IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE OPEN DOOR OF THE PREVIOUS WRITING, I THOUGHT YOU MAY BE INTERESTED TO READ AN UNPUBLISHED INTERVIEW FROM A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO.
IN THE MOST UN-NOSTALGIC, UN-SELF INDULGENT SENSE, I WAS.
IAMX Interview Questions:
Part 1 “The Band, The Music, The Chris that is IAMX”
1. What are you doing at the moment?
I am sitting in Berlin dealing with the psychological ravaging of the post tour Winter.
2. You are interested in visual arts, and played around with it a bit making the video feed for your live show. Is that something you could see yourself doing in the future, creating a movie, who would you like to work with, and influences?
Film is my second love. I play with visuals in the live shows as a kind of canvas to paint the emotional picture of the songs. It’s more abstract than literal. For me it adds a depth to the show that you can’t really achieve in clubs with traditional lighting. It is a really important element that, if used with feeling, can create an extra dimension to the performance.
3. Your live shows are very intense at times almost with a cabaret feel. The visual aspect is obviously important to you (using video). Did you ever think about designing (or having designed) a more elaborate light show to add to the visual stimulation?
I think about that every time we do a show. The problems are money and time. I would like to get more ambitious and expensive but there is also a charm to limitation. It keeps you creative and hungry. Every stage becomes a different challenge and you have to find ways to make it work. Perhaps integrating a few more lights and creating a discourse between them and the projections is the next step. Where the visuals become part of the light show rather than a separate entity.
We survive in this little independent IAMX ecosystem by the skin of our teeth so we would need a bit more funding for that kind of progress.
4. How did the cabaret element, very sexually charged live show come about?
Trail and error. I toured with the first record , Kiss and Swallow and I learned very quickly what worked with IAMX on stage. As the music developed its own identity I wanted the same from the image and the attitude. When I got in the studio to make the Alternative I had a better vision of the whole project.
The cabaret element comes from a love of the imagery of that time. How people were so decadent and glamorous when the world was so fucked up around them. There is also an intimacy in cabaret that is lost in big shows these days. With IAMX we try to give more and interact with the crowd. And sex well that’s an endless powerful head fuck subject that has always controlled me. This control and relationship politics is what I am into. Coming to terms with what really makes you tick and gets you off is a big step, and deeply therapeutic if you get a chance to write about it. Besides being on stage with IAMX is like fucking hundreds of people every night so you have to dress up and make it sexy.
5. During President, part of the background video (if I am correct) is Lotte Reiniger’s “Dr. Dolittle und seine Tiere” – I can’t help but to notice that your dancing and stage persona are very much like the character, why did you choose this particular clip/film?
Perhaps I feel most comfortable when there is a sense of the ridiculous about my performance. I was so fucking serious for years that it’s refreshing to let go in that way. The clip is reminiscent of other film makers that I like, particularly Svankmejer. His stop frame jerky animation and bizarre world he created is wonderful. Everything done on a shoestring budget and with creative intensity.
I have to say that the dancing similarity is a coincidence. That’s something that came through hours of getting drunk and falling over gracefully.
6. In conversation you seem to be a content and positive (if not happy) guy, listening to your lyrics it seems that you focus more on the darker side of life, yourself, love, etc? Was that intentional?
It’s simple. The music is a vent for my frustration, anger, aggression, sexual ambiguity, hatred, anxiety, fear of death, struggle with hedonism, obssesive guilt and general discontent with all things human. Natural and spiritual.
If that stuff was on my mind day in day out I would have been in the grave a long time ago.
7. Is your reason for making music solely about self-expression?
In the end, yes. I have never been good with money and some would say have made some commercially suicidal decisions in my time. The idea of fame bugs me too. It’s not really the loss of privacy but more the disconnection with your soul and the reason why you started. Expressing myself through music is a way of wallowing and indulging myself. Doing it in public is just another level of release and liberation. When people see you making an arse of yourself and love you for it then you must be worth something, yes?
8. How dark can you get?
My empathy for others is the only thing that stops me. The most intense times I have contact with the real dark extreme in me is on stage, in bed, on drugs. When you don’t recognize yourself it’s scary. My limitation is the fact that I have to do everything myself, the recording, the playing, the mixing so at some point you have to get practical and put the dark beast to the side until the next tour, party, or relationship comes around.
