Steve Collins of INfest8 and Other
- Other: Dark Alternative Goth Rock; INfest8: Dark Electronica Industrial
In this episode we hear from Steve Collins - author, remix-producer and the man behind the Sydney-based dark music projects INfest8 and Other. Firstly, here is a link to hear and download a free copy of the tracks: i) "Dreaded Shadows" by Other and ii) "Count To Zero" by Konqistador & co-produced by INfest8. These tracks are featured on the "S.I.N.G.E.D. 2" compilation album. There are links to more of Steve's music further below.
Interview by DJ Robot Citizen:
Steve, you're involved with numerous music projects, across a range of styles, let's start with what, I gather, has been your main working title: INfest8. Please tell us some things about the history and the evolution eg. When did the project form? What led you to pursue it? How has it journeyed musically?
Steve Collins of 'INfest8' & 'Other': I'm originally from the UK and I used to play bass in an industrial metal band, then the drummer and I split off to make electronic music (mostly a blend of techno-trance and industrial music) under the monikers Grace.2146 and Pulse. Geography eventually got in the way and we both started doing our own stuff. INfest8 started in late 1998 and the music was more upbeat and dancefloor-oriented back then. Around the same time two other things happened: I also had a side project called Zos Kia Cultus, which was similar to the material I now do with Other, and I discovered online distribution. I distinctly remember signing up with MP3.com and thinking "This is the future". I moved to Australia in 2002 and have been predominantly producing music as INfest8 since.
Robot: How many INfest8 releases have there been, what variety of media were they on and if currently available, where from?
Steve Collins: I released seven albums via online distribution platforms like MP3.com, Peoplesound, Ampcast, Darkcell Digital Music (run by Col from Dream Disciples) - there were loads of these sites kicking around in the late 1990s/early 2000s. These albums were available on CD and MP3 download. I don't think you can get hold of them anywhere now as all these sites have dried up. Some of the tracks are available on www.infest8.net and P2P networks like Soulseek. I stopped making albums around 2005 and was just throwing stuff up online as and when I was ready.
Robot: Regards your project titled OTHER the debut EP "Hylozoism" has its feet firmly planted in the realms of guitar-based dark gothic rock and industrial-flavoured rock. I hear how more recent INfest8 ventured in this direction though the OTHER EP takes it the whole way. Please share with us about what led you in this direction.
Steve Collins: I love electronic music but I have a real soft spot for post-punk and some gothic rock. Genres get a bit blurry here so it's probably easier to say that I really love the likes of Bauhaus, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Joy Division, Sisters of Mercy/Sisterhood and Fields of the Nephilim. As I said, I had an earlier side project, Zos Kia Cultus, which was similar in style to Other. I guess I need a side project to manifest sounds that wouldn't typically fit in the scope of INfest8.
Robot: I note you've done production and remix work for several artists, most particularly for Konqistador [interview]...
How did these projects come about and what do you enjoy most about them?
Steve Collins: The Konqistador collaboration has been great fun and really artistically rewarding. In 2007 my friend Michael messaged me and said "have you heard of these guys?..." I liked their material and emailed them offering a free remix and the rest of the story is a series of remixes and songwriting collaborations. We're currently working on new material: you can hear the first track, "Sex the Cut" on my Soundcloud. In addition to Konqistador, I've worked with a number of bands including Dream Disciples, The Birthday Massacre, Death Abyss and more recently, Sara Noxx. I did a remix for her that featured on her album 'Entre Quatre Yeux', which ended up taking the #1 spot in the German charts for five weeks. I recently branched out of my comfort zone a bit and did some work with The Proxy to produce a sort of hip hop piece. These collaborations usually come about because I contact these bands, offer a free remix or production and usually they take it up. I do so much musical work by myself and so I really like the opportunity to create with someone else ... but mainly on my terms!
Robot: I gather your day-work has some pertaining to the music industry? Can you tell us a bit more about the work you do? I recall you've co-authored a published book regards copyright law and digital distribution?
