By E.W. Hagstrom

Like most Americans, I admire the British – particularly, their bovine brain diseases, which are among the world's most entertaining. James Kirby, the primary mover and shaker behind both V/Vm the label and V/Vm the musical act, was raised on a steady diet of British beef and wacky Trevor Horn-produced 12-inch remixes. His unique ability to make experimental music sound popular and popular music sound experimental has catapulted Kirby to international infamy and acclaim. His true vision lies in presenting the plunderphonic molestations he’s best known for side-by-side with exciting original music from artists no other label would dare touch. A stroll through V/Vm’s back catalog reveals everything from Vaudeville to Cornish polka to modern composition, all released with the attitude that the music takes priority over everything else – even the threat of lawsuits. Blastitude spoke to Kirby in December 2003 and January 2004 via e-mail. -- E.W. Hagstrom

Q: It seems like the majority of experimental/electronic/ noise aficionados are rather nerdy boys, yet V/Vm seems to attract mostly nice young women. Why do you think this is?

A: I think noise/electronic/experimental music is predominantly supported by white middle class guys, why this is I have no idea. The music should not really only attract these people but it seems to do. It alienates a whole audience of people before you begin. Usually at shows you get a bunch of guys and the only girls are their girlfriends who look totally bored and perplexed at why their boyfriends are at these shows. For some reason though V/Vm has never had this breakdown, we get some real stunning girls who follow us around and support what we are doing (from all corners of the Globe). I guess we're not the stereotypical musicians, we don't hide behind blurry photographs or seem aloof. A big ingredient of our success with the girls is that all we wanna do is have a good time, if it's a choice between talking to some guy about the set up and what soundcard to buy or talking to some girl and doing the harlem shuffle then I'm for the harlem shuffle every time. The mad thing though is I only get either European (non-English) or oriental girls, it's down to my big hair and false beard, Andy (Jansky Noise) gets all the girls because he's boy band, and we go to great lengths to always invite girls to our shows and we sure as hell know how to talk to the girls. Commonly the thing I hear from girls is that guys cannot talk anymore, it seems that it's a big, big, big problem these days. I think maybe as well the number of girls increased at V/Vm shows when I started buying real skin tight bright orange Lionel Richie t-shirts and wearing them during performance, showing off my six pack and dancing like Michael Jackson. The girls love Lionel and Michael so I'm always onto a winner before I begin and usually shows end with the girls running after me and Andy because they've heard about our legendary end of show parties which just never stop...........

Q: You've been releasing so many fine recordings on your label, in addition to your own works. How do you manage to accomplish so much, and still have time for your legendary parties?

A: If it seems mad on the outside it sure is mad on the inside, I'm just doing what comes naturally I guess, if I worked at another label I'd be on about 100k a year for the work I do, you know: website design, packing things, mail order, recording, releasing, compiling, remixing, import/export, distribution. As it is I get about 100 pounds a year, but I sure as hell make that 100 pounds stretch all the way and you know the old saying, work hard, play hard. But it's true we love a good party and people like having us out at their parties because we can drink endlessly and never be in a real state. Take our X-mas show this year, the day after it you would think we'd be wrecked as it finished at 5am and I was having trouble with my back and legs after throwing myself off the stage a couple of times and getting attacked by the crowd, and yet we went out at 2pm and ended up at the place where we were staying at 8am the next day, all the time we were drinking and we saw three fights, too many girls including some of the most nailed girls ever, we got thrown off a pool table, saw Andy acting as if he was at a non stop speed dating party and had a six footer telling us how he'd been attacked the week before. Just when we got in and I thought nothing else could happen I got inside my friends house and the cat threw up right in front of my feet. I can elaborate on all the happenings that night but it's so far fetched that no one would believe us. But all I can say to the readers is that if we hit your town then invite us out..... especially the girls.

Q: I understand you've had problems in the past with other well-known UK music acts such as Scanner and Aphex Twin. Why do you think this is? Are they just jealous of your talent or your success with the ladies?

