Steven Severin: Wikis


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Steven Severin

Steven Severin in June 1986.
Background information
Birth name Steven John Bailey
Also known as Steve Spunker, Steve Havoc, Steve Severin
Born September 25, 1955 (1955-09-25) (age 54)
Origin London, England
Genres Post-punk, gothic rock, alternative rock, New Wave
Occupations Musician, Bassist, Songwriter, Producer
Instruments Bass, Guitar, Keyboards, Piano, Synthesizer, Sitar, Organ
Years active 1976-present
Labels Geffen Records, RE: Records, subconscious music
Associated acts Siouxsie & the Banshees
The Glove

Steven Severin (born Steven John Bailey, on September 25, 1955, in London), is a musician, composer, bassist and founding member of Siouxsie & the Banshees.

After dabbling with the names "Steve Spunker" and "Steve Havoc" he took the name "Severin", from the Leopold von Sacher-Masoch character that is the subject of the Velvet Underground song "Venus in Furs". He appeared in the infamous Bill Grundy-Sex Pistols television interview as part of the Bromley Contingent, as that group of fans of the band were known. He also appears in the audience in films of early Sex Pistols gigs.


Siouxsie & the Banshees

Severin was a full contributor to the Banshees' musical output from the very first release (the b-side to the top 10 single "Hong Kong Garden" was the Severin-penned "Voices".) Although the entire band often was credited for song writing, the lyrics were usually indicated as the work of only one or two members. Severin would contribute lyrics to a great many of the album tracks, singles and b-sides produced by the band. He also initially wrote many of the songs recorded by the band, composing earlier versions that the band would work upon in the studio with every member then contributing. In the same way he would add his input into potential tracks contributed by Sioux or others.

Notwithstanding a considerably lower media profile than the iconic singer, Severin had a strong influence on the music and image of Siouxsie & the Banshees. Where in the early days Sioux and Severin were united in purpose and vision for the band, as the group progressed, they developed differing views and methods; the resultant tensions were however usually harnessed in a positive manner. However, by the time the group had completed their final tour and disbanded, relations between the two mainstays appeared to have irrevocably broken down.

Other artists and bands

During his tenure with Siouxsie and the Banshees, Severin was also involved in records by other bands, often with Banshees connections. The Altered Images had toured as a support act for the Banshees, and Severin produced their first two singles "Dead Pop Stars" and "A Days Wait". He also produced the majority of the album Happy Birthday (all 1981). The only track not produced by him was the title track (which also formed the intro and outro), which became the band's breakthrough hit.

In 1982, he produced, and played bass on, the Lydia Lunch EP The Agony Is the Ecstasy and in 1983 co-wrote the song "Torment" with Marc Almond on the latter's LP Torment and Toreros (by Marc and the Mambas).


The Glove

Severin's work outside Siouxsie & the Banshees, in this period, is however most known for The Glove, his side project with The Cure's (and then current Banshee guitarist) Robert Smith. This led to the release of the album Blue Sunshine and two attendant singles. The album reached number 35 in the UK charts in 1983 and the single "Like an Animal" peaked just outside the UK top 50. The next single from the album, "Punish Me with Kisses", only just made it into the top 100. Though Smith did sing on a few tracks, the featured vocalist is Jeanette Landray - a friend of Banshee drummer Budgie; who was at the time involved in progressing a musical relationship with Sioux under The Creatures banner. The album is noted for its low-level musical interludes between tracks.

Musically close enough to the differing Cure and Banshee styles to attract large sections of both sets of fans, the more experimental nature and references to 1960's psychedelia and pop-art also attracted a more eclectic audience. The use of keyboards and synthesizers, as well as the inclusion of instrumental only tracks, were also an early pointer to Severin's post Banshee musical output. In 2006, a remastered 2CD version was released, the second disc featuring Robert Smiths guide vocals over tracks in various stages of completion — being the point in the composition where the vocal guide was added, without the final segments as well as Landray's voice.

Visions of Ecstasy Soundtrack

Of even more importance to Severin's post-Banshees output was the Visions of Ecstasy soundtrack created for the Nigel Wingrove short film interpretation of the writings of Saint Teresa of Avila. This 1989 sensual fantasy film remains unreleased, as it has been refused a certificate on the grounds of blasphemy - the only film so banned by The British Board of Film Classification. The four parts written by Severin for the soundtrack, "Sphere", "Come Deliver Us", "Skin Crawl" and "Transverberation of the Heart", formed the basis of his first post-Banshees release.

Post-Siouxsie & the Banshees

Almost ten years after creating the Visions of Ecstasy soundtrack, Severin released an album entitled Visions, featuring four tracks derived from the original pieces written for the film, plus another five instrumentals. Severin completely reworked the soundtrack — originally eighteen minutes long — into a forty-five minute ambient album. It was also the first release by Severin's RE: Records label. The record also featured Martin McCarrick, making that individual to be the only person to have worked with Siouxsie Sioux and Severin in The Banshees and both their subsequent post-Banshees work (McCarrick appeared in the Siouxsie Dreamshow concerts/DVD recorded in late 2004).

A year later in 1999, Severin released Maldoror, again on the RE: records, but available via the internet only. The origins for this instrumental album were as far back as 1993, when Severin wrote some tracks for Brazilian Theatre Company "Os Satyros" production of Lautremont's Chants of Maldoror. After losing and regaining contact with the group, Severin composed further pieces for the 1998 production Os Cantos des Maldoror. These pieces were collected together and released on CD, available on the Internet only.

