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Quiet City interview - Steve Malins

Steve Malins started out as a music journalist, and has written articles for magazines such as Vox, Mojo and Q. He worked with Gary Numan on his autobiography, Praying to the Aliens, and has released books on Depeche Mode and Duran Duran, in addition to helping revive Numan’s career in the late-90s with the release of the Random covers album. Steve’s business, Random PR, has a rosta of famous names to its credit, one of which is a certain John Foxx. We caught up with Steve to find out more about his involvement with John Foxx.

Alex Storer : Back in your journalist days, did you ever imagine you would end up working with the likes of Gary Numan and John Foxx?

Steve Malins : No, not at all. I loved being a journalist and didn't really think about management/label/PR at all until I started putting together the Random album which had loads of people covering Gary Numan songs. I realised I enjoyed doing that sort of thing - working with artists, labels etc as well.

Alex Storer : How and when did you first meet John, and become involved in publicising him?

Steve Malins : I was working at Fullfill/Artful and I signed a lot of artists to the label - Gary Numan, Siouxsie Sioux, Curve and so on. John was someone I really wanted to work with so I think I got in touch with him around 2001 - a few months after starting at the label.

Alex Storer : 2006 was a mammoth year in the Foxx camp with four new releases, three reissues and two tours. Was it always planned that way?

Steve Malins : Yes! John does lecturing at college, but he took a year off to concentrate on music so I made him work as hard as I could!!! But yes, the idea was to make the most of the year and make it very intense and busy and full of projects. I started managing John in late 2005 so I guess I wanted to really make 2006 a bit special if possible. You know, make the right impression...!

Alex Storer : What was your involvement in the two one-off concerts premiering Cathedral Oceans III and Tiny Colour Movies?

Steve Malins : I booked the two concerts. As for Tiny Colour Movies that evolved very
gradually. It started off as this project called Music Electron, I think. I heard a few bits and really liked it but I didn't really think much about it. I saw it as an album of minimalist electronic music and that it would be quite a small release. Then John phoned me and said he was sending these descriptions for Tiny Colour Movies and could I read them and see if we could include them in the booklet . . When I read through and saw the images, then heard the full album, it was something completely new and much better than I'd imagined. It really grew from there. I think it's caught people's imaginations and hopefully there will be more performances when John has the time! Plus, it's being added to all the time - I've seen some new bits of film which will be set to music later in the year.

Alex Storer : The Random and Hybrid album projects were hugely successful for Gary Numan. Have you ever been tempted to suggest anything similar to John?

Steve Malins : Yes, we've talked over a couple of ideas. The financing is always a problem and to be fair John is collaborating with a lot of different people at the moment anyway.

Alex Storer : What are your favourite John Foxx albums, and why?

Steve Malins : Metamatic - one of the most important albums of my youth!
Tiny Colour Movies - I like the fact that it's always growing as a project; as new bits of film are disovered, new movies can be created. From Trash - I think it's one of John's best collections of songs. And one of the things that sometimes gets lost/forgotten is that he is a really good songwriter.

Alex Storer : What is it that drew you to Foxx’s music? Is there any particular direction you would like to see him take in the future?

Steve Malins : I discovered Bowie, Numan and Foxx pretty much at the same time. What can I say? That was a good two weeks!! My mind exploded and I've never been the same again!  As for directions, we talk about stuff all the time, and they multiply all the time too. Currently there are ideas for about 30 albums so it's just a matter of recording them!

Alex Storer : Many fans long for the day when an up-to-date book or biography on John Foxx is released. Do you think you would you be the man for the job?

Steve Malins : Sadly I don't think any publishers are interested at the moment and more importantly there's too much work to do in creating new stuff. I don't think John has come close to fulfilling his potential so it doesn't feel right to do a book. I truly do think he's coming into his own now so that's what I'm focused on. That said, the interview CDs for The Hidden Man and Sideways are designed to act as a kind of audio biography. There will be more, if people want them. I'd like to do The Hidden Man as a CD series with some exclusive tracks and so on. Maybe in 10 years both of us will have time to look back with a book of some sort but certainly not now.

Alex Storer : What have been the most rewarding moments in your career so far?

Steve Malins : God, erm, well working with Foxx & Gary; writing for Q; writing books; the chance to travel and have fun!

Alex Storer : Who else is exciting you (musically speaking) at the moment? Is there anything special lined up for later in the year that you can tell us about?

Steve Malins : I like CSS, Klaxons, The Knife... they're my faves at the moment. Special? Well, the the T-shirt gig should be a good night and yes, John will be playing Metamatic at the ICA on Sep 29.

Thanks to Steve Malins, April 2007