South Carolinian musician Curt Heiny performs about 150 shows per year as Archnemesis and each time he looks forward to unleashing his full sensory performance on the crowd.
An electronic dance music (EDM) artist with a sound described as “electro hip-hop soul,” Heiny says early exposure to a mix of genres is responsible for his creations. Classically trained on the cello since childhood, Heiny spent his teenage years listening to punk, metal and rock before becoming passionate about jazz in college where he studied music theory and composition. The 37-year-old multi-instrumentalist is equally comfortable playing clubs or the symphony but feels most at home playing upright bass in jazz trios and quartets.
“I play a lot of jazz when I’m not doing Archnemesis, so the jazz influence I think comes into the overall sound,” Heiny says. “As long as my fingers will allow me, I’ll always play jazz.”
Demonstrating that his eclectic taste is still intact, Heiny says he would love to work with Tom York from Radiohead, Les Claypool from Primus, country artists like Zac Brown, pop artists like Katy Perry, and fellow EDM artist Avicii, who has also dabbled in the country-laced EDM sound he wants to explore as Archnemesis.
Heiny first cut his electronic chops with a band called Telepath before forming Archnemesis about five years ago with friend Justin Aubuchon, who left the duo in 2013 to focus on family.
And then there was one, but apparently one is all it takes to command the growing throng of fans—the “Nemesis Army”—who flock to Archnemesis’ live shows.
The transition to performing solo gave Heiny “the freedom to be able to do more live, to change directions if I want to as opposed to having two people and trying to coordinate what we are going to do [and play].”
There are several reasons Archnemesis is amassing a huge following nationwide:
- he has a sweet afro
- his music is free (“Always has been, always will be,” Heiny says)
- his performance always includes an awesome light show
- his music is guaranteed to make you move
- his most exceptional trait, he advocates a drug-free EDM environment.
As Archnemesis, Heiny feels the pulse of the EDM community and sees its best and worst sides. “There’s just so much rampant drug use, so I’m trying to use music and create an environment where people don’t feel as though they have to come and eat a bunch of drugs to have a good time,” he says. “It should be about the music and being able to feel welcomed [and accepted] in an environment where everybody’s there for the music.”
The music and the lights, that is. Heiny says, “With electronic music, having lights behind you, especially if you have a good light guy, accentuates the songs, and that’s the point behind it. My friend Andrew who’s been with me for about three years is my permanent light guy [and] production manager. [The light] rig is something that he built [from] original design concepts that we came up with. The production and the lights, that’s something I’ve been adamant about having from day one.”
Archnemesis may be tackling club scenes now, but he’s already set his eyes on the next conquest—Hollywood. Heiny had his music featured in documentaries and indie films such as “Forever Brooklyn,” “Selfie,” and “The Drop: The EDM Cultural Explosion,” which explores the growth of the electronic music scene.
Heiny is currently working on new Archnemesis material for his first solo project, which fans may be able to download as early as next spring.
Visit archnemesismusic.com for all music downloads and to learn more about this artist.
Photos by South Carolina Portrait Photographer Sean Rayford.
An edited version of this story first appeared in Jackson Free Press August 27 – September 2, 2014 (volume 12 no 51)