INVISIBLE AIRWAVES Issue #043 - A Special Thanksgiving Issue with Corbin Dooley - Page 18

Caught at a particularly vulnerable moment in life, Dooley found himself in the studio using the creation of music to tap into long lingering mental trauma. He was working his way through the emotions of his first girlfriend and a close aunt committing suicide, and then in late 2016, after fighting years of depression, his mother took her life. All three losses, particularly the loss of his mother, left Dooley feeling hopeless and distraught, but the trauma and ongoing therapy inspired a passion for sharing his survival tactics through music, hoping to help others leave everyday darkness and heal.

Western Trauma was recorded and produced at the historic EastWest Studios by six-time Grammy Award winning record producer, engineer and mixer Vance Powell, who felt connected to Dooley's story and the theme of the album. The songs are a cinematic take on alternative country music, with retro country elements and lush string arrangements to match the tone of Dooley’s emotional content.

I.A. caught up with Dooley for a conversation about the new release and the emotional process behind making it.

MP: Talk about the beginnings of this project, which started while you were living in Tucson.

CD: Tucson slowed my role roll and made me do some reflection. I learned about myself. Growing up where I grew up in the south, and at our age, too, when I had trauma in my life, I was basically told be quiet and be a man. My mom died by suicide in 2016. It was very hard and challenging as an only child. I have no kids. I was divorced at the time. I was feeling pretty alone and I realized that I've struggled with mental illness my whole life. I've just not talked about it, so a voyage of healing is what I went on after my mom died. I started to try to discover who I was as a person. I realized I've always written and produced for other people or promoted and talked about other people; but I've done all this journaling, maybe I should take the guitar or piano and write some of these for me.

MP: How did that turn out when you started writing for yourself? CD: I wrote a bunch of songs and then I started a band and put out four records. I put out a solo record, called affection, in 2020 that's electronic based somewhere between late era Trent Reznor and Matthew Dear. But I realized I just still wasn't dealing with my mom's death. My dad and I have had become pretty estranged. He had had an affair with my mom's best friend and that was a trigger big part of why leading up to my mom did what she my mom doing what she did. My dad has built a life with the woman he became involved with and she is a part of our family now, to this day, is with this woman, so it was a challenge for me to not be angry and to try to be understanding of his situation. I learned he had been struggling all of their married life, 50 plus years, with my mom constantly facing depression. So I wrote a whole bunch of songs, including with the help of Mark Fischer, who dusted off his guitar and drum skills, and all of a sudden I realized maybe they were something to stand up for and I should memorialize them, because they might help me feel better if I recorded them.