you resource for all things shoegaze & dream pop.

18 September 2017

INTERVIEW: Jason Lamoreaux of The Corrupting Sea and Somewherecold.

Jason Lamoreaux is an ambient/experimental/drone artist who records under the project name The Corrupting Sea. He also writes the blog Somewherecold and owns Somewherecold Records. Additionally, he DJs a biweekly show on DKFM called the Somewherecold Radio Hour. Yes, the man is busy! Back in July we premiered the video for his song “Persist”, so you got a taste of Jason’s otherworldly artistic vision at that time. We hope this interview provides additional and deserved exposure to his numerous projects. He is a tireless supporter of many underground genres, shoegaze and dream pop included, and an incredible artist in his own right. Enjoy getting to know him.

How and when was the project formed?
I record under the moniker The Corrupting Sea and started doing so back in 2006 or so. Before that, I had recorded some tracks with a good friend in Lexington, Kentucky when I lived there. That project was called Sylant. Anyway, he had recorded music before and I learned a lot from him. I moved to Texas in 2005 and recorded an album actually. I have lost those files since but one single was released on an experimental guitar compilation in Australia called String Theory. It’s the only track left from those recording sessions. 

Then, last year, after a series of unfortunate events in my life, I turned to music as a sort of therapeutic outlet. It ended up saving my life really and I produced a number of tracks that I thought were worth releasing. Those tracks were released on Symphony of a Radical on September 1 of this year. That lead to a rather massive period of exploration and output and I produced two more albums which came out before Symphony. Resist and Samatta were both done in short session bursts and came out nicely, at least I think. So, back to the original question. I didn’t start recording till late in life but found I had something to express sonically when I did. With some encouragement from people like Frank Lenz, Jon Attwood (Yellow6), and Paul Saarnak, my confidence grew and I put myself out there, for better or for worse.

Can you tell us what you’ve been working on and what you've got forthcoming in the near future (any new releases, tour, etc.)?
Symphony of a Radical came out just September 1. So, that release is fresh for everyone to hear. I do have another full length that will be coming out in the first quarter of 2018 called Somnambulate on Katuktu Collective out of California. It’s one of my favorite cassette labels and I’m so stoked that Aaris King is willing to support my work. I also have a 5 in 5 EP being released by Silber Records soon. Basically, the series is a collection of artists doing 5 tracks with only 5 minutes of recording time. I produced a mini space opera that I hope people dig.

Otherwise, I’m busy working on a concept album, producing a number of other tracks I hope to collate into a bunch of releases, and have some very interesting (I hope) collaborations coming with some people I respect incredibly. The fact that they would let me work with them at all blows my mind, so I’m very excited to see what we all come up with. More news on that later.

I’ve been asked to play live on a number of occasions. I’ve had to turn them down, unfortunately, since I haven’t really figured out how to translate my sound into live production. I’m originally a bass player so all these synths and VST’s and so forth are new toys and explorations for me. When I’m in the studio, these things seem to flow easily for me and I seem to have become quite acquainted with them. However, moving something onto a stage is another beast altogether and I hope to have something put together for a first show come 2018. I would like to support my Somnambulate release with a show in Dallas and maybe one in Austin.

Do you consider your music to be part of the current shoegaze/dream pop scene, or any scene? Defining one's sound by genre can be tiresome, but do you feel that the band identifies closely with any genre? How do you feel about genres in music, in a general sense?
Because in my other life I’m an academic, I guess I don’t mind “Labeling” things for ease of conversation or having a boundary which helps people know what one is talking about when communicating in words about music. I probably fall within the confines of ambient and experimental music. I mean, I purposefully make that kind of music because what I normally do is an extension of my emotive state and my expression comes out in unformed or loosely formed pieces. I’ve attempted to produce shoegaze type pieces but they fall short for me. The structure of the songs, etc, just doesn’t come to me and I end up with more Flying Saucer Attack experimentation than something like a structured Slowdive type track. So, I stick to the flowing, improvised work I do and that suits me fine. Whether people are actually interested in it is another story.

What do you think of modern shoegaze/dream pop/psychedelia artists, any favorites?
Given that I’m a DJ on DKFM, I would say that I’m pretty into it. It’s funny. As an ambient artist, you would think that I’m listening to the genre all the time but, really, I’m far more informed about shoegaze/dreampop than anything else. I listen to the genre all the time. So, in other words, I dig it big time and I’m stoked there are so many talented shoegaze/dreampop bands still producing music. It fills my life with joy really.

I hate to list favorites because I write a blog, Somewherecold, and it would be like picking among friends (this is why I hate the dreaded “top” lists at the end of the year but the masses expect them). I guess if I had to pick ones that aren’t founders in the genre and suggest people go listen, I would mention Airiel, Panda Riot, Lightfoils, The Stargazer Lilies, ohnomoon, Electro Group, Oxy, Deafcult, Flyying Colours, The Beremy Jets, 93milesfromthesun, Whimsical…. god there are just too many great ones right now. We are living in a land of musical plenty right now and it is a good thing.

