Week after week of drinking can strain your health — and, not to mention, your wallet — and that’s why last year Denver decided to try something different. Sundown, Colorado’s sober music festival, was created out of a desire to have something for everyone. It’s not every day that a music show prioritizes sobriety in a state known for its breweries and countless dispensaries. Sundown along with 303 Magazine have partnered up to offer a weekend of music, mindfulness and unity against societal norms. This year’s event is one to remember as UK producer and DJ Curbi headlines. 303 Magazine spoke with Curbi over a video call to hear some of his thoughts about the festival, his progress and future plans.
303 Magazine: How has your summer schedule been?
Curbi: I’ve done a few festivals here in Europe. Tomorrowland — I did that, actually, with Monstercat for their stage. I did a big German festival called Peruville. I did a couple [of shows] in the Netherlands. I’m always doing club shows. My sound isn’t necessarily the main stage sound. I’m doing a lot of club shows but it was nice to do the festivals.
303: Are there any festivals that you’d like to play that you haven’t?
Curbi: I’d really love to do EDC and Ultra [Music Festival], of course. EDC for sure though. I once faced time with Tiësto briefly, and I asked him what his favorite festival was and he said EDC, so it must be pretty good then because this guy’s played it.
The producer from Halstead, England, has large ambitions for big festivals but had no problem saying yes to something a little different from what he’s used to. Aside from the meditation tent that’s open from 3-9 p.m. and the available food trucks, perhaps the most noteworthy aspect of the day show is the absence of alcohol from vendors. Only recently have mocktails and alcohol-free drinks piqued the interest of individuals who are sober or sober-curious. Here in Denver, the trend has already become quite popular with several sober bars popping up.
303: What excites you about healthy nightlife experiences like Sundown? What does it do for you as an artist?
Curbi: One cool thing is people will definitely remember the night. It’s not that anyone is going to blackout and go to bed and then wake up and feel terrible and not remember the night. I think people can tap into themselves a bit more. With no substances in your system to change [the experience], it’s going to be interesting. I think people are really going to have a different experience.
303: What brings you balance while you’re on the road touring?
Curbi: I would say it’s the person that I’m with. I know a lot of DJs who travel without a tour manager or a travel partner. They travel by themselves — most DJs do that and I’ve always had someone with me, and that kind of keeps me in check. Because of course, people tend to get lonely, especially at the show as well, to know that I have someone with me. I just think that someone by your side is always going to help. Even if you’re in a great environment, you’re having a great time. It’s nice to know that you have someone who is by your side.
Any touring artist will understand the loneliness that comes from the road which is why it’s important to keep those goals and desires circulating. When asked about future endeavors, this is what Curbi had to say:
303: Is there an artist that you would love to work with either on a live performance or track?
Curbi: I’ve really liked techno stuff for the past couple of years. This guy called Reinier Zoneveld — I really want to work with him. He’s doing some interesting stuff. I saw him live recently. He did an 11-hour live set as well.
303: Is there any venue that’s at the top of your list to play at?
Curbi: I would really like to play in Printworks in London because that looks like a very special vibe as well. I’ve seen videos of it. I really want to play there. There is a bit more underground, a bit more techno but I think one day I’ll be able to get there and keep going.
303: Do you ever stop and take a moment in your sets to process where you are in your career? Has there been that type of surreal experience?
Curbi: I think maybe Tomorrowland. That was nice. This festival is just like one big holiday. It seems like people coming from around the world and you really see that everyone is connected with the same thing. In that sense, I was playing there for 30 minutes and then realizing just looking up and actually taking everything in and being like, ‘Okay, yeah, this is my life. People know my music. People like my music.’
303: Overall, with your music, what can you make out about your journey?
Curbi: As I say, it’s been maybe eight years now of making music, and I’ve kind of gone through this journey trying a lot of different stuff. As soon as I was on the scene, I would only be making music for a very short period of time and was still very young. I still had to go through all these different types of styles and favorite genres that I would listen to. I’m just happy right now that I’m at this place where I am still very creative but I think a bit more toned down than I used to be. I wouldn’t say toned down in a bad way, but I’ve got a grasp of what works and what doesn’t work with me now creatively.
303: That said, what hasn’t worked out or what’s given you obstacles?
Curbi: I would say around the year 2017, I released a lot of kind of chaotic songs. You can kind of tell I was going through this journey of trying to find out what I was actually going to make because I got bored very quickly at the beginning of making the same stuff. So I wanted to try new things, obviously. But I think I went off on a bit of a tangent and went too crazy. Now I’m at that level where I’ve learned a lot of things and I think I’ve got a stable type of sound, which I’m really happy with now as well.
With a discography spanning back to 2014, the artist has managed to keep himself busy for the last nine years. Nine years for any artist is a long time, but he’s not slowing down. In 2022, the DJ’s already released seven singles (excluding his remixes) with more to come.
303: Do you have any major projects coming up that you can tell us about?
Curbi: I don’t know if I can tell you about this one yet because it’s big for me, at least it’s going to be big. I don’t know what my manager or my tour manager has said but next year I’m doing quite a big project. It’s not necessarily an alias, but it’s more than an alias. I’m going to be releasing a lot of music and not just my own music.
303: Lastly, what advice would you give to artists, producers, DJs or music makers as they begin their journey into the industry?
Curbi: Keep on track with being consistent in making music. Make as much stuff as you can. Keep pushing yourself. Don’t look around to what’s going on around you. Don’t compare yourself with all the music which is being released at the moment because there’s just like a flood of music absolutely everywhere and you can really get lost trying to figure out where you want to go and what you want to do. Stay in your lane and keep it as a hobby as well. It’s very easy to get distracted now and to compare yourself to what’s going on around you. Keep sticking at it, be persistent. If you really want to do it, you’ll do it. And if you really believe it, then it’s going to happen. So you’ve got to keep going for it.
You can also catch N2N, SkiiTour, Doublecrush and many more at the main stage this Saturday at The Tivoli Quad, located at 1000 Larimer Street in Downtown Denver. Don’t miss out on a one-of-a-kind experience with amazing artists and be sure to catch a killer set by Curbi himself. Tickets to Sundown Colorado on sale now.