Queeries for composer Corey Dargel

SomeoneWillTakeCare-LoResWebA Brooklyn resident and Texas native, Corey Dargel is a 32 year-old composer and singer.  His music has appeared on NPR and even merited a Tweet from Rachel Maddow. After catching a performance of Dargel at Here in Manhattan, Alex Ross wrote: “Gaunt in appearance and impish in spirit, he sings in a plaintive, innocent-sounding voice, his texts zigzagging between raw confession and cerebral absurdity.”

What are you working on these days?
I have a new album “Someone Will Take Care of Me” coming out in the spring, so a lot of time lately has been devoted to recording-studio work. I’m also just starting to work on an opera — or something like an opera — with the ensemble Newspeak, novelist Andrew Sean Greer, and stage director Emma Griffin.  I’m not yet allowed to say what it’s based on, but religious delusion and schizophrenia play significant roles.  Also, Cornelius Dufallo (aka Neil) and I are starting a project performing songs for voice and violin with digital looping.  This might also include the Bliptronic 5000 that my brother just gave me for Christmas.

Do you keep up with technology?  What tools work for you and which ones have you found to be overrated?
I do keep up with it, especially now that I have my Bliptronic 5000.  I’m on Twitter and Facebook and I design and maintain my own website.  I also blogged about my last big piece, “Thirteen Near-Death Experiences,” while I was composing it.  I wouldn’t necessarily single out any technology as “overrated,” but I would say that the internet favors informational knowledge over procedural knowledge and is therefore potentially threatening to critical thinking.  As for music, I think many creative musicians make the mistake of using technology to generate ideas when they should be using ideas to generate technology.

Are you single or coupled?
I’m in a nine-year relationship with Yvan Greenberg, who is the director of Laboratory Theater and also a graphic designer.

Do you give PDAs? (public displays of affection)
Absolutely, with anyone and everyone who will accept them.

Are most of your friends from the music world or not?
Many of my friends are creative musicians — composers, songwriters, bandmembers.  I’m not friends with too many classical performing musicians.  They somehow always seem put-upon.

How does your sexuality and general background play out in your creativity?
I think growing up gay in a conservative Texas town and a religious family has taught me a lot about empathy, a theme that I almost always incorporate in my songs.  I believe our ability to imagine ourselves in other people’s shoes is directly connected to our ability to think and act creatively in the world.

What’s the gayest musical thing you’ve ever done?
I wrote a custom-made love song for a gay couple from Cincinnati, Paul and Jack, based on interviews with them.  It’s called “The Men We Used to Be” and it’s on my album “Other People’s Love Songs.”

Was coming out tough or a pleasure?  Sudden or gradual?
Coming out was tough and gradual.  It didn’t really happen until I was 19 years old.  I had internalized a lot of the so-called “Christian” morals that had been taught to me as a child in South Texas.  I thought maybe I was ill and could be cured.  I moved away from Texas to attend Interlochen Arts Academy, where there were (as I hoped there would be) out and proud gay people.  Believe me, at that time there were no out and proud gay people in South Texas, and this was before the internet worked well enough to be a resource for me!  Unfortunately, my first gay relationship was with a Catholic boy who promptly switched sides and blamed me for trying to turn him gay and called me an agent of the Devil.

Fortunately, my parents have come a long way in the last ten years.  I have my very supportive (straight and recently married) brother, Aaron, to thank for that.  I’m not sure about the rest of my family, and I’m not inclined to bring up the subject with them.  I’ve also basically left behind most, if not all, of my friends from growing up in South Texas, although they might be more accepting now.  Only Facebook will tell.


Photo credits:
With flowers: Samatha West
Album cover: Luke Batten and Jonathan Sadler of New Catalogue.
In performance (with Kathleen Spove): Jim Baldassare.

One Response to “Queeries for composer Corey Dargel”

  1. Enjoyed reading this, very good stuff, thank you.

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