Jake Danna, a DIY rapper who performs as CURTA, found inspiration for his latest album, End of Future Park, while driving underneath an I-70 overpass, where he saw two pillars, one reading “start of future park” and the other “end of future park.”
“When I first read the phrase ‘end of future park,’ they’re delineating something with a beginning and an end point in a geographic space that doesn’t exist at all,” Danna explains. “So I don’t really define future park, except this thing that has parameters even though it doesn’t exist. ... But that’s why it was so fitting for the way I felt about the abstract influencing the reality space that we’re all kind of in. I feel like we’re all at this pivotal point.”
Danna began writing the album near the end of 2016, around the time of the Ghost Ship fire, the closure of the Denver DIY space Rhinoceropolis and Donald Trump's victory in the election.
“I feel [the album] is about going off the ledge into this sort of abstract place,” Danna says. “Where this thing that doesn’t exist — maybe it just exists on the Internet or something — is starting to have a lot more weight in our reality. I saw it in the election, and I saw it on a personal level with how Denver is growing in a crazy way. So there’s like a psycho-geographic element to a lot of these songs where there is a loss of a sense of place.”
The DIY scene is where Danna found his footing initially as a rapper, and he felt the loss of underground venues deeply.
“Doing DIY shows in Denver is probably the most important thing for us because the rap scene in Denver, if there is a rap scene, wasn’t something I was really interested in,” Danna says. “So we did all these DIY shows, and we could be accepted by these weird electronic bands, and we could play shows with crazy experimental people. It just felt more like home.”
In the aftermath of the shutdowns, a lingering sense of fear about hosting underground shows plagued the DIY community. The spaces that continued having concerts changed their mode of operation and went more underground, pulling their addresses from public sites and sharing the location via social media.
“It had to go more underground, but it never went away,” Danna says. “My friends and I and the people I know that work in the scene — they’re not going anywhere. They love what they do, and they’re very passionate. You have to be passionate to do stuff that people don’t really care about, I guess.”
In his music, especially on End of Future Park, Danna writes about what is going on around him. He has received commentary from both sides of the spectrum that his music is too political and not political enough.
“A lot of people, when they talk about my writing or the music, they say that I write these dystopian songs,” Danna says. “I think that that’s interesting, because I’m always just writing about what’s happening around me. I have this perspective of ‘the future is now’ in my tone — so I’m not writing about a dystopian future. Shit is just getting kind of bad [laughs].”
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It is rap's powerful contemporary nature that resonates with Danna resonates.
“There is nothing really like it,” Danna says. “There was nothing in my life growing up that kept me more engaged than rap music. Rap music — I was always listening to it. I loved it, and it had such an impact on who I was and how I thought about certain things. It really was didactic for me in ways; it would really introduce me to other ideas. I have a lot of friends like that, too, that certain concepts came to them through music the way other people might get them through reading a book. I think it’s the most relevant, powerful form of writing that could hit people.
“I’m not one of those rappers who says I can put my subversive messages into my music and get that message to go over on this mass of people,” Danna says. “I don’t give a fuck about them. I don’t think there will be a moment that this mainstream America gets awoken. I just don’t believe in it. Maybe that’s pessimistic, but I don’t think in my life I’ve really seen many glimmers of hope for that. So we’re just trying to make the music we want to hear.”
CURTA album-release show, 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 14, Seventh Circle Music Collective, 2935 West 7th Avenue, all ages.