TMC Interviews… IAMX : Chris Corner talks cross-dressing and carrot cake
by Fairy Cake
There are a few British exports who I would keenly discourage from returning to our fair fatherland. Mick Hucknall and C&A to name but two (*makes sick noise*).
But, since muso ex-pat Chris Corner packed his electro suitcase for the bright lights of Berlin, fans from London to Llandudno have been demanding his return. And, on glancing at his musical CV, one can see why…
Having honed his writing and producing talents fronting trip-hop torchbearers Sneaker Pimps, Corner has spent the last 6 years making fucked-up anthems for tortured romantics under the name IAMX, collaborating with everyone from frizzy genius Imogen Heap to lesbo favourites Robots in Disguise. The project, which began from the leftovers of the last, never-to-be-finished Sneaker Pimps album, has given birth to three LPs, several international tours, and created a noticeable increase in angular hair cuts across all major cities in Europe.
This week, Chris is back in the UK to promote his new remix album, and will be melting make-up this Saturday at ULU. Your sex playlist is not complete without a decent dollop of this man’s music, so for those of you who are unfamiliar with his handy work, TMC tracked the mother down and asked him a bunch of nosey questions about crazy fans, cross-dressing, and his bizarre Germanic/North-East England accent. And cake.
You’ve been a Northerner, a Londoner and now a Berliner (which, as far as I understand, is some kind of doughnut). Where feels like home?
Ahhh. Well, physically, my studio in east Berlin is my place of rest. This is where the focus of all my work is. I guess this is home. It doesn’t really feel like that…my life is pretty much a gypsy lifestyle, so I find it difficult to use that word.
The habitat shift has given you one hell of a confusing accent…
Why sank you.
Which is your favourite city to play?
I get quite emotional on stage, so I might say to every city that they’re my favourite! There are specific places where I feel the people are my kind of people. Strangely enough, LA is one of those places. I didn’t think that would happen; I hate the city, and I think that’s why I get such an intense response there. Everyone who hates the city comes to an IAMX show.
I was always quite surprised by the intensity of our shows there. LA is definitely a spiritual wasteland..
What inspires you to make what you make…and how do you create?
I know when I’m in a creative place, because I can’t sleep. I have maybe months of insomnia. It’s not like I’m working everything out – something subconscious is going on. That’s the bubbling first process of the journey.
Then there’s the next bit where I put things down. I write on piano or guitar to begin with. Music first, and the lyrics come later. I have a baby language that I mumble to myself at the beginning, when I haven‘t found the words. In the way that a baby knows what it wants to say, but doesn’t know how to yet.
Then, in the studio, I do whatever it takes to get this baby language out. I work with computers and synthesizers and drums – I play whatever I can. After about two months, I have something. And then I really focus on the meaning of it all – I try to put all the chaos together, figure out what I’m trying to say. I trust my subconscious.
The mix and master process is boring. The messy time is the first bit, getting naked with the wine…doing whatever I have to do.
We think you’re a bit intimidatingly cool. Are there any ’Chris Corner is really a bit of a loser’-type facts you can throw our way to make us feel better about ourselves?
Oh God. I couldn’t possibly reveal that. I don’t want to destroy my incredible image.
So, I‘ll just write “Chris Corner is the coolest motherfucker in the world”, then?
Do you miss the UK?
I miss some things. There is a warmth in the UK…the people, not the climate. And a humour that I miss. But I don’t miss anything practical. London – I had to get out of… it destroyed me in many ways.
What’s next for IAMX?
At the moment I’m messing around in my underwear, editing a video for an Alec Empire remix of I Am Terrified. It’s part of a remix album (Dogmatic Infidel Comedown OK) that’s released this month. There’s absolute chaos in the house because we’re all rehearsing for the tour. People come and go here. It’s a bit of an artistic orphanage.
You seem to enjoy playing with gender roles in your lyrics, and we have noted your penchant for wearing ladies clothing… has anyone ever questioned which team you bat for and, if so, what was your response?
I love the English. Only you could ask a direct question in such a vague way…
I’m used to German. It’s so direct. I think to begin with people were a bit “oo-err”, but then in my experience, when they go with the project, they see the art of it, and hopefully realise that it’s not just about cross-dressing and being outrageous. However I have been asked, and my response is this : basically, I’m a very liberal and open human being. It’s not really about the gender for me; it’s about what’s going on inside…and hopefully outside as well. If I really connect with someone, they can be animal, vegetable, mineral.
Probably best not to dwell on animal.
IAMX shows are pretty intense. We sense you may have crazy mental fans. Do you get sent weird stuff?
No knickers in the mail yet, no. But I did once receive some dog food with a picture of my face on the front. If you can decipher that one then please let me know. On a serious note, we did have someone that cut their wrists at the front of a gig once. She was ok, we stopped everything, but that was pretty horrible. But no…generally, they’re all lovely.
Your music is hella sexy, and it’s safe to say IAMX have probably been the soundtrack to many a seduction. What does Chris Corner stick on when he’s trying to seduce animal/vegetable/mineral?
Barry White! No no…erm, this is probably going to sound quite perverse, but I’d like to listen to Chopin. He might be able to tickle me into the right area. He apparently had huge hands.
And last but not least, what is your favourite cake?
It’s a toss up between tiramisu, and carrot and walnut cake. It’s very hard you see, because I love pannacotta, but that’s more dessert-y. OK – carrot and walnut…there’s something very healthy-sounding about it.
You can witness the sonic spectacle of IAMX this week at ULU (comes highly recommended…tickets here). IAMX’s remix record, Domagtic Infidel Comedown OK, is released this week and available from record stores, as well as on them internetz.
[Thumbnail by Janine Gebauer/ LA Weekly]