Waters is currently busy preparing for the launch of his album in September. It was recorded in his college dorm at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. “Curtis produced and executive produced the entire album, with maybe four collaborators in a few co-productions and features,” said Anokute.
Freckles, the song that drew Anokute to Waters, will be released before the album. An older listener might find traces of the bright pop radio hits from about a decade ago, and be caught humming it before even realising it. And the sincere melancholic confession will certainly leave a lot for the younger audiences to relate to. Freckles may well become inescapable on the radio and online this autumn, just as Stunnin’ has fast become a part of the soundtrack to Summer 2020.
Anokute was the first major music executives to reach out to Waters, before any mainstream success. “Everybody loved Stunnin’ but Chris didn’t care about it. He loved the album,” Waters said, of their initial conversations. “My life has really changed the last three months and everything has come together in a super surreal way.”
When Waters worked at Tropical Smoothie, a local smoothie shop in North Carolina, occasionally a student would recognise him from his nascent online presence. Anonymity is now a thing of the past.
“Its pretty bizarre. Every time I go out people come up to me. And I’m walking around with my family, and when I’m with my family I’m just Abhi. On the internet, I’m Curtis Waters. It’s sort of a character in my head,” he said, giddy and wary in equal measure. “Now kids come up. It’s a new thing, and am not used to it yet. I gotta look good every time I’m outside now.”
For Nepalis, Waters is the first Nepal born artist to reach international success of this kind, a feat that Waters, who yearns to understand and experience Nepal more than ever, is himself immensely proud of. But as a rising star with a serious international hit and a highly anticipated forthcoming album, this is perhaps only a glimpse of what’s coming his way.
“He wrote the song, and I opened up doors for it to be heard and supported at major levels,” Anokute said, of Stunnin’. “There’s no difference between how this feels compared to when we launched Katy Perry’s I Kissed A Girl. It’s just 12 years later, but the story always stays the same. Hits don’t lie. Stunnin’ is a TikTok sensation, but Curtis is more than a sensation. He’s here to stay.”
Kashish Das Shrestha has written about youth and music culture in Nepal since 1997. Twitter, Instagram: @Kashishds
Read also: A brief history of Arthur Gunn by Kashish Das Shrestha