The Corrupting Sea- Therapy In Sound
"Libraries gave us power" the Manic Street Preachers used to sing. The internet has given us power too. Meet Jason Lamoreaux. Label owner, journalist, musician.
What is your music about?
In 2015, I was unethically dismissed from a job that I deeply loved and was invested in. As someone who deals on a daily basis with anxiety and depression and has no health insurance, I had to find a way to deal with the fallout that was healthy and not harmful. I had recorded some music around 2007 and had released a single on an Australian compilation, but the album I recorded was lost. So, at the end of 2016, I begin to record again as an outlet for my anxiety and depression. It was, in a way, therapeutic. The results of those first sessions was my third album Symphony Of A Radical. I had shown a few of the tracks to Frank Lenz (Starflyer 59) and he really encouraged me to put them out there.
I think another sort of “inspiration” for my work has been just world events, the insanity of what is happening in my country and the corresponding ignorance of so many in the U.S., and some personal narratives about trying to deal with all of it and find some peace. So, I hope to communicate sound stories that have some narrative freight to them but allow the listener to sort of plug in their own experiences throughout the music.
In 2017, I released a trilogy with the albums Samatta, Resist, and Symphony of a Radical. These were my first releases to go out into the world. I’m 45 years old and I just felt that I had finally found a voice with my music and was able to put myself out there. In my youth, I had too much self-doubt and hesitation, so I suppose my age helps with me not being so worried about what people think.
I think much of what I do is anti-ambient, if that makes sense. So many of my ambient artist friends or ambient artists I read talk about their work in terms of serenity or contemplation or meditation. My music isn’t that. There are tracks where I am struggling to find that but much of my music comes from rage, anxiety, depression, agitation, and conflict. I mean, if you met me, you wouldn’t get this impression from me. I’ve been told that my music is sort of an alter-ego. That’s true, I think. But it’s also my therapy. It’s where I dump the things that aren’t healthy in relationships. I guess I weep into my music in a way.
In terms of the albums, I guess I will leave that to the audiofiles in discussing each one individually. I will say this. The stuff I am producing now has really changed in tone and I think quality. I’m really excited about the release of Somnambulate in Jan/February on Katuktu Collective as well as the Aural Canyon album I’m working on that will hopefully be released later in the year. So two new full-lengths are forthcoming in 2018. I also have two other albums. One is called Reflections and it was mixed and mastered by Paul Saarnak of The Beremy Jets while the other is called System Shift and it was mixed and mastered by Toby Crate Art of The Emerald Down. Both did incredible jobs on the mixes and I can’t wait to find both a home. I also have an EP coming out on Silber Records any day now. It’s in the 5 in 5 series where the artist can only produce 5 minutes of material over the course of 5 tracks. I made 5 one-minute tracks and I think it turned out rather well. I’m happy with it at least.
The most recent development has been a collaboration with Jon Attwood (Yellow6) and Daniel Land (riverrun, Daniel Land and the Painters). We’ve started exchanging stems and things are moving forward. Really excited about how this project turns out. I’ve also started working with Josh Richardson (Flavor Crystals) on a potential ambient album. We will see where that goes.
Tell us about the artists you have worked with
All of the artwork on my albums so far have been my own photos. I really love taking pictures and working with imagery, so I’ve been excited to share my visual work with others in this medium. My dear friend Paul Lewis has designed all the covers using my images and has done an incredible job. I’m currently working with Garett Wood, another friend of mine, who will do the images for the Reflections album. His photography is amazing. I’m also hoping to work with Christy Romanik who has been a favorite photographer of mine for ages. I’m shocked I haven’t used her photos yet. Look up both photographers because their work is just so amazing.
I’m beginning to work with Jeff Ryan (Myopic) who is a Dallas based artist. He is the mind behind the project called Myopic and has been the drummer for St. Vincent, The War on Drugs, and others. He’s currently in The Baptist Generals and Motorcade. I’ll be recording a live video with him for Noise Artists. I’ve also done a remix for City of Dawn who is an ambient artist out of Texas. We are hoping to do some collaborative work. I’m also in the middle of a collaboration with Jon Attwood (Yellow6) and Daniel Land (riverrun, Daniel Land and the Painters). I’m super excited about how these will all turn out. The kind of creative challenges one encounters with others can really push limits and make one think outside one’s box. It’s really exciting.
Two of my newer albums that don’t have labels yet have recently been mixed and mastered by Paul Saarnak and Toby Crate Art. They did an incredible job and I can’t wait for the world to hear those. I’m also working in collaboration with Jon Attwood and Daniel Land. I’m also working with Josh Richardson of Flavor Crystals on something. We will see where that goes.
