OUTWARD, introverted Shoegaze from Kentucky
Outward is the one man music project from Corey Philpot. It includes influences from Shoegaze, Indie, Dream Pop, Synth Pop and other similar genres that Corey grew up loving.
His last Album, ‘That’s life’, will be released on 15th February 2019 by our friends of Somewherecold records. Corey and Noise Artists collaborated to introduce you to his music and understand his motivations and persona thanks to a really good and detailed interview.
The music and feelings are vastly drawn from the topic of depression and isolation as you will discover. We are delighted that Corey speaks freely of this mental state that many people experience, without always seeking the support that would make their life better. The more we talk about it, the better.
Without further ado, discover Outward’s music and Corey Philpot.
Outward’s musical work to date is:
That's Life, Album, February 2019
Reverie Remedy, Album, May 2017
Hypnagogic Calibrations, EP, April 13, 2015
Inside the Tremble, EP, October 2014
The King's Ascension, EP, August 5, 2013
The best introduction to the coming album is to ask the artist the story behind the music. And this is a great one.
“My name is Corey Philpot, and I go musically under the name Outward. I am a one-man-band but with a full band sound. I have a new album called That’s Life which is releasing on February 15th on digital and physical disc under Somewherecold Records.
The album itself I would describe along the lines of ripping out pages from within a diary my soul has tried to keep inside hiding from all eyes. It’s my attempt at digging into every outlet of dark and light that I carry inside, to make it audible and visible outwardly.
I began recording it while living in Austin, TX. A few different things had fallen through, and I somehow was lucky enough to land a gig with the great band SUPER THIEF of ATX, and I didn’t have any new material. I wrote a handful of tracks from the album within a span of a week just so that I would have a live set to perform.
The very day of the gig, my wife was robbed at gunpoint at her job. Needless to say, we didn’t go through with the gig and this became the concrete starting point for That’s Life. A few more incidents happened after that are more on the personal side of things which dealt in life and death as well.
We ultimately decided to leave ATX, and return to my hometown in London, Kentucky; a place where if you feel like being left alone, you truly can be. Over the span of the next year and a half, I recorded more and more songs. They were my way of addressing what my wife and I had been through and were going through. We were facing everything together. Living in the depths of darkness, while hoping to see a light to shine on the world and make it better. We eventually found our own light to shine on ourselves.
The concept of the album lies completely in its name. We all face so many struggles every day, and the weight of those struggles can sometimes be all too consuming. Sometimes it often leads to depression, which can lead to addiction and ultimately even suicide.
I think most people have experienced some form of depression and suicidal thoughts. I feel its something common, yet as a society, we fear it so much and view it as a weakness so much; we immediately shut it down when someone confronts us about it.
I’ve experienced and witnessed so many moments where people are on the edge of taking their life, reached out to someone to talk, and that someone responds with the phrase “That’s life,” shrugging them aside; basically making it a point that because everyone has issues and seems to get over them, that you must get over them as well.
There’s a few tracks that I feel standout to this. The most obvious for me are Rainface and Post-RPG Depression.
Each of those tracks, the vocals and lyrics were improvised in one take; as I felt they needed to have that real stream of consciousness feeling as if your mind and heart must vent or you’re going to drown from the inside. Other tracks deal with certain subjects, mostly between accepting life as it is (both good and bad), drug addiction, suicide, isolation, dreams, hopes, fear, love, hate, and drug overdose.
I feel that we as a society are quick to judge and condemn anyone experiencing these darker issues and often time say these individuals do it to themselves and don’t deserve help. I stand strongly against that. I think anyone reaching out for help deserves to have a hand stretched to them. These are the people that often need the most help or someone to just listen.
My songs as a whole dig through this concept; such as the track Nothing Much. It is basically reflecting on when you feel that your life is over and that suicide is the only answer left; just to free yourself and the burden you feel exists on others by you existing. “They say it’s fine, all in time. I think they lie to feel fine”; it reflects when people say to you everything will be okay in time and will eventually pass. Sometimes that’s not true, and things won’t be fine.
