XO Press is a Kansas City-based cassette tape label and publishing press. They specialize in limited edition chapbooks of poetry, short fiction, and honestly, anything that perks their collaborative interests. I first heard of XO during the Troost DIY Fest, which focused on music and venues between the 41st and 43rd blocks of Troost. XO released the much anticipated compilation tape, TROOST, which featured the music of 24 bands that performed at the fest.
I met Stephen Proski a couple of years ago while attending KCAI. To this day, Stephen never ceases to amaze me with his words and, more importantly, what he does with his time. He has an incredible work ethic, which is made evident by his studio practice, the energy he devotes to his band, Meat Mist, and his collaborative efforts as part of XO Press.
1. What is the greatest thing you have learned from operating, and facilitating XO Press?
The whole thing is still a learning process. We’ve done about nine or so releases in less than six months and we have more to come. There was actually one month where we put out a new tape every week. That became exhausting, but it was enjoyable at the same time. What’s great about XO is that I can do something art-related with my friends, who aren’t necessarily artists (whatever that word means), and share it with the DIY/punk scene, which has given so much to me over the years. It’s a very thankless job, but someone has to do it. None of us really mind, either; we just like doing what we do. Simple enough.
2. What book(s) are you currently reading?
Oh, I could go on forever with this one, but the following are most relevant to the interview:
Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung, by Lester Bangs
Please, Kill Me, by Legs McNeil
Lipstick Traces: a Secret History of the 20th Century, by Greil Marcus
The Unbearable Lightness of Being, by Milan Kundera
Suicide Casanova, by Arthur Nersesian
A better question would have been, “What have you been listening to lately?”.
Shoppers – Silver Year
Final Club – Blank Entertainment
La Piovra – The FIrst Discovered Treasures
Skinny Puppy – Mind: The Perpetual Intercourse
Aids Wolf – Ma Vie Banale Avant-Garde
Coil – Horse Rotorvator
Verse – From Anger and Rage
Calculator – These Roots Grow Deep
3. Can you talk about the collaborative process of XO?
XO press is Meat Mist, plus my sister. The boys and I take care of doing the cassettes, and my sister is pretty much in charge of putting together the books. We all live within walking distance of each other. Typically, we have band practice, and then afterwards, we discuss what’s going on and what needs to get done, within whatever timeframe we happen to be working with. Each person contributes something different, but our efforts are communal. A few of our releases have been recorded by Dan (drummer of Meat Mist) on his four-track analog recorder. For the TROOST compilation we put out, I’m pretty sure he recorded an individual song for half of the bands on that tape. Like most artists, we definitely procrastinate, but we are always able to meet the deadlines we establish for ourselves.
Studio work always comes first. Everyone involved understands this and is respectful of it.
5. Where do you currently operate XO? Do you have a space?
We operate out of two houses. Mine and Dan’s (the butcher shop), whatever is more convenient at the time. The kind of work we do does not necessarily require a large studio, by any means; just an open (or cluttered) space we can move around in. This is the kind of “business” we can continue to run if any one of us were to move or leave Kansas City. In my mind, that’s a good thing.
Playing in Meat Mist, having toured and put out records, and now this- I have grown close to these guys and they are some of my best friends. We have plans for the future, with no signs of quitting anytime soon. With each release, we get more and more excited about the next. That’s more than enough motivation for me to keep this going. I get just as stoked about this as I do about painting, which is strange, for me at least.
Check out our catalogue / discography:
Everything up on the site is for sale, digital or hardcopy
Shoot us e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
“We’re open to pretty much anything. Send us something to read or something to hear. Please come out to a show and make a new friend. XO”.