A: I think there's an envious sideways glance towards V/Vm and also my good friend Animal/Janksy Noise because of our abilities with the girls - it must be said that when it comes down to it the girls do enjoy a special night out with us both.... We even have them flying in from overseas lands these days, so if anyone out there reading this wants to fly themselves in just let us know and we'll be there. As for big Ricky Aphex we never really had any trouble with him and as a footnote Animal also knew his girlfriend before he knew his girlfriend, so there has never been any big problems with him. Scanner on the other hand is a cunt. And when I said that to the editor at The Wire it was weird how ever since we've gotten rotten press from them. I'm sure it's coincidence completely and read nothing between the lines. The worst thing he ever did was stop us getting a live show in Portugal a few years back by refusing to go if we were there. Now the sad thing for me is that I would never stop somebody getting live work or any work even if they are wankers. To me Scanner is just an insecure guy, if somebody calls me a cunt or criticizes my output I have no problems because I have faith in what I'm doing and why I'm doing it, whereas he knows what he does is almost all a sham done to get arts funding from people in suits who have no fucking clue. To be honest I’d rather do nothing creative than be scanner or people like him, sucking up to everybody and kissing arse is all these people do, and if you kiss an arse for so long you eventually smell like an arse and become an arse and make arse music. It's a new genre upcoming in British music, Arse music. Just wait till the NME gets behind it.

Q: Which artists/labels do you find most enjoyable and least scanner-ish?

A: To be honest, although I get sent a lot of stuff I find it hard to recommend things to other people. I love some of the stuff you're doing and putting out, and also a lot of stuff coming out of Australia associated with Dual Plover is worth a spin, but to be honest if I'm sat here and relaxing (which I never fucking get chance to do, but occasionally if I am) I listen to a lot of pop music. I love listening to a Falco CD or maybe even Elton John - to be honest everybody slags Elton but you get cunts like Merzbow and Autechre hiding behind bullshit and pretence, with Elton what you see is what you get, a fat twat with a wig making shit pop with no pretence or apology for his output. I get less annoyed listening to one of his greatest hits CD's than I do listening to someone trying to be "experimental" for the fucking sake of it. My favourite musician though is the jazz singer Jimmy Scott, he's one of the few living legends left making music these days and should you get the chance to ever go and see him make sure you don’t miss out. Also I love the American hillbilly and meat eater Hasil Adkins who just does it for doing its sake.

Q: On your "Schwarz-Gelb" 7-inch you pay tribute to a German soccer team. Are you a big fan of sports, and do you see a lot of potential for sports-themed experimental music?

A: I do like sports, especially shit sports like darts and snooker, bar room sports, sports where you can down ten pints and still be a world champion playing when pissed summed up perfectly in the 80's by Alex Higgins in Snooker and Jockey Wilson in darts. That's my idea of sports and I should take up darts soon because I reckon I’d be ok at it, snooker wise sometimes I can knock in a big break. That Borussia Dortmund record is one of my favourites on V/Vm Test, Borussia have the highest average attendance of any team in Europe when it comes to football and they also had in that year a day glo kit and won the European Cup Final (1997) and that record is a tribute to that. Nobody gave them a chance and against all the odds they beat Juventus in the final in this day glo kit by three goals to one. Their fans are also some of the booziest in sports, is there a recurring theme here???

Q: Do any of the original artists ever hear your remixes/tributes? Do you ever make an effort to get copies to them?

A: Yes I met Chris de Burgh and gave him a “Lady in Red” in person and never heard anything from him. Also when we did the Posh Spice 7", I think it was the NME who played it to them, one of the musicians got real upset but the other was into it. There was also this guy there from a shit boy band "East 17" and he was laughing until the interviewer said "Well they've done you too...." If I can get copies to the artists I will, I'm not hiding behind what I do, of course Aphex got copies of our help series as did his label Warp. The Frankie one, which is out now, was also ordered online by their lead singer which is pretty fucked up, there will no doubt be a law suit pretty soon but who gives a fuck about that shit, I've got other things to worry about like juggling the girls around.

Q: What does the future hold for V/Vm? It's been rumoured you'll be spending much of 2004 on the Pacific Rim, Japan and Australia, perhaps even making a permanent move to said nations - is this true?

A: Right now V/Vm is like a punch drunk boxer stuck on the ropes and waiting for the bell to ring so it can get back to the corner and get ready for the next punishing round of the fight. Sometimes you really feel like throwing in the towel but something deep down stops that from happening. Right now I'm happy to take more punishment, and more punches and I'm happy to take a standing eight count in the hope that somewhere along the line I get to fight for the IBF Featherweight Championship of the World. In preparation for it all I'm growing my hair like boxing promoter Don King and yes maybe I am gonna head for the Pacific Rim. The time feels right to step out of the ring and onto a plane for an unknown destination, somewhere far away from the UK would be good, somewhere far away from the bullshit surrounding music would be even better. I have options in Europe and in the Southern Pacific, it's about realizing really where I wanna be and what would be good for my own personal development and what would in turn help me get the shot at the IBF title. It's time to take a new approach and to take some chances, to be pro-active and do nothing at the same time. It's a time soon for silence and I'm not talking about that cunt John Cage.


V / Vm Test Records