On the eve of his North American tour, Chris Corner speaks with ReGen about Alive in New Light, his creative process, and the future of IAMX.
An InterView with Chris Corner of IAMX
By Richard Reich (DJRichardReich)
Few artists have established as deep and personal a connection with the audience that IAMX has. Previously described as “public therapy,” each release presents an intimate snapshot of Chris Corner and his emotional trials. His bold new release, Alive in New Light dropped in February to much critical acclaim and he is currently embarking on a world tour. During a short break between the European and North American legs of the tour, Richard Reich had the pleasure of checking in with Corner on behalf of ReGen Magazine. Always surprisingly engaging, Corner opens up about his creative process, touring, and more.
You’ve spent a good deal of time living in L.A.; has that had any effect on IAMX?
Corner: Well, it’s certainly had a personal effect on me. I feel much calmer and more relaxed. The weather is certainly better. I enjoy the people. Before, I think I had a bit of a skewed perception of Los Angeles. I’ve found it’s a very surprising and different culture.
At this point, do you identify as an American. or do you still feel like an outsider looking in?
You recorded Alive in New Light in some measure of isolation; do you ever find yourself feeling lost in that situation?
Corner: Always. (Laughter) There’s a certain sense of self-flagellation and helplessness. Sometimes, I just can’t stand working with other people. There are always several phases to the creation of a record. At first, there’s that naïve excitement of going in and making something new. Then comes this sort of horrific, terrible sense of digging yourself out of what you’ve gotten into and thinking, ‘this is shit.’ I think that’s just a part of it. I’ve dabbled a bit with collaboration, and I hope to do some more of that, but it’s such a private, intimate (at least lyrically), and emotional experience. I’m a bit of a control freak.
Do you worry about becoming too self-indulgent in that solo creation?
Corner: I think that, if I had subjected myself to a more commercial path, that I would struggle more with that. I’ve managed to tread water pretty well, while making few compromises. Obviously, we all need money and to earn a living and you do have to make some choices based on that. I have such a loyal, conscientious, and intelligent fan base. I’ve been very lucky in that regard.
Do you ever see yourself working with an outside producer again?
Corner: I do. That is something I’d like to do again. I just love my experimentation and making mistakes privately. I know I have certain weaknesses in completing the technical end of a record. There are some parts that I’m just not that good at, or I rush. I just have this very indie D.I.Y. ethos as well. There are also practical and financial issues that can be preventative to some degree.
How has the tour treated you thus far?
You’ve had a stable live band for some time now. Has that altered your approach in any way?
Corner: It certainly changes the way I prepare for the tour. When I am preparing the sounds and sequencers, I can think of the style of the player and their strengths and weaknesses, adjusting accordingly. I can rearrange this or that beat because of the way Jon plays.
He loves his double bass.
Corner: That he does. (Laughter) It makes it fun, you know? I know what to expect from these people at this point and keep them in mind when we’re ramping up.
You’ve got a unique stage setup this go around; tell me about the inspiration behind that.
Is there a sense of anxiety bringing the new material out in front of a live crowd for the first time?
Corner: It kind of goes from a feeling of invincibility to absolute vulnerability. You never really know until you get out there and see it in the people’s faces. Something might sound great in rehearsals and fall flat when tested. I’ve learned to predict certain elements of what will and won’t work. A song like ‘Big Man,’ with its organic and orchestral elements might not be as suited to the show, so let’s go with something more electronic, you know? It’s living and breathing.
Obviously, the tour isn’t going to last forever. In a general sense, what is next for IAMX?
Live photography by Katherine Gaines – courtesy of AmbientEye Photography