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TRCH The Da Vinci Code

Steven Severin Interview

6 November 10 words: Paul Klotschkow
"Truth is, it's impossible for me to fit in someone else's shoes. I am Severin, end of"

On Friday 12 November at The Broadway, ex-Siouxsie and the Banshee's member, Steven Severin, will be presenting an unmissable, one-off  live soundtrack performance to Jean Cocteau’s 1930 movie classic, Le Sang d'un Poete (The Blood of a Poet).  LeftLion were fortunate enough to grab a few words with him as he took a well earned break from his current tour...

Hello, how are you doing, Steven?
Very tired but I feel good.  Even though I don't thrash around on stage, eight shows in eight days is still tough on my old bones.
What have you been up to today?
Thankfully, no travelling today as I'm already in Bristol, so I've been catching up on sleep, reading, wandering.
Do you consider yourself an artist or a musician?
Both and neither as I don't really think about definitions. My passport says "musician".
Who are your biggest musical influences?
The ones that shaped me; Velvet Underground, Roxy Music, The Stooges, Bowie, Can, Kraftwerk, Neu, Captain Beefheart, Steve Reich, Philip Glass, Gavin Bryars, Nino Rota and Bernard Hermann.
Do you have any non-musical influences?
Thousands.  Georges Bataille, Alain Robbe-Grillet, JG Ballard, William Burroughs, Rimbaud, Baudelaire, Genet, Tarkovsky, Bergman, Tarkovsky, Cronenberg, Lynch, Jodorowsky, Francis Bacon, Marina Abrahamovic, Goya. I could go on and on.  
You will be performing your live soundtrack to The Blood of a Poet at the Broadway Cinema; how did you get involved in putting this live soundtrack together?
Playing live accompaniment is something I've always wanted to do. I started back in May 2008 performing The Seashell and the Clergyman live as part of my 'Music for Silents' show. Blood of a Poet seems like the natural follow-up.
What can we expect from your live performance of the soundtrack and how do you set about playing it live?
Well, it's me, in the dark, by the side of the screen with my laptop, taking the role of a 21st century accompanist.  
You have written soundtracks for both TV and Cinema; what are the challenges you are faced with when having to write a soundtrack?
Each one has it's own challenges. I really only get asked to do things by people who know what to expect from me, so one of those challenges is to surprise them and hopefully, surprise myself in the process.
When writing a soundtrack, how do you know when you have ‘hit the nail on the head’ in terms of how you want it to sound and are going in the right direction?
It's a feeling, very similar to writing a good song. You just know. I do a lot of preparation. Watching and re-watching, thinking it through so when I start it just flows.
What things would you say you learnt from your time in Siouxsie and the Banshees?
Well, considering it spanned the years from my 21st birthday to my 41st, pretty much everything. It defined my adult life and I often wonder what it must be like for people who haven't been blessed with the good fortune to have such definition from an early age. Truth is, it's impossible for me to fit in someone else's shoes. I am Severin, end of.

A screen shot from The Blood of a Poet
A screen shot from The Blood of a Poet

There were once rumours that you were asked to join The Cure; is this true? Is this something you would contemplate if you were asked now or are you happier when doing your own thing?
There is no truth in the rumour, at all. Robert would never ask. Why would Simon leave?
Would you ever work with Robert Smith again? Maybe a second The Glove album?
We've talked about it and Robert says "It's just a matter of time". Making space for it means effectively shutting down the Cure for 6 to 9 months. That's a huge machine with many people depending on it for their livelihoods so timing is key.  One day, I hope. 
What was the last book you read?
I've just started Tracey Emin's autobiography 'Strangeland'. I'm not a fan, at all but I'm interested in reading autobiographies as I'm thinking about beginning work on my own memoir next year. All research is good.
What do you sing in the shower?
I don't, but I do get stuck with 'earworms' quite badly. On one recent train journey I listened to Roxy Music's first album for the first time in years and years and various bits of the songs were stuck in my head for days. Drives me nuts.
What music, aside from you own, are you currently listening to?
I hate this question because I never know what to say. I don't really listen to much new stuff to be honest. No-one has come along in years that really turns me on. Some of Portishead or Goldfrapp's stuff was the last thing. It's a sad indictment, I'm afraid
What do you like to do when you are not making music?
The making of music and the business of music take up the vast majority of my time. I like to cook, watch movies and quality TV. I have no hobbies as such. I should get one I guess, but I'd feel somewhat guilty the whole time that it wasn't "work".
Do you have any previous memories and experiences of playing Nottingham or is this your first time to the City?
Two abiding memories. One when we did a live 'In concert' show there in 1981 and then in 1995, I think, playing Rock City and chatting to Stuart Pearce backstage. 
Do you have any final words for the LeftLion readers?
Just come see Blood of a Poet and see and hear what I do now. You will be amazed.
Thanks Steven...
You are welcome.

Steven Severin's live soundtrack performance to The Blood of a Poet is at The Broadway on Friday 12 November 2010. Click here for further information.

Steven Severin website

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