Recording Artist, COR.ECE talks about his latest album ‘HIM’, Top 5 go-to albums, keeping mental health in check, and how his upbringing shaped his creative expression.
When people listen to HIM, they hear a deeply personal story about my romantic, interpersonal, complicated, devoted relationship to many men ‘in my life’ partners, my brothers, my father and friends, and even my problematic stuff.– Cor.ece
Where did you grow up? Please give us some insight into your upbringing and how it’s influenced your creative process.
COR.ECE: I grew up in St. Louis, Missouri. I’m very grateful for my childhood in St. Louis. It wasn’t a carefree childhood, but the painful stuff ignited a fire in me that became my drive to survive, then live then be always in the pursuit of healing and fulfillment, and I would say joy.
Now, with that said, my childhood was very Black and beautiful with a lot of inherited trauma, so many of us were, and still are navigating. It felt very palpable for me when I was very young. My parents had a lot of growing to do. I can’t deny that layer. I also have memories of spending summers and weekends with many cousins on both sides of my family.
I remember watching MTV for a week straight with my Aunt Glam’s kids or spending weekends, for a consecutive period of time, going to all of another cousin’s sporting events all day, or even having to write essays on MLK day when I happened to be with another family member. Who does that at home?
At the time, I didn’t realize that I was also collecting music and stories, and I learned how to engage with people of many ages and personalities, which is why a good collaboration is crucial to me.
I can create alone, but I can also play with others, and I know that has to do with how I grew up. I moved around a lot. I would hear Dolly Parton at one house, Motown at another, French R&B at another home, it was endless.
Once I became a teenager, I had a lot of freedom. I didn’t have a curfew, ok I pushed it a lot when I did, and I wasn’t scared to hop on the bus before I got a car. I’ll never forget my 16th birthday. My mom got me a 1990 Mazda 626. But before that, I remember catching the bus to guitar lessons when my mother couldn’t take me.
I had a fake ID, so I was in the clubs every chance to dance. I remember loving the dance floor and how the music felt. When I was writing my album, HIM all of those influences showed up naturally, so I know that project was the perfect marriage of what we both brought to the table.
Tell us about your latest album, HIM. What are the listeners expecting to experience?
With my debut album, HIM, you can expect what we call hopeful-electro-soul to put it broadly. Vocally, I’m a Soul, Blues singer with a chamber music foundation. Although every song has live instrumentation, it has an electronic element and a little bounce to the ounce. And the hope piece is directly connected to my personal desire to “get over,” as the old folks say, and, perhaps, insight the same in others.
When people listen to HIM, they hear a deeply personal story about my romantic, interpersonal, complicated, devoted relationship to many men ‘in my life’ partners, my brothers, my father and friends, and even my problematic stuff. Each song delves into a different version of that.
How much of the album did you base on your personal experiences?
All of it! Haha. I would say I’m most proud of ‘Get Up,’ which I wrote the first verse about a good friend who passed from a drug overdose a few days before writing it and the second verse about my younger brother, and father, who were both in prison at the same time. And ‘Don’t You Cry,’ which is about my issues with familial abandonment at various parts of my childhood. It all came pouring out, and I was terrified to share these deeply personal things, but I found solace knowing that other people have gone through similar experiences.
What’s the story behind your single, ‘I’m Scared’?
‘I’m Scared‘ was created on a lark. Priscilla Perry is a solo artist who happens to play and sing in my band, COR.ECE and The Gathered. We love singing together, so we decided to set some studio time just days before the stay-at-home mandate in Los Angeles.
Prior to going to the studio, we were commiserating about the light version of being stuck at home and not knowing the outcome. Priscilla started playing the chords, and I blurted out – in song – “oooooh, I’m scared,” and that birthed the melody, then came the rest of the song. We both needed something to look forward to during the lockdown, so we decided to release it. And I wanted to shoot a video for it, so I went right into pre-production for my first quarantine music video shoot.
What are your Top 5 go-to albums?
- Stevie Wonder – Songs in the Key of Life
- Lauryn Hill – The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
- Res – How I Do
- OutKast – The Love Below
- Miles Davis – Bitches Brew
My rule for this is I have to remember the full names; everything without looking it up and the music has to be attached to a feeling. Each of those albums influences me musically. They all inspired some sort of catharsis, or I was listening to it during a time of enlightenment.
