IAMX, the personal project of Chris Corner, formally known as the co-founder of the british trip hop band Sneaker Pimp, finally arrived at the end of Metanoia, a self-produced work and 6th album for the band. His taste for the music began then when he was still in his eighties and joined his ideas to Liam Howe’s aspirations to work together as a trip hop band. When they are joined under the name of Sneaker Pimp, by Kelli Dayton in which they saw an interesting contribution on vocals, and Joe Wilson and Dave Westlake for the instruments, Corner begins more and more interested in non-vocal music and start to flirt with music experiments and sophisticated beats. With the debut album, they instantly experience popularity especially within their specific trip hop genre. After three albums and a European tour opening for Placebo, Corner and colleagues decide to disband and announce in 2003 his new side project, IAMX. After releasing 5 solo albums and featured guest vocals for TNT Jackson, The Strike Boys or even Moonbootica, IAMX become a successful project that never really remained sticked a single genre but explored a myriad of music categories, crossing the lines of electronic rock and baroque ballads. If Chris Corner explores the society topics of sexual identity, decadence, religion, politics or even modern alienation in his early works under IAMX, his sixth album untitled Metanoia romantically roams around his latest experiences and misfortunes with depression, anxiety and insomnia. And it is, with a shared pleasure, that Paris has the opportunity this month to receive one of the most untypical and original current british artist of the independent rock scene.
‘Bonjour Chris, first of all, bienvenue à Paris. The Metanoia tour is currently being a blast Utrecht and Leipzig were sold out and IAMX seems to be quite famous and relatively well received especially in Germanic countries such as Netherlands or Germany with a lot of planned gigs (München, Köln, Hamburg, Berlin for instance). What do you expect from your concert here in Paris? Do you feel a special connection with Paris or are you here precisely to continue to introduce yourself to the French audience?
First, we’ve always have a special connection with Paris. I mean we’ve been here many times in the past. We’ve never had the chance to tour much in France but when we came to Paris, it’s been amazing. We played Brussels many times also as we have a special connection with the French speaking countries like Belgium and I think they have a kind of similar mentality there and a real connection with music. We’ve always had a great time.
And even as an English speaking artist
Yes, I don’t really know what it is but I think that IAMX has quite theatrical elements that can be culturally connected with the fans, that explains why everyone can identify with it.
That new album seems a bit more and more personal as it deals with your unfortunate experience with depression, anxiety and insomnia at the time. How do you perceive audiences’ response to it? Do you feel them confused or lost within your world or do they seem to understand, take part of it or maybe even identify with what you experienced?
I found an incredible amount of support from that. It was a period when I was struggling with the idea of talking about. It’s not always socially acceptable and comfortable for people to talk about it. But at some point, I realized that it was really important for me to discuss these issues, in particularly and specially right in this album ..
For you or for the audience?
For me first to be able to resolve these issues in a way. I mean you never really cure but it’s more about making friends with your demons. So once I decided to do that, I wrote a piece about my experiences and put it online. And many many people came out about how they had a kind of similar personal experiences and their support has been amazing. I think that so many people felt almost relieved that it has now been discussed because it’s always been in my music but not so openly, not privately, not so personally. It’s been amazing. It opened a brand new world of connections with my fans I think.
By the way, your ex-drummer on stage was Caroline Weber, right? To be recently replaced by Jon Siren, who worked in the past for dark electronic bands such as God Module or Psyclon Nine. You seemed to have been attracted by darkness for your new album tour. How do you explain your preference or motivations for Siren for the Metanoia Tour? Did you have a specific idea on mind for this tour?
Well, yeah, I think I wanted to add a little bit more heaviness to the sound live and he definitely brings that kind of heavy energy to the live performances, that has been great. We also took the guitars out for the live performances because the album is much more electronic compared to the other ones. To translate the music live we needed to add so more keyboards and synthesizer effect. So it kinda changed the sound naturally in a way I didn’t have really a vision about, that it had to be darker or whatever. The nature of the album made it.
You are a traveler. You travel for concerts, you travel for yourself. You come from England but moved to Berlin in Germany to finally end up in California. Don’t you struggle a little bit to fit your environment sometimes or do you create an inner world to yourself, slightly apart from the current trend of the country you are living in to continue to feel yourself ?
