Featured photo by: atmosvere
Interviewed by: Amanda Cosenza
Kurt Rockmore is a name that you need to know. His fans know him as “the life of the party”, but we know him as the energetic and driven musician he really is. In 2013, Kurt began touring the country with major acts. His story is truly unique in that Kurt’s climb to success has not been with the support of a music label. Kurt has managed to navigate his way onto major tours and festival without any label management, or cosign, but instead by using his business savvy and personality to build relationships that go beyond ‘just the music’.
We, at Festival Squad, had the opportunity to chat with him and learn more about how he got his unique sound, what it’s like being a famous musician without representation, and most importantly why he decided to donate a percent of his earnings to Breast Cancer research. Without further ado, let me introduce- Kurt Rockmore!
Festival Squad: You started making music at age 18 after a rained out basketball game lead to you and your cousin freestyling to pass the time. What about that inspired you to begin creating music professionally?
Kurt Rockmore: Yup, I don’t know how y’all found that story (laughing), but I would love to know. Yeah, I started messing around with the idea of creating music at 18. What really inspired me to create professionally were my 2 years of college. I honestly couldn’t focus, school stuff comes to me easy so I literally had no texts books or anything. I used all that money I got from my grandfather to build a studio in my parent’s basement. My belief always was, if you’re going to do something or be passionate about it, be balls to the wall fully invested in it. I was at St John’s University in my dorm trying to make beats, writing to other peoples beats, and that’s all I wanted to do. I promoted parties and messed with girls, but all of that always had to do with the entertainment world to me. The promoting parties and the wanting to always create made me understand this is my calling, so I focused on that.
Festival Squad: What was the role of music in your life before then? How do you feel that your sound has evolved from when you first started?
KR: As far as my sound goes, in the beginning (and not until about 3 years ago has it stopped) I was trying to make a song that ‘sounds like…’ whatever, whatever. I really didn’t have a definition of my sound. Like 2 years ago, I decided to figure it out, who I am, what am I MOST COMFORTABLE doing artistically. I always loved live instruments and I always loved BASS like SUBS not the Bass guitar. So, after I saw how my song ‘Everyday’ was doing on Soundcloud, all organically, I was like this is really my sound. I then made a song called ‘In the uber’ that had the similar heavy bass melodic sound and then I made the song that’s on my new project Life of the Party called ‘One Night’ and I was like THIS IS MY SOUND!! And I decided to coin it Rap & Roll because although it has that dirty sound, I still RAP, and love to RAP.
FS: You’ve managed to tour with some pretty well-known names as an indie artist with no agent or label, how did you manage it? Why did you decide to be independent?
KR: I think it’s my honesty that’s helped me out. It also has a negative effect sometimes because I never hold back any thoughts. But I think the other artists I come in contact with feel the fact that I’m not putting on an act, I’m not in ‘artist mode’ I’m always Kurt. I met a few artists on other tours and we become real homies because I don’t treat it as a business play. And when it’s time to tour, I reach out. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
I didn’t decide to be independent, it’s just what my situation is right now. A few people told me the numbers and stats I have should have me signed or on a label, but like I said before, it’s not an act, I’m not a gimmick, I’m really Kurt Rockmore, I really rage, I really have a family, and I guess to labels don’t see the value in that until I have enough fans for them to say “ah… we knew it”. I know with the proper platform my music is the only thing I need in order to make a label say “Glad we signed this guy”. I’m not chasing it though, I’m grateful for where I am and who supports me now. I’d love an agent though, sending all these damn emails gonna give me early carpal tunnel hahah.
FS: What have been some of the advantages/disadvantages of doing it on your own?
KR: The advantage of doing it on your own is really the fact that no one can tell me ‘NO’ creatively, although I listen to what people think or say or advice from others, nothing moves without me. I don’t act like some kind of dictator cause I feel like every record has 2 parents and a step parent that’s really heavily involved; The producer, the artist, and the engineer as the step parent, so everyones input matters. The disadvantage of being indie for me right now is exposure. I really just want the world to hear my story or the stories I’m sharing. I want them to hear my project from the beginning so they understand and feel the blood, sweat, and tears that go into my craft. I really care. So the minimal amount of people listening to my project right now hurts cause of the investment I have in it, but I know when the time comes, it will go where it has to and the world will know, right now, I’m just talking to the stars on it and putting it in the universe. I know with the proper platform, Light up the Night would be in the Album of the Year conversations.