With Stevie, I aim to make music like this album. It’s both timeless and of its time. It’s experimental in a way that doesn’t waste space or time just because he could.
I have endless stories with “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.” In retrospect, the folklore behind the album makes it even more exciting. The heat from that album still hasn’t cooled off, and I doubt it ever will.
One personal thing I will share is that I was so excited about Lauryn Hill winning Grammys for “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.” I convinced my 5th-grade teacher, Ms. Love, to let me put on a school-wide assembly celebrating her. And, of course, I sang along with some of my homegirls. We also read her bio and used it as a tool to inspire the students to go out and live their dreams. I certainly associate that album with living mine.
I understood love and platonic companionship for the first time while listening to “How I Do.” The sonic journey alone is like none other from start to finish.
Now Outkast. Even though I’m a vocalist, I’ve always been a hip-hop head first. My mom had me in the 80s when she was 16 and when I was on her hip, and throughout childhood, I heard Hip-Hop. So Outkast is such a dope culmination of the many things that makes rap and Hip-Hop so great. “The Love Below” specifically highlighted my favorite side of the duo, Andre 3000. He showed me what could be done with words, voices, and melodies.
And lastly, “Bitches Brew” an album that is on another frequency, and I genuinely love it. Form has always been at the center of Miles Davis’ music, so when I heard this, I immediately fell in love with what he did with “Bitches Brew.”
Has social media helped or hindered your reach to a bigger audience?
That’s an interesting question. I’ve never thought about if social media has hindered my reach. I’d listen to a strong case for that. I’ve only ever been on social media with my music, although I remember being an artist before social media, a very different time. It was rehearsal, go home, listen to, or make, more music, maybe have a gig, hang out with friends, and some different versions of the same thing.
Whereas now it’s all social media and digital stuff. I never predicted a time where so much of my artistic value is measured by having a constant presence that could be praised, or scrutinized, at any moment.
For me, social media does, in some ways, help me reach a bigger audience, but more importantly, it allows me to have a consistent audience. That wasn’t happening for Indie artists before social media.
COVID-19 pandemic has affected us globally. What unique things have you done to keep you focused mentally during this time?
I immediately started running towards different ways to keep robust mental health during the quarantine. I was legitimately afraid of facing this alone. I didn’t want to spiral into a dark place, so I started redecorating my space, which led me to repurpose a mid-century wooden table with tiles on top. I’ve always wanted to build furniture, so this feels like the beginning of that. It was nice to only focus on that one thing, and I’m almost finished. I bought a Mickalene Thomas puzzle off of her artwork to complete, and I purchased five plants, including an orchid I call Rose, after my great-grandmother. All of those things require some form of focus or attention.
When you are not recording or touring, what are you during in your downtime?
I cook and think of original recipes based on my skill-level and my love of taste and smell. I never really share them, though. Not because they are top secret, I just live alone and based on what I have access to and how long I want to be in the kitchen.
Since I only have one, I would say, Solange. I think she is a smart artist and makes music with some of my favorites like Sampha and Dev Hynes. To me, it’s a ripple effect from there. I’d follow the music and the vibes.
We’re all in need of a much-needed vacation. Once it’s safe to travel, where’s your first destination?
Definitely out of the United States. It’s a toss-up between Mexico City or The Bahamas. I would live part-time in Mexico City in a heartbeat. I’ve been there many times. I’d love to find a deeper connection and reason to be there for an extended period.
On a pure leisure level, The Bahamas because it’s beautiful and the last time I went, I realized it had so much stuff I want to explore. I also experienced the fantastic work of artist, painter Harry Wallace so I can’t wait to see it with my own eyes again.
Clothing brands us in photos:
Practicing guitar / Working on the mid-century table
Japanese-inspired jacket Five Four
Black front pocket shorts Harold Kensington London
Sandshoes Active Bahama Bay
Classic USA made cotton bandana Third Find
Denim Jacket Forever21
The UPROAR Lapel Pin Christophe Roberts Manza Studios
Rose-tinted frames AKILA
US Navy jumpsuit Vintage