Less than one week removed from the release of Aesthetic Perfection‘s stellar new album ‘Into The Black’, which received high praise in our recent review here on the Loud-Stuff website, Rik had the opportunity to interview founder Daniel Graves about the album in greater detail and AP’s imminent UK Tour…
Rik: Hi Daniel. Firstly I’d like to thank you for taking the time to answer some questions for Loud-Stuff, it’s greatly appreciated. I very much enjoyed listening to the latest album and it goes without saying I’m personally looking forward to hearing the new material live on your upcoming UK tour.
R: Your latest album is entitled ‘Into The Black’. Can you tell us how you came up with the name and give us some insight?
Daniel: What thoughts do the words “Into the Black” conjure in your mind? Do you think of financial success? Do you think of emotional darkness? Do you imagine plummeting into the unknown? The best thing about art is that it means different things to different people, and not even the creator gets to define it once it’s released into the world. Of course, I had my own intentions and inspirations, but really, it’s for the listener to decide.
R: When listening to each of Aesthetic Perfection’s albums, it’s evident that you’re not content on retreading the same musical ground on each new release. As the artist, what approach to the writing process do you tend to take – is there a general plan the musical & thematic direction for each new release, or is it more of an organic process?
D: My process has remained the same since the very beginning: be as upfront and honest as possible. That philosophy has guided me whenever I feel conflicted or lost about what to write. I’ve found that as long as I allow my intuitions and tastes to steer the ship, the end result feels right, is cohesive and conveys a narrative (even if I’m not aware of it when I’m writing). Regarding the drastic change in sound – My art is a reflection of who I am at specific points in my life, so it makes sense that my art would change as drastically as I have.
R: How about musical influences on the album. Are there any sounds & styles you’re currently taking an interest in as a fellow artist these days?
D: First and foremost, I’m a music FAN. I LOVE music. I love finding new sounds and styles and approaches… I’m constantly experimenting with new and old discoveries to try to find my next step forward. But the key is to always keep moving. I’m really excited by the sounds coming out of bands like Architects and producers like Diplo, but I haven’t forgotten my past with artists like Michael Jackson, Queen and Marilyn Manson.
R: What I found most intriguing was the more serious subject matter of a number of songs, which tended to be reflective & introspective, or were asking some pertinent questions, in particular ‘We Wake Up’ and ‘YOLO’ really struck a chord with me. It’s fair to say that a lot of the material is serious and tackles important issues, from personal to the widespread & far-reaching. Is there anything you’d like to share with us in regards to these topics and their context?
D: The deeper, more existential questions are the ones I find myself pondering as I get older. Who am I? Why am I here? What’s the point of all of this? I also spent a good deal of time reflecting on my past. My emotionally abusive stepfather, my abusive evangelical Christian upbringing… things I couldn’t even face until well into my 30’s… I try to contextualize all these experiences and feelings in ways that they become universal. Art is the language we use to articulate the unknown things that go on inside our heads.
R: On a more tech-related note, there are definitely some familiar, signature sounds on this release, in particular that creepy lo-fi piano & the granular vocal synthesis, but there are a whole host of new influences on display too. Can you elaborate on some of these fresh ideas & approaches and is there any hardware/software gear in particular that you’ve been impressed with (and any nightmare experiences too, if you like) whilst recording the latest album you like to tell us about?
D: I think the technical side of music is the least interesting one. For me, technology is simply a means to an end. I don’t suffer from gear lust, I don’t fill my computer with endless amounts of plug ins… more often than not it’s just a chore, albeit a necessary one. Like with everything else, I tend to just let my intuitions guide me rather than sitting down with a specific plan. My influences reveal themselves much more organically this way.
R: I was pleasantly surprised to see you had four guest musicians appearing on ‘Into The Black’ from a mixed musical spectrum. The two biggest surprises for me had to be Mick Kenney of Anaal Nathrakh and Richard Z Kruspe of Rammstein. I’d really love to know how each of the four guests became involved.
D: The music industry is small. You spend enough time in this business and you end up crossing paths with a lot of people and, inevitably, making friends. I’ve been blessed to make friends with a lot of talented people.
R: You have the UK leg of your ‘Into The Black World Tour’ coming up shortly and it’s far from the first time we’ve seen you over this side of the pond – is there anything in particular that draws you back to performing to British audiences?
D: I’d say the thing that keeps me coming back to the UK is the warm, flat, ale…
I kid. The UK has always been kind to Aesthetic Perfection and I continue to be grateful for the repeated return invites.
R: I have to say, the two special guest acts on the tour line-up are pretty tasty this year. Was this a decision you had a hand in and if so, what can you tell us about having Priest and Amelia Arsenic on board?
D: I almost always hand pick my support acts. It’s incredibly important to me to find artists with the right amount of buzz, the right amount of demand in the particular region, and, most importantly, artistic synergy. I want bands who I feel mesh not only with the sound of Aesthetic Perfection, but the vibe and philosophy as well. I’m super excited to have Priest and Amelia Arsenic on board for this run because I feel like they tick all those boxes perfectly.
Rik: Everyone here at Loud Stuff wishes Aesthetic Perfection & the support acts all the best with the UK tour and we’re wishing you every success with the album’s release.
Thanks again Daniel – it’s been an honour & a pleasure.
UPCOMING UK TOUR DATES
AESTHETIC PERFECT w/ support from PRIEST & AMELIA ARSENIC
- Wed 10th April – Bristol, The Fleece
- Thu 11th April – Glasgow, Ivory Blacks
- Fri 12th April – Wolverhampton, The Slade Rooms
- Sat 13th April – Manchester, FAC251
- Sun 14th April – London, O2 Academy Islington
LISTEN TO / ORDER THE ALBUM AT THE OFFICIAL BANDCAMP PAGE: