This interview was featured in issue #6 of Sinical Magazine. Photos by: Chloe Reyes www.ShesCraftyPhotography.com/
Curse Mackey has carved a unique and engaging path in the world of electro-industrial music and as an in-demand art curator and creative consultant. From his early days as a vocalist/samplist for the notorious tribal-industrial group EVIL MOTHERS, to his involvement with MY LIFE WITH THE THRILL KILL KULT, his evolution from keyboardist to lead vocalist of industrial supergroup PIGFACE and as creator of the wickedly enchanting GRIM FAERIES, Curse has continued to redefine and redesign his artistic output and lifestyle. He was the founder of the controversial Club Fuck in Tampa, FL and DJ's fetish and art events throughout the U.S.
Sabrina Sin: How did you get started into the music business?
Curse Mackey: Once I was officially kicked out of the house by my step dad, who I love dearly now and definitely has helped me many times in life including by kicking me out of the house, me and my best friend Raleigh moved to an old decrepit neighborhood in San Antonio that we quickly dubbed Satantonio.
We moved into a two-story haunted house that was also occupied by these guys I knew from the local clubs Patrick Sane and B.O.B, who were looking for a singer for an industrial project they wanted to do. We hit it off over music by Throbbing Gristle, Einsturzende Neubauten, Nick Cave, Coil, books by William S. Burroughs, JG Ballard, Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Anton LaVey, and films by Jodorwosky, Dario Argento, Kenneth Anger, art by Joe Coleman, HR Giger, Bosch, Industrial Research Laboratories and the like and out of that common interest in semi-subversive, abstract art Evil Mothers was formed or perhaps malformed..It was a breach birth for sure.
Prior to Evil Mothers become an illegitimate entity, I was addicted to buying import vinyl from Hogwild Records in San Antonio. One of the best records stores ever. The owner saw I had an affinity for the gloomier weird shit..so he fed my curiousity with industrial music as well as Joy Division, The Smiths, Bauhaus/Love and Rockets, Skinny Puppy, early Depeche Mode, The Cure, Ministry, Wax Trax etc.. So eventually I amassed a bad ass record collection. All the freaks would hanging out at this gay bar in SA which was really the only place you could hear any of underground music at the time. I made friends with DJ Jesse (R.I.P.), who was one of the best, most popular DJs in Texas at the time, who took me under his wing, taught me how to beat mix on turntables, he was a true master of vinyl mixing and so I'd help carry his records in, he'd let me DJ the first hour when no one was at the club yet and then I would go on to my bar back job lugging ice and beer bottles around for the rest of the night. But every night he taught me something new about DJing. Eventually this led to me coercing the club owner to give me my own night on an off-night at which point we started doing an industrial horror performance night called Cadaver Club, which was got me into producing and promoting events.
Several months later I got a contact for Skinny Puppy and worked out a deal to bring them to San Antonio on their ViviSectVI tour. This was the first concert we ever put on, we lost our ass financially and learned a lot about how to put on a real concert trial by fire style, but to this day I am really good friends with Ogre and Cevin Key and we went on to produce other shows when Puppy came through Texas. About a month after the first Puppy show we got a call from Al Jourgensen asking if we wanted to put on a Ministry show, which of course we did! Shortly thereafter I brought Thrill Kill Kult to San Antonio for like their second show ever. I put on shows by KMFDM, Front Line Assembly and many others. The American industrial scene totally blew up between Chicago and Texas.
So early on I learned, by trial and error, how to produce an event from the ground up. Dealing with booking agents and tour managers, sound system requirements, security, making money, losing money and grassroots promo, I would go out every night flyering cars and promoting my events. This was prior to Facebook invites. If you wanted people at a show you had to get out there and earn it and inform people as the scene was small and way underground then. I produced the Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste Tour in Texas for Ministry which is where I met Martin Atkins, who then asked me to promote some Pigface shows in Texas. At this time Evil Mothers was just starting up so I leveraged Evil Mothers to become the opening band for Pigface. We ended up on stage for th encore playing our burning oil drums and then touring with them all over the damn place chasing the tour bus in our little yellow "short" school bus. From there I was absorbed into being a "full-time" Pigface member. That also led me to doing like 6-years as a member of My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult and from their launching the Grim Faeries project and doing video game soundtrack work. It's all been a series of fortunate disasters. Haha!