What is the most important piece of gear for your sound? Any particular guitars/pedals/amps that you prefer?
Gear has been the bane of my poor existence. Coming up with the money to obtain gear while having a family is, well, challenging. I guess the biggest piece that has propelled my sound into new avenues has been my Midi controller and gobs of VSTs. I also recently acquired a Korg Minilogue and that has been amazing. It’s not on any releases yet but it will certainly become a central part of my sonic arsenal. In terms of pedals, I adore my Mr. Black Gold Eterna pedal. Shimmer for days with that thing and I just hook it up and fly.

What is your process for recording your music? What gear and/or software do you use? What would you recommend for others?
My recording process is probably kinda strange. I begin, often, with explorations into sounds or looking for melodies using Rhodes sounds. Either way, something will hit me and then I’m off and running. For me, sounds and textures that emote are most important and finding the drone thread that runs through a track is central to anchoring what I do with it afterwards. Then, I go into exploration mode again and begin to build layers around drones or the chosen melody. Most of what you hear on my albums is straight up performance. Each stem is played, although I do use some loops. For me, loops can be an important part of a repetitive piece of an ambient track. But I do like to work in organic ways too, so guitar tracks are often played through or melodic, synth pieces as well.

I use really inexpensive software out of necessity. It’s called Mixcraft and it has served me well so far. It has some limitations but I think limitations can produce creativity in a way that an unlimited palate can’t. If I want to do something that can’t be done in the software, I have to figure out how to do it organically. I suppose I will end up with Ableton Live eventually and, perhaps, within the next few months that might be a necessity as I prep for live work. One of the ways I got around not having a synth or midi controller before was a rather odd fix. I only had a guitar, bass, and VST’s to work with. I got an interface and then had to figure out how to make drones with organic type instruments. I would then tune an open chord on the guitar or mute particular strings. I could do this to my bass as well when I wanted to do so. Then I would simply blow fans on it and hit the record button. It made for some beautiful, ambient soundscapes. Of course, I would also use VST FX in the software to give it some heavy reverb or shimmer, but not always. Sometimes the dry, open sound was enough.

In terms of recommendations, find what works for you. Don’t be a gear hog but spend carefully and make informed choices that support your sound, expand it, or make your life simpler (yes, I’m aware that contradicts the above issue about creativity but sometimes you just have to have a piece of gear that solves a problem). I’ve been to a number of ambient gigs, seen some rather impressive artists, and all of their set ups were incredibly different. Do what works for you.

When it comes to label releases versus DIY/bandcamp and the like, what is your stance, if any?
Well, I own a record label called Somewherecold Records. However, I think bands should do what feels right for them. Labels have their place but labels like mine are small and simply backing things financially without a lot of ability to do PR, etc. Perhaps one day that will happen but launching a label is fraught with financial insecurity. I started it, however, to begin putting out my own music and have had the opportunity to put out a lot of other great music from other artists like The Beremy Jets and Yellow6. I’m releasing EP’s and albums from Ummagma and Mis+tress (Brian from Thee Koukouvaya and Elika) as well as one more artist this year I can’t mention yet but will do so soon.

Do you prefer vinyl, CD, cassette tape or mp3 format when listening to music? Do you have any strong feelings toward any of them?
I don’t have really strong feelings in terms of what should or shouldn’t be used. I mean, quite frankly, CD’s and MP3 files are still far more convenient than anything else in terms of portability. Cars, for example, still come equipped with players. However, if I do buy music, I love to buy vinyl. The large format artwork and the beauty of the disc itself really can’t be matched. Further, I love the warm tones and the sound of the player when the needle is going about its work. I will say this, however. I believe in the album. Bands, and artists like myself, put tracks in a particular order and do so with great care. It’s a part of the art and experience the artist hopes the listener pays attention to. So, as I do on the blog when writing reviews, I often listen to albums from start to finish. Also, digital only kind of ditches the beauty of artwork that is very present and tangible in physical releases. In my dreams, people will return to loving cassettes, CDs, and vinyl and utilize digital files in tandem with them rather than as a substitute for them.

What artists (musicians or otherwise) have most influenced your work?
I suppose there are many but none are in the front and center of my thought world when making music. Brian Eno, Flying Saucer Attack, John Carpenter, Slowdive, Aidan Baker, Yellow6, Steve Hauschildt, Hammock, Landing, Windy & Carl…. So many. In recent days, I think that there are some artists that have really inspired me in different ways but ones that are fresh to me and have influenced my sound to take a few different directions: Forest Management, Adam Pacione, Atop, Derek Rogers, Ten, Pjusk, City of Dawn to name a few.

What is your philosophy (on life), if any, that you live by?
I think that I would have been at the ready with an answer for this in my 30’s but now that I am in those mid-life years, I’m not sure anymore. Quite frankly, it’s an unsettling place to be and I think I channel that into my compositions. Cynicism has crept in as I’ve watched an older generation basically shit on everyone by voting against everyone’s best interests, backing an overt racist in power, and hating on anyone not white or rich. It’s a sobering time and hard to figure stuff out. So, I have no significant answer at the moment. Hopefully I will have a different, wiser opinion sooner rather than later but who knows. Life is unpredictable (wait, is that a philosophy?).