Tracks like Crash, Codeine Dreams, and Can’t Care reflect on drug addictions and the mental spiral they can create or leave. How a drug can be a crutch to feel like it can fix everything, yet it remains pointless as it will never end in anything but more harm to yourself. However, sometimes it feels its all you have left for life, even though you know it’s not a positive thing. You feel trapped with no defence or way out. Then sometimes, it feels like it’s a will to personal self-destruction; a way to slowly take means into your own hands and decide how you want your life to end. A weird awareness of self-control and lack of self-control at the same time.
Other tracks deal with hopes and dreams. Swear to Me is like a waking day dream. You picture everyone being okay, life being alright, everyone being peaceful, and that it can all rise above the darkness. Ultimately, life will be what life is, but you can’t stop from dreaming of things being better. Though, at the end of the day, you will always wake up from that dream. A lot of the tracks on this album can fit into the same category of this song; meaning striving and hoping for a better life for yourself and for others, regardless of the obstacles life seems to constantly throw at you.
I tried to make every song feel as if it had its own identity. I won’t put out an album unless I feel every song has its own sound and doesn’t necessarily sound like something that’s already been done before. If it does, it’s by pure accident; as with every song I try to go in completely open minded with no goal but to follow what my heart tells me and what resonates in sound to my ears.
This being the case, I don’t think my sound really fits exactly into a genre like a puzzle piece. Rather, it’s a cherry-picking of multiple genres and sounds I love all into one cohesive thing. Because I grew up in a small town in the middle of nowhere mountains; music and film were my only obsessions that kept me going.
My music is a combination of all my favorite genres since I was a kid: shoegaze, grunge, industrial, slowcore, 80s synthpop, noise rock, retrowave, dreampop, and more. I combine my favorite things and whatever comes out, comes out basically. Because it’s so noisy, melty, and loud I think it lends itself to the shoegaze side more than anything. Jason Lamoreaux of Somewherecold Records has coined the term Sludgegaze to describe the sound; which I think is actually pretty great and it made me excited like a little kid when he said it.
This album is an extension of me; into my heart, mind, body, and soul. It’s me trying to deal with everything life is/was/will be. It’s an attempt to approach life and death in so many different forms. And it’s ultimately my attempt to reach out to people in the world struggling with their life and fighting to keep going. I want it to be a message that says you’re not alone in feeling these things, and you’re not alone in this world. It may be hard, but as long as we keep fighting, we can make of life what we will. There’s no pro-drug or pro-suicide song on this album and I hope no one comes away with that sort of message. It’s more of an “I understand and wish I could give you a hug,” message.”
Tell us about the artists you have worked with
I actually haven’t worked with that many artists. In terms of Outward, I’ve never worked with any other artists on tracks. It’s always been only me; even when it comes to recording, mixing, and mastering.
I have two different two-piece shoegaze projects though. One is with my wife Perla called June in Bliss; the other with a best friend named Veronika called Augra Nowhere. We as Augra shot and made a music video for the noise rock band SUPER THIEF however down in ATX.
Can you tell us more how you came to have the band’s name?
Outward came to me because I wanted something to signify in the simplest effort of what my music entails. The entire point I feel is to take what is most inward and to make it outward; to project the internal outwardly.
Where are you from? Where are you living now?
I’m from London, Kentucky and also presently residing here now too. I’ve lived in both Winston-Salem, North Caroline (while attending film school) and in Austin, Texas for a few years pursuing music and film. After hardships, my wife and I decided to get some air and come back here.
Could you give us the history of the band, how the members came together and have done music together since?
I started recording music by myself in high school. I had gotten electric drum kit and mixer for Christmas one year and that kicked me off. I had been inspired by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails since I was five years old and decided if one man could do that and make such cool music, I could too. I wouldn’t dub myself Outward for a handful of years later though.
Could you tell me more on the band composition? Do you have plans to add new members, or is there possible departure scheduled from existing band members?
