Since 2008’s breakout album A Violent Emotion, Aesthetic Perfection has been a widely talked about and world-renowned force in the dark underground. With infectious dance grooves both menacing and catchy, mastermind Daniel Graves has continued to climb the path of success while creating controversy and discussion among the Goth/Industrial crowd as his boundaries gradually fall and his sound expands to incorporate other elements. A Violent Emotion‘s “The Great Depression,” All Beauty Destroyed‘s “Inhuman,” and newest single “Big Bad Wolf” are all radical departures from one another while still existing within the realms of the dark electronic alternative scene.
With three new singles and an upcoming record on the horizon, Daniel Graves and drummer Tim Van Horn gave us some insight into their deranged little world of making music, touring, and thriving in the underground.
1. For the sake of our scene here, we have to ask: How did you enjoy performing at the Fetish Ball here in Arizona?
We had a lot of fun. It’s always cool playing events that don’t cater to your typical crowd. You have to work harder to get their attention!
2. Fans have commented that the singles for your upcoming album have a different sound than the previous albums. Did you intentionally take a different direction or is this a logical progression for your music to you?
When people look back on the history of Aesthetic Perfection, I want them to see a schizophrenic path of sounds and styles. I’ve never made the same record twice, and I can’t imagine why I’d want to do that anyways. All of my stylistic changes feel organic to me. I don’t sit down and say “it’s time to write a pop song” the songs just come out however they do. I can hear the link between the past and the present, even if you can’t.
3. Your lyrical content has always been very introspective. Does this forthcoming album highlight any particularly personal moments that have happened in your life as of late?
My records are always a snapshot of who I am when I’m writing it. I actually wouldn’t mind making something a little more “fantasy” orientated, but it’s impossible for me. I can only draw inspiration from what’s going on around me.
4. Can you let us in on any surprises that you’re most excited about showing the fans in this new batch of songs?
I reckon this new album will either be the death of Aesthetic Perfection or a new beginning. It’s such a departure from anything I’ve ever done before, I half expect those crazy, self absorbed, entitled “fans” to lynch me. But hey, at least I died doing what I love!
5. You have toured with a lot of big names, such as The Birthday Massacre, Combichrist, and most recently Covenant. Do you find these sorts of excursions inspiring and influential in your own creative endeavors?
Touring with all these different bands gives you insight into how the business works from new angles. Even as a seasoned touring “professional” (and I use that word lightly), I’ve been surprised by what goes on behind the scenes for a lot of these artists. It can be inspiring and depressing all at the same time. Mostly of the time, though, I just feel myself filled with this seething desire to work harder, do more, sleep less.
6. Are there any artists in particular you hope to share a stage or collaboration with above all others?
Eh, I’m not ever thrilled with having to share the glory with someone else. I usually want to save that all for myself.
7. You have been vocal about the uniformity and elitism in the current industrial scene. Do you see any broad changes coming on the horizon that might shake things up since the times that clubs solidified their choice in music?
Elitism is rampant in all scenes, not just the industrial scene. I mostly focus on the industrial scene because that’s the scene I’m in, but if AP was a metal band and I was drastically changing styles you can bet there’d be a lot of pissed off flannel clad bearded guys. What I find funny is out of all the musical scenes in the world, the one that I see as being the most musically open-minded is the mainstream. Katy Perry can release a dance track, a ballad, a hip hop infused track, and no one complains about her not sticking to her “style”. When you listen to it, pop music is some of the most daring and challenging music out there. But underground people are so stubborn, they can’t even recognize it. For all their preaching about being there for the disenfranchised and open mindedness, the second something doesn’t fit into their narrow mold of what is “underground” they dismiss it and deride it. They’re more conformist than the mainstream! It’s sad. I make music to make music, not to be the poster boy for elitist assholes.
8. Fans have expressed displeasure in your choosing to remix Lady Gaga and listening to music outside the realm of industrial. Do you think that alternative cultures are as susceptible to tunnel vision as mainstream cultures are?
Just like I said, we’re dealing with arrogant, elitist people who are too scared to be themselves. They’re too afraid to like what they want to like, dress how they want to dress, so they put on a front. How are you any less a sheep of consumerism because you buy your clothes from Cyberdog? It’s not original, you didn’t come up with that outfit, some designer did. You’re wearing a costume. I’m no better, but I at least admit that nothing is original, and nothing is off limits.
9. You went from studying to be an accountant to being a highly renowned artist in the underground. Is there anything you would have done differently along the way?
Yeah, I wouldn’t have bothered going to college and would have thrown myself into music 4 years earlier.
1. How do you go about the process of translating predominantly electronic music to an organic live setting?
I always start off by learning the songs exactly the way they are written. There’s a lot of sounds in this type of music that don’t directly relate to a specific drum or cymbal, so I improvise. And then, just add more fun beats and fills on top.. This type of music is incredibly easy to play on drums, so I try to make it a little more fun.
2. The live drums give the percussion part of the music a more noticeable presence than on the records. Was this a conscious choice when deciding how to perform live?
We’ll yeah of course. But that’s the beauty of it. The fans get a real live show. If a band sounds exactly like the record live, what’s the point in going to their shows?
3. Does touring and performing live force you to adapt an entirely different lifestyle that contrasts with in the studio or at home?
Yeah, big time. Touring can be rough. Barely eating everyday, getting only a few hrs of sleep, sleeping curled up in a van with a dirty towel for a blanket. And then being home with your own bed and shower, and kitchen to make your own food.. If you can afford to buy food after making almost no money on tour.
4. What is it like interacting with the band and the crew on the road versus on the stage?
It’s the same. One is just a continuation of the other. We have fun on stage and joke around, and then the same thing the rest of the day,
5. Is experimentation in sound style something a band should strive to do or let happen at its own will?
I dont think that much into it. I think people should just write whatever it is they like. Learning new elements can always be helpful though.
6. The scene has undergone a lot of transitions since its conception in the late 70s/early 80s. Where do you expect the industrial scene to venture into in the coming years? Any hopes?
I don’t expect it to venture too far. It never does.
7. Are there any wild misconceptions that people have about you two as people or artists?
Nothing too interesting yet. But we expect some fan fiction in the future. Oh wait.. That we are rich. If only I was unprofessional enough to tell you how much lack of money i make. I always say to aspiring musicians: Stop liking money now. Because you won’t ever see any again.