9. Name 3 artists (any type) who have died and 3 still alive that you would like to work with
Federico Fellini, Kurt Weil, Nico / David Lynch, David Sylvian, Gonzales
10. I know you have also been working as a producer for other acts such as Robots in Disguise (their new album is amazing!!) Do you plan on continuing with producing them, and are there other acts you have produced or would be interested in, also are there any producers that are a big influence on you?
Thank you. I finished production for the new Robots in Disguise earlier this year and I have been touring with IAMX ever since.
In the studio with them was, as always, an extreme experience. Working with the Robots is nuts. I love them, their uncompromising energy and unhinged concepts. But if there is ever a next time I would make it shorter. I like calm when I work so sometimes we don’t fit comfortably together. But I guess this tension goes into the album and that’s just how it has to be. It adds a spark. I wouldn’t change anything with the record or them.
I don’t look for bands or listen to much music but if something comes along by accident that I discover I can get excited. Few years ago there was a band in London called The Shits, that I wanted to produce. Their song was called Robbie Williams Must Die it was a hit. They existed for two weeks then broke up. Such is lif .
I would say producers of the past are much more interesting to me. Flood, Steve Nye, Phil Spector, Nile Rogers..etc.
11. You have friends that have played with you in the past who are actors and comedians, would you ever consider acting or appearing on a show of theirs?
I have thought about acting. Only because I have had offers and it has been tempting. But unless it is something with kudos and art driven I wouldn’t do it. It would have to be somehow theatrical or unreal because any character close to a real person or the real me would be utterly boring. For me and for viewers. There was some talk of an Asian film being made based on a character called Mr X who I possibly may play in the future but we will see.
Also The Mighty Boosh have been close friends for years. I guess we were like a little gang when I was living in London. Me, the Robots, The Boosh. All heavy handedly swaying and swaggering around parties and galleries and gigs. They are still at it. Now I just pace the streets of Kreuzberg alone, desperate and self obsessed.
I never had much time to get really involved with the show. At first they wanted me to be a breakdancer in every episode but IAMX was being born so I couldn’t do it. In the end I did a photoshoot for Uber Mod and they were happy. I walked around central London with hair the size of a bus and enjoyed making a complete fool of myself for a couple of hours. Therapy through the ridiculous. Very much like an IAMX show.
12. How do you keep a balance between the man you are on stage and off?
There is no balance. I would say it has become a kind of low level schizophrenia. I think that is ok and necessary for the progress of the live performance. Having a kind of out of control part of my brain is probably the reason why it works on this level. Though the stage is an addiction and it’s not the most pleasant feeling opening up pandora’s box every night it seems to be a powerful part of my character so we have to find a way to live in symbiosis.
13. Why X? Why not a different letter?
Because it is a universal symbol of the abstract and I like to be vague. It keeps people asking.
14. Do you think that fans get so enamored with who you are on stage that they expect the same of you off stage, hanging out, partying, extreme decadence, etc?
Yes. And that’s ok because it can happen. I took so many drugs, was in so many destructive sexual interactions and fucked around with my psyche so much that at some point I had to run away from it. On long tours you really have to reign it in otherwise you won’t last the course . I now see the shows as the party for the audience. Me as a kind of bastard host and ringleader. When we tour people have to make the most of the stage performance and lose themselves during the show. I can never really predict if I will go out after the show. When you least expect it you will see me hanging onto the bar, the last sad, drained alcoholic person to be thrown out.
15. Being that you are an independent artist your fans are an integral part of your success, do you have any crazy fan stories (stalkers, crazed fanatics, spiritually possessed neighbours – as mentioned in BON)
There are a few. One pretty shocking event happened when I was on stage. A girl was at the front the whole show, quiet and content with her hand bag on the stage beside the monitor. We did encores and I came back to ask if there were any requests for a special acoustic performance. Just me. She shouted for a song, obviously her song. I began, she put her hands into her handbag, shuffled them around, pulled them out and shouted I am sorry, I am sorry. In the bag she had broken her drink glass and slit her wrists.
It’s a powerful and confusing thing to see. I hope it never happens again.
