tribe magazine – interview with steve jansen

There has been scant mention of Steve’s photography in printed media over the last few years……occasional reference is made to it in some interviews but, as it has now been nearly 8 years since the release of his masterful debut solo album ‘slope‘, (and yes, I actually had to count backwards using my fingers to work that out – how can it be that long ago???) we haven’t exactly been tripping over piles of journals bearing his face or name on the cover in the intervening years.

Other than a low-key exhibition of some of his photos in Northern Italy in September 2010, which supported a venture to raise money for the Mick Karn Appeal, he hasn’t (to my knowledge) publicly exhibited any of his photographic work since the early 1980s.

That was why it was such a pleasure to stumble across a link on Steve’s website a couple of years ago, for ‘tribe’; an on-line international creative arts magazine, featuring an interview with Steve and focusing primarily upon his photography. The interview from 2012 is reproduced here, with kind permission of Mark Doyle, who also answered a couple of my questions regarding the interview……

VC: I am curious to know, what was the impetus behind the interview with Steve? I only ask because most of his (published) photography dates from the very late 70s/early 80s and there hasn’t really been much of a public profile for it, other than the ‘imageshop’ on his own website (and more recently his ‘sleepyard’ tumblr…..oh and this blog!).  Was he someone who you had always been interested in?

MD: I’ve been a Japan fan since my teens, and I am a huge fan of David Sylvian’s solo work in particular. Recently, I have been following the work of the other ex-members of Japan, and came across Steve’s photographs when researching more about his music. I really loved them and thought that they would make for an interesting showcase in the magazine. We had a lot of positive feedback about that interview actually, obviously a lot from fans that were interested to see the work.  Steve’s photography is very good. I trained as a photojournalist, and I was surprised at just how good his work was when I took a looked through his galleries. I love the shot of Richard Barbieri smoking a cigarette in that cafe in Ginza, Tokyo. It’s just perfect…..Have you looked much at David’s visual work? Very different to Steve’s but some lovely pieces.

VC: Yes, I quite like some of his work but I am more of a fan of Steve’s photography. I remember going to Sylvian’s Perspectives Exhibition in 1984 and thinking it seemed a bit contrived, whereas Steve’s photography of the same period was rather beautiful. I have always felt sad that David’s ‘fame’ meant he had more recognition, whether warranted, than Steve.  I do like some of David’s more recent visual work though….

MD: Yes, I agree with that assessment actually. The photojourno in me is more drawn to Steve’s work, and I think that actually, he is the better photographer. Both of them have been a huge part of my life musically and visually, so I have massive affection for everything they do. The documents that Steve produced with the photography are rare moments of insight and should be treasured.

Thanks to Mark Doyle for taking the time to chat and for the permission to reproduce the original article.

Below is the interview as it appeared in Issue 2 of ‘tribe’ and a link to the full issue of the magazine.

 A couple of things spring to mind after reading this…..3 years after the interview was published, Steve has continued to digitise his negatives and he has set up his ‘sleepyard’ tumblr page, where he periodically publishes previously unseen photos, as well as answering the odd question or two. This has helped to make his photography more accessible and has certainly created a renewed interest in his work as a visual artist. More prints will hopefully be available to purchase through Steve’s ‘imageshop’ in the near future.
Also, in the coming weeks, a new book about Japan (‘A Foreign Place‘ by Anthony Reynolds) is due to be published by Burning Shed and will feature an exclusive selection of Steve’s photographs which will help illustrate the story of the band, from its inception in the mid-70s, to its eventual demise at the end of 1982. This is the first time members of the band have contributed to a biography, so it should make for fascinating, as well as factual, reading.
Exciting times ahead for all fans of Mr Jansen’s exquisite talent as a photographer.

All photos by Steve Jansen unless otherwise stated
Connect with ‘tribe’ via facebook here:
Signed, limited edition prints can be purchased via Steve’s imagshop here:
Steve’s sleepyard tumblr is here:

7 thoughts on “tribe magazine – interview with steve jansen

  1. Victoria, I love this!!! Validation in print on so many levels for the feelings we “fans” have about Steve’s photography. Hoping and wishing for a future collection for purchase. Hope Springs Eternal.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. How cool would some of those pics look, in his own book ….. with back stories ….. and a nice posh hardback cover ??
    Another fine piece. Thanks Victoria x

    Liked by 3 people

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