Spawning from the streets of L.A, Aesthetic Perfection, the brainchild of Daniel Graves (vocals, programming) distinguish themselves from peers by performing heavy hitting electronic/rock music that is sourced from personal experiences and emotions.
Taking a few moments from his otherwise busy schedule as a professional musician, Graves chatted with the Antelope Valley Press about touring and Aesthetic Perfection’s new album “Into the Black.”
Sebastian Garcia: What Inspired you to create Aesthetic Perfection?
Daniel Graves: It’s both a very easy and complicated answer, because most people who are artists kind of (just) know from a young age, that that is the direction they want their life to go. I think that to a lot of people, music is a language that is very universal. It helps them articulate the things that go on in their own minds that they can’t do for themselves. That’s what music did for me as a teenager. It helped me understand myself in a way that I didn’t know before. Once I discovered that format, there was no looking back.
SG: How long have you been programming?
DG: I started programming electronic music when I was around 13 or 14, so 20+ years.
SG: Who are your influences?
DG: Musically, I grew up on Phil Collins and Michael Jackson and all that kind of stuff. When I was a teenager and discovered Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson, and the rebellious nature of heavy, dark music is when I really found my calling and my voice. I’ve always tried to remember where I came from and what initially caught my ear, which was pop music of the late ’80s and early ’90s.
SG: How do you make Aesthetic Perfection’s music? Do you book studio time or have your own space?
DG: The luxury of being a one-man project and working as an electronic musician, is that you can write whenever inspiration strikes. Its a blessing that a lot of people don’t have, especially when they’re working in a multi-person project dealing with egos and that kind of stuff, so I write whenever I’m inspired.
SG: Where did you record your latest record “Into the Black?”
DG: “Into the Black” was recorded at a studio that I rented in my former home of Los Angeles. I initially worked out of my house, but I soon realized it was very difficult to separate my work day from my personal life. My studio was always there reminding me of stuff that needed to be done. I actually rented a studio off-site and worked there for about four years, producing singles and then eventually producing the album.
SG: What was the creative process behind making the album?
DG: I tend to write whatever my subconscious compels me to write. I’ll sift through it afterward to find a narrative. I’ve discovered, at least personally, whenever I’m trying to write with an agenda, that the process is much more difficult because we’re often not aware of what it is that’s really sort of “plaguing” us in our subconscious. I think when you try to guide the creative process in that way, you make it harder on yourself than it needs to be.
SG: “Into the Black” was released independently, what’s the experience like to run you own label?
DG: I definitely have more of an appreciation for the work that my former management and former label did. I think I took them for granted (laughs) and I’m mature enough to admit that now. It’s quite an undertaking to not only write a record, but also all of the logistic hurdles one has to overcome in order to do it. Its a lot and so I feel humbled and I’m appreciative of the work that my past colleagues and collaborators did to help me get to this point. I don’t know if I would have been able to do it without them.
SG: Aesthetic Perfection is now seven albums in. With that level of output, is making music your main gig, or is it a successful hobby?
DG: Oh, I literally have nothing else in my life that I do. I have no hobbies or other interests. I pretty much live and breathe this. I wake up and I deal with Aesthetic Perfection and I go to bed with Aesthetic Perfection on my mind.
SG: Aesthetic Perfection has had international exposure. Now that you’re independent, have you marketed overseas?
DG: Yes. The first leg of the “Into the Black” tour was in Europe. We played Germany the U.K., Austria, Switzerland. We’re incredibly lucky to do this internationally.
SG: When and where did this tour begin?
DG: We’re currently on tour in North America. The 31-date tour started Sept. 6 in San Diego and will end Oct. 19 in LA. Then on Oct. 25, we start more European shows and that goes until Nov. 3.
SG: What has the reception been like for your abroad?
DG: To be honest, the last tour that we did in April pretty much exceeded all of our expectations. Our turnouts have like, more than doubled in some markets. Thats pretty mind-blowing for someone who has been doing this for the last decade, kind of just chugging away and playing to 10, 20, 50 people. To sell out 750 cap rooms in Germany is really just shocking and humbling at the same time.
SG: What’s the crowd like in Los Angeles, typically?
DG: You’re going to have to ask me that in a couple of days. This is our first real hometown show in a couple of years. The turnout for presales have at least doubled since last time, so I feel like there’s this real sense of anticipation.
SG: Where is your favorite city to play and why?
DG: It’s hard to say because every show presents its own set of challenges and rewards. I think its something that’s ever shifting. But some of our best cities have been Denver, Detroit, New York. They’ve been consistently good to us.
SG: Is there a certain type of fan base that follows Aesthetic Perfection? (i.e., millennials, GenXers, etc.)
DG: We came up in the goth/industrial scene, but we try to build our own scene or community of people that don’t fit any specific mold. I just want to make music that speaks to people. Lucky for us, We’ve reached people outside of that mold so it means that its nice to see that what I have to say speaks to people on a human level.
SG: What do you hope to accomplish by sharing your music with the masses?
DG: Yeah. I mean, my goal has always been the same. I always wanted to make music that was representative of the human experience and everything that comes with it. The highs and lows the entire emotional spectrum.
SG: What can we expect at the show on Saturday?
DG: This incarnation of the band is the best we’ve ever been. We’ve got Joe Letz (live drums) and Elliot Berlin (guitars, bass keyboard) We’re just firing on all cylinders and having a great (expletive) time playing every single night. I think you can just expect to see three guys on stage who love what they’re doing and giving everything they’ve got.
SG: What do you like most about playing with these guys?
DG: I think, in the past, it always felt like “OK. This is my band and these guys are doing what I want them to do.” Now, it feels like everybody is equally invested in the show. I’ve kinda let my ego take a step back to recognize that “OK, I might be writing the songs, but I can’t bring them to life without these other two guys. What they bring to the table makes the live experience so unique compared to what you hear on the album.
SG: Is there anything you’d like to say to your fans?
DG: Thank you for supporting me for the last decade and a half, I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon so I hope to see you all on the road!
Aesthetic Perfection plays the Lodge Room, second floor at Highland Park, 104 N. Ave. 56, Los Angeles. Doors open at 8:30 p.m.
Tickets are available through ticketfly.com and cost $15.