Front man Daniel Graves speaks with ReGen on the development of Aesthetic Perfection, ultimately living up to its name as a powerful outlet for his musical and artistic expression.
An InterView with Daniel Graves of Aesthetic Perfection
By: Lüke Haughwout
Since the release of the band’s first album in 2005, Aesthetic Perfection has enjoyed a steady stream of success in the electro underground. With a virulent mix of aggressive beats and scorching leads and bass lines topped off by incendiary vocals that range from gritty to put them on par with the dark flights of fancy of peers like Hocico and Grendel to melodic and emotive in a manner to make most goth bands green with envy, front man Daniel Graves has taken the band to the upper echelon of the electro/industrial scene with the 2008 album A Violent Emotion. With numerous compilation appearances and remixes and the lighter, more electro-pop-oriented Necessary Response, Graves has become one of modern music’s rising stars. At the end of 2011, Aesthetic Perfection released All Beauty Destroyed, evolving the band’s sound to incorporate more atmospheric modes and effectively merge Graves’ musical identities into a single entity, thus ending Necessary Response. While on the All Cities Destroyed tour with fellow harsh electro acts BlakOpz and [X]-Rx, Graves spoke with ReGen Magazine on the evolution of Aesthetic Perfection, living up to its name as an outlet to express his love of music and art and finally incorporate every aspect of his musical prowess.
Graves: Well, yeah. It was more about necessity instead of really what I wanted to do. A lot of our crew kind of fell through at the last minute. We were presented with an option: do you continue the tour or do you cancel it for a lack of crew? So I thought about it and I decided, OK…you know what, I’m just going to…I want this tour to happen. I’m doing this for me anyways, so I’m just going to bite the bullet and do everything that I can. So I’m taking driving duties, I’m tour managing, I’m actually running lights for [X]-Rx during their show, [X]-Rx is running lights for us during our show. We’re all running and pulling like double, triple, quadruple duty.
How did this tour come about? Have you been friends with [X]-Rx for a while?
Graves: I met [X]-Rx actually at Kinetik in 2010…no, no…I met them at another festival in Germany before. I was so drunk that I’d totally forgotten it. But I’ve been friends with them for a couple of years. When I talked about doing a U.S. tour, I talked to Pascal and decided that they would probably be the best fit because, you know, they’ve never played in the U.S. before. They’ve got a really good buzz going about them, they’re great guys, and they’re great to party with and be on the road with.
Aesthetic Perfection has put out some striking original videos, and it seems there is a more distinctive approach to the art and visuals behind the songs. What is the creative process behind this?
Graves: I’m heavily involved in every single aspect of Aesthetic Perfection: artwork, obviously music, everything like that. I work with people that I trust, you know. For example, Mitch Massey, the guy who did the last two videos…I approached him with some concepts and things that I wanted, and we worked really closely together to flush out the ideas and bring these songs to life. With the artwork, I come up with ideas, I bring them to photographers, and they kind of help me develop it and refine it. But that’s just kind of…it’s really, really important for me that the visual aspect also matches the musical side, because in the end it’s just supposed to be one big piece of multimedia performance art, you know? That’s kind of the whole thing for me; it’s that it’s art in some way.
Your latest release has a much more diverse palette of sounds, more mainstream singing, some piano-ballad-sounding parts. It’s not just harsh EBM club music anymore. What made you want to head down this direction?
Graves: I think making an album like All Beauty Destroyed was my goal from the very beginning, because I’d always wanted to make a record that was very, very diverse: a lot of peaks and valleys. You know, I tried to do that with my first record, Close to Human. Actually, half of those songs were…the album was written, and half of the songs were what ended up becoming Necessary Response (Blood Falls Not Far from the Wound). And I delivered the album, and my labels were like, ‘OK, you have these extremely harsh songs, and you have these extremely melodic songs. You can’t do this. You have to separate the projects, and that’s that.’ So I succumbed to the pressure and I did what I was told or asked to do–politely, sternly–and I was always very frustrated about that, that I was told, ‘OK, I have to create a synthpop record, I have to create a harsh electro record. But I couldn’t do it together.’ And maybe in retrospect, those two sounds or those two records didn’t fit together, but it was what I had always envisioned. So with A Violent Emotion, I tried to take it a step further, and I feel that was a step towards that direction, and All Beauty Destroyed was kind of the…I don’t know, the shock that I’d always want to deliver to people; just something that is extremely diverse, and at times maybe a bit abrasive, and something to get used to.
After the All Cities Destroyed Tour and some festivals in Europe, what’s next for Aesthetic Perfection? Is there a chance you’ll be able to convert all this energy from performing into a new release?
Graves: I actually had six months off. We did our last tour in November of last year, and then I was at home until a couple of weeks ago. And in that time I wrote almost an entire new record, which is like the fastest that I’ve ever worked before. So I’m going to finish out this tour; I’m not even going to think about new music, because I worked so intensely for the last half year that I kind of want to step away from it. I’m going to come back to it, like with a fresh set of ears and just kind of reinvigorate it perhaps. I’m excited for it. So I’ll come back in August or the end of July. I’ll be back home and I’ll sit down and start working on it again. I don’t know how long it will take, but I have an album’s worth of material that’s done.
You’ve lots of creative things going on at the same time: the music, the DJing, the videos and the touring. It seems like you’re an artist at the height of your creative peak. How do you stay energized and focused?
Graves: I hope I’m not at my peak. I hope I’m still climbing the mountain, because I don’t ever really want to be satisfied. I just want to keep reaching for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow; you know, that shit that doesn’t exist? I don’t know. What motivates me is the possibility of getting better and making something that’s more interesting or more challenging or more beautiful or more horrible. That’s kind of like the only true motivation for me and that’s why I do this. That’s why I sit in the van for weeks on end. I could be making a lot more money with the stuff that I studied in school. It’s just…, I’m motivated by the love of music and art.