Having amassed over 400 releases during his 40+ years ploughing the sometimes dark and desolate highways of bedroom lo-fi experiments, a sun finally rose and illuminated the work that R. Stevie Moore has been meticulously creating.
The past year has been a reward, of sorts, for the duty and incredible effort he has put into constantly releasing material even when almost nobody noticed. A huge inspiration to artists such as Ariel Pink and Guided By Voices, indie-cred doesn’t always translate into fame and fortune. But with the advent of the internet, and the way in which the world likes to pluck one obscure artist out of the hat every now and then to shower with praise and call “seminal”– in this case we can hardly complain. The man deserves every good thing coming to him. With his first full European tour underway and cities unvisited on the itinerary, Bad Sounds managed to talk to R.S.M. before his show at Blå on July 6th.
Where are you right now, and how do you do!
In Paris, for a week of rehearsals with Ariel Pink and our respective bands, a new supergroup for our Ku Klux Glam world premier performance at Villette Sonique this weekend. I do it well! Hells yeah.
We are very excited about your upcoming show at Blå in Oslo on July 6th. Is it your first visit to Norway?
Yes! And one of my famous songs from 1978’s Delicate Tension album, “Norway”, will finally be sung in your esteemed land!
How is it to be on the road performing your bedroom songs in an International setting? Apart from your visit to France in the 80’s, wasn’t 2011’s tour your first real European tour?
Yes it was. Europeans please me maximus, young and old. Much more attentive and super interested audiences than in the slow old USSA.
After working away for nearly 45 years on your music some would say you are finally starting to get due returns. What kept you motivated all those years? Or was music just something you had to do.
I just had to do it, didn’t sit and determine whether I should/could/would. I thrive on self-motivation. Or the lack of it. However, with too much struggle and not enough acknowledgement, it was very often nearly impossible to persevere onward. Music must be self-propelled, totally from within. This boy remains the king of instant ispiration, at the drop of a hat. I pick up a guitar or piano, and magic gold comes out. Am I alone in this?
Has the current resurgence of interest in your work come as a surprise or a welcome addition to an otherwise regular decade?
Both answers. It’s fate. Not divinity. Work ethic paid off, albeit delayed in life.
Back in the late 60’s in New Jersey was there a small scene that you spawned out of or were you basically flying solo? What inspired you to start.
Solo. NJ really had nothing to do with me creatively; I had already done it before in Nashville, and now I’m still doing it afterwards, all around the world. Never EVER part of any spawned scene. Why would I need one? I am my own.
How did you come up with the Listenability Quotient? Was it based on sound quality, music quality or just a decision you came up with that elevated some songs and lessened others.
It’s not as complicated as all that. I was just having fun, all of those answers above apply. Opinions are worthless, yet I felt the need to kind of steer interested listeners in or out of a certain direction. Many fans like the bad, hate the good… quality is subjective. Quantity is something I have no control over; am I supposed to stop creating because I have already created too much? Oh dear, so many fans are overwhelmed at the prolific back catalog. It makes me giggle.
How does the songwriting process happen for you?
All sorts of ways; no one certain method. Words first, music last, or vice versa. I am a sound painter. Follow no rules.
Is the limitless output a cathartic shedding of some sort of skin or just an extension of who you really are, a need to produce, record, put out music?
The extension. Everyone wants to know how and why I have been so prolific, but, again, it is not all that complicated. Since late 60s, I record a lot. Fidelity means nothing and everything. So, do the math— 400 DIY albums is really nothing special. It’s the aesthetic that since I have made a diary of sound, over 40+ years, that all existing recordings remain relevant. Not just the perfected polish of acceptable hi-fi studio work and/or officially released compilation albums of my boundless archives.
You also work heavily on videos and creating visual art. Did you study art at school or is it something you fell into to be able to properly convey your musical themes? What are some of your biggest inspirations in the visual field?
No real visual influences, just the usual famous ones. No study, no books. Not really a fan nerd of cinema or graphic arts history. I simply emote. And I did not work heavily, I just started the camera rolling!
It might sound like a silly question, but do you have back-ups of all your recordings on a computer or hard-drive somewhere in case of accidents or a house fire? I know most of it was recorded before the digital age, and therefore would be an incredibly arduous task to protect.
Most of my music is constantly being archived, converted, format protected, stored, saved for safety’s sake — however, so much exists that it’s inevitable that some work is still waiting in the queue.
Can you tell us a little about your “band” who are traveling with you, and how that came about.
It sort of just fell into my lap, friends of friends… they are from around the USA, based in Brooklyn NY. And it’s shifitng and changing all the time, new soldiers applying and helping out on certain shows and tours. As eccentrically diverse as my recordings are, my live act is relatively straightforward as a hard cock rock group. Bent 70s melted metal pop.
So far what have been your favourite places you have travelled on tour?
No favourites, I dig them all. UK might rate highest.
With the advent of the internet world and how connected we all are, people can find out about you just by seeing a song posted on a friends Facebook profile. Doesn’t that count for something in terms of your work getting out to a wider audience instead of relying on the age-old method of word of mouth and nerdy zines? (which of course we all love, but seem to be getting relegated to the dust pile)
The internet seems to have been invented just for me and my ways of easy self-distrib. I was building a fanbase way before the web, via direct interactive postal. So slow, compared to now! But, I adore my laptop and would perish without being able to network as I do.
Has the transition from recording artist to performing artists on regular club tours been a smooth one?
Yes and no. There is no one correct answer. Days and nights of life, changes, ups and downs. Constantly striving for improvement. Or not. The transition is complete when I die.
If you would like one present or item from your Norwegian concert attendees to bring to the show, what would it be?
Weed and wine. Wait, that’s 2.
R. Stevie Moore plays at Blå, July 6th. Tickets are a measly 130 Kr and can be bought at Billettservice. The Bad Sounds crew will be there and so should you.