Yes, it’s exactly what it is. I think like I can be anywhere to be great. I’m very lucky that I can move around and find different places, have different experiences and different cultures. I mix myself in different cultures. It’s something that has always been in me that I’ve never been totally settled. I’m a little bit of a gypsy. My mum was like that, I’ve always been searching for new places, new experiences and new people. So it feels good, it feels natural to me. I don’t really need this home feeling. For me home is and can be anywhere. Really. And that’s why I’ve never really settled down. At the moment, my home is that bus over there (pointing at the tour bus parked at the sandy car park) and it feels pretty good (laughs). Tonight, my home is at the Cabaret Sauvage.
So you’re never homesick?
Not really. The only thing I'm a little bit missing at the moment is my dog. I have a dog in Los Angeles.
Never travelling with you?
No, no, she doesn’t. Not at the moment.
Oh she! She’s a female ..!
Yes and she’s wonderful. She’s called Paula. She’s a Pomeranian. She’s really really nice. So I sort of fell in love with her and I miss her very very much.
Is that gypsy side you mentioned earlier the reason why your music is so theatrical?
It is I think. My mum was a very emotional person, a very feeric person and I get that from her, to be a kind of extraverted and also playing with dressing up and theatrical visual elements. It’s something I’ve always loved. It helps me to express another side of my personality. But it’s not really playing a role, it’s more just about bringing out another level of my personality. We’re all multidimensional beings, we all have many different sides. I got a chance to explore my extraverted one and it is satisfying.
Is it a therapy for you to explore all the sides of your own personality?
Hum, yeah it is. Music is therapy. I think art is generally a therapeutic process. It can be emotionally turbulent sometimes but over all I feel very proud to do that.
You love travels and use abroad as a complementary inspiration for your music. Do you think that foreign cultures would always be a good contribution to music and art in general of an artist? Don’t you think that foreign cultures may lead the artist’s works to lose a part of its former identity? You, for instance, as an English artist ..
I never felt totally connected with England. My grandfather is from a place called the Seychelles that is a French colony actually so as a colored person, he had to struggle when he came to England where he grew up when he was really young. So I come from a very multicultural family and the Seychelles have been probably the place I felt the most at home. England? I’ve never felt that patriotic about that place, it’s never been a big part of me, I don’t miss it.
On the question surrounding Britishness, media often declare that british nationalism or patriotism does not really exist, what do you think as an English art contributor?
I think it exists in pockets and English people are actually quite proud to be English. But the English mentality is genuinely more apologetic and it’s actually more a working class thing in England. But it’s not really a big issue because it’s also a very multicultural country and there always have been many different cultures in England. It’s very normal for them so it doesn’t have a specific identity and England actually has quite lost its identity. But I’ve never been really indulged in that sort of things, I’m not really political either.
But you can't deny that you talk about politics sometimes in your art..
I do! I do it in an observation sense and the way it affects me. I mean I am concerned by political affairs but not as an activist, I would never be so openly activist about it. I’m an observer and it’s my responsibility and my duty to talk about it from a private perspective but not in a perspective of being an activist because I think I would be hypocritical to talk about it that way.
But in a certain way, you are an activist through your art..
Yes I am! But that’s up to others to make decisions about what they do with it.
More on a social side than political?
Exactly, yes !
By the way, what are the main differences you noted between England, Germany and America?
Positivity! (laughs) It’s definitely a more positive attitude in America than in Germany. It’s really different in the approach. The German directness is also great and it was great for me when I was living in Berlin because as an English person, I used to struggle with being direct..
Because you’ve used to have to measure your words..?
Yes, exactly! Being English is always about measuring words while Germans are very direct and it can be quite refreshing in a way. But over time, it definitely became too much. The American way is more relaxed and less judgmental. There’s more support for individuals. There’s a lot of freaks in America (laughs) and it’s very normal. They’re not judgmental that much, specifically in the big cities.
Ok! In the end, what are your main wishes or projects for next year on a musical level?
I think we will continue de promote the album and try to see if it can get a few more people. I’d like, at some point, to do an acoustic album. I think it would be quite nice because a lot of the songs that I write require traditional instruments. It’s something that it hasn’t quite happened yet but I’ve been thinking about for many years but that would be something for the future. In Los Angeles, I have a few friends who might do an electronic instrumental collaboration. And, well .. I'd like.. just have a good life ! ‘
(c) november 15th 2015 for VerdamMnis