Steven Severin (Siouxsie and the Banshees) talks about starting his own online label

Steven Severin interviewed in 2000 about his solo releases and starting his own label (RE:)

When Siouxsie and the Banshees decided to split, did you have a clear idea of what you wanted to do next?

Steven Severin : I knew I wanted time out, first & foremost & the arrival of my daughter, Sadie insured that! During that period I wrote articles for The Guardian newspaper & surfed a lot to see what was out there, what to avoid. My first album, Visions, was completed before the announcement of the split so I pretty much knew which way I was headed. The last thing I wanted to do was form a new group….still don’t. The bass guitar has been in its case since the split.

What attracted you to the idea of an internet-based label? If the internet didn’t exist, do you think you would have still started a label?

Steven Severin : It’s so obviously “the future” and luckily it comes very naturally to me. I’ve owned a computer since 1983 and studied the technology in relation to music particularly since day one. For instance my next project will involve sending ‘work-in-progress” mp3’s via email to my collaborators to enable feedback within the same working day in the studio. I did have talks with Rough Trade & Blast First about releasing through them but I found the ‘indie’ way just as flaky as the ‘major’ way. I’d rather fuck it up myself!

Is RE: TOTALLY internet-based, or can stores stock your cds if they want to?

Steven Severin : Originally, it was mail-order only with my site as the only ‘shop’ but I soon realized I had to speed things up by using a distributor. I use CARGO for the UK & EC. I’ve yet to find an American distributor.

Have you done anything with actual on-line distribution (selling MP3 files of songs)?

Steven Severin : I ‘m eagerly watching which way this goes. I have a couple of ‘edited’ mp3’s on my site as previews but I’m thinking of creating a ‘club’ where old demos & rareties plus brand new unreleased material would be available for sale. At present the majority of mp3 sites offer up music that should never be allowed to see the light of day, but that’s the beauty of the Internet. Everyone’s a star.

On-line digital distribution takes away the act of actually going to a music store and browsing through records/cds, and also might shift the focus away from Albums, as people can easily buy single tracks. How do you feel about this?

Steven Severin : I think the album was an artist driven thing & then an industry thing. The public have always liked particular tracks and are wise to the fact that a CD costs less than a dollar so how can the industry justify selling an album @ £17.99 & a single @ £0.99? The compact disc may have saved the industry during the recession but it will eventually herald the death-knell. Personally I like albums as a conceptual thing and will continue to create in those terms. I like themes and creating the artwork to compliment a vision. In the same way as ‘pop’ people have consigned the “b-side” to the bin they will stop making albums of ‘filler’ material and just release four or five songs (well videos, really) each outing. It gives them more time for marketing & promotion which is the lodestone of ‘pop’ celebrity.

Besides being an outlet for your music, what other functions does the RE: website serve? What are some of the things you’re planning on doing with it in the future?

Steven Severin : It’s a 24 hour focus for what I do! It’s a much more personal presentation of the work than has ever been possible before. I think people feel more connected to my work as a result and that appears to be very important to them. Both touring and recording are unnaturally secluded endevours and as a result bands have no choice but to leave the ‘explanation’ & ‘definition’ of their work to record companies, journalists, broadcasters etc. – areas that are prey to the most vile forms of censorship, racism & sexism in the name of commerce. I see my website as a political statement as well as a place to indulge my perverse strategems!

In plain terms I have an archive of FAQ’s, a gallery of images stolen from around the net that serve as pointers to my likes, dislikes and inspirations and a guestbook and discussion list for that ‘personal’ touch. I have plans aplenty for ‘web specific’ projects but time is against me as I am busy creating the ‘concrete’ work that forms my new solo life.

Do you ever look around the internet to see what fans are saying about you (and Siouxsie and The Banshees)?

Steven Severin : I lurk all the time! I think the most bizarre thing was seeing a Banshees “fan” wax lyrically about Eric Clapton!!! What did we do wrong? I’d have him put to the sword for crimes against music at the earliest opportunity. I only ‘de-cloak’ when some terrible misquote starts gaining too much creedence. Otherwise I just giggle to myself.

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