Cat On The Wall: How did the IAMX project come to exist?
Chris Corner: Two years ago I had an epiphany. I grew up. There was so much baggage and confusion with my previous band, Sneaker Pimps, I was driven into doing it. I needed the freedom and was desperate to learn to be self-sufficient. There is a safety net in band culture. On one hand it is comforting, on the other it is suffocating.
I had written songs for a possible fourth SP album and they weren’t used. They became the seeds of IAMX.
IAMX is tension-fuelled, electronic, animal patchwork music with a black heart and a romantic soul.
COTW: How has your move to Berlin affected your creative life?
CC: It has had a huge affect. I fell in love with Berlin years ago. The idea of a sexy, liberal, decadent city was always a turn-on. The reality is more relaxed and beautiful than I imagined. Artists come here because it’s cheap and nobody gives a fuck about following the world. You have breathing space to consider your options.
I was sick of the stress and competitive nature of London. It messes with your conviction and self-confidence.
Berlin has given me the spirit to care less about the music industry and take an independent route. “The Alternative” is a reflection of that.
COTW: You have worked on several projects outside IAMX: a soundtrack for French film Les Chevaliers du Ciel and production for Robots In Disguise. How did you get to produce a soundtrack for a French film? What does producing another artist(s) bring to your creative life?
CC: A French production company contacted me because they were fans and wanted something unusual for a commercial film. I pitched. They liked it. I admit it’s not the kind of movie I would watch but some good material came out of the experience. And to be honest it funded a year of IAMX activity. And some good friends.
Robots In Disguise is another story. It’s a project full of crazed, punk, period-driven energy. Two looney girls with killer hooks. They have been friends for a few years.
They feel what I do so we try and make albums together. We are working on the new record here in Berlin as we speak.
Producing others helps you with tolerance and efficiency in the studio. It makes it easier to convince yourself you are good enough to produce a solo record.
COTW: Would you like to produce more artists and if so who?
CC:I would like to make music for Dylan Thomas or with Nico. They’re both dead so that’s too bad.
COTW: You have sung in French and German and said you’d love to do it again. Do you write in those languages or get somebody else to write the lyrics for you?
CC: Unfortunately I am not fluent. I do speak a bit of both so the accent isn’t really a problem. But anything complicated has to be translated. Maybe a few more years living in Berlin will get me there.
Although I have recently become familiar with a German artist from the 80s Udo Lindenberg. I do a great “ist das der sonderzug nach pankow?” in karaoke.
COTW: What is the place of spirituality in your work? Is it a driving force for you?
CC: Lyrics for me have to be natural and real. This doesn’t mean the absence of poetry or fantasy. But there has to be weight. Sometimes I like to suspend belief, but everything is based on personal experience and sentiment.
This is where spirituality comes in. Like sex it is an endless, open and powerful subject. I tend to mix them up quite often. I have a kind of melting pot of love, depression, mortality, hedfuck relationships and obsessions. My spirituality is the thing that keeps it all in balance.
COTW: You create your own visuals for your live shows. Have you thought of exhibiting your artwork? Will it ever happen?
CC: I think that is the next creative step for me. The marriage of music and image is fascinating. It is another world of experiment that I want to get into.
There is a vague plan to release a book of images, scribbles and self-indulgence at some point soon.
COTW: For those who haven’t experienced IAMX live can you explain the live show?
CC: Live has to be a spontaneous thing for the band and the audience. I know the music inside out so I don’t like to rehearse too much and I want characters on stage. I know a lot of them in Berlin so that’s not a problem. It is a kind of cabaret-fuelled glam orgy. Lots of emotion, grand gestures, Japanese porn, bass, sweat and tears.
A glorious mess.
COTW: How did you “recruit” your backing band?
CC:Hungry, brilliant musicians from Berlin. Friends of friends. It’s an American, German, English mix. Sexy and into it.
COTW: You’re playing at The Scala in London on 12th March. Why just one date In the UK? Will it lead to a full UK tour?
CC:I have been weary of playing the UK because it’s the kind of place if you try too hard when nobody wants you it’s soul destroying. The time had to be right. I waited until people wanted to hear it. I think some more shows will come. We are planning the UK invasion from across the sea.
COTW: Thanks for taking the time to speak to us. We’re looking forward to see you play in London next March!!
CC: Danke, ta. Today life loves me and I am thankful for small mercies.
See you in March. I want you sweating at the front!