April 18, 2018 Interview – Chris Corner of IAMX Talks Alive in New Light
Few artists have worked as hard and survived as many obstacles as Chris Corner of IAMX. As written many times, just when things were at their highest, Corner’s health came crashing down, forcing him to completely switch off from creating what he loves the most. Imagine for a moment, the one trait to which one has strived for all their life having been stripped away.
It did almost seem to IAMX that the project which had just delivered their best release in 2013’s Unified Field was going to end. However, in 2015, Corner was back with his therapeutic and introspective release Metanoia. After an extensive tour for the album, IAMX is back and stronger than ever. Having released one of electronic music’s best instrumental albums to date, Unfall, Corner launched on delighted fans a remarkable 2018 release, Alive in New Light.
Aside from musical evolution that has become a trademark for IAMX, the album also featured Corner’s first musical collaboration as he brought icon Kat Von D to do vocals on a few tracks. With a current tour in motion, the past behind, and a bright future ahead, we caught up with Chris Corner as he begins the IAMX North American tour. So, without further adieu, here, in his own words, is Chris Corner.
CrypticRock.com – You just wrapped up a European tour, starting a US tour, just got done releasing the new album Alive in New Light, and you just posted a video of how you packed up and moved out of your Los Angeles flat. Given the health issues from before Metanoia, where do you get any sleep or rest?
Chris Corner – (Laughs) Well my relationship with sleep has changed, that is part of the healing process, is changing your own habits. After spending a lot of time in therapy and changing my lifestyle, I really put a lot of structure into my life. The real way to test the changes is to get out there and really live the lifestyle. The life I do lead is a very challenging one for an insomniac, but I have done it for many years. When I got sick, I really shut my life down and focused on healing and repairing myself. Fortunately, I came out of it stronger. Now, while I would never wish anyone any kind of crisis, it seems as though that is the only way to really change, is to be met with some kind of crisis. I am very thankful for what I survived because it really has put me in such a better place. My sleep is very fractured and structured around what I need to get done, but, more or less, I do get through it.
CrypticRock.com – In our last interview, you expressed how you were worried with how fans would perceive Metanoia because it was such a personal album. With Unfall, it was your first instrumental album and Alive in New Light, while sticking with a core IAMX sound, was in many ways a departure from previous albums. Did you have the same fears with those releases?
Chris Corner – Metanoia was a real turning point for me as an artist, being able to write so privately. I have always written about the psychological and political struggle, but this was so much different. This was much simpler and to the point, which is something I really learned with my therapy and healing. That is the key to repairing yourself, is the honesty. I had to make that album, but you are right, I was scared that people would find it too close to the bone, private, and intimate. It worked out in reverse though, it opened so many doors, it changed the way I perceive my art. It was a very difficult process.
When it came time to write Alive in New Light, which was about the time I was making Unfall, they were actually supposed to be originally one record. I was not ready, I was still emotionally exhausted from the whole Metanoia period. I just was not ready to write lyrics, concepts, and be emotional. I still wanted to make music, so it was natural for me to really focus on everything from a production standpoint with the sound and technology of making a record. It was great to not have to get behind any kind of concept and just really focusing on the work.
Working through that concept, I may have gone through a lot of the sounds that were going to be in Alive in New Light but would have really complicated it. That is why I decided to release it as a standalone, and paved the way for the next album. Saying that, while Alive in the New Light was a much more positive and uplifting album to those of the past, it was still an emotional process. I was so much more prepared though after getting so much support from the fans. I didn’t feel invincible but I did feel propped up where I could deal with that.
CrypticRock.com – You even have a song on Alive in New Light called “Mile Deep Hollow,” where you thank the fans for all their love and support through the dark times. How emotional is it to sit down and bring out those lyrics?