What are your goals as a band, artist, record label owner, artistically/commercially ?
I think my only goal with The Corrupting Sea has been to record my music and put it out there. Actually constructing the tracks and getting an album out were the beginning. I’m not sure I expected to end up recording more let alone put out 3 albums in one year. Now I’m hoping to play live soon and the live videos with Myopic are sort of the beginning of that process. I started Somewherecold Records for that purpose even though I’ve put out other artists. Then my goal was to put an album out on another label because I couldn’t afford to keep doing it myself, at least not the way I wanted. That will happen beginning next year as Katuktu Collective puts out Somnabulate. It’s been pretty amazing actually and beyond anything I expected in the long run. I guess now I just want to keep going and be able to make my own music. I do have an Aural Canyon album planned for next year as well.
With Somewherecold Records, I simply want to put great music out there for people to support. If only more people would, you know? Running a label is fraught with instability simply because of how people view art and music now. Either people have no disposable income, or they just refuse to buy music anymore. It’s really a sad situation. I’m always shocked when artists do art for a living because it’s so incredibly difficult to get people to support artists these days.
Who would you want as a dream producer and why?
John Fryer. He’s worked with so many bands I admire and I would love to see what he does with my darker stuff. He’s just a consummate musician and, having talked to him, I feel he would respect my sound and not try to take over.
What are you trying to avoid as a band, artist, label owner?
I guess being too repetitive as an artist. I don’t want to do that for sure.
As a label owner? I guess I’m going with the flow there. I really would love not to go into massive debt, which I can’t do. It would simply mean the end of the label if people don’t purchase music.
Explain your songwriting process, who starts? How does it evolve, is it organic? Is it discussed?
Well, since this is my project, it’s just me and my instruments. Basically, I hunt for sounds and textures that inspire me or lead me to a basis for a track and then I build from there. This can be the manipulation of standard midi tracks, found sounds that I use as samples, or guitar lines and melodies. I like when things just flow. Of course, they don’t always, but I mostly come up with very improvised free form work. I describe myself as a sound shaper rather than a musician.
In 2017 there is no new or old music to a 17 year old with internet access. Discuss.
I guess that, what you mean by this is, young people have everything at their fingertips. Well, I think there are pros and cons to this entire issue. I guess the best thing about this is that corporate radio can’t tell people what to listen to anymore. Radio stations that are broadcasting through FM or AM are kind of obsolete. There are, of course, a few exceptions like college radio stations that aren’t shackled by the likes of Clear Channel. There are also great online stations like DKFM (of which I am a part) that really allow DJ’s to shape their shows and play what they feel is the best new music out there. In this way, listeners can find programs and DJ’s that introduce them to music they seem to like on a consistent basis. Stations that play the same crap over and over again need to be phased out and, in my opinion, people should just stop listening to those stations.
The cons are a product or consequence of the pros. Yes, we have access to everything but that is also a down side. There is just so much great music out there that finding artists can be like finding a needle in a haystack. Further, I think that young people have really lost touch with the wonderfulness of the album. Artists shape their tracks into a whole project, not simply singles, but streaming culture really has gotten young people away from listening to whole albums and really taking in the entire message of an artists in that period of time.
Lastly I would say that people have all but stopped buying music. Streaming services are killing music really. The one thing any fan can do that is good for a musician or band is buy their CDs, Cassettes, Vinyl, and Merch. It does WONDERS. This idea that music should be free is a horrible product of the degradation of art and artists and people can only fight that by buying the music directly from the artists or labels they are on, especially if the label is small.
Why do you make the music you make? Is it in you? Is it a choice?
Like I said above, my music has been my therapy. I think it was in me all along and I really didn’t know. It was strange once I actually let it out there. It was like a flood of music came out of me.
I have this really strong memory of myself when I was about 17 years old. I was at my house alone and sitting at my parents’ upright piano. I would hold down the sustain pedal and just play chords and let the reverb tail just fade out. I would close my eyes and just soak in it. I had never heard of ambient music at the time. I’d never heard Eno or any of the jazz, ambient artists prior to this period. This would have been around 1989 or 1990. I’d been learning bass and guitar for some time now but no one ever told me that what made me feel most at home musically could be music. In hindsight, I really wish I would have recorded that stuff and went with it on my own but I had no conceptual framework or know how in terms of recording anything.
As I got older, I encountered stuff like shoegaze music through my writing at Somewherecold. This would be like 2002 and after. I’m a late-comer to the scene. Anyway, there’s a track on The Prayer Chain’s Mercury album that really sparked my interest in ambient music in a way I hadn’t encountered before. Eric Campuzano from The Prayer Chain and The Lassie Foundation and so many other bands came out with his solo project Charity Empressa and I had found my musical home in a way. Experimental and ambient, Charity Empressa opened a musical world to me that I had not encountered before. I started buying all of Eno’s albums and so much more. For me, this is the awakening my 17-year-old self longed for. It wasn’t until 2006 or so that I started to explore my own creativity in this regard and now I’m going at it full force. I suppose it’s no longer a choice but an urge or a longing to express myself.
