I’ve been a fan of Chris Corner and IAMX for a long time. He writes great lyrics, and puts on amazing live performances.
Below is my interview with Chris regarding his latest album and his upcoming US tour.
HardRockChick: What was the creative impetus behind ‘Kingdom of Welcome Addiction’? What mood were you in when you wrote it? Is there a message?
“This record is particularly about the escape from the things that people accept and the rules they live by.”
Chris Corner: There is always a subconscious message. I am at a point where being in the mess of the world concerns me.
There is so much noise and junk floating around. We are so underdeveloped mentally and un-evolved that this kind of input can only be destructive. This record is particularly about the escape from the things that people accept and the rules they live by. Every move with IAMX is a reflection of an alternative way to exist. Feeling like this puts me into a very emotional place. I would say that I am always deeply moved when I am working.
Even if am using black humour or writing about sex or power I still feel brittle. It is difficult to put into words. I decided again to lock myself away and create. I find it a scary but cathartic way to work. Solitary and monk-like.
Kingdom of Welcome Addiction was no exception.
HRC: I read that you put together a new studio for this album. How did it turn out?
CC: Something I have fantasized about for years is bringing together a group of people that work for some artistic higher purpose. Something like the Bauhaus movement that came out of Dessau in the early 20th century, but a little less structured. So many things concern me about the world. I want to find people to get involved. Being part of driven, independent concepts, art pieces, films, music. A collection of bright and open minds.
I now occupy an old GDR water factory just outside Berlin. I already have two artists working there and this where I have set up my new studio space. It is rough but functioning. I think somehow I get off on the chaos of it and also the fact that I look into nature when I work.
If I ever have lots of money and some spare time, I will put some more heart and soul into the space.
HRC: How did the collaboration with Imogen Heap come about?
CC: She was an acquaintance from my days in London who became a friend and is really enthusiastic about IAMX. She turned up to the live performances when we played in England and I think we both knew something would come to fruition in the future.
Even though I am usually shy with collaboration, I always wanted to do a duet. It has so far eluded me.
I wrote the song â€˜My Secret Friend’ at the very end of the recording process and it felt like it was lacking something. I then developed it a little with the idea of a duet in mind. I put together a rough demo and sent it to her. She said yes to getting involved, added her lovely parts and vocals and we threw the track back and forward over email for a week. She was so pro and quick I was really impressed. Beautiful vocals and harmonies.
When I wrote it, I imagined some kind of psychotic brother/sister relationship, perhaps romantic, dependent, incestuous. I imagine her as the boy and me as the girl.
HRC: How will the album come alive on this tour? Who is part of the live band?
CC: The integration of the new tracks is a little harder this time due to their more melodic relaxed orchestrated nature. But, I have developed them to fit in with the aggressive live set. A little heavier and more electronic.
It will be the same line up in the band: Janine on backing vocals, keyboards and bass, Dean on guitar, bass and backing vocals and Tom hitting things hard in the background. We seem to have a good thing going and I want to nurture that.
It is very easy to destroy bands with the ego disease and being socially retarded. This is a tight knit, quiet and calm bunch of people. We need to be like that to conserve the energy for the stage performances.
HRC: Will the tour be mostly new material, or will we get to hear some of our old favorites?
“It is not just a blazing inferno of flesh and rage. It has more dynamic. Light and dark.”
CC: It will be a mixture. Some of the old material is completely different live and it is a lot of fun for us to play them. We enjoy the spontaneity of all the tracks. When you know them so well, like the old ones, you can also let go a bit more. The new tracks are still forming and we have to concentrate. But the balance is nice at the moment as it adds another dimension. It is not just a blazing inferno of flesh and rage. It has more dynamic. Light and dark.
HRC: Should we expect another strong visual element for this tour? Costumes? Video backdrops?
“It is so disappointing when I go to gigs or music events and there is such a lack of hope and inspiration.”
CC: Always. I am a big lover of theatre, film, music and art. Somehow I see IAMX in the middle of all those. I feel best when I am experimenting with all the forms. Painting a bigger picture. There is so much beauty to be explored.
I shoot and edit the visuals for the live shows. Adding vision to sound is such a powerful tool to bring another level of meaning to the music. It is amazing how they work so well together.
It is so disappointing when I go to gigs or music events and there is such a lack of hope and inspiration. I want to live my life with veracity and colour and intensity. To paint my face and wear costumes, to scream and cry and shout and shit and sweat and fuck and think and love. Life is a game and we have amazing eyes to see. Why the fuck not?
HRC: How on earth do you present such a high energy performance and keep your vocals intact?
CC: I bring the most important of my possessions along with me: the nose shower.
I guess I am in someway trained enough to know how to control my voice. At least to know the things I canâ€™t do, but the thing that affects the throat and develops the infections is the dirt and germs. I suck in a whole room full of germs every night so it is really essential that I clean it out before I go to bed.
It is a constant battle to keep on top of it, because often I get drunk or have a fabulous show and forget myself. Actually that is when I push it too hard as I am so hypnotized.
That is when it catches you out.
HRC: I’ve read that IAMX is your alternate identity, yet the lyrics always seem very personal. How does this work?
“The character you see is an exaggeration of the real person – a mutant version but real.”
CC: A playwright can write from self-experience and give across a very personal message through actors. Look at a writer like Dennis Potter and you see that his plays are totally autobiographical. It is not quite the same thing but it is still relevant expressing through others.
IAMX is definitely not “as constructed.” It is more of an attitude to life. The character you see is an exaggeration of the real person – a mutant version but real. I think in some way that is what audiences respond to. They can see what I mean, even if I dress up and play the rabid neurotic Peter Pan. I do sometimes look at the person I am on stage and in pictures and feel distant, but that is very normal for any human struggling with the past, present, future and, sometimes, the disconnected blank feeling of being alive.
HRC: You always have your hands in lots of things- what can we expect to see from you in the near future? I’ve heard that you’re interested in film.
CC: Actually just before answering this interview I saw an online piece which showed a little live IAMX footage and I sang like a dying dog! Therefore I have decided to give up and start making films! But, seriously, my intention is to make a small film next year with a small budget. One actor one location. Based on the poetry of Hesse and Brecht.
In the meantime, I am experimenting with the IAMX online activity and developing a website. I need lots of content, so I am constantly doing remixes and alternative versions of the new tracks plus writing B-sides. All will be revealed throughout the year as we promote the new album.
My review of the upcoming album, Kingdom of Welcome Addiction.
You can, and should, catch IAMX at Slim’s on June 9.
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awesome, awesome interview! really insightful and full of deep thought and honesty. surprisingly open and absolutely no fluff.
can't wait to see IAMX next time he/they are in town.