Chris Corner of IAMX speaks with ReGen about the current state of the music industry and touches on the band’s most recent creations in the studio and onstage.
An InterView with Chris Corner of IAMX
By Richard Reich (DJRichardReich)
You have been active since at least the late ’90s. Obviously, the music industry has gone through a great deal of change since that time. What are your feelings on then versus now?
Corner: Well, I wouldn’t say it’s any less difficult for artists. I still think the industry in general is a struggle for the artistic mind. I think back then, there seemed to be a little more freedom in the commercial world to experiment a bit. On the face of it, it seems to have become very, very… plastic. I don’t want to make it sound as though it’s nostalgic or something, but there was a lot more dirt and a bit more freedom. It still isn’t my thing either way. I think just being a part of the industry was always very uncomfortable for me.
It seems like you’ve taken a very focused approach at staying as far from that as possible, while still remaining successful.
You mentioned bringing in outside production – producer Jim Abbiss – for The Unified Field, the benefits of which are obvious. Do you lose anything in inviting others onto your island, so to speak?
Corner: Well, you lose control. That’s the major problem with somebody like me. I think my need for control comes from my being not just protective of it, but possibly being deeply insecure. (Laughs) Once you invite somebody in, you invite them into your secrets and how you do things. You open yourself up to be judged. That’s the major stumbling block for me; that was the major stumbling block for me. Fortunately, I worked with somebody that already understood how I work.
Having previously worked with you for Sneaker Pimps’ debut…
Corner: Yeah. I think to work with anyone, for me, it would always have to be a long process. I really need to know the person and feel safe before I expose myself.
So, having previously worked with Abbiss, did you feel comfortable with him already or was the anxiety still there?
It’s clear that visual presentation is important to you. How vital is that to the total IAMX performance. Would you be as effective in the dark?
Corner: I don’t think so. I think what’s nice about the visual approach is you get to play. What I like about theatre and expressing myself in that way is that it’s not just all about the mind. I get to play. That’s what theatre gives me and there’s a lot of enjoyment in that and it’s true, real enjoyment. All performance is ridiculous in a way and, if you think it’s less serious because you dress up, I don’t think you get the point of what it’s all about.
What did you learn from Volatile Times and how have you applied that to your newest release?
To change your approach?
Corner: Yeah. It was an odd time as well, I think. Performing onstage was a bit odd for me. I wasn’t particularly happy at that time.
So, you are happier today… relatively so?
As happy as anyone can be?
Regarding Pledgemusic; obviously, you used that format for this release and, in your own verbage, you said ‘I’m not necessarily begging. I’m asking you.’ Are Pledgemusic and the various similar programs a reaction to where the lack of support for artists has gotten to, or are they simply a new tool?
Corner: It’s complicated. I was quite skeptical about Pledge at first; just because I didn’t really trust that people would give a fuck. I was quite negative about it. Once it took off and it worked…
Corner: (Laughs) Yeah, I changed my opinion about that.
Corner: It was very exciting. It actually rejuvenated my… I don’t like to use the word ‘faith’ (pauses and takes a deep breath) my faith in people. What was really interesting about that was there seems to be this sort of culture that’s developed. People feel, because they are interactive, they can effect things; they become more giving than I think they would be in this platform.
Some sense of ownership?
Corner: Exactly. Exactly! That is great on the one hand; on the other, the commitment that came along with it… we made a menu that was quite unusual and offered many, many different things. In hindsight, I think it was a little too much. The commitments are a lot of work.
So, it was taxing on you as an artist?
Corner: Yes, but we learned from that. The ownership is really sort of interesting. They really do feel like they have more, perhaps because they have more direct contact with us. There is a bit more of a demanding feeling with the fan now, which is fair enough because they pay a lot of money. You have to give more to get more.
Would you use the same route again?
Corner: Yes. I think perhaps we might simplify the menu, but it’s been a positive experience.
You’ve been operating from Berlin for a few years now. What drew you there?
Corner: It’s sort of the artistic orphanage of the world. It’s very welcoming. It’s cheap and it’s sexy. There was a feeling of possibility whereas London was very sort of cold. Recently, I’ve spent a good deal of time in L.A..
Corner: It’s just so full of everything, isn’t it? Though I used to be quite critical, there is something to be said of the hunger. The U.S. is sort of the big brother of the world. There is a strength in mentality.
Are you a political person?
Corner: Observationally so. I’m not active. I’m not very interested in particulates. I’m more concerned with the big picture, I guess.
What do you find sexy?
Corner: Well, strength of will is sexy – Germans. (Laughs) I’m not sure how deep you want me to go with this. I like discipline; sort of a counterpoint to my being a control freak. Boys, girls, it’s all fine. (Laughs) It’s really about the mind.
What’s been the highlight of your career thus far?
Corner: (Smiles) Today’s pretty fucking good. It’s great being back in the US… here, at this venue… tonight.
What’s your drink?
Corner: It’s got to be red wine. I had a good fling with vodka and apple juice for awhile, but I had to change that for sustainability reasons. (Laughs)