Chris Corner – Whenever you write something, there is a certain sweet spot that comes with the truth. You can write around subjects and dress them up, but when there is a simple statement like that, you cannot deny the emotional ring to it. “Mile Deep Hollow” is a song that really has very deep meaning to it, I probably felt exactly what the fans feel listening to it when I wrote it. That is so important, to get across the relevance to really move the audience. If you don’t feel moved when writing it, it is wrong. Sometimes that can be very overwhelming.
You are putting yourself into these high and lows because you have to, it is irrelevant if you don’t in my opinion. It may not be the most psychologically sound way to do it, but I had to say it, I had to say it because it is true. The way that my fans are, they understand the intricacies of this project and they immerse themselves in the psychology of the project. I knew that I could get away with that and they would understand that is a very meaningful song. I could go on about this (both laughing), it is that meaningful of a song.
CrypticRock.com – Switching gears a bit, your current lineup is the most stable you have had, granted Janine and Sammi are still there, you did add Jon Siren and just did a collaboration with Kat Von D (who also appeared on select dates of the tour). What is it about this line up that influences you and how was it to do your first collaboration with someone else?
Chris Corner – It is an interesting question about the live lineup. Often times it is personality clashes or lifestyle changes or it just doesn’t work out. If you want to make a lot of money from it, it really is not something that you should be doing. It really comes down to people connecting with the music and be really into it, all about people being very flexible and like each other. There are so many factors that can change in a project. This is still a solo project with hired musicians, that is very different from a normal band where it is not bound by the collaboration and is much more flexible.
I am very relieved that we can keep this together and get more solid, it is a wonderful feeling. It is difficult changing the laws, and it does add a whole different dimension to the live shows. The parts have to be right, not just from a talent perspective but also as people. I am very lucky that it has worked out like that, they are awesome.
The experience with Kat was wonderful, it was one of those situations where people always expect of me to work with people similar to me. It is important for me though to try different things. I saw her post a few videos online where my music was in the background and I could see that there was a deeply creative person there that I found very interesting and was very flattered that she liked the music.
We did the collaboration and I think she really enjoyed the chance to take a break from her world, and I really enjoyed working together, the social part of it, and bringing in another voice. Her deeper voice really complimented my squeaky like voice. Live it was awesome, she came out to a few shows on her own expense, she has really added a light and great experience to everything, which has been so refreshing that I am really enjoying.
CrypticRock.com – While Alive in New Light has just come out, is there already new material in the works? Maybe some new collaborations in the future?
Chris Corner – It has become clear to me that pretty much every time I make a new record, there is material that makes it on an album and there is material that doesn’t make it on there. The material that doesn’t make it on the record, go on to become the new album. So I am generally ahead of myself without really realizing it, there is a lot of subconscious stuff going on. There are currently 3-4 songs that are not complete yet, but will be on the next album. I thought about them and they keep coming to mind, but not quite done. So yes, I am always a bit ahead of myself and have to remind myself I am still in the middle of a campaign for the newest material and need to stay connected to the feeling of it. There is still a new single on the way from the newest record and a video so I am still prolonging the life of this record. I am still very interested in making a new instrumental album. I am hungry to switch off from the emotional part of me and switch on to that and enjoy more times with my machines. Collaboration-wise, I have not thought too much about that. I know that will come more when I begin to piece together the concept.
CrypticRock.com – Being an artist who is so connected with his music and fans, when everything is said and done in the end, how do you want to be remembered by your fans and those who may find your music past that?
Chris Corner – Oh God, that is a very big question. I never really thought of that. (Laughs) I am very much a living in the moment type of person. I hope that there were some minds that were changed, that there were people helped, and that people had great sex to the music. (Laughs) I hope I had a tiny bit of influence. I never really thought of that, I never had a grand plan with this project. Keeping it somewhat small and independent has been actually very satisfying. My first project, which was with the Sneaker Pimps, was very commercial and I really didn’t feel very comfortable in that environment. There is a reason why the project is where it is, and I kind of like it like that. If I can influence a small group of people and they get some enjoyment and satisfaction, then I have done enough and I can disappear into the ether and stardust. Float away into the universe.