Steve Nawara didn’t stay inactive very long since he left Electric 6, the band he used to play bass for under the name of Disco. After a stint in Conspiracy of Owls, Steve started to operate his own label, Beehive Recordings, dedicated to the music from his hometown of Detroit. A very interesting chat since any true rock/soul/rhythm and blues fan MUST HAVE records from Detroit in his collection…
1) Can you tell us how you started out The Beehive recording company ?
Steve Nawara : Music has always radiated from the city of Detroit. There hasn't been a time in 100 years where music hasn't been a big part of our culture, it seems that everyone has an instrument or has played in a band at some point in their lives. If not, you can almost guarantee that that person has an impeccable record collection. The difficulty is that it is hard to keep up with all the songs that are being written here on a daily basis, most of the music goes unrecorded or unnoticed, so the main goal of Beehive is to preserve our heritage.
2) Can you explain us how the label works and its purpose ?
SN : Thanks to digital technology and advancements in recording gear, we can record music at no charge to the artist and also distribute our music for free to our audience through our website, we are a purely digital recording company, though there has been a lot of talk about finding ways to release vinyl. So regardless of genre or popularity, we can ensure that we release the diverse & eclectic nature of Detroit music.
3) Is the label born out of frustration ?
SN : Beehive was born from the love of Detroit music. However, there is no doubt that the music industry has gone from a great place to discover music to a place where music is forced upon you. American radio probably only plays about less than 1% of the music created in the States. So instead of waiting around for the industry, Beehive offers a way to have your music heard and develop your career as an artist while you wait (likely forever) for that big deal.
4) Beehive is only recording Detroit music, do you think we're on the edge of an huge Detroit revival ?
SN : It is my belief that Detroit is the music capital of the world. Over the decades we have created multiple genres of music, like Motown, Punk (MC5 were the first band ever to be labeled as punk rock), Techno, The Garage Revival, as well as giving birth to some of the largest superstars of our time, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Alice Cooper, Bob Seger, Madonna, Eminem, The White Stripes, to name a few. Everyday I get to record music that inspires me more & more, so yes, I do believe that Detroit is in the beginning of a new revival but one that the world has never known. It won't be a single genre like in the past, but an eclectic wave that will wash over the world.
5) The Beehive Ball was recently held in Detroit, is this kind of formal event important for the label ?
SN : Absolutely. The Beehive Ball is a way for our fans to get together and celebrate, while raising some much needed funds for our cause. Our first one last November, was a smashing success, so The Ball will now be a Detroit tradition from here on out. It is also important since we are a digital entity; it brings Beehive into the real world.
6) Can you tell us a few words about your new recording studio ? Do you use vintage equipment ?
SN : A good friend of mine, Phil Cooley, a local entrepreneur, offered a space in a recently purchased & renovated building that now houses film makers, carpenters, artists, dancers, a fencing team, and many other groups, creating a co-op of sorts. He showed me the boiler room where there were gigantic furnaces that took up the entirety of the space, but now it has all been cleared out and has been painted a burnt orange and filled with all the vintage gear I've been collecting over the years. Vintage equipment is key to our sound due to the sterility of digital recording. Everything must pass through a tube before it hits the board.
7) How do you pick up bands you work with ?
SN : Obviously, they must be from Detroit but most importantly, its got to get you by the boo boo. Music thrives on emotion and merely exists intellectually. Though I am a fan of prog-rock, it lacks the excitement that makes you want to jump out of your skin, which is what the world needs right now more than anything. The awakening of the human spirit.
8) What went wrong with the radio ?
SN : Capitalism with it's head cut off. Americans have somehow been convinced that gigantic monopolies are the free market at work, when it is nothing but economic despotism. This is why music has become globalized and every genre kind of melts into this grey slop. It's becoming harder to tell the difference between punk, metal, hip hop, when you listen to the radio. It is time for the world to start 'in-sourcing' and really find what is within our communities and bring out the best we all have to offer. Only then we will hear good music on the radio again.
9) You're also playing in Conspiracy of Owls. Is there an album #2 in the works ? Do you think you're gonna tour Europe ?
SN : Unfortunately, Conspiracy Of Owls has come to pass. I'm afraid to say that my time in the band ended on a very bad note, dealing with a broken jaw from one of the members during a drunken evening and then being kicked out because I couldn't make the shows afterwards due to my jaw being wired shut. After putting in a years worth of rehearsals, I believe the band quickly became tired of the songs while we started to play them in front of audiences. Such a bummer, I really liked that band, as did many others. We are all still friends and enjoy hanging out, despite the drama that occurred. So I'm sorry to say, there will be no 2nd record or tours in Europe.
Thanks a lot ! Feel free to post some links to the beehive website and to explain how to purchase the music.
SN : We give away our music for free so anyone can come take a listen and download what they like, after becoming a member (which is also free). However, we accept donations which anyone can do here.