R. Stevie Moore
It is needless to debate whether Robert Steven Moore is the King Of Home Taping. It’s just a fact. From the early 1970’s until now this New Jersey based artist has recorded countless songs and albums doing almost all of it himself. As is commonly known, his father was Bob Moore, famous bassist and sideman for Elvis Presley. He grew up around music so his interest it isn’t really surprising but his talent and prolific nature is stunning beyond belief. Being one of the greatest and most consistently creative artists in the independent music scene of all time, his body of work is so large it is daunting to really know where to start. Working in underground pop, rock, country, ballads, “serious” instrumentals, irreverent comedic moments, cover tunes, collaborating with an untold number of other artists… it is hard to really pin him down or understand the full scope of his oeuvre. The fact is, he is iconic among home recording artists and still at it after all these years.
I’m honored to have recorded a couple of songs with him for my “Pen Pals 3” double album.
You can see R. Stevie Moore all over you tube. Start with one of my fave songs and videos from him, keep clicking and enjoying all he has to offer.
Buy his music, hear free samples, see his catalog…enter the world of R. Stevie Moore
Also, another interview, by the Yale University magazine
I must have received your tape catalog in the mid-late 80s and was excited, then a bit disappointed, because there was no mention of “trading”. It appeared to me that you were at least a couple of levels beyond the home taper world I knew. I was also too shy to suggest a trade. Did you actively trade tapes then?
yes, a bit. in the beginning as it happened to all of us. but after awhile there were too many trade requests.
Did you feel part of the home taping community?
slightly. and slightly separated as well.
Any favorite early trades you can recall?
no one of note. can’t remember. rudy schwartz project comes to mind. subgenius doug. other early80s friends and associates. and paying customers took priority, natch.
Did you follow the tape scene by reading the various zines like Option and Sound Choice at the time ( mid 80s to 90s)?
slightly. but even back then there quickly became a glut quantity of tapes no one could ever absorb all of. but don’t get me wrong, i loved it. was forever praising the virtues of ‘anybody’ can&does make their own ‘record’. the more amateur and lo-fi, the better (oftentimes, but not exclusively). wheat from the chaff.
I remember buying “Glad Music” and also a 12” single in the 80s and thinking “damn , this guy is great”. And he’s a home taper! It was very inspiring to me. Did you get fan letters even then and how did it make you feel?
but of course, global … and felt sublime.
We are the same age. The first record I bought was “Twist And Shout” by The Beatles. What was yours?
no idea. by the time i had the delight of actually purchasing my own first record, i prolly already had a large collection of 45s, just from gifts and my dad being in the biz. it coulda actually been “I Want To Hold Your Hand”, but it’s impossible to confirm. i woulda already been age 12, so that doesn’t sound right. i certainly must’ve had a little stack of top40 hit singles when i was as young as 7-8. forever ago!
Your output over the years has been stupendous with a high degree of quality ( from what I’ve heard). However, some critics have accused you of being “too prolific” with not enough self editing. When you look at your oeuvre what do you think?
i strongly stick to my guns here. ‘man needs an editor’ is for others to apply, not me. the very ideal of me living and breathing recorded creations is all i need to be concerned with. it’s part of the package. that’s such a bullshit stance, because we live in a record collecting mentality world (well, some of us), and if we are fanatical about sinatra or elvis or beatles or bowie or nirvana, we dig the official releases, but we also starve to acquire each and every morsel of rare shelved archives. isn’t that so obvious? so then, i didn’t ever feel any urgent need to make 2 columns of my work: 1) that which i want out there to be heard, and 2) that which is substandard and therefore hidden/destroyed. bah! not to mention that since i encompass the entire spectrum of both genius greatness AND miserable badness, there are naturally those who might prefer the mess over the diamonds and vice versa. missteps and failures are fascinating! and by whose standards be judged? therefore, self-editing is pointless… a task for the listener to perform, not the artist. // additionally, this dilemma has indeed been a huge problem over the decades; shooting myself in the foot by being so wildly prolific. no discipline. but i dare someone to state the easy solution (and they’ve tried). there is none. i am a library of congresh.
What drives you to do your music?
What excites you now to continue?
my past. it’s growing extremely difficult to stay the course, but i must’ve made a pact with my teen self to never say never.
I have played thousands of independent artists on “No Pigeonholes” and I have encountered almost no one that could make a substantial living doing it. Have you had day jobs along the way ?
yes, retail record stores, 70s to 90s. now, i must thank my wife for providing the essentials for me.
I certainly have not heard all of your music but have you ever recorded or been interested in “experimental” music? Like tape collage, free improvisation, electronics, that kind of thing?
by all means! and in fact, prefer doing that these days over trying to make mainstreamy poprockhitsongs. was always recklessly experimenting bigtime from 1966 til just yesterday. and yet alas, that is le difference: i can do both extremes vividly.
Do you have stories about sending your tapes to major labels? Any particular memory stand out?
no specific stories, but my uncle Harry Palmer had highranking jobs with many majors in nyc, and it was always a big awful issue that he simply had no luck trying to present my weird homemade styles to his more adventurous co-worker A&R buddies. DIY underground is where i’ve stayed. and now look what’s happened!
There were certainly women involved in underground music in the 1980s but not that many from what I could tell. Did you know many women involved in home taping? Why do you think there were so few then?
gender never an issue with me. way of the world, say.
You have done a lot of collaborations with other artists. What do you like about this process?
lots. the obvious. sharing!
Do you like a project to take you somewhere unexpected?
ultraessential. music can compose itself.
Or do you know what you want from the start?
come on, nobody ever really does. regardless of original intentions.
Do you think there is any lasting legacy to cassette culture?
it’s simply a media format, period. i adored reel-to-reels, then compact cassettes were phenomenal, but now tape is far overrated. go with the flow. time changes. how can anybody slam CDRs these days? for me it’s the ultimate self-made home record pressing plant! iPods and porta-mp3s don’t interest me whatsoever. but i am digging cyber audio sharing.
Talk about today’s indie music scene. Does it interest you at all?
slightly. again, it’s merely a name tag label. without variety of unique content, it blows.
With the power of the internet is there even such a thing as “indie” now? Hasn’t it meaning changed a great deal?
compared to when? and at what point does it go from indie to mainstream? where is the line? no clue. is $uccess a sell-out? HA! ask one who knows, and i’ll tell you: Huh?
*Thanks much for your time. Continued good luck with all you do.*
thank you! perhaps i have MUCH more to say? i dunno. someone’s gotta say it…….