In 1999, Severin had been invited to be musical director for the Canadian dance company "Holy Body Tattoo" on CIRCA — described as a 70-minute multimedia "celebration of the sensual forces of submission and control" — a postmodern deconstruction of the tango that interwove film footage by William Morrison and original music by Severin, Warren Ellis and cult cabaret trio The Tiger Lillies. The music from CIRCA was largely drawn from Martin Jacques and company's album Circus Songs. Steven Severin contributed keyboards and also produced this album for the Tiger Lillies.

Steven Severin's third RE: release, The Woman in the Dunes was specially commissioned by Shakti and the Vasanta Mala dance company to accompany the stage production of the Kōbō Abe novel of the same name. It premiered at the ICA in the summer of 2000. The only vocal included is 'I put a spell on you' a version of the Screaming Jay Hawkins classic sung by Jarboe (ex Swans) The album was released by RE: Records, again only available via the Internet.

In 2000, Oneiros Books published "The Twelve Revelations", a collection of Severins erotic prose/poetry, illustrated with line drawings by Catharyne Ward.

Severin returned to composing soundtracks, and in 2003 film director Robert Pratten approached Severin to compose the soundtrack for his first film, a British independent supernatural thriller called "London Voodoo". The film contained four tracks that Severin collaborated on with his wife and songwriting partner Arban, under the name "Darling Hate". As a result of this new direction, Severin wound down his RE: label to concentrate on writing for film and television.

London Voodoo was followed by a soundtrack for "The Purifiers", the second film feature by award winning director and former Skids and Armoury Show frontman Richard Jobson, which premiered at the Edinburgh Film Festival in 2004. The tracks extensively used in the score were "Enter into these bonds" from Visions and "Prelude:Europa" from Maldoror.

A spate of Siouxsie & the Banshees releases in the form of a (2002) compilation, The Best of..., and a live The Seven Year Itch recording (released 2003) presaged the 2005 release of Downside Up, a collection of every song released as the accompaniment to a UK single. The album's name reflects that original singles occupied one side of a vinyl record, which then had to be turned over for the "B-side" to be played. Many of the tracks had not been previously available in any other form, and were remastered for transfer to CD. Three of the four discs contained the recordings in chronological order and the last disc contained the tracks which had made up The Thorn EP. As the band's archivist, Severin spent some time tracking down the various tapes for this release, and assisting in the remastering process, as well as providing some of the liner notes to the various songs.

Also in 2005, Severin released another album based on a soundtrack originally commissioned by the Indo/Japanese performer Shakti in August 2003 for her interpretation of the story of Beauty and the Beast. The album Beauty and the Beast is credited to Arban and Steven Severin. It was the first release on their Subconscious Music label. Though jointly credited, the fifty minute score was created in an original manner which owed much to the circumstances in producing it. As it was commissioned to accompany a dance production, the titles and timing of each individual part was already decided upon by Shakti, who also suggested the theme for each piece. Owing to other commitments upon their time, it was decided by Arban and Steven Severin that each would work on alternating pieces individually. Arban Severin took responsibility for the odd-numbered tracks and Steven Severin for the others. After a piece was substantially completed it was given over to the other partner to review and to make contributions. Only when both parties were satisfied was the track considered finished.

This method of working was deemed so successful it is being applied to the partnerships most recent project, the soundtrack for director Paul Burrow's psychological thriller "Nature Morte"(Still Life). This film score recording was released on 16 October 2006, again under the Subconscious Music label.

Siouxsie & the Banshees Remasters

In 2005, it was announced that the entire Banshees back catalogue, with the exception of the singles compilations Once Upon a Time and Twice Upon a Time, were to be re-released with additional tracks in a remastered format. In his role as the band's archivist Severin located much of the material to be added to the various releases, and was instrumental in accessing the mastertapes of the albums themselves. He was also involved in the reclamation, cleaning, transfer and remixing of the tapes to a point where the three senior members of the band were able to approve the reissue.

The bands remastered debut album The Scream was released in late 2005, in a deluxe double CD format - featuring some sessions recorded before securing a record deal, as well as the singles released during the same period as the album but not included on the original release. A single-disc version of this album (with the singles only) was released in mid 2006 together with the second tranche of Banshees re-releases; Join Hands, Kaleidoscope and Juju. Again these CDs will be single discs with contemporaneous singles and other tracks, from Severins archives, as extra tracks (with Kaleidoscope this amounts to 8 demos). Juju may also be later released in a double-disc deluxe version with further bonus material. Another fruit of Severin's, and other band members, efforts is the rerelease of the live recording in DVD format of the Nocturne concert, together with the video made for the single "Dear Prudence" and performances recorded on "The Old Grey Whistle Test" plus the "Play at Home" film made for Channel Four.

Severin will be involved in the sourcing and remastering of material for the re-release of the remaining SATB recordings.


For his works with Siouxsie & The Banshees, see Siouxsie & the Banshees discography.

Solo Albums

  • 1998 - Visions
  • 1999 - Maldoror
  • 2000 - The Woman in the Dunes
  • 2005 - Beauty & The Beast
  • 2008 - Music for Silents

Sources/External links


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