16. How important is Berlin as a base for you?
It is the most non city city that I know and has become the centre of my universe. It is dirt cheap, liberal and still physically fucked. Nobody cares about the rest of the world so it is like a little oasis. The art is great and there is a strange sense of community without competition and cynicism. In a way it is quite an untainted innocent place. People have their own style without being fashionable or cool. I lived in London for years before Berli . One day I woke up and thought why am I here? This is insane.
17. What are your plans for the future, music and otherwise?
More IAMX in the same vein for the next year. More touring and creative play with the internet and visual side of IAMX. Over the next few months I am putting together, with my management, a DVD release. A kind of messy mixture of live shows, visuals and abstract ideas. We collected material over the past year and I have many visual pieces hanging around that I have messed about with over the years. There will also be a peep into the next album, extra string versions and whatever comes up on the way. If we are lucky and I finish it in time, we will release in April.
18. How important is style and make-up to you?
It is an important tool to contsruct the monster that has to be destroyed every night. Apart from bringing out the feminine it is great to stylize the band and show the connection with the visuals and the music. It is very important to the music and I tend to live what I create. My visions become me and it’s a kind of game I guess. On stage it is a theraputic process of dressing up, building up a character that can be broken apart in the performance. There is great liberation in that. Putting on the mask and tearing it off to reveal the reality. At a point if you are weak like me, the stage beast takes over its creator.
19. Did you have formal training at any point in your life (musical or vocal)?
Never. Everything is self taught. I learned by doing.
20. You’ve been both a band member and front man. Which do you prefer? What are the positives and negatives of each?
Fronting a band is phsycologically tiring. Sometimes on long tours you desperately want to just disappear into the background on stage. The others in IAMX are aware of this and try to take some of the pressure off. Their performances have become more and more extravagant. They would say it’s for my benefit. I would say they love to show off like we all do.
The positives are that you lead and direct and there is a direct connection with the audience. On the other hand hundreds of eyes checking you out, watching and expectant can be an overbearing stress. People very often judge a band simply on the strength and character of the singer. Wrong but true.
21. Where did the look come from (aesthetic)?
Basically a childish reaction to anything commercially fashionable. Combining second hand with designer, mashing things up and pretty much altering everything ourselves. I do love the glam noir, 20’s German expressionist imagery too. Everything in combination and ripped apart makes up the IAMX style.
22. Your lyrics whilst telling a story are very open to interpretation, seeming to encompass more than one meaning/influence, can you give insight to at least one song what you were trying to convey?
With the Song of Imaginary Beings I tried to create a kind of fairytale. The character is sexually retarded, twisted almost angelic one. She, like half of the women in my work, is me. She follows a path of desperate longing, to bring about a person into the world that will forever love her, but ends up burning in the flames of an eternal loveless hell. That’s an insight into my experience with relationships.
Part 2 “Who is Chris Corner – the man behind the music”
1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Being comfortable doing things of no significance.
2. What is your greatest extravagance?
Woman’s shoes. I am addicted.
3. What is your current state of mind?
4. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
5. What is the trait you most deplore in others?
6. What do you consider the most over-rated virtue?
7. What is your favorite occupation?
8. What is your most marked characteristic?
9. What do you value most in your friends?
10. When and where were you happiest?
In the womb
11. What do you dislike most about your appearance?
12. Which living person do you most despise?
The head of Universal Records, whoever that is.
13. On what occasion do you lie?
When the self inflicted future pain caused by the lie is not greater than the pain caused by it to others.
14. What or who is the greatest love of your life?
My work and the joy of others.
15. Which talent would you most like to have?
To know circus tricks of every kind.
16. If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?
The time it takes to think clearly enough to do an interview.
17. What is your most treasured possession?
My little rundown GDR palace in Berlin.
18. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
The death of a life partner or the perpetuation of ignorance.
19. Who are your favorite writers?
Herman Hesse, Bertolt Brecht, Dylan Thomas, Jeanette Winterson
20. Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
21. Who are your heroes in real life?
My band and Managers
22. What are your favorite names?
No idea. Erm. Let’s say, Sebastian, Felix, Bernadette.
23. What is it that you most dislike?
24.. What do you consider you greatest achievement?
Living off the creativity that I love to do.
25. If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?
26. Where would you like to live?
In the in-between.
27. How would you like to die?
Being aware of it.
28. What is your greatest regret?
Still working on it.
29. What is your motto?
Become aware of your strengths and weaknesses and be really good at something.