Aesthetic Perfection & Necessary Response
Warm greetings, Daniel Graves! Your name is pretty much famous among the electro / EBM / industrial fans of today, but still, could you represent yourself to Balkan audience once again? Daniel Graves from....?
- ... from Aesthetic Perfection and Necessary Response, from Hollywood, California from English and Swedish ancestry. I think thats about all Im from right now.
Could you tell us a little more about how you started to listening this kind of music? You've said for Real Industrial radio that you started to listen this kind of music at the age of 16. Bends Like "Leather Strip", ":wumpscut:" and similiar drawned you to this aggresive side of electronic music. Is there any real underground electronic / EBM scene in Hollywood, were you grown up? Any good underground bands to share with us?
- You know, I cant really suggest any LA bands that no one knows about because when I lived there I wasnt what you could call "friends" with a lot of bands. Of course everyone knows System Syn and Imperative Reaction, but beyond knowing them I wasnt so involved with the scene bands there.
- But as far as how I personally got into this music, I was introduced to Leaether Strip by a friend of mine when I was 15 or 16. From there the both of us just got really into the music and all the bands. Since I was too young to go to clubs I didnt go out, I just discovered new music online and listened to it constantly. I liked how it was heavy in a completely new way, without guitars or traditional instruments.
Tell me - today, when there is such an overflow of so-called "hellektro" / "terror-EBM" / "apocelektro" / ...acts which are mostly signed for NoiTekk label, is it possibile to be original, and at the same time commercial enough? What is your general opinion on the harsh NoiTekk acts? You, for instance, have a lot of punk influence in your electronic work - which diffrenates you from most harsh electrothat is prevailent these days... Are the things different now, and back when you started to follow this kind of music? Do you think that this overflow of bands which are almost the same (dist. vocals, "evil" soundscape and melodies) could be harmfull to the whole EBM-industrial scene?
- I hate the terms "hellektro" and "terror EBM" when its applied to my music because its so far off from what I am and what I do. Of course I dont really give a shit about other bands or their imagery because thats their thing. I mean, Im really into The Misfits and White Zombie and music with the horror theme, so I understand why these bands do what they do. But its not the music I want to make. I dont go so far as to think about if the over saturation of hellektro bands is really harmful to the scene because its a reflection of what the scene is right now. 5 or 6 years ago it was all about the Futurepop movement and we had 10 million VNV and Covenant clones. So now were in a phase where dark electro is really big. Thats fine. But I think its important for bands to try and leave their own mark in the scene because when the next big thing drops, the unoriginal bands will be lost in the change.
In last few years we are witnesses of the comercial EBM / Harsh-EBM ressurection from United States. Such acts as "Life Cried", "Ex-Tract", "Dawn of Ashes", "Xentrifuge" has found their’s place on the Harsh-EBM scene… Is this affects you, since you are living in the Germany currently, but you lived in LA once? EBM is most rooted in Europe, and also the first industrial music experiments came from Europe, but you lived in States once... What do you think of this American wave of EBM bands?
- Ive noticed lots of the American bands have been adopting the European style more and more. Europe has always been an area where techno and club music is big, much bigger than in the US. So these artists kind of grow up hearing it and know what to do to get people dancing. So its interesting how some Americans are getting the idea that a dance song takes more than just 4/4 kick to make it clubworthy. But really, at the end of the day I dont care about any of that. I dont think it affects me at all because people will listen to music they like, no matter who or where it comes from.
In the States, "Industrial" etiquette has been always sticked to bands like "KMDFM", "Ministry", "Rammstein"... Industrial metal and Industrial rock has always been prevalent in the States. Does the tide of Industrial metal and Industrial rock seems to redrawn, giving some free space to pure electro? Recently we had Das Bunker festival, were you performed, and many other happenings start to take some final and promising shapes, such as Black Sun festival... Is there enough light at the end of the tunell for the America's EBM to become more mainstram?
- Well, to be honest the industrial metal sound never did anything for me. What I liked about industrial was how it was heavy without guitars. If I want heavy music with guitars Ill listen to Children of Bodom or In Flames or Bleeding Through. Really well executed metal, I like that stuff.
