A Couple Of Things with Steve Kirby
A while back, through my friend Steve Vogel, I was introduced to Steve Kirby. I started following him on instagram. (I know its early into things but do yourself a favor and before you continue reading, go follow Industrial Coast on Instagram. You can thank me later....) From there I started interacting with Steve and commenting on music, fashion, politics, football etc. After some time, I see a post he made about this new music project he was working on called Industrial Coast. It was to be an all cassette tape release based label. It was going to focus on the noise, dark ambient, drone, doom dub corner of the electronic music spectrum. I was intrigued as I was working on a fair amount of drone and doom dub music at the time. Then he says they will be working with he Antifascist Union of Artists as well and I was in full stop! We had a few chats about what I had in mind, and he was 100% in on the project and The Feeling Machines project went into full swing. Since then the man and the label has pushed on with a decent sized catalog of releases and projects. With more projects and fundraisers in the works, Steve and Industrial Coast are worth paying attention to.
How old were you when you knew you were a creative person? Was it always a part of you or did it evolve over time?
I’m not sure I am a creative! I just try & surround myself with those who are. In terms of my interest, its evolved. I was always into music from an early age, buying punk singles in the late 70s when I was still pre-teens. With the music, my teenage interests were football & politics to be honest, with the passion for contemporary art, architecture and such like developing as I’ve got older
Did you grow up in a creative home? Was there a big music element to life as you were growing up?
My parents were not really music fans & we had very few records in the home that belonged to them, so no historical archive. However, I have an older brother & sister, who were buying stuff, so I was exposed to music through them. I also still have some of my Grandfathers old vinyl…Mario Lanza, Harry Secombe, Tijuana Brass. There is a naked lady in a Fedora, smoking a cigar, on the front of that one. It remains my favorite album cover of all time.
For you, what are some of the most challenging things about living a creative life? What are some of the most rewarding aspects of living a creative life?
As a label, we (I, its just me, but I’ve found myself using the royal we when discussing Industrial Coast) release anything that takes our fancy, trying to apply no boundaries. We’ve also gone down a specific path of releasing a lot of work by artists who are only available digitally. Its great to provide them with a physical product. As a result, its often a hard sell…there is so much great stuff out there, its just trying to get it listened to by a wider audience.
As far as rewards go, its great when the artist themselves really loves what we’ve produced for them. They are the ones with the talent, & I’m pleased as punch when we’ve managed to articulate their work in a physical format that they are happy with.
Positive customer feedback also means a lot. We have a number of great repeat customers, many of whom have become friends through what we do.
What are a few of the major influences of your musical taste and selection?
I’ve always had eclectic tastes, or at least those tastes have developed over a number of years. As mentioned above, I was buying punk 7” when I was 10/11, got right into Heavy Metal in my early teens, & have had spells where my main go to genres were Techno, Northern Soul, The Manchester Baggy Scene, Drum & Bass (Middlesbrough had such a great club night 20 odd years ago…Goldie, Doc Scott, Bukem all played) and more. Then really developed an interest in Experimental Noise, Drone & such like. I see it as coming full circle – a more grown up sound of the noisy punk & metal I like as a kid.
What do you look for in an artist that you want to work with for Industrial Coast?
I have to like it. Its really that simple. Its also cool when they turn out to be great people too – which has happened more often than I thought it would!
Cassette releases have seemed to be experiencing a resurgence over the last few years. What was about that medium that made you want to use it for a main format for Industrial Coast?
I’m not a fan of digital. I really only use it to search for new music, but rarely sit & listen digitally. I much prefer vinyl & tapes. The great advantage for me with Tapes of course is they are relatively cheap & can be produced quickly. I just think they are a great format for new artists.
Quality has also improved greatly – much less unravelling than what I seem to remember as a youngster. I rarely have to get my pencil out to painstakingly get the tape back into its shell.
You have taken on some pretty big compilations and releases with a charity mission. Why do you feel it is so important for us creative folks to give back and be active when it comes to affecting change?
I got heavily into (Socialist) politics as a teenager. In the North East of England in the early 80s we saw some pretty tough times (’84 Miners Strike for one). I decided early on that money was nice, but it was pretty pointless without a functioning society. I don’t want my own kids to grow up surrounded by massive inequalities, racism, sexism and the like. That shit negatively impacts their own quality of life.
I think with the rise of populist politics...people who stood idly by often, but not exclusively, with a right wing agenda, people need to be heard. History will judge those who stood ideally by (I’m think those in his administration who facilitate Trump’s excesses).
I think art has a really crucial part to play in any society…be it music, literature, paintings etc. Now we are in a world of social distancing and lockdowns, people would be screwed without films to watch, music to listen to & books to read!
I’m not sure that’s a particularly coherent answer, but its early in the morning (6.30am) & I’ve already done 3hrs work in my real job (the corporate nonsense that pays my bills)
Tell me about the upcoming tribute release benefiting a shelter in the UK and a hospital in Italy. How did that come about?
We’ve done 3 so far in a series called Deconstructed: Reconstructed. We take an album (or genre) and get a whole host of artists to do their own particularly take on a track. So far:
· Anarcho Punk (Crass, Discharge, Flux of Pink Indians etc)
· Minor Threat
· The Clash (1st album)
They are great fun to do, the artists enjoy it & feedback is great. And I get to contact people who I really admire – we only proceed with artist approval. So this all started with me getting into an email conversation with Penny Rimbaud of Crass. Something I never thought I would do.
Conflict were really great in supporting the Anarcho release, & the Ungovernable Force is such a great album. We wanted a quick turnaround to support relevant charities during the Covid19 crisis so I took the opportunity to ask the band if we could go for this - & they said yes in literally 5 minutes.
We could have picked any of a multitude of deserving cases, but went for Shelter in the UK as I genuinely fear for the homeless at this time. For the hospital, Northern Italy was getting the brunt as we kicked this off, & through the label I’ve worked with a number of great people from that area, so asked for their guidance in what was a suitable cause.
Whats next up for you and Industrial Coast?
We have a number of releases in the pipeline…some returnees to the label which is great, and also some new things we are very excited about. We will be keeping it non-genre specific!
There’s a collab coming up with Stellage in Moscow which is great, they have been wonderful supporters of the label since day 1, and I have a long term vision of putting on a show at the Pitmans Parliament in Durham (look it up on the internet), along with something at Durham Cathedral. But those grand plans are probably for another day.
We also may try a couple of lathe cuts this year too.
Where can people pick up releasees from the label? Social media links?
I rely wholly on self promotion. Therefore, I post (a lot) on Instagram under Industrialcoast.
Our store is Industrial Coast big cartel (we are also industrial coast on bandcamp, but that’s really just as a showcase for tracks – we prefer digital sales to go directly through the artist to create for them a direct income stream).
Through the store, you can sign up from a fortnightly (sort of) newsletter where we update on releases etc & I ramble on a bit