Sabrina Sin: Did you always want to be a musician when you grew up?
Curse Mackey: My mom has a picture of me when I was 5 years old standing in front of the TV with a microphone stand I had built from some kind of lego-like toy. So yeah I've always been drawn to music and also my family was always way into music. I like doing other things too. I think I am more of a performer and producer than a musician per se. I can make music with instruments and machines in the studio and prefer just singing when it comes to performing live but I also love curating art exhibits, producing events, designing books and dealing with all of the business that goes into surviving as a creative person. Music was the launching point into my artistic entrepreneurship.
Sabrina Sin: What other careers had/ have you considered?
Curse Mackey: I think you only get one career. My life is my career. I think that's the same for anyone unless you are just switching jobs. My primary creative focus ebbs and flows over time, but everything I have done has opened another door just enough for me to pass through to the next phase. I am a singer, DJ/remixer, concert producer, writer, art curator with international museum credits and published books, and I do a lot of stuff as a marketing consultant producing webcasts, videos and events for Dean Guitars. But I've never stopped DJing or performing live. I dig it all and I continue to learn to do more and add to my arsenal every day.
I was an architecture/interior design major so that was where I was headed when I was in high-school and didn't have much direction or guidance but skateboarding and music were much higher priorities. Once I started making money DJing then I was like cool I have a job so no more school! And I had a greater passion for the allure, freedom and general debauchery that came with my style of music. I went from Frank Lloyd Wright to Frank Lloyd Wrong in the matter a song.
Sabrina Sin: Who are some of your biggest musical influences today?
Curse Mackey: Nick Cave, David Bowie, Johnny Cash, Iggy Pop, Hank III, Trent Reznor, Perry Farrell, Ogre from Skinny Puppy are in the upper echelon of people that I have a lot of admiration for. I am more influenced and inspired by artists that have have survived the ups and downs of the music business and stayed pretty true to their vision. It's not about musical style for me. I like a lot of different music.
Sabrina Sin: What CD's would we have found in a young Curses collection?
Curse Mackey: I'm still young! Lol....Early on it was KISS, Judas Priest, Van Halen, Black Sabbath then I got turned onto the Sex Pistols which was the gateway to my interest in the post-punk stuff like Killing Joke, Gang of Four, Siouxsie, Bauhaus, Joy Division and the whole goth, new wave and then industrial scene. Otherwise when I was really, really young I had an extensive collection of Muppets/Sesame Street and Disney vinyl and access to my dad's massive Beatles record collection of Beatles, Hendrix and Elton John records.
These days, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds is typically floating on the top of the pile. I love IAMX and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. I have so many CDs, vinyl and now digital files, I can't keep up with my collection so I mainly just focus on keeping the "all-night naked dance party collection" up to date for my awesome girlfriend Angela Ryan.
Sabrina Sin: Tell me a little about your transition between musical groups. In what ways do you feel the different groups changed your style?
Curse Mackey:My taste in music has evolved over time. So my DJ sets stay very contemporary and I am not going to make music tomorrow that sounds like something from 10 years ago. I am looking forward to what comes next. I have to dig in and challenge myself to get something new produced, I have a new project that I have been collaborating with Steven Seibold of Hate Dept. on for a while now, I want to do more Evil Mothers shows as the revival shows were awesome as well as continue developing my art projects. I also have two large art exhibits "Six-String Masterpieces" and "DRAW" (which I co-curated with Fuse Gallery NYC owner Erik Foss) that are on museum tours. Erik and I co-curated a critically acclaimed 500+ piece art exhibit called DRAW that debuted in NYC in 2006 and is still on it's world tour. So between music, art and surviving the business of life every day brings change. The world is on sensory overload, it's like the "age of too much information", so sometimes it's a struggle to maintain focus or to feel like I am making the progress I want due to outside obligations or inside pressure, but there is a line in an old Evil Mothers song that says "Adapt or Die" and I intend to die with my boots on, bashing it out and having fun doing it until the lights go out permanently. I've seen a lot of the world, met amazing people, lived a very free-spirited life because of music and art and that's worth millions in my eyes. I'm ready for more.
Interview by Sabrina Sin.