It’s only myself and has been since the beginning, which probably now stands as a decade. There’s no plan to add any additional members currently. The only thing I could see possibly in the future is touring musicians.
Can you tell me the inspiration behind your band?
The inspiration for me at the start was a way to deal with and/or escape my life. It was a way to deal with depression and living in a town where I couldn’t really relate to many people on many subjects or things. It kept me alive and allowed me to deal with my emotions in a non-harmful way; while also hopefully connecting to others in those same head-spaces.
Was there a vision of sorts or did you know what you wanted to do when you started up?
I’ve always wanted to be able to just make a living of any sort doing this. The dream for me is to be able to make music and connect with people, while being able to just afford daily life bills. I don’t care about being stupid rich. I only want to be able to survive and do something I genuinely love and that’s part of my soul.
In terms of styling, I want Outward to feel nostalgic more than anything; like playing video games growing up, watching vhs, and cartoons. I try to incorporate those things and the feelings into the image of it all.
Can you tell us about some of your favourite bands, the music you listen now, some you may want to bring the attention from the reader to?
I’d be happy to list older and current bands I love: Nothing, Lantlos, Alcest, My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive, Type O Negative, Failure, HUM, Nine Inch Nails, Deadsy, Alice in Chains (my first cassette tape at four y.o. was Jar of Flies), Cult Leader, Acid Bath, Barkmarket, SUPER THIEF, Exhalents, Blaze Foley, Urban Voodoo, Unsane, U2, Townes Van Zandt, XTC, Tears for Fears, Talk Talk, Jesu, Mazzy Star, The Alarm, The Wedding Present, Red House Painters, Seam, Low, Codeine, Sebadoh, Skinny Puppy, Ohgr, Medicine, Dir en grey, The Plimsouls, Devo, Alice Cooper, The Cure, Clan of Xymox, Lush, The Opposition, Anakin, Skydiggers, Helmet, Gojira, Devin Townsend, SYL, Godflesh, JAMC, Cocteau Twins, Richard Buckner, Grivo, Gleemer, Malice Mizer, My Dad is Dead, Machines of Loving Grace, God Lives Underwater, Placebo, Naked Eyes, General Public, Book of Love, ABC, Duran Duran, Adam Ant, China Crisis, Lycia, Red Rockers, Smashing Pumpkins, Local H, Sugar, Bethany Curve, Whimsical, Beatastic, Should, Cheatahs, Coalters of the Deepers, Roku Music, Iris, Iroha, Deafcult, Duster, Two Inch Astronaut, Chapterhouse, Thompson Twins, Tricky, Pale Saints, Nirvana (I’d be lying if I didn’t say there wasn’t an influence. My mom has a video of me at 2-3 yo hitting a snare drum singing lyrics to All Apologies), Miami Nights 1984, Hollow Sunshine, Newmoon, Prefab Sprout, Deafheaven, Drab Majesty, Soulwhirlingsomewhere, Revolver, Prick, Lift to Experience, OLD (Old Lady Drivers), David Bowie, Swallow, Quicksand, and Emma Ruth Rundle.
Do you have any other musical side projects apart from this band?
I have two at the moment. Both are somewhat similar to Outward, mixing genres while mostly leaning to shoegaze. They’re called June in Bliss and Augra Nowhere.
The Creative process
Who writes the song and the music and how do you get to the final song? Is it a community process, do you have leaders in composing or arranging music?
I write and record everything myself; from start to finish. I usually start with a drum track, synth track, or guitar riff. Whichever one leads first. After that I begin going through an endless amount of synths and find one that resonates and I start building layers. I continue doing this over and over until basically it sounds full or has exactly enough to what the track feels it calls for. I then decide if that part is verse or chorus, and then proceed to make the next verse or chorus. I’ve had a song reach 78 layers of synths, guitars, basses, and drums before. Once the music feels finished, then I begin working on lyrics and vocals. After those are laid I begin the mastering process.