- About pure electro becoming mainstream, I dont know. Normal American people are used to seeing bands on stage with instruments they recognize. They tend to think that if a band is purely electronic, then it isnt real. I think the scene has the ability to get bigger, and online communities like Vampirefreaks are really helping that happen because there are so many young kids in the US who would love this music if they could only be exposed to it. But industrial bands really need to spread themselves out in terms of their sound and style. You need to be a whole product, good, unique music with an image to match. Once people realize how to write good music and market themselves, then maybe there's a chance for this scene.
When I listened to the "Aesthetic Perfection" for the first time, I immideatly thought: "This guy must have been 1.) Punker before getting into Harsh EBM 2.) Just heavily influenced by the punk." Now, after I readed all the interviews that I could find about you on the net (although I never was able to find the Zillo interviews), I see that you have been a punker for the most of your forming ages, and that you still enjoy punk, and many other genres. Tell us, from California punk, what groups did you liked? You already mentioned "Dead Kennedys", "Rancid"... You also mentioned one synthpunk band from California, whose period of work was 78 - 80... Except punk, could you count few more bands from others genres that you usually listen when you don't listen to EBM?
- I was pretty drunk when I was giving that interview and I just couldnt remember the bands name. They were called The Screamers and they never put out an album, just some videos with live performances. Awesome shit. When I was around 12 I discovered punk music like the Vandals and Dead Kennedys. I still listen to punk now and Im a die hard fan of the Misfits. Lately I really like Bouncing Souls. Aside from EBM and punk I love White Zombie, Children of Bodom, Alkaline Trio, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, anything pretty much. Lots of people dont realize that Im also into hip hop... mainly gangster rap. At the same time as I was discovering punk, I was discovering Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre. So I still have a place in my heart for commercial rap music. Haha.
Heh, now we are coming to the whole "Aesthetic Perfection" vs "Necessary Response" debate. In Europe: "Aesthetic Perfection" is much more popular than "Necessary Response". In States: other way around. Tell me: after the label company decided that you must split the projects in two, what was your initial reaction; did you find it to be a good or bad idea...? I mean, if you look at it now – most peoples who like "Aesthetic Perfection", mostly disliked "Necessary Response"... Do you think that label's decision was actually better for the fans?
- Now, looking back, I think that splitting the projects was the best idea. I dont think I had the artistic ability to create an album with so many different styles that could flow together and feel like one cohesive piece of art. Even now it might be difficult but its my goal to make something truly... dynamic.
- Its also good because Ive gained lots of new fans through Necessary Response. Its true, not everyone who likes AP likes NR, and not everyone who likes NR likes AP, but there are people who like both. And Im hoping that the success of NR in the US will help the next Aesthetic Perfection album do better than any other album before it.
Your's first "Necessary Response" performance was in Das Bunker club, on the Halloween celebration, and I heard the show was truly one of the kind. Tell us, what's the difference in your live performance between your's two main projects - "Aesthetic Perfection" and "Necessary Response"? How do you "switch" in your head between the projects...? Do you do that at all, or you simply write and make the song, and then you decide on what project to put it?
- No, actually, the first NR show was in Berlin, opening for Rabia Sorda. The second gig was at Das Bunker on Halloween last year. For me, its not hard at all to switch my brain over to the band Im performing as because its still me. Of course its a different side of me but its not like a character or a costume I put on. When AP first started I was encouraged to wear the makeup, be the costume, create a character around the band. That didnt feel right to me so with this new album, Ive allowed myself to be more like myself. Besides, the real me is much more interesting than any character I create.
You grown up in Hollywood, California. You lived for some time in Salzburg, Austria, and now you are living in Berlin, Germany. Ok: you pulled yourself out of your element, but still, is there maybe some deeper reason for living in the Europe, Germany preciously? A wish to better understand music you making? You could choose any other continent - but you choosen Europe, Germany. Tell us, do you feel more home here in Germany than States? Any more wishes to move around the world?
