R. Stevie Moore


R. Stevie Moore

Robert Steven Moore (born January 18, 1952), also known as R. Stevie Moore or RSM, is an American multi-instrumentalist, singer, and songwriter from Nashville who pioneered lo-fi/DIY music. Often called the "godfather of home recording", he is one of the most recognized artists of the cassette underground, and his influence is particularly felt in the bedroom and hypnagogic pop artists of the post-millennium. Since 1968, he has self-released at least 200 albums, while about three dozen "official" albums (largely compilations) have been issued on various labels.

Born the son of Nashville A-Team bassist Bob Moore, Steven grew up in the 1960s listening to the Beatles, the Beach Boys, the Mothers of Invention, and Jimi Hendrix. On his 16th birthday, he received a four-track reel-to-reel tape deck and began recording as a one-man band in his parents' basement in suburban Madison. The innovative manipulation of low-fidelity recording processes in his early albums defined his general aesthetic. With help from his uncle, he made his official label debut with 1976's Phonography, which was well-received in New York's punk and new wave circles. Although he is best known for "60's-inspired power pop in the XTC vein,"his body of work incorporates a variety of music genres, both popular and experimental, and his records are typically styled after freeform radio. He describes his prolific output as "a diary of sound".

R. Stevie Moore

As a teenager, Moore became proficient on guitar, bass, piano, and drums. He was self-taught. In 1966, he and a few high-school friends formed a short-lived rock combo called the Marlborough. His recordings in this period were heavily influenced by the Mothers of Invention's albums Freak Out! (1966) and We're Only in It for the Money (1967). He found particular inspiration from albums that are "just all over the map … Zappa leaned into parody, and I’m all about that. I love humor." On his 16th birthday, he received a four-track reel-to-reel tape deck and began recording as a one-man band set up in his parents' basement in suburban Madison. The first album he self-released was a mixture of Beatles-inspired songs and sound collages titled On Graycroft. He later said: "I’m all about diversity. Freeform radio show. The Beatles White Album. ... I definitely had no 'plan' to rush and become known as the very first modern DIY pioneer. 'Self-contained innovator- — yes, but not satisfied to be content as merely that." Much of his output, he said, was "uncontrollable—compelled without compulsion. I didn't seek out to do this. It just came out of me. I had this music inside of me and I wanted to be a pop star. It was like a disease that I had to record and write."

R. Stevie Moore

From 1978 until 2010, Moore lived and recorded in his apartment studios in northern New Jersey. He was also a WFMU staff member for a number of years. In 1982, he launched the R. Stevie Moore Cassette Club, his home-based mailing service. Throughout the 1980s, the French label New Rose released a quadrilogy of Moore albums: Everything (1984), Glad Music (1986), Teenage Spectacular (1987), and Warning (1988). After the 2000s, he became better known for his associations with Ariel Pink, who frequently praised Moore as his "mentor".

Due to his prolific output, the majority of Moore's CD and vinyl releases have been career-spanning compilations. He noted having "sort of ... two discographies: my own that contains all of my self-released material and the official releases, which are what record labels decided to put out over the years." As of 2012, his Bandcamp page listed over 200 releases.
Although it is often reported that his complete discography exceeds 400 albums, Moore said that the estimate was not an "actual proven number" and that "400 might seem stretching it a bit, but when it comes down to every bit of home taping I’ve ever done, including producing friends, alternate dub versions, session discs, audio verite ephemera, etcetera, it suddenly becomes an unlimited guess."