Steve Collins: I'm an academic lawyer specialising in copyright law, disruption and new media technologies. I've written a fair amount about the changes in the music industries post-2000. At the end of 2014 my co-authored book "Beyond 2.0: The future of music" (links to amazon) was published. It looks at the possibilities for music distribution, particularly for the independent and entrepreneurial artist. I'm currently doing research into use of looping technologies in live performance. I am very grateful for being able to marry my personal and professional interests.
Robot: Who or what inspired/influenced you to start making music? And who/what inspires you in recent times?
Steve Collins: I've been writing my own music since I was very young, but something changed in me when I first heard Tubeway Army/Gary Numan. Early on I was very influenced by Numan, David Bowie, Marc Bolan/T-Rex, Kate Bush (incredible artist!), Depeche Mode and Curve. I am still very influenced by these artists but a host of other things. I actually get a lot of ideas from listening to jingles on TV, it'll just be a sound here or a rhythm there. I use a lot of 'found sounds' and original samples too, so I guess I'm quite influenced by what happens around me too.
Robot: Overall, or for each project, are there any guiding themes, philosophies or set of aesthetics that inspire the music you produce?
Steve Collins of 'INfest8' & 'Other': Other has a fairly rigid production set up in that it uses the same drum kit, bass guitar sample library and guitar settings, and this is all about getting a very consistent band-like sound. For INfest8, I'm much more laissez faire and interested in sound design. When it comes to remixes, I tend to approach it more as "re-songing". I rarely use any source material beyond the vocals and like to write new underlying music. I guess I see it as an opportunity to draw out unexplored or undiscovered songs. I'm inspired by lots of things - audio and visual, artificial and natural. I try not to question it too much.
Robot: What are some of your near-future plans for these projects?
Steve Collins: Good question. I'm due to be a father in March so that will be a game changer and limit the time I can dedicate to music for a while. I'm working at a fairly rapid pace with Konqistador at present. I'm just about to finish off another track. I've just uploaded Other's cover of Danzig's "Mother" to Soundcloud and we might see another cover in the next couple of months but I'm a bit uncertain as to how much I can get out during this year. I'd like to work towards gigging with Other. We'll see.
Robot: What do you feel, are the big challenges that independent/underground musicians face today?
Steve Collins: Exposure/finding a larger audience. There are huge amounts of unsigned/independent artists out there and thanks to the internet they have unprecedented opportunities but it's still difficult to get wider exposure. Unfortunately, I think a new breed of intermediaries take advantage of this via things like remix competitions, pay-for-review music blogs etc. That said, I think there's something to be said for Kevin Kelly's 1000 true fans theory and Brian Austin Whitney's 5000 fans theory, but it's hard for independent artists to bust over the 100-200 fans boundary.
Robot: Can you think of some potential solutions? Is there anything you'd like to see happen that can improve things? Are there any developments that you're particularly enthusiastic about?
Steve Collins: I think these days it's important to have separate strategies for different modes, i.e. live performance is different to recording. I think online distribution (in particular Bandcamp) opens up all kinds of new doors for artists that we just didn't have 20 years ago. In the live sphere, I think there have been some really interesting developments such as Brazil's Fora do Eixo network (well worth googling) and the UK's Off Axis Network. I think something similar could be beneficial in Australia.
Robot: Awesome, I shall look in to those. What are some of your websites through which people can hear and learn more?
Steve: For INfest8: www.infest8.net - soundcloud - bandcamp - facebook . . . And for OTHER: bandcamp - soundcloud - facebook
Robot: Anything else you'd like to add?
Steve Collins: I'd like to express my thanks to you for everything you do for music and artists. If anyone out there is interested in an INfest8 remix or being the lead guitarist for Other, then please get in touch via www.infest8.net
Robot: Thank-you to you for this interview :-)
PS - Here's an interview with the project that's mentioned several times above - Konqistador - whom INfest8 often works with.