- I grew up in a small town in California and moved to LA when I was 18. After living in Hollywood I moved to Austria, then to Berlin, and now Im actually back in Austria. There are of course personal reasons why I chose the places I did, but in general I left LA because I simply needed to be out of my element. Berlin, Austria, Europe in general because the scene is HUGE here, and I wanted to live where everything was happening. See how the bands who live off their music are doing it, how the business works. This is something you cant get in America because the scene isnt like that there. So many people treat it like a hobby, something extra. It isnt about money for me, but this is still a business, and I wanted to see how its being run. And I wanted to see it being run properly.
It's almost the second month of the 2008.; the album is not out yet... Please, tell me, this is because of label troubles, inspiration troubles, or...? I’ve heard that what keeps you from finishing an album are remixes that other bands asked you to do for them.
- Well I might get some label troubles because its so late!! But thats it. Theres no secret reason why the album isnt finished, it just isnt. I set deadlines for myself so I feel like I have a goal Im working towards. At least to motivate me into being more productive than I normally would if I didnt have a schedule. Its been 3 years since the AP album, and Im really anxious to get the new one out, but if its not ready, its not ready, and I wont put something out that isnt finished. I promised myself I wouldnt release the record until I was 80% satisfied with it. Because for me its impossible to be 100% satisfied.
- But, as of now, I have to record vocals for 3 more songs, and do some work on the music of two of them. Then its ready to go. The goal now is to have it ready to be mixed when I return from the Necessary Response US tour at the end of February.
"Necessary Response" name story is pretty interesting, since there is a lot of theories, but my version is that this is a play on the "Imperative Reaction" group name. Am I right? Is the simplest solution - the correct one...?"
- Hmm, you could be right... maybe.
You've said quite a few times on "Side-Line" forum lines like: “New "AP" record will leave everything I’ve done before in dust...” and similar statements... Can we still expect the same punkish but distorted A.P.? Or something closer to NoiTekk? Or... what can we expect, actually…?
- I think it will. Ive worked for about 1 year on this album non stop. No breaks, all day practically every day. You can definitely expect an Aesthetic Perfection record. Its loud, its heavy, its got some dance tracks on it, but it also has songs that sound nothing like anything I have ever written before. The vocals are harsh, but I didnt use distortion on this record. The screaming is real and its all my voice.
Your view on piracy? For instance: for a few years, the only way to find yelworC records was over the net. Could the piracy even be usefull for the underground music, like EBM, because of direct spreading and reccomendation’s among precise music ganre peers, making those peoples later to buy the record themselves after they heard it over the net?
- I dont care about piracy. I mean, yes, it sucks, yes it takes money out of my pocket, but it isnt going to change. Were in the middle of a technological revolution that will change the way everyone in the world enjoys their movies, music and games. Instead of fighting piracy, Im interested in how companies will develop new ways to market and distribute media. And I will always tour, fans cant download a t shirt or a performance.... well I guess they could download a video performance.
You've said that you'll make one unique website on which you’ll encompass all your projects – both current and future ones…You’ve also said that you plan to do in a near future more projects not connected to "Aesthetic Perfection" and "Necessary Response". Any hints...? Soundtracks? Powernoise / noise projects maybe?
- Thats been a major concept of mine for a while. I really want to have a place where all my work and projects can be found. I dont want 50000 different pages detailing the 50000 things I do. Im just not sure yet how to properly design it. If It doesnt work from a design standpoint, I wont do it.
- The future of me and my music is completely unsure. I dont have an interest in making soundtracks and no, I dont think I will make powernoise. Ive got about 30 or 40 hip hop tracks sitting on my hard drive. Maybe Ill find a rapper and have him use the tracks. If I dont make a living off industrial music, I could definitely be happy sitting in a studio all day with a bunch of black guys smoking weed and making hip hop.
And, final question... gigs in East Europe?
- When the new album is done I will start working with my booking agent, Neuwerk, to plan shows across Europe and the US. I would even like to make it to Australia, Japan, South Africa or South America. But one thing at a time!
Thank you on your time, Daniel! Good luck with you projects!
- Thank you! I hope I can come back to Croatia sometime. Rovinj is a great city!
Aesthetic Perfection official website
Necessary Response official website
Interview made with Daniel Graves in February 2008. by David Kirinic Rodic for Elektronski Zvuk.
2008. Elektronski Zvuk