FS: I really like the song, on your new album “Talking to the Stars”, especially the line “Momma always told me not to use the word maybe”. It’s very inspirational and has a killer guitar on it. It also seems to reflect a lot on your journey as an artist, can you tell me more about what this song means to you?
KR: Shout out to G. Bliz on all the guitars on the project. He’s also featured on a fan favorite from the project called ‘No Pictures’. But yeah this song really means a lot to me and I think it should be an anthem for anyone pursuing a dream or a goal. You gotta know it’s going to happen, you’re going to have your doubts, but when I started working on this project, before I really really dug in, I said this is going to be special. This is before I saved enough money to work on it, or anything. I was introduced to a producer named E. White and him and I became close quickly. We shared the same outlook on most things regarding life & music. It doesn’t hurt that he’s probably the most gifted producer that people haven’t heard of yet (2018 that is all going to change. I won’t be able to afford him anymore). We made Life of the Party, and as far as the feedback from people who support and people who listened to me for the first time on this project, it is special. We just have to get it out to the world, and we will, the stars hear me.
FS: You recently said on Twitter “Tell me what you’re currently going through I promise God got u & There’s a song on ‘Life of the Party’ that can help you.” Did you create your recently released album with a specific intention for fans in mind? How has the creative process been for this album in comparison to others?
KR: I made Life of the Party telling my truths. And I feel like since we’re all human, my truths are most people’s truths too. My insecurities, my fears, my losses, my wins are all relatable. I know we’re living in a world full of mental illness and insecurities that people are afraid to speak about and I know that I have a song on there for each person’s struggles, for the most part that is. I think the truth sets you free… and it’s a project full of truths and questioning my own self doubt and fears.
FS: I also noticed you used the balloon emoji a lot on Twitter, is there a meaning behind that?
KR: Balloons are just confirmation that I’m the Life of the Party (laughing). Glad you noticed though.
FS: I am very sorry to hear about your grandmother passing from breast cancer. My mom, like yours, also beat breast cancer, so I know how the battle against that evil can be and I just wanted to say I appreciate that you give a portion of your merchandise and sales on iTunes/stream go towards research. Can you tell me a little more about how your grandmother and mother have influenced you as a person and an artist?
KR: Glad to hear that your mother beat breast cancer, that’s amazing news… My grandmother passed before music was even a thing, so unfortunately she never got to see me go from nothing to where I am now. She was fun though and always had an energy about her that bounced off of everyone she’d come around. My younger brother and I are like her in that way. Always joking, always making people laugh, always the entertainment when it’s family time. My mother, she is the queen, a walking God, she is my everything. She doesn’t really understand how the music thing works (until she sees that first royalty check I bet she’ll understand then hahaha). She was still the one who gave me permission to build the studio in her basement even when my father wasn’t really in support of it. My mom is a worry wart, but I know she means well. I am the worst with communication, especially when I’m handling all the business of touring and running my career indie, so I really honestly don’t shoot the ”Hi mom” texts as often as I should, but she does a daily check in. If I’m not traveling, I go see her every Sunday, she has the immediate family over and she cooks a feast for everybody… She’s the greatest, I gotta make it for her. I don’t think I’ll feel like I made it until I can buy her a house.
FS: Now that the album is out, what do you have planned next?
KR: We (E. White, Wit the team and I) plan on making more music and sharing it. Maybe drop an EP or something and start working on another project at some point. Hopefully we have a bigger platform and we get to release it through some major outlets. I plan on touring and doing some headline shows too! Right now I’m going home to New York to headline at the Legendary SOBs on December 6th … you can get tickets to that at www.KurtRockmore.com/tour. We just want to share the project Life of the Party with the world and hearing everyone’s feedback on the work. We put our all into it and it’s more important that everyone hears it than it is that a few people buy it. Go listen to it on all streaming services or find it here.