Brian: Curtis you're such an overachiever. I asked for one man. You're such an overachiever.
Curtis B: I know I'm sorry Brian but I'm going to tear through this. I work hard-
Brian: How many do you have? Prepare me.
Curtis B: I have three.
Curtis B: So lesson number two if you're going to get a band tattoo don't just like let the tattoo artist pull an image off of the band's Myspace or something. Hit up the band and say, "Hey I want to get your logo or your recent album cover art tattooed. Can you send me the file?" You never know their manager-
Brian: Is this a common thing?
Curtis B: Band tattoos are very common and many bands I've worked with over the years occasionally will see a fan photo of, "Oh I got the Giant Panda logo." So hit up the band, get the original artwork before you get a tattoo that's going to change your life or ruin your life.
Curtis B: And final piece of advice is, and this I, is something I'm trying to do more often. Acknowledge people and say thank you for things to people if it's a co-worker or whoever it is, even a routine thing, we all appreciate being acknowledged for hard work we do even if it's basic stuff or part of your job. You never know who can use a pick me up so saying thank you and appreciating people more is a good positive thing to do and we all like being appreciated.
Brian: I love it. So be appreciative, go outside, and tattoos. That was an amazing collection of advice man. All right. So let's just back into some music. Oh and by the way if they want to find out more about you it's @ DC Reggae. Everything's @ DC Reggae.
Curtis B: @ DC Reggae on all socials.