Five Questions with Corey Dargel
Name: Corey Dargel
Title/Occupation: composer & singer/songwriter
1. Where did you grow up and how did you end up where you are now?
I was born and raised in South Texas, the Rio Grande Valley. It took me a few years to realize that my hometown was the primary cause of my severe depression as a teenager. Well, my hometown and my sexuality, but the two are intertwined. I eventually escaped to Michigan (not much better), then Cincinnati (a little better), then Oberlin (better), then New York City (much better, though occasionally deflating).
2. Which performance, song, play, movie, painting or other work of art had the biggest influence on you and why?
Philip Glass’s opera “Einstein on the Beach” made a profound impression on me. The music was detached and repetitive. The words were strange and unemotional. And yet I found the combination of words and music profoundly moving. “Einstein on the Beach” inspired me to write songs that were just a little strange and just a little sentimental, but that never became overtly dramatic or aggressively intellectual.
3. What skill, talent or attribute do you most wish you had and why?
I wish I could play the guitar. And I wish I could be more articulate when I disagree with someone I love.
4. What do you do to make a living? Describe a normal day.
My songs are usually sympathetic portraits of extreme or absurd behavior. In the mornings I read articles or studies about things like hypochondria, voluntary amputation, delusions, nightmares, etc.. Then I sit at my computer and write music or lyrics, with or without inspiration. Alternatively, if I have songs that are ready to go, I’ll make recordings of myself singing and playing all the parts, self-produce them, and save them to listen to later to see if I still like them.
5. Have you ever had to make a choice between work and art? What did you choose, why, and what was the outcome?
Until a few years ago, I didn’t realize I had a choice. I assumed every artist had a full-time day job, so I worked in an office from 10-6 every weekday. I’d come home and try to compose, but often I didn’t have the mental space or physical energy. Fortunately, I had a few professional artist friends who inspired me to make the leap from salary to freelance. Now I work almost full time as a composer, and I do audio production work-for-hire when I need to. It’s not easy, but I prefer the problems of being a freelancer to the problems of having a full-time day job. The only thing that I really miss about my former job is the daily interaction with other people. Sometimes I am overwhelmed with loneliness.