Describe your palette of sound.
Well, I work mainly with drones and guitar sounds. My palette runs the range of found sounds to flat, untextured drones. Whatever serves my expression at the time, I will use and attempt to shape into something a listener can experience. As I’ve moved forward, I’ve gained more tools to work with. For example, my earliest work was all guitar and bass. I owned no pedals. I only used VSTs with the guitars. In order to create drones, I would detune a guitar or mute strings and then blow fans on the guitar to make a long, droning rumble or ambient sound. I think it worked well and people can’t really tell that’s what I’m doing when it’s happening. Since then, I’ve had a really cheap midi-controller, which I used on my first three albums. Now I’ve upgraded that along with my DAW. I’ve also gained some guitar pedals along the way. More are forthcoming. It’s simply a matter of finding the funds and moving forward. The thing is, I know what I want and how much I want. I’m being very, very selective in the pedals I attain because it can become a financial black hole and I don’t want that to happen. I’m just not in a place financially for that to happen. So, as I’ve become more and more familiar and attune to my own sound, I have targeted particular pieces of equipment for my sound arsenal. We will see what 2018 brings in that regard.
Your music is instrumental, would you like guest vocalists? Who would be your dream guest vocalist?
I have always toyed with the idea of having someone come in and lay some kind of vocal, spoken or sung, over the top of my crazy compositions. Seeing what a vocal artist would do would be fascinating. Some dream vocalists would be Rachel Staggs, Krissy Vanderwoude, Justin Bowsher, Daniel Land, Rebecca Scott, Christie Simpson, Kristie Capua, Preston Maddox, and Adrienne Snow.
Which of your albums are you the most proud of? Why?
I think, of the ones currently out, Samatta is my favorite because it has tracks I like to return to more often. I think “I Love You Over the Moon” and “An Ode to Paul Saarnak on His 44th” are my favorite tracks of the trilogy. They both express a brightness that usually escapes me or I find ethereal as I try to grab it. I also think that my ability to record and use my tools had made a rather large advance with that album.
Given that I’ve completed six albums, I think my favorite (which everyone else hasn’t heard yet) is the one I did for Katuktu Collective. It’s called Somnabulate and I can’t wait for everyone to hear it. All of the new albums have different flavors to them, so we will see what people think once they are out in the open.
Explain the story behind the trilogy?
The trilogy of albums I put out happened in a very organic way. I most certainly didn’t plan a trilogy from the get go. In fact, I thought Symphony of a Radical would be it. I never imagined I would set out on a journey that would span three albums. Part of that had to do with the fact that Symphony was in another person’s hands and that person was supposed to mix and master it. Well, it never happened for whatever reason. While I waited, the tracks for Samatta kind of coalesced and I decided to give that album life first while I waited. I taught myself the DIY version of mixing and mastering and put that out there. There was a good reception and while that was sort of getting into people’s hands, Resist came together. I call the albums a trilogy because they really do speak to a 2 year period in my life as one thing happened after another. Getting let go from a job I adored, seeing my country devolve into a racist mess, watching family members make horrifying decisions politically, coming to terms with massive financial instability, and so much more fueled all three of these albums. They are all kindred spirits in a way. Somnambulate, my next album, feels so different to me because it is, I don’t know, coming from a different place. I guess some people will say it sounds exactly like me. Most artists hear different things about their music than the fans. I think the sound files I sent about each individual album really complete the picture so I will stop here.
Thank you so much for taking the time to feature my project. It really means a lot to me.
Your presence on the web
Social media: I really only have a Facebook page for the recording project. That might be a bit odd and I need to remedy that as more people listen to my music.
Video: Currently, The Corrupting Sea videos are housed at the Somewherecold Records Youtube Channel.
Listening / buying your music: You can find the 2017 trilogy at the Somewherecold Records’ Bandcamp page.
I did an interview with When the Sun Hits not long ago: http://whenthesunhitsblog.blogspot.com/2017/09/interview-jason-lamoreaux-of-corrupting.html
Where to find your work?
All of my current releases can be found at the Somewherecold Records’ Bandcamp page: https://somewherecoldrecords.bandcamp.com/
However, I have future releases coming out from Silber Records, Katuktu Collective, and Aural Canyons. All of these are amazing labels I think people should be paying attention to and, well, you can keep an eye out for my own releases soon.