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Interview with Thurston Moore, Co-Founder
How did Ecstatic Peace Library start?
In 2009 our friend Justine Kurland presented an exhibition of work to her New York gallery. My partner Eva had been close to Justine and very supportive of her journey of this work Justine was doing as a young mother/artist. Justine and her son Caspar travelled across North America and would sometimes phone Eva to check in. At that time Eva was the Senior Editor in the Fine Arts department at Abrams Books and had hoped to produce a larger monograph of Justine’s photographs.
When Justine expressed interest in making a limited edition signed/numbered catalogue of this work, Eva conceived of the ideal trim size, binding and other content (essays, artist’s statement and a swoon-worthy letter & drawing that William T. Vollmann sent Justine) and showed me the whole maquette. She knew it was too precious to produce at a major publisher but insisted it had to be made in time for the exhibition. She found a printer in New York, and we decided it had to be done so we started our company especially. Eva continued to simultaneously acquire and edit books at Abrams and with Gregory R. Miller—another publisher of artist’s books, and I, of course, was making music with my various bands including Sonic Youth. We met up every few months in New York and flirted with different ideas and shared stories of mutual friends who made work as sublime.
Tell us a bit about Ecstatic Peace Library. What are your influences, your aesthetic, your mission?
In 2010 we were asked the same question and Eva & I curated our own exhibition of ‘influences’ alongside a poetry journal I had been editing called the Ecstatic Peace Poetry Journal.
Both Eva and I had been relentlessly archiving books, journals, ephemera of post-war poetry publishing focusing on the activity of the “mimeo revolution” of the ’60s and ’70s. The stapled mimeo poetry journals produced from the St. Mark’s Poetry Project, Peace Eye Bookstore in New York City, and Asphodel Bookstore in Cleveland, Ohio, as well as a myriad of other subterranean centres of shared post-beat writing, rage, meditation and experimentation continues to inform the publication of Ecstatic Peace Poetry Journal and to some degree many of our books.
Can you give us a preview of what’s current and/or forthcoming from your catalog, as well as what you’re hoping to publish in the future?
We have just been working with the bass player Jørn Stubberud (also known as “Necrobutcher”) of a legendary Norwegian Black Metal band called Mayhem. He wrote an illustrated autobiography and we are his English publishers. The book is called “The Death Archives: 1984-94.” It is very dear to us.
Next we will publish a complete library editor facsimile of a 1970s British Magazine about Improvised Music & Art. The magazine was called Musics. Eva rediscovered it last year and became obsessed with it. It was an amazing zine edited by our most beloved Improvisors. We scanned every issue ourselves and had such an incredible winter with our pots of tea and these old issues, reading them aloud to each other.
What about small/independent press publishing is particularly exciting to you right now?
Over ten years ago Eva took a trip to Washington DC with our mutual friend Susie Horgan, another photographer. Eva was publishing a book about the DC Hardcore Scene. She told me about going to visit Ian MacKaye (of Fugazi) at the Dischord house. He gave her a Xerox of the first 7-inch the Teen Idles ever made. She still has it framed in our Ecstatic Peace Library office. He described wanting to make a record and not knowing how to go about it. He told her he simply took one of his 7-inches apart, opening up the glued sides, and tracing the shape and then setting about making artwork on the flat surface.
Theirs is a classic DIY story.
How do you cope? There’s been a lot of conversation lately about charging reading fees, printing costs, rising book costs, who should pay for what, etc. Do you have any opinions on this, and would you be willing to share any insights about the numbers at Ecstatic Peace Library?
We like to take our time, work with the community. Go on press, nearby. It doesn’t bother you when you pay a little more to create your own economy and keep it real for your neighbourhood.