Do you listen to the advice of your band mates? What would you do if they said a song was shit but you liked it?
Since I don’t have any bandmates, I have a select circle of friends and family I’ll send tracks to for feedback. Some are aware of shoegaze and the other genres, while others aren’t, so it helps me get a wide view of how people both familiar and unfamiliar with react to them.
If someone said a song was shit, I’d listen to them and try to understand their view and why they’ve reached that conclusion. It would depend on if it’s out of spite or if they’re genuinely being honest.
If it’s constructive criticism and ultimately can make the song work better, then I have no troubles taking that criticism. However if it’s someone being a dick, well, then they can fuck off. And ultimately, if it’s a track I love and feel is pure honesty, then I will keep it as-is no matter what. I think it’s very situational.
Talking about the lyrics: who write them? Is there a common thread in them, a theme? Who chose the songs’ name
I write them completely and choose everything about them from words, subject, to titles. There’s no common theme other than they must reflect a since of sincerity and honesty to myself.
Do you have a message that you want to get across in your music? If so, what are some of the messages you want to spread?
That you’re not alone in your problems. That people all over the world, including myself, have experienced and do experience these problems; that there are many who struggle with things like depression and suicide. My goal is ultimately to be a way of suicide prevention by facing it head on in the most honest ways.
It’s also to help myself get through these things too. Reality is a mirror and a reflection of our perception and projections. Helping myself get through can help others get through, while helping others can help myself get through.
Did your listening habits changed over the years and does it affect what you write?
I had a much cooler older brother growing up. I’ve actually always been into these types of bands. He showed me Nine Inch Nails and things like that at an early age (roughly like 5 years old), and so I dove in from there on for the rest of my life. Since then and now, I actively search constantly for new or old music that I can find; be it any genre. I don’t care what the genre is as long as its music coming from someone’s soul.
The path to music
Is it easy to find producers and studios where you live for indie-rock?
Not at all. This place is a small town that wouldn’t exist if a major interstate didn’t go through it.
Your recorded sound is good, which is not easy. Did you engineer the sound yourself, or did you have a sound engineer with you? If yes could you tell us more about him/her?
I’ve done everything myself. Because it’s always just been myself mixing all the things I love, it’s roughly always been this same sound; just more put together and improved quality. My instrumental, vocal, and composition skills have increased through the years just from constantly trying to improve. I would love to work with engineers such as Flood, Daniel Lanois, Brian Eno, Robin Guthrie, or Trent Reznor.
Was it a community work to try to have the best sounding music possible or mainly driven by the sound engineer or by the band?
It’s always been my sole goal to create something unique and original; a sound I could call my own that would not blend in with the mass of music out there. I want to have a sound that is both dynamically heavy and soft simultaneously; as if you were being beaten to death by the softest pillows.
How did the recording work differ over time?
Once I began to learn mastering, it drastically changed my quality. It went from someone sounding like they’re recording in their bedroom (which I do), to sounding like someone not recording in their bedroom (which I still am). Also, after years of practicing and self-teaching basically everything from gear, recording, instruments, etc., I’ve gotten better at it all; as they say, practice practice practice.
Is the recording material yours when you are out of a studio or do you borrow/rent it?
It’s mine. I don’t have anything near what a recording studio would have; literally just a small mixer, a mic, and a few programs.
Tell us what you are looking when trying to achieve your sounds? Do you experiment a lot or have a clear idea of what you want?
There’s definitely been some tracks where I can hear them in my head entirely before recording anything, but most times I just sit down with my mind as a blank page and allow it to kind of go wherever it wants to. I don’t specifically start out with a sound in mind or where it should be. Mostly, I’m always experimenting and letting it build itself.
Who is the more knowledgeable with pedals? You use them a lot, to great effect.
As large as my sound may seem, with as many effects as there is, I only use two pedals in my main setup. I’m not hugely knowledgeable into pedals; I’m very specific on ones I have or ones that I want. Outside of that, its not really something I really dive into. I feel you can experiment very widely with very little and achieve amazing tones and sounds.
