(Original Photo By: Nanda Hagenaars)
Breaking into the music world is not an easy task, however, staying there and remaining consistent can prove to be even more difficult. We talked to breakthrough British producer/DJ Curbi, real name Toby Curwen-Bingley, about some of the struggles of making a name and maintaining one as an artist in the electronic music scene. Only 18 years old, the UK native has already had massive singles such as “51,” “Triple Six,” and “Bruh” with Mesto, releasing music on both Spinnin’ Records and Musical Freedom. As Curbi has made a name for himself over the past couple of years, the surrealness of the journey has not worn off on him.
“It’s crazy, man. I’m just a normal guy. I make music, DJ, and now people really look up to me. It hits me…the way they say the music hits them. Because I’m just one normal guy. But it’s really nice to hear that my music hits people in an emotional way. It makes me feel good and like I’ve been given a purpose, which sounds cliché, but it’s true.”
After achieving success at such a young age, you might think that Toby had been groomed to be a musician all his life. While he always had an interest in music as a younger child, it wasn’t until he was introduced to dance music in his teens that his passion for producing really took off. Take note kids…he taught himself how to produce and has carved out a career for himself. While it’s important to pick up a guitar or piano to learn and understand music, the right production software can also transform lives. Music composition is just as important as music theory. Now that he has set a nice baseline for himself, Toby says his main priority is to remain consistent both as an artist in the studio and on tour.
“My childhood dreams have somewhat changed. When I was younger I wanted to do many things, but nothing related to music. When I was seven I received my first drum kit, then towards the age of 14 I got into dance music and everything just started happening. My production went from a drum kit to a laptop and things have just progressed really quickly.
I think my biggest fear is not being consistent and maintaining what I’m doing. So as long as I keep releasing the music, keep the shows coming in, and everything is consistent then I think it should be pretty good. The scene is changing a lot now and to keep up with that is quite difficult, and I think that is my biggest fear. But other than that, I’m really excited and enthusiastic.”
A lot of times writers and producers are encouraged to workshop their material, seek out criticism and look for ways to improve. That’s all well and good, but often times we are our own best and worst critics. Once you’re comfortable doing what you want to be doing, you know if the work is good or not, you don’t need anyone to tell you otherwise. That’s the boat that Toby has found himself in. Quantity or quality? For him, it’s always the latter. He admits that all of his first productions were not up to par with his work now, but working through them brought him to where he is today. He admits it can be difficult to consistently put out great tracks now that his work needs to meet a certain standard. We can say we’re not paying attention to what other people think, but often times that’s just not true. Toby points out that artists do have to keep that in mind.
“Before I got signed I was making all these tracks that were really shitty. But I was making music on a day-to-day basis, like constantly pushing out tracks and then I got signed and everything just hit me at once. It was like oh my god, right, I need to keep making music now, and there was a little bit of pressure on me. No one actually put any pressure on me, but it was internal. I’ve had a lot of writer’s blocks in the past. Asking myself if people would like my music and such. It’s still going through my head today too. I don’t think there’s ever a point where I’m going to just keep making music and not be wondering what people think of it. That’s always in your mind, and I think a lot of other producers have that as well. But, yeah, writer’s block is just a constant battle.”
Like so many other young people across the globe, one of Toby’s most tenuous relationships growing up was with education. Especially after working on music throughout his teens and having proper releases before he graduated high school, the struggle with education has always been present in his life. Thankfully with some experience under his belt and the support of his family, he was able to make a clean break with higher education. He did finish high school, albeit, not with the best of grades. While few would ever not recommend to someone that they pursue a higher education and continue learning, everyone does follow a different path, and for some, college is not the route for them. Toby is one of those individuals and thankfully he’s had his family behind him every step of the way. Like so many young adults out there fresh out of the education system, he’s still counting on the support of his family before he makes the next big move.
“Funny thing is…I got signed at the very end of leaving school when I was about 16. I was in the last part of my school year and it was coming up to my exams and everything hit me. I always hated school. So I gave up on trying. It was really bad, but I told myself that none of my grades would be good anyway, so I might as well go full out on music. In England we thought they made you go to college for two years until you’re 18, depending on which course you’re on, and then you can leave education. I went to college for like 6-7 months, but I was really fed up with education and I just wanted to pursue music full-time. So I was speaking to my mom/family and discussing what I could do. She found out you don’t actually need to do those two years of college so I left school and everything fell into place. My family has always been quite supportive about the whole situation, which I know is lucky.”
Curbi is at the forefront of the next generation of producers, both in the US and worldwide, who can help make a positive impact with their music in a time when the world is starkly divided. The power of music to unite is not lost on Toby and he absolutely hopes that his music can help make a positive impact on the world. With so much negativity going on, the next generation will look to the artists of tomorrow to hopefully help lead the way towards a better society.
“There’s a lot of really bad tragedies happening in the world right now and everyone seems to come together with music, especially with our young generation. When I see a young person making music and chasing their dreams, I think that it’s really important to help push them and to bring our community together. That way they stay out of trouble. We’re all coming together for music…it helps to bring more peace to the world. That’s one incredibly positive result of music.”