I think I read once that Kevin Shields of MBV talked about even though he has many pedals, his sound is achieved roughly by one or two and then using the guitar straight into the amp. I took that as an inspiration and stayed simple. Simple, but effective.
What are some places around the world that you hope to take your band? Do you have any plans at present to tour in other countries?
I more than anything want to tour in Japan. I’ve always loved the music and film industry there. I was obsessed with Japanese art for a long time with bands like Malice Mizer and Dir en grey; as well as filmmakers such as Takashi Miike, Ryuhei Kitamura, and Sion Sono.
I’m a huge gamer and JRPG’s are some of my favorite types of games. Plus, there’s always been a love for shoegaze there. I’d love to go there ultimately and just dive into the art and be able to perform.
Although I’d always be down to perform anywhere in the world any time. I’d love to travel and meet great peeps.
Is there any reason in particular that you want to go to these places? Is there something about dream pop/shoegaze in those places that makes you want to go there?
Japan as far as I’ve ever known has always had a great love for shoegaze. I’ve always had a great love for Japan, so I think the two of us could combine pretty greatly.
Do you dream to live from your music or is it a passion you do not want to spend your full time on?
It’s my dream of dreams to make music for a living. It’s the one true thing I love to do in life, and it terrifies me in a way that without it, there’s no occupation I can ever be happy with otherwise. That may sound stupid to a lot of people and a pipe dream. The world is a hard place, and to survive, eat, and have a home, you have to be part of the system and work what you can to get by. Most times, that doesn’t mean you get to have a job that panders to your happiness at all; let alone one that deals in artistic natures. I’d give anything to take this full time and have it be my every day job.
Do you make a decent revenue from your music or is it still very much a hobby?
Even if I don’t make a cent, I will never consider it a hobby. It means more than I could ever try to explain. I will always give it my all and put all my effort into it; even if it never lands and never makes a dime. It’s survival for me. To keep alive, I have to keep making music and art. There’s no alternative.
If you have a record label, could you tell us a bit more about your record label and your relationship with it?
I’m under Somewherecold Records at the moment. It’s run by Jason Lamoreaux, who is an amazing human being. I couldn’t be more grateful for him and the label to take a chance on myself and the album. One of the scariest parts of being an artist is that you can pour your heart into making something you feel is special and great, but may never land to anyone’s ears or connect at all. It’s amazing to me how much support he’s given and believes in the album. I’m grateful.
What is the next album due?
Titled That’s Life, it’s due out February 15, 2019 on Somewherecold Records. It’ll be released digitally and on physical disc limited to 100 copies. It’s actually up for pre-order as we speak, and the first single “For Sure,” as a download immediately.
Do you plan to continue music for a long time or are you tired of it?
The rest of my life.
Anything else you want the reader to know
This album is made with the most pure and honest intentions that I can fathom. If you’re looking for something different and new then I really think it’s worth giving it a try.
It may not have a commercial appeal, as I’m not sure myself at all if that’s there, but I think if given the chance, it will surprise you in the greatest way. If you feel that music has reached a stalemate and there’s no new sounds or genres out there or nothing has been progressed, then this album is for you.
If you feel sad and isolated in the world, dealing with depression and suicidal thoughts, or drug addictions, this album is for you as well. It is meant to be something different and something that also connects with people on a human level.
The part of us that is the real us inside that no one knows. This is me giving my everything to try and make art that is original and is also personal and human; something that has heart in every way.
I only ask to give it a chance, and approach with an open mind. I’m grateful to anyone who’s eyes have read this interview and grateful to Noise Artists for even offering me the opportunity. “
And we are very grateful to Corey for pouring his heart in this interview and presentation of his music.
Where to find Outward’s work
Music Videos (lyric vids):
“My wife Perla, my family, friends, Jason/SWC Records, Noise Artists, all artists of the world, all people who are peaceful, and anyone that’s ever given any of my tracks a listen.”